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CNET: “even high-end DSLR can't achieve the kind of exposure that iPhone 8 Can"

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

I saw this at MacRumors, so I had better cancel my Nikon D850:

CNET photographer James Martin tested the iPhone 8 Plus camera by shooting more than 2,000 photos in San Francisco, and he was thoroughly impressed with everything from detailed textures to low-light performance.

'With the new sensor, HDR delivered better details in highlights and shadows. HDR is always on, signaling Apple's deeper commitment to computational photography with the iPhone 8 Plus. That's different than the iPhone 7 Plus, which gave you the option to set HDR to auto, off or on.'

Martin added that even his high-end DSLR can't achieve the kind of exposure he achieved with the iPhone 8 Plus.

The garbage-quality images that the iPhone 7 Plus has produced for me over nearly a year have been impressive... for the poor quality. It’s amazing how the press is willing to quote incompetent photographers.

The iPhone 7 Plus also had “great camera”, which has turned to be poor for the 1X lens and reminiscent of 2010 point and shoot cameras for the 2X lens. Now we are to believe the same story with the iPhone 8. This is classic “emperor’s new clothes” stuff. Yes the 1X camera on the iPhone 7 Plus can produce a sort of acceptable image when dowsampled from full-res by 2X linearly (3.5 megapixels). But that's it.

The only case in which the quality can be made to work is for iPhone panoramas, and these are massivly oversampled (as one rotates the camera), and I still find I have to down sample them for acceptable pixel quality. But as tp the “computational photography” point (which might well destroy photography as anything to do with reality, over time), the iPhone panorama mode takes a tiny fraction of the effort of any pro camera.

My Mercedes Sprinter Photography Adventure Van: Wiring and Power Now in Place

Very soon I’ll be heading to the mountains, now with my Sprinter photography adventure van fully armed and operational (so to speak), albeit without insulation and walls and still with a temporary desk/table. But if it’s good enough for the Darth and the Death Star, it’s good enough for me.

This has chewed up some time lately, taking two trips to Los Angeles (640 mile round trip, each). But things are now good to go and I’ve got just what I envisioned all along. May that Nikon D850 now show up please. But I have other things to cover too, so I’ll be shooting and publishing soon.

The iMac 5K travels well using the Gator Cases Creative Pro 27" iMac Carry Tote.

With this electrical setup I can work for about 20 hours on battery power with an iMac 5K and a NEC PA302W wide gamut professional display, my display of choice for all my work where evaluating sharpness and color matter. Usable power from the 5120 watt hour Lithionics battery is about 4100 watt hours, or up to 4600 watt hours in a pinch (a Macbook Pro 15" has a less than 100 watt hour battery).

With skid plates now installed and robust offroad tires, the Mercedes Sprinter Photography Adventure Van is ready to rock. The Cayenne is sold and forgotten.

I feel smug about skipping solar charging; it’s useless for my needs (but honey for foolish bees); all day on the summer solstice baking in the sun (I like shade) with dual 160W panels would produce less charging than one hour at idle from the alternator. Not only that, at idle I can easily run a 1400 watt space heater with minimal effect on the battery. I will make use of that now that it is turning colder, though I will be testing a catalytic propane heater very soon, at high altitude.

Image below is before replacing the Xantrex Freedom SW 3012 with the Xantrex Freedom XC. That change gained a ton of critically important space under the desk for legs/feet and stowage of camera bags and similar. I also moved the battery closer to the wall and to the left, gaining even more space. Table is temporary until I decide on the exact shape and height. Curtains are also temporary and the walls are not insulated or finished yet.

Lithionics 12V400A-5D-CTRL400 400 amp-hour battery and wiring panel and Xantrex Freedom SW 3012 inverter/charge in Mercedes Sprinter van

See Mercedes Sprinter: Battery, Wiring Panel, Inverter as Installed for details.

This was tricky to light; I could not get anything into that corner. I used two Cineo Matchbox lights aimed at the wiring panel and inverter area. The delivered a beautiful diffuse light that matched the ambient light perfectly.

Lithionics 12V400A-5D-CTRL400 400 amp-hour battery and wiring panel and Xantrex Freedom XC inverter/charge in Mercedes Sprinter van

Below, Mercedes Sprinter cargo van, maiden voyage before any upfitting, first usage.

Mercedes Sprinter cargo van, maiden voyage before any upfitting
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

The PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

Some background first, before going onto the PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera. Never mind the contradiction of using gamut-clipping AdobeRGB color space for the pink jacket and pink suitcase woman—I’ll assume this is just ignorance in the marketing department.

Update: skepticism abounds on the trichromatic claim by PhaseOne. I’ve received four emails from 3 different readers expressing skepticism about the PhaseOne claims that follow below, including one comment about the diagram leading to loss of color discrimination where the sensitivity cuts out, and a general feeling that the claims to mimic human vision are rubbish.

I had taken the diagram as conceptual not literal (obviously there can be no such linear hard cutoff as depicted), and I would be very surprised if PhaseONE (long recognized for excellence) is going to bat on something that is less than stellar. The actual results will show us... the actual results, which is all that counts. Reader comments follow below. But the reader comments show that PhaseOne really needs to offer up something proper, like a spectral transmission graph.

What do I want in a Nikon D850? The best possible color, the best possible dynamic range and the best possible detail—even if that means ISO 32. That’s why Nikon’s description of the D850 as having balanced performance bothers me by using the word “balance”: I do not want to trade off optimal performance at low ISO for some “balanced” performance across the range. Here, “balance” means “compromised” as far as I can tell in marketing speak.

The Nikon D850 allows landscape photographers to capture a diverse range of scenes in sumptuously rich detail. It is the first Nikon D-SLR to use a backside illumination sensor, which allows incoming light to reach photodiodes more efficiently. Together with the camera’s low-noise performance, this enables it to achieve ISO 25600 despite its high pixel count. What’s more, it strikes an optimal balance between sensor sensitivity and the volume of light information accumulated in photodiodes, yielding images with a wide dynamic range even at ISO 64 (expandable to ISO 32 equivalent) — the lowest native ISO setting offered by any camera manufacturer. Copper wiring is used to cut electrical resistance, while the backside illumination structure allows a flexible wiring layout, reducing stray capacity. These measures enable 45-megapixel FX-format images to be captured at continuous shooting speeds of 9 fps*1. And because the sensor is designed without an optical low-pass filter, it can harness the sharpness of 45 megapixels when combined with the high resolving power of NIKKOR lenses. The D850 yields pictures that can be enlarged as massive

So what I want in a Nikon is the best possible image quality at base ISO, not a jack of all ISOs. What happens at ISO 200 on up, or even ISO 100 is uninteresting—I just want the best possible low ISO quality. Note that this very idea is called out below in the PhaseONE discussion below—kudos to PhaseOne. But why cannot Nikon (or Canon) run with similar ideas? Even Pentax at a distant 3rd has its limited-use-case but awesome super-res pixel shift capability.

That’s why the PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera is intriguing and disappointing in this sense: why do DSLR users have to settle for “good enough”?

PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera

I have to also wonder if the PhaseONE IQ3 avoids the nasty violet cut filter that most all cameras employ, which chops off the violet end of the spectrum, including some flowers. See Spectral Transmission of Digital Sensors.

The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back is different because of the hardware. Designed around the concept of mimicking the dynamic color response of the human eye, we have physically customized the Color Bayer Filter on the 101-megapixel sensor to tailor the color response. This allows the Digital Back to capture color in a new way, unlike anything else.

PhaseOne Tricrhomatic sensor conception (left), conventional sensor (right)

Commissioned by Phase One and built by Sony, the Phase One Trichromatic sensor is only found within the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back. This pioneering technology, allowing for the capture of vivid and vibrant color close to the dynamic color ability of human vision, sets the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic in a league of its own.

The technology inherent in the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic starts with the hardware. We have physically customized the Color Bayer filter on an all-new 101-megapixel sensor to tailor the color response. This allows the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic to capture color in a new way, unlike anything else. In essence, it’s designed around the concept of mimicking the dynamic color response of the human eye.

The customization of the Bayer filter material in the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic allows the sensor to capture, and thus produce, cleaner color separation of the red, green and blue pixels, particularly at lower wavelengths. Separating color at a sensor level from the time of capture, with little to no color contamination, provides improved latitude in the final image render. This separation allows for richness and control that otherwise cannot be achieved. Recorded RAW data is, therefore, able to supply a more faithful representation of color in the final file, making it possible to easily and accurately achieve natural results.

Prioritizing Image Quality – ISO 35 The ISO performance of the new IQ3 100MP Trichromatic sensor has expanded to a range never-before reached in a medium format CMOS sensor. While others may concentrate on higher ISO’s, Phase One concentrates first on image quality. A base ISO of 35 means the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic can produce the cleanest 101- megapixel image possible, and reaching to 12,800 provides the flexibility required by the world’s most demanding photographers.

- The filter array of the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic remains as a standard RGBG Bayer filter mosaic. As this sensor is customized specifically for color, the filtering material that defines the color response of each individual pixel has been customized to produce cleaner R, G and B values.

- The new sensor of the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic is designed to provide accurate colors more easily as the sensor can ensure the purity of color measure for each individual pixel. This is easiest to see in richer chroma as there is less contamination (and therefore improved additive color control) from neighboring hues.

- The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic, along with the existing IQ3 100MP and IQ3 80MP Digital Backs, produce 16bit color RAW files. The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic, however, is able to capture, control and therefore deliver these colors in a way that mimics the color response of the human eye, giving a more natural, pure result. This provides improved color performance, efficiency and post processing flexibility.

See the full description in the PhaseOne Trichromatic tech specs PDF.

  • 101 megapixels at 11608 X 8708
  • Up to 60 minute exposures.
  • 15 f-stop dynamic range, 16 bit opticolor.
  • ISO 35-12800
  • 4.6 X 4.6 micron pixels
  • Electronic shutter.

Kathryn R writes:

My apologies for not making my point more clearly. My point is that Phase One claims that their new sensor more closely matches human vision because it clearly separates the spectral sensitivity of the three color sensors. This is categorically NOT true in the human visual system. In fact, the spectral sensitivity of the green and red cone cells has major overlap.

You are correct that the visual system in the human brain/eye is NOT analogous to optical sensor in the camera. In fact the human visual system involves processing at both the retinal level and the brain. This accounts for many capabilities in the human visual system (see “Weber effect”, color constancy, etc.) that current optical sensors don’t begin to duplicate.

In fact, the best current data suggests that color perception in the human system responds to the relative difference in stimulation of the three types of cone cells rather than the absolute value of the cell outputs (which accounts for color constancy). Luminance data is instead supplied entirely by the rod type cells and therefore is integrated into the image at a higher level. Note also there are areas of the retina that are only populated by cone cells and more peripheral areas populated by only by rod cells. Again, we are in "violent agreement” that the human visual system has very little in common with the typical camera sensor …. but it is the Phase One marketing department that is claiming the superiority of their new sensor which allegedly “mimics” the human system which is rubbish (even though it may be a better sensor).

In fact, there is an argument to be made that because of the spacial separation of the color sensors there may actually be an advantage in some spectral overlap to help avoid certain types of color artifacts.

P.S. My background includes two engineering degrees and extensive research in neurophysiology in addition to my medical degree so it grates on me when companies misrepresent the science.

DIGLLOYD: this all makes sense, and I wish PhaseOne had chosen to supply a spectral transmission chart.

Philip S writes:

Laughably stupid, IMO. The PhaseOne blurb, especially the illustration, implies no overlap in spectral sensitivities of the red, green, and blue photosites. If that were actually true, the camera would be severely limited. For example, suppose the following sensitivities: Red: 700 - 580 nm Green: 579 - 490 nm Blue: 489 - 380 nm.

Then, monochromatic red lights of say 660 and 600 nm would be indistinguishable, since both would excite only red photosites. There is a good reason why the spectral sensitivities of human cone cells (and the red, green, and blue photosites of camera sensors) have overlapping spectral sensitivities. The overlap makes it possible to distinguish very fine differences in color.

You are being very kind to PhaseOne. To me that press release (and PDF) is a perfect example of marketing BS that fails to provide any real information and is positively misleading. And couldn’t they have come up with something better than “Trichromatic”. Hardly a distinguishing characteristic.

What, for example, does “cleaner color separation of the red, green, and blue pixels” really mean? Or, “separating color at the sensor level from the time of capture”?

What I think PhaseOne is trying to say is that they have worked with Sony to adjust the spectral sensitivity functions of the filter array in a way that increases the accuracy of color reproduction.

A clue is here: “In essence, it’s designed around the concept of mimicking the dynamic color response of the human eye.” But why the emphasis on “color separation”? Sorry for the rant. And, yes, I know all other camera companies are guilty of the same sort of advertising-speak. Perhaps I’m holding PhaseOne to a higher standard.

DIGLLOYD: I’m beaten at my own game of being skeptical of camera vendor claims!

Jason W writes:

What the simplified spectral response diagram suggests to me is we're getting a sensor that probably behaves more like Velvia film, which has more isolated RGB spectral response curves.

If this is true, we should probably take issue with PhaseOne's claim about a sensor that mimics the color response of the human eye, which has significantly overlapping spectral curves in the red and green cones. In this sense, the original MP100 might objectively produce images more akin to human eyesight. That being said, people often subjectively prefer rich, saturated Velvia-esque color images even if they are not accurate.

DIGLLOYD: PhaseOne’s communication has resulted in four skeptical emails, and zero believers. Seems like they have a problem on their hands in terms of marketing.

Roy P writes:

I read the comments from your readers about the new P1 Trichromatic, including someone who didn’t like the name(!). P1 called a b&w back “Achromatic”, so I guess “Trichromatic” was a handy marketing name. At any rate, maybe the P1 marketing blurb was not accurate relative to how the human eye works physiologically. But what it does seem to deliver are colors that are purer. I see it more along the lines of a Sigma Foveon sensor, although the technologies are not at all the same. (I have heard that Sony is working on a new generation sensor that takes the Foveon concept further – but that’s not what’s in the Trichromatic.)

Here’s the first comparison I’ve seen between the IQ3 100 and the new Trichromatic. Assuming they didn’t fudge anything, and the exposure and RAW conversion were identical, the Trichromatic image shows more vibrant, saturated colors. But this is something that is easily done with the older IQ3 100MP by simply bumping up saturation in Capture One. The Trichromatic shows more highlight details in most areas, even in the white areas, which is impressive. However, inexplicably, there are some bald spots in the Trichromatic image with very little detail, but the same areas show more details from the older IQ3 100 back. Now, that should NOT be happening – that makes me wonder if the two exposures were really identical.

The piece de resistance for this comparison is the one triangular cut glass that looks very blue in the Trichromatic image, but decidedly purple in the regular IQ3 100 image. When I saw this, my first reaction was, wow, that is pretty dramatic. My second reaction was, hey, how could it be this dramatic? I would have expected to have broken a little sweat studying and comparing the two images, before convincing myself that the Trichromatic was indeed better. With this one, the incremental improvement in the color seems too much relative to the incremental improvement in the sensor technology. Net-net, I do think this is an improvement, and I would expect it to deliver sharper images to the extent there are abrupt color transitions in an image (e.g., from red to green). If I were Phase One, that is probably the angle I would be emphasizing, not pitching that the new back is closer to becoming the human eye!

DIGLLOYD: while I see the color difference, it’s hard to understand without seeing the original scene.

B&H Deal ZoneDeals by Brand/Category/Savings
Deals expire in 12 hours unless noted. Certain deals may last longer.
$3297 SAVE $800 = 19.0% Nikon D810 DSLR with 24-120mm in Cameras: DSLR

Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services, Well, Mostly, Still Unusable

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Sony pro services is expanding its support in USA and Canada, but I am nowhere near a walk-in center (Los Angelese is 350 miles away).

Eight days ago in Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services, I reported that my A7R II was fixed and back in my hands, turnaround was fast.

Only today did I get around to checking the returned/repaired A7R II.

It seems that some repairs were done, but my 3rd item was not looked at and it makes the camera unusable. I had reported it this way to support:

When in magnified Live View, camera constantly pops out of Live View for no reason at all.

Problem is, this issue is not only still there, but it is actually much worse, rendering the camera unusable for many operations. Examples:

  • Press Play, and it immediately pops back to shooting mode
  • Press the Fn button, the menu is shown for an instant, but it immediately pops back to shooting mode, which makes it impossible to use the Fn button to change settings.
  • Enter Live View (EVF) and zoom in; it randomly pops out of Live View usually within 1-2 seconds. Occasionally but rarely it stays in Live View long enough to focus, but this takes a minute or two of effort.

I’m not too happy about this since I am leaving on a trip on Tuesday or so and it’s highly unlikely I can get the camera repaired and returned to me by then.

Update: about an hour after reporting the issue to Sony, I received this email response:

We apologize for the inconvenience of having to send out the camera to resolve the third issue that was described. I have created an overnight shipping label to have the camera sent directly to our office. It is extremely important to us to have this resolved as soon as possible. At your earliest convenience, please print the shipping label and drop it off at a shipping location. From there, we will take care of the rest.

Well, I can’t ask for better service than that, on a Saturday no less.

I wish Sony cameras could save their settings to the camera card. One of the biggest hassles in getting a repaired camera back, is having to go reprogram all the settings and menus and custom function buttons. See the 4 pages of how-to on Sony A7R II settings.

Which Camera System / Lenses Should Are Best?
✓ Get the ideal system for your needs: diglloyd photographic consulting.

OWC USB-C Mini Travel Dock for Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C Macs such as 2016/2017 MacBook Pro, 2017 iMac 5K

2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro users now have a solution for reducing the number of dongles to carry to just one device for common needs in the about $50 OWC USB-C Mini Travel Dock.

  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Standard-A) Ports
  • USB-C Auxiliary Power Port (up to 60W)
  • SD Card Reader (UHS-II)
  • HDMI 2.0 Port Supports 4K display resolution – up to 4096 x 2160 at 30Hz
  • vailable in 4 colors
  • 2 Year OWC Limited Warranty
  • Any type C power adapter up to 100 watts can be connected to the Mini Travel Dock.

Fitting easily into a small purse or back or moderate-size pocket, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock solves two key needs that I have when working in the field: USB-A port support (for a backup drive), and an SD card slot (for downloading image). Although I am still using a 2015 MacBook Pro, when I ultimately move to newer model, this will be a critical accessory.

See also OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and OWC USB-C Dock for Apple MacBook.

OWC USB-C Mini Travel Dock
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Nikon D850

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

The Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Nikon D850 has just arrived, the fit and finish are superb. It will go onto my Nikon D850 when it arrives, and stay there permanently, just as with my Nikon D810.

Like all L brackets, the dovetail allows the camera to be instantly mounted into a compatible clamp in either portrait or landscape mode—no flopping the tripod head.

I like L brackets for another reason: the bottom and left side of the camera are protected from scrapes and dings. I almost never take the L bracket off my cameras. Most models allow just the base plate portion, in case the “L” is not desired for some reason, but in general I recommend the full L-bracket approach.

Really Right Stuff offers a very wide range of L brackets for just about all brands and models (I use their plates on all my cameras, as well as my favorite tripod, the TVC-24L). The RRS camera plate designs are almost always optimized/customized for each camera for a perfect fit, sturdy and robust yet with minimized weight.

Really Right Stuff L-bracket for Nikon D850

Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

I was very happy with the quick turnaround on my Sony A7R II.

Sony Pro Services is expanding its service in several aspects. Nikon and Canon should be concerned; Sony is making progress in filling a a key hole in its business, the service and support aspect that pros require.

NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world's largest image sensor manufacturer, has today announced several updates related to its Sony Imaging PRO Support organization.

Sony's organization to support working professional photographers and videographers now features a domestic 24/7 call center and new walk-in service centers in New York City and Los Angeles.  Additionally, Sony Imaging PRO Support has launched a full in-the-field technical team to support professionals across all of North America.  The team is providing in-the-field service and on-site depot support at major sporting events, media events and shows across North America, offering camera cleanings, evaluation loaners, education and seminars.  

Also announced today is the launch of Sony Imaging PRO Support Canada, offering all of the benefits of the program to pros throughout the Canadian market. 

Membership to Sony's Imaging PRO Support organization has grown over 40% year over year in North America, while consistently striving to minimize customer costs and maximize efficiency and turnaround time for all repairs and services. 

"Our team is fully committed to building an ecosystem that supports the needs of digital imaging professionals today and tomorrow," says Sony VP Neal Manowitz. "We are focused on reducing downtime, removing costs and improving overall satisfaction.  New walk-in locations, a 24/7 domestic hotline and a field team supporting event depots are just a few of the many steps we are taking to provide the best-in-class solutions for professionals." 

These updates come on the heels of the introduction of Sony's new flagship α9 camera earlier this year.  Featuring the world's first1 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with 24.2MP2 of resolution, blackout free, completely silent shooting3 at up to 20 fps4 with full autofocus, a 693 point focal plane phase detection AF system and more, the α9 is revolutionizing the professional imaging market.  

Existing benefits of the PRO Support program include dedicated email and call support, expedited three-day repair turnaround time, evaluation loaners, up to three free camera and lens maintenance services per year, complimentary shipping fees for repairs and access to a variety of exclusive members only events held throughout the year. 

Those interested in joining Sony's premium care program can visit www.alphauniverse.com/prosupport  to apply.  After the online membership form is submitted and approved, a member of the Sony Imaging PRO Support team will contact applicants directly to discuss the program's benefits in detail.

Those interested in visiting a walk-in Sony Imaging PRO Support center can visit the Los Angeles location at 2706 Media Center Drive, Ste. 130, Los Angeles, CA 90065, phone (323) 352-5007, or the New York location at Photo Tech, 360 W 36thStreet, New York, NY 10018, phone (212) 673-8400.

Notes to Editors:

  1. As of September 2017
  2. Approx. effective 
  3. Electronic shutter mode. At apertures smaller than F11 (F-numbers higher than F11), focus will not track the subject and focus points will be fixed on the first frame. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds. 
  4. "Hi" continuous shooting mode. The maximum frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. Visit Sony's support web page for lens compatibility information. 

Nikon D850: Firsthand Reader Comments on Ergonomics and Image Quality

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

John W writes:

I went in to my local camera store this morning when they first opened and weren't busy, and they let me have about 30 minutes to play around with their D850 demo unit. I took about about 30 handheld shots with it onto my own SD card and I've had a little time with the raw files in PS this afternoon. Here are a few of my headline-style initial reactions.

As advertised, the new optical viewfinder is huge and gorgeous. I loved it. This camera does not feel like an evolution of the D810 the way the D810 felt like an evolution of the D800. This feels like a whole new and different camera which has lots of familial similarities with the D8xx series. Strange as it sounds, it feel very familiar and very different all at the same time. The ergonomics and usability are excellent. The grip is great. Everything about it is quick and responsive. It felt very natural to work with very quickly.

You can tell immediately that the AF is more responsive than the D810. Maybe it's just me, but having the new ISO button by the shutter is a big deal. That is the way I really want to be able to work with a camera. As far as I am concerned, once we all moved from film to digital, ISO immediately became a routine exposure adjustment, right alongside aperture and shutter speed. It should be just as easy to adjust as those two. Finally, on the D850, it is.

In summary, I became sold very quickly on the ergonomics and usability. Working with this camera is a joy, in a way the D800 and D810 never quite were. And, that was after only 30 minutes of using it. Now, on to image quality: Like the camera body itself, the overall IQ is just flat different from the D800/D810 files. I'm just now starting to wrap my head around specifically what is different, but from immediate impressions, I would never mistake raws from the D850 with raws from the D800/D810 - just like I would never mistake D800/D810 raws for those from Canon or Sony. So, the D850 images are different, but are they better? Again, in IMHO from limited use, in most respects, they are better, but I'm still very concerned about one important element: D850 color looks great to me. Richly saturated, accurate. Very appealing yet natural at the same time. They looked great SOOC.

High ISO noise is definitely better. I was shooting indoors, handheld with no flash, so I shot a lot of stuff between 1,000 and 2,000 ISO. No question. These images are cleaner than I would get from my D810. The SOOC images were very punchy, sharp and detailed. Looking at 100% scale in PS, I could definitely see the additional detail that the 10MP boost was giving me. The "punchiness" is the main reason I would not mistake these images for D800/D810 files. So, I think, overall the contrast profile is somewhat different.

So, that brings me to the possible "fly in the ointment": dynamic range. I have shot a lot of test images in that same store with many different cameras over the years, and I am convinced that the D850 shots I took today were clipping highlights sooner than my D810 would have. Now, maybe my impression is not correct or maybe I need to expose a little differently with this camera than I would with the D810. But, anyway, as of right now - and based on a very small sample of sloppy test shots - I remained concerned with the DR on this camera. That's too bad, because everything else was great.

DIGLLOYD: straight out of camera images can depend on so many settings that I don’t think that tells a whole lot, and very litte for a raw shooter. But I have little doubt that the images are indeed different-looking.

Dynamic range can can only be properly evaluated in raw and with RawDigger (to guarantee proper exposure). The Nikon D810 routines gives away 1.5 to 2 stops of dynamic range for example, such as in Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO vs Pentax 645Z (Pine Creek Sunflowers). And then there are other cameras with pattern and banding noise that “scientific” tests rate as highly as better cameras with no pattern noise. But in all cases, proper exposure is critical.

Regarding noise I would expect the D850 to be improved 4 years later even though it has a higher pixel count. But noise cannot be fairly compared at pixel level: a fixed size print from a 45MP camera will be enlarged less than one for a 36MP camera.

More about the Nikon D850

View all pages tagged with Nikon D850.

Summary of recent posts about the Nikon D850.

OWC ThunderBay 4 20TB RAID-4/5
4TB to 40TB, configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Now up to a whopping 40 Terabytes! TOP PICK

XQD Card for Nikon D850: Sony 256GB

See my Nikon wish list.

I like being able to shoot for a 2 week trip and not have to erase the card, and 256GB will let me do that for still photos. See my Workflow area on how to organize work in the field.

I had purchased a Lexar 128GB XQD card for the Nikon D850 about two weeks ago. It will become my backup card because I just bought the about $350 Sony 256BB XQD card.

The Lexar card came with an XQD card reader which I assume and hope will work fine with the Sony card. It’s lame to sell a $350 card without a card reader Sony—this ought to be rectified.

Sony 256GB XQD card
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Update: Sony pro services is expanding its support in USA and Canada.

Update: due to travel, I did not check the camera until today (reminder to myself: never assume a fix is done until tested and verified). The A7R II is NOT fixed; they forgot to investigate my 3rd issue with it.


In Sony A7R II Out for Minor Repairs I noted the issues with my A7R II.

I’ve been a member of Sony Professional Services for two years and never needed service for it before, but the A7R II had become problematic and no longer viable for my work. Repair work is actually performed by Precision Camera Repair, which is fine by me.

I received a phone call within a day of the camera getting there. The representative was courteous and efficient, told me the cost and details and this was all good—I was pleased with the service.

I’m glad I took action and sent it in. While the bill for the work is $388 (discounted as a Sony Professional Services member), I think this is more than fair given the work to be done:

  • Two stubborn specks on the sensor turned out to be damaged sensor cover glass. So the sensor cover glass is to be replaced. Something about “foreign substance inside the camera” (not identified). That’s certainly possible after regular use in the field over two years, but I am baffled as to how two small nicks were made in the glass—not easy to do. Or maybe they are not nicks but something very hard and sticks—unclear.
  • The mode dial was failing; for about two weeks I could not get out of aperture priority.
  • The camera kept popping out of magnified Live View 3 or 4 times minute, which drove me nuts; this turned out to be a bad internal circuit board.
  • A few other things were found.
  • Complete cleaning inside and out.

I am told the camera will be “just like new” when it returns. I should have the camera back Monday or Tuesday.

Ross J writes:

Glad to hear of your good interaction with the Sony repair dept. Contrast it to Leica. I sent an M9 body in with a cracked sensor glass. No idea how it happened, and it could have been there since I received it, and I just never checked because the pictures seemed fine.

It was picked up when I tried to trade it in at BH Photo. Received an email when it arrived at Leica. Nothing for 2 months. E-mailed them and no answer after 2 weeks. Phoned them and was told that this is a known problem and they will have it for a total of 4-5 months, even though the repair is being done here in the US, and it does not need to be sent to Germany.

The only good news it that the repair will be free. You wonder how I would manage if I was a professional (which I am not) and needed this for regular use, and I would certainly think twice staying with a Leica system (which I am not).

Thank goodness for the D850, I hope your evaluation lives up to the hope and the hype.

DIGLLOYD: I hear stories like this regularly from highly credible people like Ross.

John A writes:

Further to your item about Sony service and the reader’s comment about that I would add this. I have read many comments about apparently poor service from Sony but on the one occasion that I have needed to use that service it has been excellent. I recently needed to send a Sony RX1r for out of warranty service to the local Sony subcontractor in Toronto. It was returned within 10 days with 2 circuit boards replaced and general check over for the cost of $360 Canadian (circa 280 US) and works fine.

However the best bit is that a camera which ate batteries at an annoying rate - two or more per day - is transformed to one that can be left, with batteries in, for a week in the drawer and still have full/100% batteries ready for use ! Regardless of the reasons for sending the camera in for repair I would have paid that amount happily to get this change in battery life !

I know not why nor how and the repair centre can offer no reason for this change - just thought that it was interesting and might be worth passing this info on.

PS— I have been a subscriber for a number of years and value your no nonsense, no holds barred, practical, totally impartial and disinterested reporting, reviews and comments - a godsend in a world of fanboys and commercially influenced websites … long may you continue.

DIGLLOYD: that’s a very interesting comment on battery life; my A7R II eats batteries too, albeit at a much slower rate. Still, after a week the battery might be half empty.

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Adobe Camera Raw Supports Nikon D850

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

Hooray! When I do get a Nikon D850, raw support should not be an issue, barring a bug (there have been issues before, such as with the Hasselblad X1D, which was fixed a few months ago).

As of September 6 2017, Adobe Camera Raw supports the Nikon D850.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has NOT yet been updated as of 2017-09-09, but since Photoshop and Lightroom share the same core library, I expect it soon.

For Photoshop CC 2017, use Help-> Updates to update the Photoshop ACR plugin.


Nikon D850: Trickle of Supply, 1 or 2 Per Dealer

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

I expected to have the Nikon D850 arrive on Friday September 8, assuming it ships as expected from B&H Photo on Sept 7. But it looks like only very small quantities are being received, even by B&H Photo, and I will NOT get one out of the first batch. This situation is rare but still disappoints me, given the 4 year wait for the successor to the D810.

Update: according to Thom Hogan, dealers are mostly getting a single camera or two at most, there may be another shipment to dealers mid-month, and it might take a long time to fill all outstanding orders.

Gah! Just when my peak shooting season is starting, I don’t know when I’ll get a D850. My plans have to be rejiggered.

View all pages tagged with Nikon D850.

Summary of recent posts about the Nikon D850.

Ed F writes:

Just thought I'd confirm the above. I am a NPS member. I am a longtime fanboy of B&H.

However, I thought every NPS and their brother would be lining up for D850 preorders. I went a different route and pre ordered mine thru a local dealer Aug 28 and then notified NPS w/dealer and order info. On Aug 30, I also went thru the NPS re: priority purchase confirmation activity. In the end, I was notified by my dealer on Sept 6 that D850 was shipping from his store on Sept 7. All is good.. sometimes using your local guy is a better path.

DIGLLOYD: Indeed. I don’t have a local dealer any more. But B&H Photo rarely drops the ball for me (and I cannot fault them if they only got 2 or so); this is an unusual situation.

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Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR for Fujifilm GFX Now Available for Preorder

See my Fujifilm medium format wish list and get Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at B&H Photo.

The about $1699 Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR for Fujifilm GFX is now available for pre-order at B&H Photo.

I plan on reviewing the 45/2.8 in Medium Format as part of my in-depth review of the Fujifilm GF system, which has outstanding dynamic range. My primary reservation (focusing accuracy) might have improved with the recent firmware update and if so the Fujifilm GF would earn a strong recommendation if true.

Fujifilm seems to be on a roll in developing a lens line for the Fujifilm GF—and on making field use a hassle when filtration is required, with 4 different filters sizes of 62mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm among six lenses—this is just not necessary to design that inconveniently. Carrying 4 different polarizers is a lot of extra cost and bulk for my hikes. Step-up rings can work, but thy do not allow lens hoods and the lens cap doesn't match so I consider them generally a non-starter.

One clear limitation here is 14°F / 10°C operating range. While this won’t affect me most of the time, it is a non-starter for some winter shooters.

FUJINON GF45mmF2.8 R WR Lens adds versatile wide angle lens to the series; updated GF Lens Roadmap announced and new GFX firmware coming soon

Valhalla, N.Y., September 7, 2017 – FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced the new FUJINON GF45mmF2.8 R WR, a highly versatile wide angle lens.

The GF45mmF2.8 R WR lens has a focal length equivalent to 36mm (in the 35mm format) and a maximum aperture of F2.8. With its compact and lightweight design weighing just 490g, this lens is perfect for street and documentary photography.

The new GF45mmF2.8 R WR is the sixth interchangeable GF lens to be added for the FUJIFILM GFX 50S medium format mirrorless digital camera system. Taking advantage of the mirrorless system’s structure, the G Mount has a short flange back distance of just 26.7mm that reduces the back focus distance as much as possible to prevent vignetting and achieve edge-to-edge sharpness.

As with all GF Lenses, the GF45mmF2.8 R WR is a professional quality lens capable of reproducing rich tones and unique colors. With a construction of 8 groups and 11 elements using one aspherical lens and two ED lenses, the GF45mmF2.8 R WR lens is equipped to provide the highest image quality while reducing aberrations. The lens features Nano GI coating to suppress ghosting and flare, and is weather and dust resistant capable of operating in environments as cold as 14°F/-10°C. The GF45mmF2.8 R WR lens combines reliability and high performance to be the ultimate tool for professional photographers.

FUJINON GF45mmF2.8 R WR Lens Key Features:

  • FUJIFILM G Mount is compatible with the FUJIFILM GFX 50S
  • Weather and dust resistant design capable of operating at temperatures as low as 14°F/-10°C
  • 8 groups and 11 elements construction using one aspherical lens and two ED lenses
  • 9 blade aperture creates smooth and circular bokeh
  • Nano GI coating suppresses ghosting and flare

New FUJINON GF Lens Development Roadmap

Also announced today is the latest development of the G Mount Lens Roadmap, showcasing the continued expansion of the interchangeable lens range for the FUJIFILM GFX 50S medium format mirrorless digital camera.

The latest roadmap adds two new lenses: the GF250mmF4 R LM OIS WR telephoto prime lens with a focal length equivalent to 198mm (in 35mm format) and maximum aperture of F4 for beautiful bokeh when shooting portrait and landscape images; and the GF1.4X TC WR, a high-performance teleconverter capable of multiplying the focal length by 1.4x. Compatible with the GF250mmF4 R LM OIS WR lens, the GF1.4X teleconverter provides a focal length of 350mm (equivalent to 277mm in the 35mm format).

With the addition of the two lenses, the GF lens lineup includes a total of eight lenses covering focal lengths from 18mm – 277mm (in the 35mm format) to correspond to an expansive range of photographer needs.

Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR for Fujifilm GFX


Nikon D850: User Manual (PDF) Now Available for Download

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

The Nikon D850 User Guide is now available for download.

UPDATE: I’m getting nervous about getting the Nikon D850 as planned—apparently B&H is getting a nominal shipment of the D810 for the first go-round, so I might or might get one right away. I should have more info Thursday Sept 7.


Nikon D850: this Weekend

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

I expect to have the Nikon D850 arrive on Friday September 8, assuming it ships as expected from B&H Photo on Sept 7.

Update: it's looking dubious that I will get one of the first very small shipments that B&H receives.

My Sprinter photography adventure van is being upfitted (Phase 1) at ADF Sprinters in San Fernando (I am staying for the 4-day duration), so postings here will be quiet this week, perhaps a big plus to rest up before a major push on the Nikon D850.

As I have a 350 mile drive home from ADF Sprinters on Sept 8, I expect to get started on the D850 on September 9 but realistically not until September 10: I plan to head to the mountains by September 10th and intensively shoot and review the D850 in the field (mountains) using my Sprinter photography adventure van.

Update: the eastern Yosemite area fires have not blocked Hwy 120, but I wonder about smoky conditions—might have to shoot over in White Mountains instead.

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