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Demands on Lens Performance with the Sony A7R IV are More Pronounced than I had Anticipated

It was my premise that the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV with its 3.74 micron pixels* would place an unprecedented demand on lens performance, demands never before experienced except when using Multi-Shot High-Res mode of the 45MP Panasonic S1R.

I was not disappointed—or rather I was quite disappointed. Last night, I shot 22 different lens combinations in order to assay what to expect (I’m counting zooms and their focal lengths as a lens).

Today in going over the files I was shocked at how disappointing most of them were—yikes, this is going to require careful selection and usage to really use the Sony A7R IV to its best. The gains for 60MP are real, but you’d better have the best lenses and perfect shot discipline and be aware of focus errors, focus shift and field curvature and lens asymmetry, with most of the lenses showing symmetry issues of varying degrees (and I’m beginning to question Sigma’s quality control, looks like the claims are bogus as to MTF testing).

As just one example in the quality control area, the Voigtlander 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical which I praised so highly on the Sony A7R III... well this latest copy is a dud, unable to make sharpness in the outer zones at f/5.6 or even f/8—what the hell? A bummer, as I was hoping to use it a lot.

Here’s a headache: stopping down is not much of a solution for focus shift and field curvature and lens asymmetry because f/4 is the last aperture (for a high-grade lens) that avoids diffraction effects! Using f/5.6 shows subtle micro contrast losses with the best lenses, and f/8 visibly degraded. It’s exactly analogous to f/8 vs f/5.6 on the Sony A7R III—f/8 is the new f/11, so to speak.

* 9552 x 6360 images in a 35.7 X 23.8 mm form factor— not quite full frame sensor, about 1.6% smaller.

Total benefits are still a plus

While the resolution gains require the best lenses and shot discipline, the benefits of higher resolution are there in other ways for “free”: reduced moiré, reduced color aliasing, reduced spurious detail, all of which produce a superior image compared to the 42MP of the Sony A7R III. Image quality is a lot more than just resolving power!

Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Aperture Series: Mosaic (Sony A7R IV)

I’m kicking off my coverage of the Sony A7R IV by showing various lenses and their performance—good and bad—see Demands on Lens Performance with the Sony A7R IV are More Pronounced than I had Anticipated.

The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 is one of the top few best of the 22 lens combinations I tested last night, but it has some field curvature behavior that is more important than ever to be aware of, that is, on a 60MP sensor.

....

This series evaluates the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 on an extremely demanding target: a planar subject with exceedingly fine detail. Sony A7R IV 4-shot pixel shift was used to capture the best possible detail. This target is among the most demanding any lens can face, mercilessly showing most all lens weaknesses.

Field curvature is of particular interest because at 60MP, small deviations across the field are not so small, and stopping down past f/4 begins to degrade micro contrast from diffraction.

Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Aperture Series: Mosaic (Sony A7R IV)

Includes images up to full camera resolution of 60 megapixels.

f4 @ 1/40 sec pixel shift, ISO 100; 2019-09-14 18:59:39
Sony A7R IV + Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Distagon
RAW: vignetting corrected, USM{8,50,0}

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Sony A7R IV Raw File Support in Adobe Camera Raw is Preliminary, Problematic

Adobe Camera Raw Support for Sony A7R IV raw files is preliminary.

Color rendition is way off for the A7R IV, such as tint needing to be +25M to +35M and white balance is off too. Not to mention there being no camera profile.

I am unsure how to proceed showing much work since comparing the Sony A7R III to the Sony A7R IV is inappropriate with no solid camera profile.

Adobe Camera Raw support for Sony A7R IV is preliminary as of September 25, 2019

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Sony A7R IV Quick Thoughts

The Sony A7R IV seems improved in every way in terms of the camera itself: better button feel, best EVF for manual focus in ANY camera I’ve yet used—awesome! Operational speed is improved but still a bit sluggish to do things like zoom into a recorded image, though scrolling is very fast.

One thing I’ve learned is that even some very good lenses are going to struggle with the sensor resolution of the Sony A7R IV! Color fringing shows up in unexpected places, like the Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar.

You will not get full resolution without focus stacking because depth of field relative to pixel size is substantially reduced. Which is awful in practice, because there is no automated focus stacking support on the A7R IV. The huge file sizes are ridiculous too—often larger than the lossless-compressed files with the 100MP Fujifilm GFX100, so much so that I anticipate running out of card space in the field with the A7R IV.

Sony 4-shot pixel shift remain a science fair project outside, even for static subjects—checkerboarding is almost impossible to avoid, at least on all-critical edges. its 16-shot pixel shift mode is just lot of soft pixels often inferior to 4-shot mode—and both suck compared to Panasonic S1R Multi-Shot High-Res mode.

Sony A7R IV

MacPerformanceGuide.com

FOR SALE: Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

I'm selling this lens on behalf of a friend.

As some readers might know the Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L is a beautiful supertele long lusted over that has become a collector’s item—not many were made.

  • Glass looks perfect front and rear and through, lens is not mint but looks close to it.
  • Field shots show perfect performance on the 50 megapixel Canon 5DS R—sharp as a tack across the field.
  • Includes Canon lens hood and hardcase and warranty card (out of warranty, USA).
  • I am including the Canon EF 1.4X II tele extender
  • Circular drop-in filter holder and spare one.
  • Includes original lens foot plus Really Right Stuff LCF-40 Foot.
  • USA warranty card

Local sale (San Francisco Bay Area) preferred so buyer can inspect lens, other areas possible with travel (Eastern Sierra, Reno, NV, a few others). Contact Lloyd. $5500 or best offer.

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L and stuff
f1.8 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 20; 2019-09-15 09:22:47
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 473 ft / 144 m

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Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L, side view with controls
f1.8 @ 1/120 sec, ISO 20; 2019-09-15 09:26:22
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 492 ft / 150 m

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Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L, side view with Really Right Stuff lens foot
f1.8 @ 1/120 sec, ISO 25; 2019-09-15 09:26:55
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 491 ft / 150 m

[low-res image for bot]
Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L, front glass
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 25; 2019-09-15 09:27:19
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 493 ft / 150 m

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Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L, ZZZZ
f1.8 @ 1/120 sec, ISO 40; 2019-09-15 09:27:35
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 491 ft / 150 m

[low-res image for bot]
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LibRaw Updates PixelShift2DNG for Sony A7R IV, Supports 4-frame and 16-frame Pixel Shift Files

LibRaw LLC is responsible for excellent software including RawDigger and FastRawViewer and utilities like PixelShift2DNG and Monochrome2DNG. Functionality and performance are first-rate.

PixelShift2DNG (beta): Convert Pentax K1/K3-II and Sony A7R-III Pixel Shift Files to DNG

In order to streamline the workflow with the raw shots taken in the new Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode offered by the Pentax K1(-II)/K3-II and Sony A7R-III cameras, and provide a way to use popular RAW converters (Adobe Camera Raw/Lightroom, Capture One, and some others) for processing these shots, we’ve developed the PixelShift2DNG application, which converts Sony and Pentax shots taken in Pixel Shift mode to DNG, supported by most (but not all) RAW converters.

PixelShift2DNG performs the two following tasks:

• Combine 4 source ARW files taken in Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode and save the result as a DNG;

• Convert ARQ file formats (and ARW file quartets previously combined into one file by the program Sony Imaging Edge) or 4-shot PEF/DNG containers (taken with Pentax K1/K1-II/K3-II cameras) to regular DNG files. The resulting DNG files can later be processed in familiar applications like Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw, CaptureOne, Iridient Developer, Luminar, and others.

The resulting DNG files can later be processed in familiar applications like Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw, CaptureOne, Iridient Developer, Luminar, and others.


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Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Teak Bench (Sony A7R IV)

See my initial comments on disappointing performance of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art.

One of my first steps with the Sony A7R IV testing is to pick out the wheat from the chaff, in terms of lenses—I have no desired to head to Yosemite and shoot with a lens that has an issue. Thus this test with two samples of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art—I was lucky in getting one sample a month ago, and deferring testing it until I got another, because the first sample looked “off” even on the "only" 42 megapixel Sony A7R III.

...

I shot this series with two samples of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art, my experience over the years suggesting to me the first sample was “off”, a bad sample. This comparison proved me right, and is thus excellent for anyone looking to see how sample variation can change the impression of a lens significantly.

While the same core behaviors are present, irrespective of focus the 2nd sample is distinctly superior through at least f/4. That’s a big deal for an f/1.2 lens, since the wider apertures are presumably the reason one buys it. Given what I’ve heard from two other users, there may be many not so great samples out there*.

Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Teak Bench (Sony A7R IV)

Includes images up to full camera resolution for the good sample, and comparison crops for both samples showing the differences in performance.

The wood grain makes an excellent testing pattern for both lenses under controlled circumstances. It also shows off the resolving power of the Sony A7R IV sensor.

* High performance lens designs require tolerances that can be difficult to achieve in manufacture—there are many fine lens designs which are never built because it would be too hard (expensive) to reliably built to the designed performance level. Sigma’s quality control needs to be improved, and it raises the issue of whether an advanced design will retain its performance over time after minor bumps and such.

Teak Bench
f1.2 @ 1/320 sec, ISO 100; 2019-09-13 18:55:01
Sony A7R IV + Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected

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Reader Comment: Nikon Z7 vs Nikon Z6 for Focusing Tracking and Noise

Brian K writes:

I’m quite happy with the Nikon Z7. It’s not perfect, but I prefer it over any camera I have ever owned.

[diglloyd: in total, the Nikon Z7/Z6 have the best ergonomics/haptics and travel size camera/lenses combo on the market. Little surprise to see Ming Thein carrying the Nikon Z7 + the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S while traveling].

My only major complaint is the focus lag for rapidly moving subjects—something that becomes an issue with my rapidly moving 5 year old son. I’m hoping this gets improved in a subsequent iteration. The counterpoint is that setting AF to area AF in continuous focus mode is *really* useful unless the subject is moving quickly. For non-tripod work it has become my AF mode of choice. Point the camera at the area you want to be in focus, half-press the shutter to lock it on that area (with the subsequent yellow rectangle), and then recompose as needed. While not perfect, it does a decent job of continuously acquiring focus on the area you chose. When Eye AF gets activated when people are in the frame, this gets even better. Easy to switch between eyes (or people). Again not perfect, but it has worked pretty well for me. When it doesn’t work (by picking the wrong area to lock onto), it’s fairly easy to start over (by hitting the OK button to reset the area of AF).

Nikon Z7

My actual question to you involves a comparison between the Z7 and Z6. I have no idea if the Z6 is better able to handle continuous AF changes with rapidly moving subjects. Perhaps the lower MP of the sensor allows it to focus faster/more accurately with rapidly moving subjects? It has fewer AF points than the Z7 which makes me think the answer is no, but possible I’m not thinking about everything.

The other question (which is actually more important to me) is whether the Z6 might handle noise better than the Z7. The two share the same generation of sensor, but the Z6 sensor is less dense than the Z7 sensor. So the photosites are bigger? Which should result in a better ability to distinguish signal from noise?

I have a specific application in mind behind my question. With my son being 5 yrs old, he attends many birthday parties at indoor bouncy houses. The light isn’t great. Freezing motion of my son (or the other kids) jumping requires a shutter speed of at least 1/125th sec and ideally faster (1/200, 1/250, 1/300). With an f/2.8 zoom the ISO values start getting into the unacceptable range and even with an f/1.4 lens they can get fairly high (and focus errors get magnified at f/1.4 and DOF can be too shallow even without focus errors).

So if the Nikon Z6 can handle noise better by even a stop, it might be a better body for this specific application. If it can handle noise better by more than a stop, that would be even better.

CLICK TO VIEW: Nikon Z System

Though it’s somewhat crazy, I’m considering buying a Z6 specifically for this type of shooting situation—not for landscapes or tripod work where I care about detail, but for action shots in poor light. Not for the higher FPS capture, but specifically to get better IQ at a high ISO with rapidly moving subjects. Am I thinking about this correctly? Am I missing something?

DIGLLOYD: taking digital sensor noise first: given equivalent technology, two sensors of the same size but different resolution collect the same amount of total light. The sensor with lower resolution has larger photosites and in theory will yield a higher signal/noise ratio per pixel.

The f/2.8 lens speed might be hurting AF speed with most cameras but since Nikon stops down for focusing, it would not help to use an f/1.8 prime (unless the firmware now supports opening the lens in dim light to focus, in which case focus shift becomes a problem).

However, the noise on a per-image basis is not per pixel, it is per-image. So the appropriate comparison is to downsample the 45MP Nikon Z7 image to the matching 24MP size of the Nikon Z6 in order to properly compare it. Excluding extremely high ISO values perhaps (where the S/N ratio becomes very poor and thus the dominating factor), I have found that the higher resolution camera is usually preferable even when noise is a concern, because visible noise is usually no worse, but it eliminates other digital artifacts by virtue of oversampling. With a small amount of chroma noise reduction, the downsampling (using Bicubic Sharper) produces a superior overall image with much less moiré, color aliasing and with superior micro contrast.

In other words and excepting very high ISO, all other things being equal I would stick with the Nikon Z7.

Autofocus speed: I don’t have any special knowledge of Nikon Z6 vs Nikon Z7 autofocus capability and cannot speak to that. I presume the technology is the same, but that the Z7 can ultimately focus more accurately in a sense, because it does so at higher resolution. Again, that means that downsampling to 24MP then comparing the detail/accuracy may win out in favor of the Z7.


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Nikon D850 Monochrome

I did some testing with the Sony A7R IV today, but the 45-megapixel Nikon D850 monochrome by maxmax.com looks to capture more detail and be highly resistant to diffraction too. I am testing the D850m for a few weeks, it is not my own.

The NEF file was converted to a monochrome DNG file via LibRaw Monochrome2DNG and “Method B”, then processed using Adobe Camera Raw. Doing so avoids any demosaicing.

Below, a sneak peak at what it can do via an actual pixels crop from a corner of the frame. I’ll be making some landscape images with the Nikon D850m soon, right alongside the Sony A7R IV.

Actual pixels crop, corner area
f8 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 64; 2019-09-13 23:18:25
Nikon D850 monochrome by maxmax.com + Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

[low-res image for bot]

Björn G writes:

Why D850 vs SONY. Wouldn´t Nikon Z7 be more appropriate?

DIGLLOYD: The D850 monochrome is on loan for testing; it was not my decision. If I were to convert a camera, it would indeed probably be the Nikon D850 or Canon 5DSR because I rarely use them and thus the sunk cost can be put to new use. That, versus buying another camera.

To convert a camera to true monochrome, the CFA (color filter array) is physically removed with an acid or solvent. This leaves the sensor so that all pixels record all wavelengths of light without the red or green or blue filtration of the CFA. Some sensors are amenable to this, and others are not because of corrosion potential with some sensors due to the physical design.

A monochrome camera may be desirable for technical or industrial reasons, and not necessarily for versus photographic/artistic reasons.

Setting aside lack of an EVF, the Nikon D850 is very well built and takes a huge variety of native-mount lenses. In physical terms, the Nikon D850 is one of the best operating cameras I have used.


MacPerformanceGuide.com

Lucky to get one: Sony A7R IV Arriving Friday

Sony A7R IV will be here tomorrow. I was lucky to get one right away, as supply is tight, the A7R IV being a hotly anticipated camera.

If you purchase the Sony A7R IV, that means waiting for it at this point (pre-ordering), just as with many hot new items from Sony—but ordering now is your best way to get one as soon as you can.

Be sure to get fast UHS-II SDXC cards (see below) and computer storage might be in order also, particularly if you intend to use focus stacking or 16-shot mode.

Thanks for buying using any of the links on this site.

CLICK TO VIEW: Pre-Order Sony A7R IV

Sony A7R IV shipped

Lenses I will be testing with initially

I will be promptly doing a few things to verify the lenses I have are good samples (hard to do fully, but a quick check can sometime catch obvious issues), and I want to see if 16-shot mode is usable also.

SDXC cards

The Sony Tough series SDXC cards are definitely the way to go—two of them (128GB each)worked flawlessly in the Fujifilm GFX100, and I expect the same in the Sony A7R IV, which also has dual UHS-II card slots.

I really like the build of the Sony Tough cards—very robust, no write-protect tab—best SD card I’ve used ever, and performance is excellent.

Computer Storage

You’re going to want storage and lots of it.

 


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Reader Comment: “iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max is a pivot point”

See also The NuGuard KX Case Has Saved My iPhone 7 Plus even at Speed from my Bicycle. It has saved my iPhone 7 Plus two dozen times being dropped onto concrete or asphalt, including at peed from a bicycle. Just recently, I discovered that water bars on fire roads can levitate my iPhone 7 Plus up and out of my cycling jersey pocket, dropping it nicely not the rock trail at speed—unharmed.

Michael Erlewine writes:

Harbinger: The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max

Just a note. My gut is that the new iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max is a pivot point, especially with the forthcoming “Deep Fusion” mode which combines a series of shots (like stacking) to make a highly detailed shot. The iPhone 11 can also produce DNGs.

The camera now has three cameras:

- An ultra-wide 13mm f/2.4 5-element lens with 120° field of view and a 12MP sensor.

- A 26mm f/1.8 wide, 6-elements, 12 MP sensor with optical stabilization camera.

- A 52mm f/2.0, 6-element lens, with optical stabilization, 2x optical zoom 12MP sensor.

It also works with a fascinating piece of software for video called Filmic, which allows you to use some of the multiple cameras in the iPhone 11. In addition, the iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max has 512 GB and up to 5 hours more battery time than before.

My best guess is that this event is a toehold on the future and the flag or sign that a beefed-up iPhone can finally handle low to medium photographic tasks, if not right now, then soon.

When you consider you can get DNGs from this camera, Night Mode, and a small host of other features, we have, IMO, crossed a point of no-return. If this is not the next page, then it at least the iPhone 11 sends a signal that change indeed is coming.

The thought of carrying an iPhone, a gimbal, and a few other accessories instead of all the gear I now carry is worth thinking about. No, not for landscapes and the kind of close-up I like, but to be able to carry around a camera in my shirt pocket to address all of the times I wish I had a camera with me is tempting. I am getting one and selling a bunch of lenses.

...

My comments on the iPhone 11 Pro Max are not meant to mean I won’t be using my scores of lenses (maybe I will sell some of these; I’m not a camera museum! LOL) I will continue to use my APO lenses, etc., especially indoors in the studio for winter. I don’t consider the iPhone a replacement, except perhaps for my Sony RX100, which I never bother to carry around with me. I will use the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, since I need an iPhone a lot anyway. My eye for light and composition works 24x7 and not just when I carry heavy gear around. I can’t imagine how many times I have been out walking or whatever, seen something that strikes my eye, but have no way to record it.

I don’t print photos and have not even one of the hundreds of thousands of images I have taken on the wall. None. I do however blog every day to some 7500 folks who would be happy to see what I can produce on a smart phone. I don’t consider this iPhone as a come-down, but rather as a challenge that I am happy to accept. I also have always wanted to make short, personal, videos and will try that.

I see this as an extension of my photography rather than as a surrogate.

DIGLLOYD: the iPhone is one more tool for the photographer and has its place.

But will it have Eye AF? Too often, the iPhone has given me a blurry face and sharp background—unbelievable given the other sophisticated functions.

On the way

A big downside for me at least is that the iPhone 11 Pro Max weighs another 40 grams or so—that’s a lot—it approaches half a pound! The weight is bothersome already with the iPhone 7 Plus in my cycling jersey pockets in particular.

At right, if Apple has sold me a bill of goods like with the iPhone 7 Plus with its garbage quality 2X camera, the iPhone 11 Pro Max will go back. My iPhone 7 Plus is nearly 3 years old, and its battery is not keeping a good charge, and it’s not meeting my needs for the times I use it for images, so I’m treating the iPhone 11 Pro Max as a camera, loathe as I am to pay the price.

It’s very clear that computational photography has enormous potential. The Apple iPhone is leading in that area, with cameras like the Panasonic S1R with its Multi-Shot High-res mode doing sophisticated things for motion (quite unlike Sony’s lame pixel shift, which is a “dumb” shooting mode generating files you have to process later).

I’ve been using the Pro Camera app to shoot raw/DNG on my iPhone 7 Plus for some time now—it’s the best of the bunch for my purposes. The result from raw are quite good for the 1X camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. In JPEG, results from either camera are frequently garbage —huge amounts of detail smeared away, mottled diseased-looking skin, heavily posterized tonal transitions, etc. The 2X camera I gave up on, so consistently poor are its results. But in raw/DNG the 1X camera is really good and built-in fill flash makes it even better outdoors.

The new iPhone 11 Pro Max I had already decided I have to buy to maintain perspective on the state of the art and its 3 cameras, and also the all-important image stabilization and 12MP front-facing selfie camera. I hate to spend more money on anything with Apple, but it’s now a camera as much as a phone.

Night Mode on the iPhone 11 Pro is an open question—maybe it will solve the #1 problem I’ve had with the iPhone 7 Plus, that is, garbage quality in low light and unusable camera shake.

Nick C writes:

The new iPhone 11 pro max is it. I actually canceled my A7R IV preorder and am selling off my lenses. I did a statistical analysis of the photos I’ve been taking over the last couple of years, and 90+% of the views have been those taken using my iPhone. Add to this that I don’t print, and it’s increasingly evident that the ship for dedicated cameras other than niche use cases is being loaded for departure, if it hasn’t sailed yet.

Add to this—

1. Unlimited photo and video storage in iCloud for instant viewing anywhere. And yes I can still copy the files locally.

2. Freedom from testing stresses: do I have a sharp copy? Is it centered? F*k that sh*t.

3. Banding when pushing exposure? Exposure to the right? Focusing concerns? Obsolete topics. Computational photography makes all the other cameras look defective in this regard.

4. Life is short. Perfect pixels do not replace a light traveling experience where the phone just gets out of the way, is there when needed to take a great looking photo, and disappears in a pocket when not.

5. Battery life so long that you don’t even think about it.

6. Superlative, instant, in the field publishing options that are simply unrivaled.

I am done with high end gear, and feel unbelievably relieved.

DIGLLOYD: tools are tools. If a hammer suits all your needs, start pounding.

seems rather optimistic as to results (personal experience makes me highly skeptical, including pictures of myself that make me look like I have a serious skin disease), but I agree that for the 99%, regular cameras are pointless. The iPhone gets a lot of use in my hands in the field and is a big win for some things, and a losing proposition at other times with hugely disappointing fails—when it’s ugly its fugly. It’s a tool that work well for some things but is like trying to use a hammer to clip a fingernail at other times.

Point 3 is euphoric. Bad focus (background instead of me), blown-out skies, severely posterized skies and skin, blocky shadows, etc have been my iPhone experience. Raw solves that, but not Apple’s horrible JPEG quality in too many cases. Maybe it's better with the newer phones, but I’m dubious—I suppose most people think it’s fine, but shooting outdoors it never is in some lighting and flushed skin or sunburn.

There are no publishing options where I like to shoot (no internet), and I’m not into social media, so point #6 is of little interest. But I recognize that the 99% always have internet along with a deep-seated social anxiety—a need to impress others so as to validate themselves to the point of morbidity—never in the moment, living second-handedly. I wonder if using an iPhone intensively is really a risk to a healthy mind.

Finally, if you’re not in your 50s or older, good luck seeing the iPhone screen clearly in dim light, e.g., the best shooting light! There are also ergonomic and physical factors which make an iPhone highly unappealing in many ways—it’s physically excellent for selfies, and very poor for other things.

Dr S writes:

My wife andI are hiking/traveling in the Canadian Rockies. When we get decent cell reception I do some looking on the web. Since I knew the new iPhone was going to be announced while away I was curious about your and your reader's impressions. So I just looked at the 2 comments on the new iPhone and their view of the change(s) they may make as far as their way of doing things in the future. I read them and here are a couple of my observations as a vacationer.

Knowing that the general population seems to be using their phones as their primary device to view images whether they take it themselves or view any other content I was curious about what the vacationer's are doing.

Well.....the great sites are being recorded by.................phones (iPhones primarily). I asked my wife, a statistical analyst and professor, if she could give a number, what percentage of individuals taking photos were using their phones vs some sort of more serious camera. She acquiesced to telling me what I thought I also saw..... 90% phones in high touristy areas and 70% on longer but not a "bust-your buns" hike.

The numbers of phone-cam users have been increasing and probably will not decrease. I am still lugging around 2 lighter cams and 3 lenses which are lighter than the past but as I age this will change.

When I visited the Rockies 12 years ago serious imaging was with larger cams and many were carrying compact cams. Phone-Cams were non-existent.

I know the arguments for serious, quality imaging and I will continue to use high-end gear to produce great prints that hang on the walls at my office/gallery....and sell to whomever wishes them. I am old enough that innovation will continue long enough until I am not on this earth anymore but in it. However, the new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro-Max seem to be a real watershed moment, more profound than in the past, that will make the Nikons, Sony's, Panasonics, Fujis, Olympus, etc., rethink their future direction.

Indeed this vacation when people ask me to take an image of them at a nice spot "with their iPhone" they comment on how wonderful the image is and I should "be a photographer." I just chuckle internally but also recognize and accept the future is in the pocket. Phones are the primary visual medium and the images they produce seem satisfactory for the public at large.

I always carry a good-quality cam with me everywhere I go but when I get the new iPhone Pro Max, I may get lazy in some instances, and just carry it as my serious cam.....espcially when my bones begin to ache even more.

DIGLLOYD: ironically, what I see people using iPhone and iPad for is landscapes, never taking a picture of the people with them. The generic and usually very poorly framed landscape images wil have little meaning years later and the quality will be marginal at best; the ones in which people of personal interest are included will have lasting interest and quality defects will be of no real consequence.


MacPerformanceGuide.com

A Few Hours with a Good Friend

The “problem” with Ming Thein and me is that we forget about taking pictures, since we have such a good time talking in one continuous stream of consciousness. But we did get one picture before Ming had to go.

I don’t think I could handle his schedule, jetting across the world showing his fantastic wristwatch designs to customers (see Horologer MING).

Ming Thein and Lloyd Chambers
f2.2 @ 1/120 sec, ISO 25; 2019-09-11 14:44:52
iPhone XS Max + iPhone XS Max 2.9 mm f/2.2 @ 32mm equiv (2.9mm)
ENV: San Francisco embarcadero area, altitude 6 ft / 2 m

[low-res image for bot]

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Panoramic Focus Stacking with Fujifilm GFX100: View to Mono Craters from Dana Crest

See also Gigapixel Stitched Images and Panoramas with the Really Right Stuff PG-02 on the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L Tripod and panoramas.

The image below was one of my panorama focus stacking efforts, highly successful with a 287 megapixel result from 8 total frames (4 frames for the pano, each a 2 image focus stack) with the Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8:

Examples: Panoramas in the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains (GFX100)

Presented in color and black and white at up to 287 megapixels plus crops showing hideous pattern noise prominent in the B&W image from PDAF pixels.

While just visible in color, I am hugely disappointed that a $10K camera shows vertical lines in the sky which are the result of PDAF pixelshow can Fujifilm ship a medium format camera with such a serious image quality defect?

Below, the relatively recently formed Mono Craters can be seen left of center in the distance—obsidian and pumice, pumice dust being nasty stuff if it gets into cameras or similar. Way up here, the geology is mixed as it is along many areas of the Eastern Sierra. The lake below is impounded by a glacial moraine, as can be seen.

Toggle to view black and white version.

View to Mono Craters from Dana Crest
f8 @ 1/100 sec focus stack 2 frames panorama 4 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-21 18:16:15
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR @ 36mm equiv (45mm) + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: Dana Crest, altitude 12600 ft / 3840 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, SmartSharpen{32,0.7,20}, USM{8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2: Panoramas in the Eastern Sierra

See also Gigapixel Stitched Images and Panoramas with the Really Right Stuff PG-02 on the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L Tripod and panoramas.

I’ve added several panorama/stitched examples for the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2:
Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2: Panoramas in the Eastern Sierra (GFX100)

Includes images up to 826 megapixels. Image below presented in color and black and white.

Below, entering the Mt Whitney zone, which is restricted to those with a special permit, limited to 100 people per day. The trail winds its way up from here at 10080 feet a few thousand feet higher to a popular 1st camp for the next day’s summit attempt. I’ve never stayed overnight, always doing it one one day, preferably via the Mountaineer’s Route (I’ve summitted 4 times, 2 times via each route—it’s a looong day!).

The boundary sign on the main Mt Whitney trail is immediately below. This is as far as one is allowed to go without a Mt Whitney zone permit. The Mt Whitney zone is an area surrounding Mt Whitney in which the forest service restricts the number of people per day to no more than 100. Apparently a permit is required for anywhere on the trail (right from the start), but this is not enforced from what I could tell. I realized this only a few days later—and I don’t think most people are even aware of it, as many people just drive up to Whitney Portal and then hike up the trail to Lone Pine Lake or so, not far down the trail from here.

Mt Whitney zone trail cutoff area
f8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 100; 2019-08-12 16:47:53
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR @ 87mm equiv (110mm) + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: Mt Whitney zone trail cutoff, altitude 10080 ft / 3072 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, USM{10,50,0}, SmartSharpen{80,1.0,20}

[low-res image for bot]

Jim G writes:

The difference in altitude between White Mountain Peak and Mt Whitney is about 275 ft. I’ve climbed both and agree that the top of Whitney is more interesting, albeit a lot more crowded.

When my son and I exited the JMT there we had started up from Guitar lake at maybe 3:30-4:00AM only to find the summit already crowded with yahoos from Southern California, including what looked like an entire Boy Scout troop. The guys coming up from Lone Pine pretty much had brand new pristine gear, sharp haircuts and lots of hair product. The women were wearing perfume, makeup and brand spanking new white sports bras to match their acrylic nails. My son and I smelled like two unwashed mountain goats and were probably just about as scruffy. Interesting contrast.

As far as I can tell the Whitney Zone enforcement is pretty much limited to not being able to get a wilderness permit after the daily quota has been exceeded. But I suspect a lot of the hikers break the rules and summit (or try to) without one. I would love to see the rangers kick somebody out of there and blacklist them from getting a permit for 1-2 years, but I’m not holding my breath.

One interesting thing about the Whitney Zone permits is that they are all issued by the Inyo National Forest jurisdiction. And Inyo does not communicate (yet) with Yosemite NP or Humboldt-Toiyabe NF rangers. So if you get a wilderness permit from either one of those agencies and indicate that you will be exiting through Whitney, Lone Pine, or anywhere else in the Whitney Zone, the non-Inyo jurisdictions will issue you the permit and you are not restricted by the Whitney Zone quota. So if the Inyo rangers stop you and ask for your permit, the one you got from Yosemite or Humboldt is just fine. Helluva long way to hike just to climb Whitney, though.

My son and I actually ran into an Inyo NF back country ranger, whose only question was “what’s the name on your permit?” He never looked at it. I guess he liked my response. The top of White Mountain is it’s own reward. A great view if the weather’s good and the solitude can’t be beat. Plus you can drive to maybe 11,600 ft or even higher if the gate to Barcroft is open.

DIGLLOYD: I saw some of the same—large groups of sheeple needing herd comfort. They should not be there IMO—no experience and they cause endless work for rangers rescuing someone.

In my experience, rangers *do* check permits along the upper part of the route. Indeed, I heard one person being asked right at the entry to the Mt Whitney zone while photographing there. I’ve never seen any ranges when going up/down the Mountaineer’s Route.

As for White Mountain Peak, it is a great view, and you can go to 11600 feet to the locked gate any time the road is open and camp there too—no permits needed. The gate to Barcroft is only open two days per year. The best solution is to ride up on your mountain bike, starting at the gate if the hard-core route intimidates.

Lloyd at Summit of White Mountain Peak (elevation 14252' / 4344m)
f11 @ 1/50 sec focus stack 21 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-17 17:42:07
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR @ 36mm equiv (45mm) + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: Summit of White Mountain Peak, altitude 14252 ft / 4344 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening, USM{5,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
Saddlebag Lake and Greenstone Lake with view to Mt Dana, from Twenty Lakes Basin
f3.6 @ 1/160 sec panorama 9 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-20 18:51:38
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR @ 87mm equiv (110mm)
ENV: Twenty Lakes Basin, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, USM{8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Focus Stacking Selfies with the Fujifilm GFX100 (Mt Whitney Zone Sign)

I’ve added another example of focus-stacked selfies:
Fujifilm GFX100 Focus Stacking Examples, Eastern Sierra

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

The boundary sign on the main Mt Whitney trail is seen below. This is as far as one is allowed to go without a Mt Whitney zone permit. The Mt Whitney zone is an area surrounding Mt Whitney in which the forest service retricts the number of people per day to no more than 100. Apparently a permit is required for anywhere on the trail, but this is not enforced from what I could tell, and I realized this only a few days later—and I don’t think most people are even aware of it, as many people just drive up to Whitney Portal and then hike up the trail to LonePine Lake or so, not far down the trail from here.

f8 @ 1/160 sec focus stack 4 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-12 17:29:01
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 R WR @ 18mm equiv (23mm) + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: Mt Whitney zone boundary, Mt Whitney Trail, altitude 10084 ft / 3074 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening, USM{8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Jim G writes:

The difference in altitude between White Mountain and Mt Whitney is about 275 ft. I’ve climbed both and agree that the top of Whitney is more interesting, albeit a lot more crowded.

When my son and I exited the JMT there we had started up from Guitar lake at maybe 3:30-4:00AM only to find the summit already crowded with yahoos from Southern California, including what looked like an entire Boy Scout troop. The guys coming up from Lone Pine pretty much had brand new pristine gear, sharp haircuts and lots of hair product. The women were wearing perfume, makeup and brand spanking new white sports bras to match their acrylic nails. My son and I smelled like two unwashed mountain goats and were probably just about as scruffy. Interesting contrast.

As far as I can tell the Whitney Zone enforcement is pretty much limited to not being able to get a wilderness permit after the daily quota has been exceeded. But I suspect a lot of the hikers break the rules and summit (or try to) without one. I would love to see the rangers kick somebody out of there and blacklist them from getting a permit for 1-2 years, but I’m not holding my breath.

One interesting thing about the Whitney Zone permits is that they are all issued by the Inyo National Forest jurisdiction. And Inyo does not communicate (yet) with Yosemite NP or Humboldt-Toiyabe NF rangers. So if you get a wilderness permit from either one of those agencies and indicate that you will be exiting through Whitney, Lone Pine, or anywhere else in the Whitney Zone, the non-Inyo jurisdictions will issue you the permit and you are not restricted by the Whitney Zone quota. So if the Inyo rangers stop you and ask for your permit, the one you got from Yosemite or Humboldt is just fine. Helluva long way to hike just to climb Whitney, though.

My son and I actually ran into an Inyo NF back country ranger, whose only question was “what’s the name on your permit?” He never looked at it. I guess he liked my response. The top of White Mountain is it’s own reward. A great view if the weather’s good and the solitude can’t be beat. Plus you can drive to maybe 11,600 ft or even higher if the gate to Barcroft is open.

DIGLLOYD: I saw some of the same—large groups of sheeple needing herd comfort. They should not be there IMO—no experience and they cause endless work for rangers rescuing someone.

In my experience, rangers *do* check permits along the upper part of the route. Indeed, I heard one person being asked right at the entry to the Mt Whitney zone while photographing there. I’ve never seen any rangers when going up/down the Mountaineer’s Route.

As for White Mountain Peak, it is a great view, and you can go to 11600 feet to the locked gate any time the road is open. The gate to Barcroft is only open two days per year. The best solution is to ride up on your mountain bike, starting at the gate if the hard-core route intimidates.

Lloyd at Summit of White Mountain Peak (elevation 14252' / 4344m)
f11 @ 1/50 sec focus stack 21 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-17 17:42:07
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR @ 36mm equiv (45mm) + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: Summit of White Mountain Peak, altitude 14252 ft / 4344 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening, USM{5,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
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View South From White Mountain Peak (260 megapixel Panorama with Fujifilm GFX100, Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8), Dana Plateau @ 633 Megapixels

See also Gigapixel Stitched Images and Panoramas with the Really Right Stuff PG-02 on the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L Tripod and panoramas.

I’ve added two panorama examples for the Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8:
Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 Examples: Panoramas in the White Mountains and Eastern Sierra (GFX100)

Includes images up to 260 megapixels.

Few people ever view the White Mountains from its highest peak—maybe 1% as many as Mt Whitney, which has been popularized so as to become the site of rampant climbing incompetence leading to many injuries and rescues (5 rescues in 4 days when I was there in August!). White Mountain Peak is basically just a moderately strenuous hike or bike ride. The view is nice enough but not spectacular like Mt Whitney.

View South From White Mountain Peak
f8 @ 1/80 sec handheld IBIS=on panorama 6 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-17 18:06:54
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR @ 36mm equiv (45mm) + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: White Mountain Peak, altitude 14252 ft / 4344 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, SmartSharpen{50,1.0,20}, USM{20,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Below, Dana Plateau in the Eastern Sierra, presented at up to 633 megapixels:

Dana Plateau
f11 @ 1/30 sec panorama 9 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-21 18:39:05
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR @ 36mm equiv (45mm)
ENV: Dana Plateau, altitude 12600 ft / 3840 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, USM{10,50,0}, SmartSharpen{80,1.0,20}

[low-res image for bot]

Voigtlander Macro APO-Lanthar 110m f/2.5

The about $1099 Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar is a new lens design by Voigtlander for Sony mirrorless.

  • Sony E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.5 to f/22
  • 1:1 Magnification Ratio, Minimum Focus Distance: 13.7"
  • Apochromatic Optical Design
  • Manual Focus Design
  • Manual Aperture Ring
  • 10-Blade Diaphragm
  • Contacts Transfer EXIF Data (focal length, aperture, focus distance, lens name)

Sometimes macro lenses do poorly at infinity focus, but with a 14-element design, I am hoping for excellent flatness of field and high resolving power. It should shine on the Sony A7R IV and I hope to have both by Friday.

Voigtlander Macro APO-Lanthar 110m f/2.5

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Patriarch Grove, Sunrise (550 megapixel Panorama with Fujifilm GFX100, Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4)

See also Gigapixel Stitched Images and Panoramas with the Really Right Stuff PG-02 on the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L Tripod and panoramas.

I’ve added a panorama example for the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4:
Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Examples: Panoramas in the White Mountains (GFX100)

Includes images up to 550 megapixels.

Below, I just love having a place like this all to myself after a comfortable night in my Sprinter van. I’ll take this any day over an expensive or even free resort—no people, total tranquility, unmatched views!

f8 @ 1/40 sec panorama 8 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-15 06:05:51
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR @ 51mm equiv (64mm)
ENV: Patriarch Grove, altitude 11300 ft / 3444 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected

[low-res image for bot]

MacPerformanceGuide.com

My Workhorse Display, the NEC PA302W: Get One While You Still Can

The display panel market is driven by economics, an that is not leaving much in the way of a 32-inch form factor with other than 16:9 aspect ratio. But my trust NEC PA302W has served me well and continues to do so—it has an unbeatable color gamut and the most neutral grayscale I’ve seen in any display (which stems from the type of backlighting it uses).

I don’t know where things are going, but pixel density is a confounding practical problem for examining images critically.

More info: Long Term: Usage of my Workhorse NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display + Reasons To Like in General

More about NEC PA302W and other displays

The models with the black bezel are gone, but the ones with the white bezel are still available, e.g. the NEC PA302W-SV 30" 16:10 IPS Monitor with SpectraView II.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Low-Cost Full-Frame Mirrorless Kit

I just recalibrated my NEC PA302 and the gamut is as usual outstanding.

Color gamut as calibrated for NEC PA302W — far beyond AdobeRGB in red/magenta/blue

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Best Value Today for a Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? Sony A7 II

The discounted about $898 Sony A7 II looks like an excellent deal for anyone looking for their first full-frame camera, or just an easy-shooting camera for all-around use.

Sony has a proven track record of aggressively adding great features (well, mostly), and models to their lineup along with a very wide range of Sony FE lenses and many 3rd-party lenses.

Ironically, even a basic lens costs nearly as much as the camera! But the low cost of entry of the camera recoups much of that cost.

See also my Sony mirrorless wish list.

The best way to keep the cost down (not shown below) is the about $998 Sony Alpha a7 II Mirrorless Digital Camera with 28-70mm Lens.


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Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Aperture Series @ 24mm: Teak Bench Closeup

This series from f/2.8 through f/11 evaluates the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art at 24mm for sharpness at close range as well as focus shift, bokeh and secondary color. Shot in pixel shift mode for absolute highest sharpness. As well, lens skew is demonstrated.

Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Aperture Series @ 24mm: Teak Bench Closeup

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

I am excited about the about $1399 Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN, but this sample clearly has a lens skew issue that shows up at both the wide end and the long end. I won’t be doing any more testing with it unless the 2nd sample is worse (2nd sample shows up on 5 days from now).

Optical designs can look great on the computer but real lenses have to be built, and production tolerances can make high performance designs that deliver the as-designed performance difficult to produce. Thus fantasy MTF charts often conflict with reality in a real lens. I plan on buying the about $1399 Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art, and I will try a 3rd sample if necessary to get one that is top-grade as-built, or a 4th or a 5th—hopefully Sigma quality control is not that bad.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Ultra Wide Lenses for Sony

f2.8 @ 1/13 sec pixel shift, ISO 100; 2019-09-03 19:23:01
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 24mm
RAW: LACA corrected
PSMS painted over with single shot for poppy at left

[low-res image for bot]

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Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Aperture Series @ 14mm: Teak Bench Closeup

This series from f/2.8 through f/11 evaluates the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art at 14mm for sharpness at close range as well as focus shift, bokeh and secondary color. Shot in pixel shift mode for absolute highest sharpness.

This is an important series to read/understand for using the Sigma 14-24 at 14mm for how it behaves for respect to focus shift.

Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Aperture Series @ 14mm: Teak Bench Closeup

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

I am excited about the about $1399 Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN, though not this particular sample so much as it is definitely less good on the left side than the right, which means it is “off” a little optically, e.g., lens skew. Optical designs can look great on the computer but real lenses have to be built, and production tolerances can make high performance designs that deliver the as-designed performance difficult to produce. Thus fantasy MTF charts often conflict with reality in a real lens. Another sample will arrive next week, and the best of the two I will test with on the Sony A7R IV). I plan on buying the about $1399 Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art, and I will try a 3rd sample if necessary to get one that is top-grade as-built.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Ultra Wide Lenses for Sony

f2.8 @ 1/13 sec pixel shift, ISO 100; 2019-09-03 19:25:51
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 14mm RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]


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Reader Comment on Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art: “total disappointment”

See my initial comments on disappointing performance of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art.

Update 2019-09-14: the 2nd sample is notably better across the field. The first sample and many samples out there might well vary widely. High performance lens designs require tolerances that can be difficult to achieve in manufacture—there are many fine lens designs which are never built because it would be too hard (expensive) to reliably built to the designed performance level. Sigma’s quality control needs to be improved, and it raises the issue of whether an advanced design will retain its performance over time after minor bumps and such.

Ding writes:

I’m a reader from China and have been subscribing to your website for the past 3 years. I really appreciate your strict assessments on camera bodies and lenses and benefit a lot from your articles.

Sigma FE 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art

I bought Sigma’s new 35/1.2 Art and 45/2.8 C about a month ago, both with L-mount as I have a Panasonic S1R. The claimed MTF of 35/1.2 Art suggests outstanding performance. I had very high expectations indeed. With a few quick test shots, it soon turns out that the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art is a total disappointment. At f/1.2, obvious aberrations almost poisoned the entire half outer part of the image, not to say the sharpness. The performance doesn’t reach acceptable level until f/2.8, which is exactly what you have inspected. A lens of this kind should be designed to use at f/1.2 with an acceptable performance. Why don’t buy a 35/2 if the lens is not usable until f/2.8?

As for the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN, I bought it as a fun lens, so I don’t have high expectations on its optical performance.

BTW my Fujifilm GFX100 shows unstable exposure measurements. I haven’t looking into this issue, but it feels like that the aperture gets stuck and fails to open while measuring.

DIGLLOYD: my findings on the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art are now “thirded” by Ding—another reader found the same thing, so did I, and so did Ding. Nevertheless, I have another sample on the way to compare the two to see if there is much if any variation. My view is that the disappointing performance from f/1.2 through f/2 is by design—not at all to my liking and no match for Canon’s gorgeous Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L and Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L (presumably with 24mm and 35mm offerings to come).

The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary is a sleeper lens that might have potential when used appropriately—I’ll be looking into two sides of that question: rendering style at f/2.8 and f/4, and technical performance stopped down. It is very compact and nice on a Sony body, so it might actually be very good for landscape, focused properly accounting for focus shift.

Fujifilm GFX100 when I tested it was very consistent for metering, so that point may be about a particular lens. Or perhaps something else is going on that I did not observe, based on different settings or some such.


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Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Aperture Series @ 24mm: Storm Drain Buckeye

The about $1399 Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Art is here. It might be the finest 14-24mm zoom ever produced, but it has some limitations, as this series shows.

This series from f/2.8 through f/9 evaluates the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art for sharpness across the field as well as bokeh.

Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Aperture Series: Storm Drain Buckeye

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/9.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Ultra Wide Lenses for Sony

I planted this tree from a nut back around 1992—nuts beget nuts (?)—they are not popular but they are one of the most shapely trees in California when mature (this one needs another 50 years). California Buckeye Aesculus californica grows slowly, is one of the first trees to leaf out each year (February) and looks dead by June, whereupon it grows a crop of attractive nuts, though this year this tree has not produced any.

f2.8 @ 0.3 sec, ISO 100; 2019-09-03 19:32:58
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 24mm RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]


MacPerformanceGuide.com

Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Art: Evaluating Flare Control

The about $1399 Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Art is here. It might be the finest 14-24mm zoom ever produced.

Among many optical properties, contrast and flare control under adverse shooting conditions are of critical importance, at least to me and many. Expectations are high based on Sigma’s description:

One FLD glass and five SLD glass elements are appropriately arranged to suppress chromatic aberration to the edge of the frame...

The super multi-layer coating is combined with a newly developed NPC (Nano Porous Coating)*. The lens has been designed to be less susceptible to strong incident light such as backlight.

Accordingly, I checked out several shooting situations to see how the Sigma 14-24mm F/2.8 DG DN Art deals with adverse lighting at 14mm, 18mm, 24mm. Most examples shown both wide open and stopped down.

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Flare Control

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Ultra Wide Lenses for Sony

f2.8 @ 1/10 sec, ISO 100; 2019-09-03 19:28:49
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 14mm
RAW: LACA corrected, +50 Whites , -39 Highlights, +100 Shadows, +23 Contrast , +10 Dehaze

[low-res image for bot]

Fujifilm GF Lens Quality Control = Unacceptable

Fujifilm GF lens quality control is the usual roll of the dice, it seems.

Examining my Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 images, I see that all of them show left/right lens skew: the left side is blurred and the right side razor sharp, and at full-res the image below shows it in an obvious way even on a Retina display, even with f/6.4 partially masking the skew.

Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 Panoramas: Eastern Sierra (GFX100)

Two years ago Fujifilm shipped a coke-bottle 110mm f/2 as I showed. It seems that Fujifilm has done nothing in the quality control area. It’s a medium format system, WTF.

As a pro, I always know I should pre-test gear. But for me this is often unworkable—I often have the van packed and ready to go, awaiting arrival of the FedEx truck with the lenses and/or camera. I shoot far more in the field than I can examine, often returning back to scarf food and sleep (11 PM or later). It is very hard to actively test a lens on such a schedule and even harder on an iMac 5K with its ultra-high pixel density. So I sometimes get Screwed. Accordingly, I have little love for companies that ship stuff intended for users to test (or not, a winning scheme for poor quality control), instead of spending the extra $50 at the factory to f*ing do it right before shipping it.

Now I get this skewed sample of the Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 which has damaged all my work with it over a very strenuous 18 days of shooting. The 23/4, the 32-64 and the 120/4 all showed varying degrees of optical asymmetry, the 120/4 being the worst offender and unacceptable, the other two being off slightly but usable, but a nuisance I had to account for—focus stacking to the rescue.

Late in the trip after I saw the lens skew issue with the 120/4, I spent an hour trying to make an image sharp across the frame at f/5.6 on a distance scene. I failed to be able to do so—focus on the left and it was sharp; focus on the right and the left side goes blurry. How can Fujifilm ship out garbage like this to pros?

Shame on you, Fujifilm. I don’t go shoot your 'shit' for 2.5 weeks, hiking 14 hours a day for crap like this. I expect quality control consistent with a $20K system, not that of a $399 DSLR (which is probably better). It is not like I can make a 600 mile round trip and wait for a better sample—and my images are damaged forever. My time and effort were invested for degraded results. That is what really rankles, because it need not happen.

I have had numerous bad samples from Fujifilm from 2017 through 2019—nothing apparently has changed in quality control land at Fujifilm. Indeed, I would say that most Fujifilm GF lenses I have used have had symmetry problems—witness the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 that I shot in December 2018 on the Fujifilm GFX-50R which could not make sharp edges at any aperture at 50 megapixels—and how much better the sample in August 2019 on the 100-megapixel GFX100.

Caveat Emptor with Fujifilm GF lenses.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm medium format System

Dusk over Rock Creek Lake
f6.4 @ 1.3 sec, ISO 100; 2019-08-07 20:08:55
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR @ 95mm equiv (120mm)
ENV: Rock Creek Lake, altitude 9600 ft / 2926 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, USM{20,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Yair T writes:

I share your frustration and hunger. That is why Fuji doesn’t get my money! Yet I have to state Fuji aren’t alone. Sigma, Tamron are all doing it.

Due to personal experience I know those issues with Zeiss and Canon are very rare. ( Nikon is not as bad but not perfect either) I had to cherry pick all my sigma lenses , On the Sigma 85 ART It was the worst. I tested many copies I lost count :( One correction as a management of manufacturing factory of a high end gear.

Sadly it is not 50$ , it is much more. IMHO , from My own experience with lenses from those factories you have more than 75% failure rate and it will require not only rework but elements change. ( I would even go to improve manufacturing techniques ). The problem is that if you do that the cost of lens will be equal to the first party.

Regarding Fuji they are way better then the Hasselblad and have better ( potentially) IQ. Yet are far cheaper. The reduction in cost comes from inferior QC/QA. It is simply the company strategic decision since 90% of the buyers are clueless. That keep the 10% super frustrated!!! Again this is why Fuji doesn’t get my money.

DIGLLOYD: Yair is probably right that it would cost more than $50. That’s because while I’m sure a lens can be checked out at the factory properly for $50 or less, it costs a lot more to reject it and not ship it and/or carefully tweak it. And yet, the Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 costs $2699, so I don’t grant to Fujifilm the dismal standards that (in my experience) they employ. One lens is no big deal (stuff happens), but too many GF lenses have had issues, obvious ones.

Yair is also right that other vendors have issues. For example, my first sample of the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art is not sharp on the left side even at f/4 and even as the right side is razor sharp. Another sample is on the way.

Hasselblad mirrorless lenses have all been good so far.

Zeiss issues are rare in my experience, and I have used more lenses from Zeiss than any brand. I know for a fact that the Zeiss Otus line costs a lot because of exceptionally stringent quality control; rejects are not allowed to ship.


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This aperture series from very near to very far distance assesses the Voigtlander Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical from f/1.4 to f/11. A 2-frame focus stack at f/9 is included for comparison to f/8 and f/11.

Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical Aperture Series: Aperture Series: Pothole Dome, Granite Foreground to Peaks

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

On the Sony A7R IV, I intend to determine how the Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical competes against the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art and the Sony 12-24mm f/4G—at two stops faster that’s a big deal for shooting at dusk and it’s the best 21mm prime I’ve seen so far.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Ultra Wide Lenses for Sony

Pothole Dome in Yosemite, View to High Peaks
f9 @ 1/160 sec focus stack 2 frames, ISO 50; 2019-07-08 18:48:02
Sony A7R III + Voigtlander FE NOKTON 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical
ENV: Pothole Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, altitude 8200 ft / 2499 m
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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