Includes images from f/1.7 through f/8 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.
Ultra-high performance across entire capacity, outperforms the competition.
Tiny, bus-powered, rugged, compact!
For now, I’ve sold the Fujifilm GFX100S to a reader and friend who has had no success on the waiting list. I have no immediate need for it, so I’ll just (probably) buy one in 2-3 months when I need it again.
I discuss my reasons for buying it and then selling it, and why you might or might not want one:
This series proves out unequivocally what I kept seeing in series after series: the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR is incapable of delivering sharpness on a 100MP sensor at any aperture.
Includes images from f/3.5 through f/8 at up to full camera resolution.
And can the Fujifilm GF 30/3.5 deliver 100-megapixel captures?
Each time I shot the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 in the field, the outer zones disappointed me by failing to develop anything near the sharpness of the central 2/3 or so. Two lens samples behaved similarly.
Part of the issue is a real/actual depth of field that thins-out considerably in the outer zones, so I wondered if focus stacking might fully or partially overcome this performance disappointment.
Includes a six-frame focus stacked image and a single frame for comparison, with commentary and conclusions.
This study evaluates the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 on a close-range scene, evaluating sharpness across the field, color correction, focus shift and depth of field considerations.
Includes images from f/3.5 through f/11 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.
Some examples below.
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This study evaluates the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR on a close-range scene, evaluating sharpness across the field, color correction, focus shift and depth of field considerations.
Includes images from f/1.7 through f/11 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.
This aperture series from f/1.2 through f/5.6 evaluates the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM at far distance into the challenging lighting of a sunrise orb backlighting a deeply-shadowed foreground.
Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 to f/5.6.
Sony did their homework here, and created a masterpiece*. The ,Sony 50/1.2 GM is a lens for which one buys the camera body, the preferred camera body at this writing being the Sony A1* (Sony A7R IVa is a good choice too).
* Meanwhile in the land of unicorns and rainbows, Leica M users pay 3X to 6X the price for vastly inferior sharpness accompanied by overwhelming flare problems making it impossible to shoot such a scene at all.
This aperture series from f/2 through f/1l looks at sharpness across the field and near to far with the Voigtlander 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical.
A practical must-read for any Voigtlander 35/2 APO user, a special assessment is done here: the sharpness-damaging effects of its rearward focus shift are shown, but a 2nd aperture series with refocusing to compensate for the shift shows that the lens is supremely sharp when focused optimally.
Includes a detailed discussion of why I am rejecting the Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar for my own landscape photography use. But I also include three different approaches to mitigating the focus shift. Because the lens is a very strong performer with excellent build quality and haptics and compact form factor.
This aperture series from f/1.4 through f/11 evaluates the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM on a complex 3D scene for overall rendering style, color correction, sharpness.
Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 to f/11, plus a monochrome rendition.
I 'get' that drones have their uses in appropriate situations. But like any tool, they are all too often abused, as I can personally attest.
Out in the wilderness, it is now a regular occurrence every trip to have some ahole flying a giant mosquito in or near a wilderness area. That sound is extremely irritating, destroying the sense of tranquility. No longer enjoying the peace and beauty anymore, the drone commands attention by its whining sound up to a mile away in quiet areas. Along with the sense of being survived, blinking lights at dusk, etc.
The “no drone zone” signs are there but people keep on doing it.
Drones will never be compatible with enjoyment of a wilderness area. Not for the operator and not for anyone else within a 1-mile radius. Degrading someone else’s experience of the wilderness with a drone (or other nuisance) is unacceptable.
Harassing wildlife is already crime and rightly so, but IMO, the statute should be updated to assume that operating a drone in a natural area is implicitly wildlife harassment. And it should not be limited to game animals. Numerous animals (and fish) see anything airborne as a mortal threat. It should also be a legal requirement to cease operation upon request by anyone.
The operator cannot know what effects are at play with respect to wildlife. Here is an extreme example of severe consequences:
It’s not just drones.
On my recent trip I saw numerous people taking dogs into wilderness areas, some overnighting with them in highly-sensitive areas*. As I understand it, this is actually illegal, being in a wilderness area adjacent to Yosemite National Park. But there is zero enforcement. Often, the dogs are running loose (not on leash), but whether that is legal or not is hard to track down and can vary by each wilderness area. Many birds at high altitude nest on the ground—connect the dots. Dogs crap wherever they feel the need, which could infect animals like coyotes and foxes as the mess. Barking is troublesome and can be heard miles away. And like drones, they can cause disruption to wildlife—dogs will be dogs, sniffing out and chasing things. I like dogs and I understand that their owners love hiking with them, but I don’t like dogs in wilderness areas especially off-leash.
* I’ve observed some of my favorite areas degrade more in the past 2-3 years than in the previous 2-3 decades. People camp in high-usage areas, trampling the ground cover, building fire pits in violation of multiple regulations, etc. But mainly, it’s just the steady trampling and crushing of plants (always step on rocks instead of plants whenever feasible).
Robert H writes:
I couldn’t agree more about the use of drones, Lloyd. On a photographic workshop to the Faroe Islands, a few years ago, the workshop organiser and leader decided to fly his drone when the workshop participants, who had each paid serious money to go on the trip, were taking photographs by the shore.
The beautiful sounds of the crashing waves and the calls of the seabirds were immediately drowned out by the sudden intrusion of the extremely loud, high pitched whine of the drone and "the moment” was shattered, making concentration and image making impossible, with the loss of immersion in every aspect of the scene.
Despite requests from the participants, he chose to fly his drone on several more occasions, until it crashed into a sea stack, causing huge elation among the participants…and relief that it wouldn’t again invade their privacy. In my humble opinion, they should be banned, unless used for genuine commercial purposes, such as surveying.
DIGLLOYD: stunningly bad judgment including the fact that the irritation generated by the drone should pay 'dividends' for that workshop organizer for a long time to come. Who would want to ever work with such an inconsiderate person again?
Louis F writes:
Could not agree more!!!
I recall when one of the first drones came out some years ago -the DJI. I was in the Arches NP in the Windows parking lot. As soon as I got out of the car I heard and then saw a kid maybe 7 years old flying a drone with his father nearby and then the kid crashed it on some plant species the Rangers were trying to protect as it cut off several new growth leaves. As I tried to control myself I reminded the father that drone flying in NPs was not allowed. He said he had no idea. The park brochures are clear on this matter as are all the signs posted around the NPs. Few give a d—n anymore as long as they get their selfish fun.
DIGLLOYD: great role model for kids—law breaking and lying. But anyone thinking that a National Park is a place to disengage from the world via electronics gadgets instead of engaging the natural world has incredibly bad judgment to begin with.
I know of someone going on a 2 week photo workshop to Alaska soon and the instructor requested each participant to bring along a drone. There will be around 8 in total. They will take helicopters to remove locations and camp out 10 of the 14 days. To keep oneself within the flying weight limits participants will have to leave behind camera lenses to make up for their drones weight.
So can you imagine if you have planned the trip of your life to Alaska only to have this crowd buzzing their drones over your tranquility. It is still fairly wild out there in Alaska so I am sure some local who has had enough of drones breaking his or her solitude might use a drone as target practice since most walk around with a rifle in case of a wild animal attack. This might be the only way to give 'droners' a message. I would never go on a workshop encouraging drone activity and especially I would not pay over $10k to be on that workshop.
DIGLLOYD: with any luck, the novelty will wear off.
Michael K writes:
We are all mainly focused on which bodies to buy and then buy the lens we can afford. Maybe that's the wrong way round?
Surely we should pick the lens we like the rendering from and then buy the body? Just a thought. It's an exciting time with all this new camera tech coming to the market.
DIGLLOYD: setting aside usage scenarios and existing gear, yes it can be a very good way to go for those having a specific capture style. Very much a 'feel' thing to the images. Add in the design trends with a particular brand and that can seal the deal.
We are in the golden age of photography.
I wrote this back in 2010 in Choosing a Camera:
A digital camera is an accessory whose value plummets over time. A year or two or three later, you might be shooting a different model camera with more megapixels, better dynamic range, faster focus, etc. But the lenses need not change. Lenses not only hold their value, but some actually increase in price over time. Also, digital cameras keep improving each year, so take the long view, investing in lenses first.
Since I wrote the above, little has changed (the idea still rings true), and everything has changed (major advances in camera and lens technology).
But while certain lenses will never go out of rendering style, it is a heck of a lot friendlier to tote around on Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM on an Sony A1/A7R IV with autofocus, instead of a 'big brick' Nikon D850 + Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon.
It pays to look around for different vantage points.
Funny how in Lundy Canyon, rarely does anyone show up before 9 AM. and I have all my shooting done by 7:30 AM. And finally on the last day of my trip the weather gods smiled, gifting me a windless morning, the first in weeks.
I’ll be home in less than a week when I can properly present the material I’ve been shooting.
But what a frustrating trip—worst ever in productivity, because 8 of 10 days have been so windy that photography ranged from challenging to a total waste of time (camera vibration). Yesterday it was 30 mph gusting to 50 mph and cold too—constant buffetting very unpleasant and very drying at 10% humidity. But even a 20-30 mph steady wind is a severe problem for image sharpness. A week in the White Mountains yielded 2 useful shoots and that's it.
Anyway, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM continues to impress in having the best rendering style I’ve ever seen in a 50mm lens (can anything top it at any focal length?), and it’s a stunning performer wide open for landscape too. It deserves legendary status at its debut, IMO.
On an overcast day, I spent an hour or so photographing marmots, which are pretty tough to approach in wide open spaces. Had I been willing to sit and be patient for day, I’m sure I could have gotten much closer. However, the juveniles are much less suspicious of things and are easier to approach.
The Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS worked well for the task, but something up to 1000mm would be a lot more useful. The Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS would have been ideal, with 1.4X and 2X teleconverters, but I don’t have one.
Turns out that the Sony A7R IV is grossly inferior to the Sony A1 for Eye AF. After a lot frustration (inability to find the eye, ears are eyes, nose is an eye, etc), I gave up and used standard focusing in magnified Live View instead—much faster and more reliable. I plan on getting the A1 soon because the A7R IV, fine as it is, just feels outdated, its responsiveness in every way inferior to the A1, which irritated me daily now that I am/was spoiled by the A1.
This juvenile marmot was scavenging the dirt road for some particular kind of grit (nothing growing at all and the soil can be seen on its noise). I’ve seen this behavior before and I presume it was after some kind of mineral content in certain I am glad these guys aren’t around my garden. They’s like supersized ground squirrel, quite a bit larger than a house cat as adults (up to 23 pounds!).
My focus for a few more days is making images, so I won’t be publishing much until I return.
The Long Haul COVID thing
I feel thankful that with sleep and naps, I actually was able to do some moderate hikes the past few days—something out of range for some months now. Sore muscles as I am massively deconditioned, and carrying a 20 pound spare tire and 20 pounds of camera gear is like carrying a 40 pound backpack—that ain’t helping!
I still can’t go far or hard exertion but it’s a definite trend up. Maybe it’s the attention to nutrition, including very large doses of Vitamin C and various other nutrients including magnesium. And maybe not. But now I only feel 10 years older than I am!
Five days of wind making it very difficult to shoot and some rain. And it’s really difficult for me to get up at 5 AM (sleep requirements still demanding from LHC), but I made the effort this morning. June is my least favorite month for sunrise and sunsets— the sun shoots straight up, turning the light not so great very quickly. And there is that 5 AM thing (predawn glow is around 4:15!). Early and late in the year is much better.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM continues to impress me. Can you believe this image is at f/1.2?!
The 50/1.2GM can definitely be put into service as a landscape lens. And it does everything else well too, including handling flare. It is surely one of the finest 50mm lenses ever made. I’ll show this scene as an aperture series soon.
Jon M writes:
Truly one of your best Lloyd. Beautiful!
DIGLLOYD: I love shooting up here at dawn.
Ashish V writes:
Amazing image quality. Can I check is this image a crop or full image area? Just surprised by the front to back sharpness in the image…assuming this wasn’t a focus stacked image?
DIGLLOYD: see the caption. Single frame @ f/1.2, entire sensor (not a crop). There are some weanesses at f/1.2, which I’ll detail in the full aperture series when I publish it in a few days.