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$500 Off Apple Mac Pro at B&H Photo, $300 Off 16" MacBook Pro, iMac Too

I’ve been benefiting from the 2019 Mac Pro for my work, in spite of the hassles of macOS Catalina.

And now, for the first time since its release, the Apple 2019 Mac Pro is $500 off on numerous models. I recommend at least a 2TB SSD, 12 or 16 CPU cores for most users. Video card... not so important for most users.

View all Apple deals at B&H Photo.

CLICK TO VIEW: Discounted Mac Pro

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Abandoned the Arca Swiss Cube, Switched to Acratech Pano Head

This is a “reprint” that I had posted last fall... just got an inquiry on tripods and tripod heads and this was/is apropos. My tripod of choice is the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L now.

More about Acratech...


I spent about $1600 on the Arca Swiss Cube about 12 years ago. It has given me years of service, but after three replacement/repairs of the gears at $400+ each time, a 4th time at $400+ is getting ridiculous. As a head designed for studio use, it is not at home in the outdoors. Plus, in sub-freezing temps, the gears get so stiff I can hardly operate it. Enough is enough—a damage-prone design means it has been a $2800 experience and I am not going to make it a $3200 experience.

Accordingly, I have now switched to the Acratech Panoramic Head (AKA “Long Lens Head”), a feat of outstanding engineering (and a jaw-dropping value at about $417). It is is now my "go to" tripod head, along with its optional and very lightweight leveling base (10° of leveling, the video incorrectly states 15°).

Don’t let the “panoramic” part fool you—it is an outstanding general-purpose head, and is very lightweight. Acratech also has several other heads which are all outstanding in design, and exceptionally light and compact compared to most ballheads.

I use the leveling base that has a 60mm top, but there is a larger leveling base with 74mm top for larger heads, should you be using something other than the Acratech heads.

The two videos below discussthe Acratech Panoramic Head and why I like it. The head shown is an 8-year-old model; I now have the updated one with engraved markings. Lovin' it.

In 7 weeks of use, the Acratech Panoramic Head performed flawlessly. I don’t see how its design could be easily damaged (unlike the Cube), and it works just as well at 25°F as at 90°F.

Feedback welcome on this and other videos.

Shot in 4K, YouTube mangles the video quality, but given the focus problems with the iPhone 7... whatever. With all the hoopla about AI, can’t Apple get an iPhone to focus intelligently?

Wow, YouTube wiped out all my subscribers accumulated for years. And I don’t qualify for monetization. Google sucks.

This video below I shot a few weeks prior. It covers most of the same stuff, but might have a few other details., such as rotating the clamp 90°. Also, the latest clamp has laser-engraved millimeter markings on the clamp.

John N writes:

I have been using an Acratech GP ss + L bracket and Nodal rail (for panos) for quite a few years, it is simple, robust, versatile, light and it enjoys travelling, It just works.

As an engineer, I have a no BS reputation, it has therefore always amazed me why people would buy anything else or why it seems to get so little press.

DIGLLOYD: ditto. It is a brilliant piece of engineering. However, the Arca Swiss Cube (which I used for over a decade) is still better for certain precision work like fine leveling adjustments.

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Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Countertop Reflections (Sony A7R IV)

This close-range series from f/2 through f/8 is to show general rendering style. In particular, the 50/2 APO has such impressive color correction that it makes a super lens for black and white photography, as shown here.

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Countertop Reflections

Includes image up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/8.

f2.8 @ 4.0 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-02-06 17:53:43
Sony A7R IV + Voigtlander FE APO-Lanthar 50mm f/2 Aspherical
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected, Chroma NR {10,50,50}, USM {10,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Olives, Still Life Flora (Sony A7R IV)

Both series include images up to full 60MP camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

This series from f/2 through f/11 evaluates the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar on an complex subject at close range. It shows sharpness, bokeh and general rendering style.

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Olives

f2 @ 1/15 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-02-06 17:31:40
Sony A7R IV + Voigtlander FE APO-Lanthar 50mm f/2 Aspherical RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]

This series from f/2 through f/11 looks at sharpness and aberration control of the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar at close range.

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Still Life Flora

Includes images up to full 60MP camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

f4 @ 0.3 sec electronic shutter pixel shift, ISO 100; 2020-02-06 17:25:38
Sony A7R IV + Voigtlander FE APO-Lanthar 50mm f/2 Aspherical RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]
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Apple Pro Display XDR with Nano Texture Glass  — the Shortest but Most Useful Review You’ll Find on the Web —  and Why the NEC PA302W Rocks

I don’t hold it against it here, but the Apple Pro Display XDR tipped, and its sharp corner hit the front of my my workhorse NEC PA302W, turning it into landfill material with a 10 X 2mm impact that destroyed the panel. What a horrible turn of luck, and I was really trying to be careful...f*ck!!! So I set up my spare PA302W. I don’t know if I can replace the PA302W, as it is discontinued and spending $2K on one with a white bezel is not very palatable.

Funny how things work out. I was sure I wanted the Apple Pro Display XDR, but now I feel a sense of relief in sticking with the NEC PA302W and something like the LG 5K (low resolution and 5K are both needed for my work for several reasons).

In 5 minutes, I am going to tell you more about the Apple Pro Display XDR with nano texture glass than any review out there (some of those reviews are laughable, measuring the color which is ostensibly scientific, but not even understanding the meaning of the gamut findings or even doing basics, like using eyes to compare with another display as a reference).

Apple Pro Display XDR with optional Apple Pro Stand

These observations apply to the Apple Pro Display XDR with nano texture glass—perhaps the Apple Pro Display with regular glass is better with some things, such as off-angle color rendition.

Note: I have exceptional color vision, never scoring less than 99 out of 100 on every color test I have tried. I cannot take any credit for it since it is a genetic inheritance from my father, so I just state it as a fact. Most people literally cannot see what I see. Probably my vision is less good as I’ve aged, but it is still good. It doesn’t mean I am an expert at color correction, only that I can discriminate color nuances that most people cannot.

What you need to know about the Apple Pro Display XDR

You won’t see these things in an Apple Store with the regular glass XDR display showing the over-saturated images Apple is using for examples like an experiences at Best Buy. At home, I have well over a decade of looking critically at color images under the same conditions year over year. I am tuned-in to what to expect.

  • If you just want to view images for the pleasure of it, I cannot think of a better display than the Apple Pro Display XDR—probably nothing better exists.
  • While nominally a 32-inch display, the Apple Pro Display XDR is actually about 1.5 inches (6 cm) wider than the NEC PA302W (also a 32" display, aspect ratio 16:10), because the XDR is a wider aspect ratio (16:9). The difference does not seem like much on paper, but I am finding that the width of the Pro Display XDR exceeds a comfortable field of view. It is also awkward to have both side by side; not very manageable in terms of view as well as a desk space challenge.
  • The nano texture glass is highly effective, delivering a curiously natural look to images that is slightly 'flat'—much better for print makers than regular glass, which is shiny like the iMac 5K.
  • The uniformity and smoothness of the grayscale is just not there with the Apple Pro Display XDR—side by side with my (spare and now only) NEC PA302W, the grayscale of the NEC PA302W is completely uniform. Not so with the Apple Pro Display XDR, which does not look smooth; it has an almost textural/faint grid look to it, perhaps related to its localized lighting corrections? You won’t be able to notice this on detailed images, but what about gradients, sky etc? It’s a serious negative IMO.
  • Grayscale of the NEC PA302W is remarkable—real gray and why I have stuck with it for years. The Apple Pro Display XDR has the same flaw I have seen in many other displays: a slight magenta tint that colorimeters will claim is not there, but is obvious side by side. I had the same complaint about the NEC PA322UHD next to the NEC PA302W and it has to do with a discontinous spectral distribution of the LED backlighting. The NEC PA302W has a GB-R LED backlight which my eyes tell me is superior to anything else I’ve seen for true gray—it only takes a moment to see it and it cannot not be seen. All of which makes claims of 0.6 delta-E blah blah color measurement masturbation rather silly.
  • Grayscale uniformity of the Apple Pro Display XDR (with nano texture glass) when viewed even 12 inches off angle is AWFUL. I can look at a normal-width window (white background) and it is white on one side and bluish on the other on the XDR whereas the NEC PA302W is free of that color shift. Creating a full-screen window with white background on the XDR and positioning my eyes near either side of the display, I see one half of the display as blue and the other half as white. WTF? Because of the size of the display, this is a problem even when viewing it straight-on, with the outer areas of the display being visibly bluish. Could it be due to the nano texture glass? UPDATE: visiting the Apple Store, I determined that this off-axis bluish color shift occurs with the regular glass also (not just the nano texture glass). I pointed it out to an Apple Store employee, who acknowledged that he saw it also—which proves that even a novice can readily see the behavior.
  • There is no way to calibrate to known brightness with the Apple Pro Display XDR; you get either canned non-standard profiles where the crude brightness slider is available, or canned profiles where brightness cannot be altered. With the NEC PA302W, I can calibrate and profile the display to my exact specifications of contrast, gamut and brightness and it’s the same all the time and has been for years—I deem that critical for consistency year over year, job after job.

The Apple Pro Display XDR is nowhere close to what I require for color management—the off-axis color shift alone makes it problematic at best. Looks like I had better figure out how to get another NEC PA302W.

I might still get the Apple Pro Display XDR (with standard glass) at some point as a Retina display for viewing images. But I am certain that it is NOT the right display for evaluating them, not to my standards.

David T writes:

I’m writing because I don’t think you will find the bezel on the white NEC PA302W to be at all objectionable. I had purchased a PA302 (added to my long-time PA-272) when you mentioned on your site last fall that they are going out of availability. The only one B&H had available was the white variant. I bought that one and have been using it for several months. The front bezel of that unit is actually a neutral gray, darker than the rest of the body, and actually very pleasant to work with. I don’t find it distracting at all, and actually like that neutral gray as well or better for image work than the black bezel on my PA-272.

I am in complete agreement with your many (and accurate) comments on image review and adjustment on the NEC PA302W. The color and grey-scale are just so accurate and dependable. The lower pixel pitch is really helpful in evaluating and adjusting sharpness and other aspects of image acuity. I don’t make any critical judgements on finer pitch screens like on my laptop.

Thank you for all your very useful publications on your web page. I’m enjoying learning about the recent Voigtlander reviews.

I also agree with your comments on macOS Catalina. What a lot of crappy bugs they have supplied to us. All kind of strange behaviors, trouble with disks, and also the infinite safety nags, and the loss of color profiles for monitors, and…. Ugh. Apple really needs to get its shit together on the OS, but I’m not too hopeful at present.

On the other hand, the 2019 MacBook Pro 16” is a really _amazing_ machine for photo editing. Way faster than anything I’ve been using before. And excellent battery life when I’m just writing on the train commuting in to Boston. Best laptop I’ve ever used.

DIGLLOYD: Apple hardware usually rocks, the software is usually rocks.

Apple Pro Display XDR with optional Apple Pro Stand
√ B&H Photo PAYS THE SALES TAX FOR YOU More info...

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Blue Bike (Sony A7R IV)

This series from f/2 through f/11 evaluates the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar on an finely detailed subject at close range, shot obliquely in order to study focus shift and secondary color behavior in addition to other performance aspects.

In diglloyd Mirrorless:

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aperture Series: Blue Bike

Includes images up to full 60MP camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

f2 @ 1/20 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-02-06 17:05:10
Sony A7R IV + Voigtlander FE APO-Lanthar 50mm f/2 Aspherical RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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Apple Pro Display XDR with Nano Texture Glass  — Here Tomorrow for Evaluation

Readers might recall how I have raved for four years now about the fantastic viewing experience of an Apple iMac 5K including stunning quality for black and white images.

Viewing pleasure/quality is of course a quite different criterion from whether it is the best display for evaluating images—it is not.

Apple Pro Display XDR

Along comes the Apple Pro Display XDR, which I speculated might be the best viewing experience for images in history. Having seen it firsthand in the Apple Store recently, my impression is that nothing I have ever seen can remotely approach what I saw on the Apple Pro Display XDR. Which places the Apple Pro Display XDR at the very top of my gear-lust list.

In a remarkable stroke of luck, B&H Photo not only had the display in stock, but B&H has generously agreed to send me the Apple Pro Display XDR with nano texture glass on loan, arriving tomorrow for evaluation.

Readers might note that I have not done very little photo work recently; that’s for various reasons but in some part it was because I wanted to fully evaluate not just the new Mac Pro but also the Apple Pro Display XDR on both Sony mirrorless and PhaseOne IQ4 images. That now begins!

If my coming evaluation of the Pro Display XDR is of value to you, please do me and B&H the favor of ordering your Pro Display XDR at B&H Photo through these links (or by phone using the numbers below), which is in stock for the nano texture glass model as I write this (vs 5 weeks lead time for Apple). The Apple Pro Stand is not in stock but it should be much more readily available and some may choose to use a VESA mount.

B&H Photo telephone which tracks to diglloyd.com: 212-465-0146 or 212-502-6262 or 877-865-7002

Apple Pro Display XDR with optional Apple Pro Stand

Upgrade the memory of your 2018 Mac mini up to 64GB

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical for Sony Mirrorless

On the docket for evaluation over the next week or two is the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical for Sony mirrorless. Coincidentallly, I also have the new Sigma FE 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art, and it should be interesting to see how the zoom does at 50mm vs the prime.

The Voigtlander 50/2 APO checks all the boxes for optical performance along with an ideal size/weight for my own type of outdoor shooting. Its design is as close to ideal as I had long hoped Zeiss would produce—but Zeiss went the large/heavy f/1.4 route for both Milvus and Otus lineups, making for expensive and heavy/bulky lenses whic are great to shoot but a chore to carry.

Voigtlander 50m f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical
  • Sony E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2 to f/16
  • Apochromatic Optical Design using 5 partial dispersion elements
  • Two Aspherical Elements
  • Manual Focus Design
  • 12-blade manual diaphragm, stepless or 1/3 stop clicks
  • Contacts Transfer EXIF Data
  • Only 364 grams!

Voigtlander is on a roll with the Voigtlander FE NOKTON 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical, Voigtlander 65mm f/2 Macro APO Lanthar, Voigtlander 110mm f2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar, and now the 50/2 APO.

Is a 28mm or 35mm in the cards? That would be slick.

By luck I received two copies of the 50/2 APO. It’s always a plus to have two samples in case there is sample variation.

I purchased the Voigtlander 65mm f/2 Macro-APO-Lanthar Aspherical last fall, a rarity for me these days, but it is just too good a lens to pass up, and the sample I bought was as perfect a lens as I have encountered. I might end up doing the same for the 50/2 APO, assuming it performs similarly


Manual focus is not for everyone. But if it works for you, you cannot go wrong with the lenses below—and at$899 the Voigtlander 65mm may be the best price/performance you’ll find anywhere—it is one of the very best lenses available for Sony mirrorless.

Manual focus primes not your thing? I was incredibly impressed with the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art last fall, and I am hoping the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art will perform similarly—but beware of sample variation issues with zooms of all brands.

Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

28-Core Apple Mac Pro with AMD Radeon Pro Vega II

Using macOS Catalina is like wearing a hair shirt with ants inside while having a root canal. Other than that it is just a bowl full of cherries, coming out the other end. I am adjusting, but it has sure sucked a ton of time.

I have some preliminary insights on 28 CPU cores vs 16 CPU cores, and on AMD Radeon Pro Vega II vs AMD Radeon Pro 580X. If you want the scoop pronto before buying a Mac Pro, then engage me in consulting.

Things are pretty much as I thought and predicted: diminishing returns even on the best written software as in specifications are pretty much bullshit as far as determining gains. But the good news is that there are gains, and they can be substantial with some tasks.

I expect to amortize the absurd cost delta over the next 3-4 years. It *is* kind of cool having a machine that is whisper quiet and is just about impossible to max-out for CPU usage.

2019 Mac Pro configuration: overview
2019 Mac Pro configuration: memory
2019 Mac Pro configuration: expansion slot utility


Below, I use five OWC Thunderbay 4 units for most of my storage, though I also have one OWC Thunderbay 6 unit (6 bays instead of 4), and OWC has an 8-bay OWC Thunderbay 8 coming. Nearly all of the capacity is for backups as I am moving to a 100% SSD main storage approach.


Below, I am currently using the LG 27MD5KB-B 27" UltraFine 16:9 5K IPS Monitor shown below along with my trusty NEC PA302W. The LG 5K is excellent and a BIG practical plus is that it breaks out 3 high-speed USB-C ports, which solves a thorny problem off too few USB ports on the Mac Pro.

My desired display setup includes the Apple Pro Display XDR and most likely the NEC PA311D, but that’s a financial bridge too far just yet. The NEC PA302W remains critical to my work however, for its low pixel density; see Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment.


P100 / N100 Particulate Respirator the Smart Move for Coronavirus — not the Useless Leaky Masks That People are Seen Wearing in the News

I’ve written numerous times about N100/P100 particulate respirators.

In spite of a very strong immune system, I suspect that a virus like coronavirus could kill me—I have lungs with scar tissue from three past pneumonia episodes that viruses invariably gravivitate to and party-on.

I take coronavirus very, very seriously. You should too.

Johhs Hopkins visualizer for 2019-nCoV

3M N100 Particulate Respirator

Don’t bother with the idiotic masks you see in the news—these have no sealing and are almost purely psychological in their benefit—leaky like a sieve in terms of air filtration. Sure, they might protect against disgusting direct impact yuk droplets from an ahole coughing in your face, but that’s about it.

Surgical masks are just about worthless : “SM may not be able to provide substantial protection against aerosol particles at least up to ∼500 nm at any relevant combination of the breathing frequency and flow rate”.

You want a 3M 8233 N100 Disposable Respirator (the 3M 3M 8293 P100 is equivalent) to have on hand, RIGHT NOW. Get the N100, NOT the N95—why f* around with potential deadly threats? An N95 mask filters 20X less particulate matter— a joke compared to N100, though way better than nothing. And when you see the difference in the fabric and sealing... if you’re going to bother, don’t take a slingshot to a gunfight.

DO NOT wait until a pandemic hits (it might) when they will be unobtainable. Or when Coronavirus mutates and the mortality rate rises tenfold (quite possible). Can Coronavirus swap genes with influenza and then what?

Can P100 / N100 Particulate Respirator masks be effective against airborne viruses? The NIH states:

The growing threat of an influenza pandemic presents a unique challenge to healthcare workers, emergency responders, and the civilian population. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators to provide protection against infectious airborne viruses in various workplace settings. The filtration efficiency of selected NIOSH-approved particulate N95 and P100 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and filter cartridges was investigated against the viable MS2 virus, a non-pathogenic bacteriophage, aerosolized from a liquid suspension. Tests were performed under two cyclic flow conditions (minute volumes of 85 and 135 L/min) and two constant flow rates (85 and 270 L/min). The mean penetrations of viable MS2 through the N95 and P100 FFRs/cartridges were typically less than 2 and 0.03%, respectively, under all flow conditions. All N95 and P100 FFR and cartridge models assessed in this study, therefore, met or exceeded their respective efficiency ratings of 95 and 99.97% against the viable MS2 test aerosol, even under the very high flow conditions. These NIOSH-approved FFRs and particulate respirators equipped with these cartridges can be anticipated to achieve expected levels of protection (consistent with their assigned protection factor) against airborne viral agents, provided that they are properly selected, fitted, worn, and maintained.

Note the “consistent with their assigned protection factor” parenthetical: do you really want 20X less filtration with an N95 (95%) versus an N100 (99.75%)?

The Chinese government might someday manage, with its supression of bad news, to kill most of us by allowing pandemics to spread because sooner or later something with a very high mortality rate will appear that makes the yearly flu look like a fart and kill a billion people (the influenza of 1918 killed about 50 to 100 million people when the world population was far less). Along with rampant intellectual property theft, modern-day WW2-style ChinNazi concentration camps for the Uighers, human organ harvesting on demand, and killing 50K Americans a year with Chinese Fentantyl, it would already be the time to decouple completely from China... and now China gives us one more gift: Coronavirus.

The US government is next-stupidest and nearly as incompetent, still allowing travel from China. It’s spreading rapidly, it’s deadly and all these dumb-fucks in our government are masturbating on impeachment while still letting people travel here from China. A deadly virus with a multi-week incubation period is not being taken seriously enough to shut off ALL non-critical travel (infected persons can transmit the virus for an extended period without being overtly sick). And it’s flu season and it is not obvious if someone has a cold virus, influenza, or Coronavirus. And it could well mutate and become more deadly! It is unbelievable that the jackass President and jackass Congress and everyone in Washington (either party) sits around with their thumbs up their asses not shutting off travel to/from China. That is not a partisan political comment but an expression of disgust and disbelief—both sides are putting lives on the line.

Below, a rerun of a post I wrote back in 2018, where smoke was the issue.

David C writes:

The 1918 flu virus pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million worldwide as per  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu.

We tend to ignore the flu because it happens every year, however it is estimated to have killed over 8,000 in the US alone in the current flu season.  The flu virus is very ingenious in the ways in which it changes, quite something for a particle that technically isn’t even alive.  This is not to minimize the potential for 2019 nCoV, any novel virus has the potential to cause a global disaster, especially now that air travel is common.

DIGLLOYD: air travel will spread a killer virus 1000 times faster today than in 1918, at least.

Gary J writes:

Thanks for your tip.

early died from respiratory infection 4 years ago. Hacking cough for 24 days turned into pneumonia. Septuagenarian. Still have black spot on one lung. Got after spending a day in Natural History museum with 1,000+ elementary kids. Avoid people now.

Medical journals note many exotic diseases immigrating now.  Virtually no coverage in mainstream media.

DIGLLOYD: indeed, even MDs are clueless—I see articles in which NO MENTION is made of N100/P100 or its efficacy. For example, just today I saw well-known doctor Dr. Oz stating that surgical masks don't work (which is true)—but no advice on what does work! For a doctor to deliver half-advice— telling someone what does not work —while failing to say what does work—that’s incompetent to the point of malpractice since few people will pursue the matter, and will instead conclude “masks don’t work”. What a public service DISASTER.

Don H writes:

Regarding dust masks, I have settled on a 3M multipurpose (non-disposible) respirator similar to this: 3M 62023HA1-C Professional Multi-Purpose Respirator.

It’s heavier than a disposable mask, certainly, but breathing is easier because the exhale valve is larger. For me it also seals against one's face better and doesn’t fog up glasses.

There are a variety of filters available, including general-purpose P100s. They attach and detach with a quarter turn.

I got the mask at Lowes (they’re obviously available elsewhere, including through Amazon as the link above shows). I’m allergic to dust, which is a big problem when working with wood, grinding metal, etc., and after trying various disposable masks I bought this style because I could never get those to fit tightly and I found them difficult to breath through.

I don’t know if the added weight would be an issue for cycling, but I suspect it could be worth it for the improved airflow. As for looks, when everyone else was walking around in public with the chintzy one-layer dust masks during the wildfires I felt like a boss with this thing strapped to my face. I was tempted to start talking like Bane from the Batman movie but couldn’t really pull that off.

DIGLLOYD: the advantage of such a dedicated respirator is clear: more adjustable, replaceable filters and sizing options. Having a dedicated mask as well as disposable N100 masks is a smart move.

I have not had issues breathing with the 3M N100 or P100 masks except that under extreme volume flows, I can collapse the mask when breathing in fast and hard under heavy exertion at altitude.

Cycling and other use cases including sunglasses and helmet add constraints for size/weight/stowage/fit (e.g., sraps under helmet might be a problem, pulling it away to eat/drink) as well as heat/moisture/etc.

Also, while the mask referenced above looks superb as to its function, it is not very socially acceptable, its “apocolypse” style drawing unwanted attention.

I have used the disposable N100 masks as far as 70 miles or so during double centuries. It becomes a problem in heat over 80°F and at altitude my large-volume lungs start to collapse the mask at elevation of 7000' and above when I am working hard at lactate threshold (92% of max HR).

* Can’t take any credit for it (genetics), but my lungs are 25% larger in volume than “normal” for my height, perhaps why I have a a VO2 Max in the 99.9th percentile and why I have no issue at altitudes up to 14500 feet with just one day of acclimatizing to altitude.


N100 / P100 particulate respirator for smoke and airborne pollutants

I wrote about the health hazards of some in P100 / N100 Particulate Respirator Works for Smoke back in July.

The past two day has shown the worst air quality I have ever seen, apparently as bad as in Beijing, due to the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in California history. Speaking for myself, it’s the worst I have ever breathed in my entire life and that fire is hundreds of miles away.

Cycling using 3M Respirator N100

I reiterate my warning about the health hazards of smoke, but this smoke is especially pernicious—even an N100 face mask which eliminates 99.75% of particulates down to 2.5 microns cannot take out an apparently nasty chemical content that irritates my nose and throat. For most people, a 3M particulate respirator N95 is better, more comfortable over time, though it is 10X less effective, it is a 20X improvement over no mask.

Dr. John Balmes, who studies air pollutants and their effects on respiratory health at UCSF, said the bad air puts everyone’s health at risk, but especially those with heart and lung diseases. Children also have increased risks because they breathe more rapidly than adults, leading to higher exposure to the polluted air, he said.

The tiny particles in wood smoke are what make it especially dangerous, Balmes said.

“Those fine particles can make it down into the deep lung and they can cause harm to people with pre-existing heart and lung disease, people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” he said. “Those conditions are exacerbated by air pollution like this.” Ace Hardware manager, Art Grassi, discusses respirator masks. Video: San Francisco Chronicle If going outside can’t be avoided, N95 respiratory masks offer some protection, Balmes said. The name comes from the fact that the masks can filter out 95 percent of the fine particles in wood smoke.

The air quality index, a number that measures air pollutants, hovered between 105 and 152 around the Bay Area on Friday. A healthy level is 50 or lower. By contrast, in Beijing, one of the world’s worst places for air pollution, the rating was 21 early Saturday.

I’ve done my 90-minute baseline ride for 4 days in a row now with an N100 and my lungs have not reacted at all in spite of high respiratory rate. My lungs are extremely sensitive to smoke. Athletes take in volumes of air 5X to 10X greater than when idle, yet public health officials don’t even mention that severe risk (see quote below)—what jackasses.

Proving that public health officials are a menace to public health, the understated idiocy of “considering” an N95 respirator makes it sound unimportant. An N95 respirator is way better than nothing, but 20X less effective than an N100 mask (99.75% down to 2.5 microns). An N95 mask is not adequate under current conditions. Fine particles can accumulate in the body to cause persistent coughing, difficulty breathing and reductions in lung function. I can attest that such impairment doesn’t go away quickly—I suffered for a month last summer after exposure I should have avoided.

People going outside should consider [diglloyd: WTF?] wearing N95 masks, which filter out 95 percent of the fine wood particles in the smoky air. The masks are available for purchase at any hardware store. Daly City and South San Francisco officials are handing out masks to residents at government buildings.

Update: the next day Nov 10 I did go for a ride using an N100 face mask as the air had improved to just plain bad. It was as effective as I had found it to be with pollen and smoke and dust in the past: not even a hint of bronchospasms or coughing or other issues.

Orange sun, smoky irs, birds
f2.8 @ 1/490 sec, ISO 20; 2018-11-10 17:13:14
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 6.6 mm f/2.8
ENV: Cañada Road, altitude 328 ft / 100 m, 52°F / 11°C

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Cycling using 3M Respirator N100
f1.8 @ 1/270 sec, ISO 20; 2018-11-10 17:27:41
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8
ENV: Cañada Rd near Hwy 92, altitude 356 ft / 109 m, 50°F / 10°C
selfie, heavy smoke from 'Camp' fire

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Extreme smoke from the 'Camp Fire' over Highway 101
f1.8 @ 1/490 sec, ISO 20; 2018-11-09 17:04:37
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 2 ft / 1 m

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Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

Why I Returned the 16-Core 2019 Mac Pro... Wanted 28 Cores!

macOS Catalina is required for Mac Pro, but I have learned to deal with its vexations.

The 2019 Mac Pro 16-core is the best computer I have ever owned, by far.

So I returned it.

The reason is pretty simple, coming after nearly a month of usage which informs my conclusion: over the next 3-4 years, the benefits of a 28 CPU cores and a AMD Radeon Pro Vega II video card will be more than worth the extra cost in time saved and increased productivity, faster software development, etc.

Consult with Lloyd as to the ideal computer for your own particular workflow.

I scrimped and saved all of 2019 knowing I might decide on this large purchase, and along with a 100% federal tax write-off as a business tax deduction, the numbers and expected lifetime and actual benefits all add up.

Accordingly, the Apple 2019 Mac Pro 28-core CPU with AMD Radeon Pro Vega II GPU shows up two days from now on Friday, whereupon the 16-core goes back (order to delivery was only ~7 days in spite of the “2-4 weeks” notation at B&H Photo). The model is shown below.

Naturally I bought the Mac pro with only 32GB memory, since the 384GB of OWC memory is going into it, along with two OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSDs. (for sale $219: 32GB of Apple memory as 4 X 8GB).


Below, I use five OWC Thunderbay 4 units for most of my storage, though I also have one OWC Thunderbay 6 unit (6 bays instead of 4), and OWC has an 8-bay OWC Thunderbay 8 coming. Nearly all of the capacity is for backups as I am moving to a 100% SSD main storage approach.


Below, I am currently using the LG 27MD5KB-B 27" UltraFine 16:9 5K IPS Monitor shown below along with my trusty NEC PA302W. The LG 5K is excellent and a BIG practical plus is that it breaks out 3 high-speed USB-C ports, which solves a thorny problem off too few USB ports on the Mac Pro.

My desired display setup includes the Apple Pro Display XDR and most likely the NEC PA311D, but that’s a financial bridge too far just yet. The NEC PA302W remains critical to my work however, for its low pixel density; see Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment.

Fast and cost effective way to backup!

What is the Maximum Performance Gain for 12 vs 16 vs 24 vs 28 CPU Cores for the Apple Mac Pro? (Intel Xeon W-3245 etc)

The 2019 Mac Pro is the best computer I have ever owned, by far. Which is why I want 28 cores. But what is the real maximum performance difference between 8/12/16/24/28 CPU cores? Far less than it appears, that is, 16 cores are not twice as fast as 8 cores, and 24 cores are not 50% faster than 16 cores.

Apple 2019 Mac Pro: MUCH Slower CPU Cores than 2019 iMac 5K, but Lots More of 'em

First, the speedup depends a great deal on the software in use, in particular how well it is coded to scale across CPU cores, which includes both programming competence along with how much resource contention there is (disk I/O, memory bandwidth).

In-Depth review of Apple 2019 Mac Pro...

The Good Stuff for your Mac Pro...

Clock speed vs core utilization

The other major factor: CPU core clock speed is not a constant; the more CPU cores that are in use together, the lower the clock speed drops for all CPU cores.

A good rule of thumb metric for total computation cycles is CoresInUse X ClockSpeed. The clock speed cited for a CPU is the speed at which the CPU cores run when they are all in use. (Turbo Boost is also higher on the 12/16/24/28 core CPUs than on the 8-core).

I don’t have figures for actual CPU clock speed when 3 or 7 or 13 or whatever cores in use, but the graph below captures the rolloff in per-core computing power as the number of cores in use increases.

The issue is TDP (total dissipated power), which is around 200 watts for the Intel Xeon CPUs used in the 2019 Mac Pro. Each CPU core must run at a slower clock speed so that total power consumption stays within the total power budget.

 8-Core 16t 3.5GHz Intel Xeon W-3223  Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz  
12-Core 24t 3.3GHz Intel Xeon W-3235  Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz    
16-Core 32t 3.2GHz Intel Xeon W-3245  Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
24-Core 48t 2.7GHz Intel Xeon W-3265M Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
28-Core 56t 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W-3275M Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz

That total gigahertz is a best case computing power number. It correlates very strongly with actual tests and is thus an excellent proxy for best possible performance but only when all CPU cores are utilized with minimal resource contention.

Bottom line: 12 cores is excellent for most users, 16 cores is a sweet spot, 24 cores is worthwhile but very pricey and 28 vs 14 is negligible.

Relative total potential computing power:
8 cores in use: 1.0
12 cores in use: 1.4X
16 cores in use: 1.8X
24 cores in use: 2.3X
28 cores in use: 2.5X
Total computing power as a function of CPU core utilization

MacBook Pro Finally the Do-It-All Desktop Replacement? Top End Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro Models are on Sale

In 2019 Apple MacBook Pro with 16" Display: the Single Computer Solution At Last, I postulated that the 2019 MacBook Pro would finally squash the desktop/laptop conundrum, a huge win for those needing a desktop-class computer but also a laptop.

2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch

It looks to me that for 99% of photographers, even those who work their machines hard as I do, the 2019 MacBook Pro 16" is plenty fast for photography including even high-end work, unless squeezing out an extra 15% actually matters (barely enough to notice a difference).

In my in-depth comparison of both the 2019 MacBook Pro 16" and the 2019 iMac 5K, both top-end maxed-out configurations.

In-Depth Review of Apple MacBook Pro Retina 16-inch (October 2019)

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo generously provided the MacBook Pro used for review, so I thank you in advance for buying your MacBook Pro or other Mac through links on this site or at diglloyd.com, so that we get credit, and B&H knows it’s worthwhile.

Ditto for peripherals for Macs and PCs from Other World Computing.

Configuring the 2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch as as Desktop Replacement

Looking for a GREAT VALUE? See New and Used Macs at OWC...

Consult with Lloyd to determine the ideal setup for your particular workflow including CPU cores, GPU, memory, SSD, internal and external storage, backup and fault tolerance, color management, whether for video or still photography, including what is best for Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, focus stacking, panoramas, etc.

Storage and Ports for MacBook Pro, Macs and PCs

Why I am RETURNING the 2019 Mac Pro

macOS Catalina is required for Mac Pro, but I have learned to deal with its vexations.

The 2019 Mac Pro 16-core is the best computer I have ever owned, by far.

So I am returning it.

I just love how the 2019 Mac Pro lets me do everything more efficiently and simultaneously: development, testing, backups, photo processing, etc—most of the frustration of having to wait for the computer is gone and these things can be done together without getting bogged down.

Lately, I’ve been doing intensive* software development of my IntegrityChecker java software, which every professional should be using. The Mac Pro has been extremely useful for that.

  • For development of highly-parallelized (multi-threaded) software, more cores mean faster testing but more important is that more cores incite race conditions that sometimes just don’t show up at all on 4 or 8 core systems, except at the rare and wrong time. So when I get some multithreading logic wrong, this is super important and of high value to me.
  • Focus stacking and image processing speedups abound. Reductions of 40% or so with programs like Zerene Stacker are a big deal when a stack takes 5-10 minutes and might need repeating (eg different raw conversion settings)—it is awfully hard to evaluate very many image stacks gated that way, and I shoot stacks a great deal.
  • Backgrounded backups that chew up several CPU cores don’t matter much in terms of CPU usage. While intensive disk I/O can still make the machine a bit jerky/unresponsive, other tasks never suffer from CPU demand.
  • The ultra high speed OWC Mercury Accelsior 4M2 can be used only with one Mac at full speed, the Mac Pro. With such a PCIe SSD, I/O speed just drops out of the equation for most all apps— lags from disk I/O are effectively zero relative to whatever one is doing.
  • Mac Pro is amazingly quiet—sits on my desk and yet is less noisy than my 4-bay OWC Thunderbay 4. Even with all CPU cores going full bore for minutes, the fans don’t even change in any way I can notice—stunningly good cooling.
  • No more memory limitations with 384GB memory for any apps—always enough so far. (However, the way macOS unified buffer cache cache 340GB of files, which ends up slowing things down—that code needs rethinking).
  • Multiple Thunderbolt busses—important for all the above, plus driving a 5K or 6K display.

Tomorrow I’ll explain why the 2019 Mac Pro is going back—don’t make any assumptions.

In-Depth review of Apple 2019 Mac Pro...

The Good Stuff for your Mac Pro...

* “Intensive” is a an understatement: 12 hours a day even over the holidays for 4 weeks straight* is a load I was last able to sustain nearly a decade ago, though I did cut it back somewhat for a few days after having wisdom teeth removed earlier this month. For the past week I’ve piled on more: rigorous 50 mile bike rides each day at 200+ watts along with too little sleep is a recipe for disaster, for sure right? Except that I have nailed down the two-brain formula for as much vigor as I have had in a decade (2-brain = wet computer in skull + gut biome). When if/time allows I will elaborate, but in brief it is possible to reprogram both gut and brain for physical and mental resilience, a process that I began in September and has been breathtakingly successful, consisting of forming new dietary habits along with conscious thought processes designed to reframe my world. While I still have some issues from my concussion that linger, I can manage them and while the concussion came at a cost I would not care to repeat, it was rewarding also.


Pelican Cases Protect Photo Gear, Work Great in Vehicle Travel

On my last trip I used two Pelican cases to store the PhaseOne IQ4 and lenses. These cases come with many types of internal organization options, or empty*_, so there is one for just about use.

None of my usual padded cases could accommodate the lenses, the diameter being larger even that Zeiss Otus lenses—it was a real quandary. Luckily, I had on hand a Pelican 1615AirTP Wheeled Check-In Case with TrekPak Insert I had not used, but it turned out to be perfect because I could customize the internals to fit the PhaseOne gear exactly as shown below, keeping everything snugly in place.

Just received for evaluation is the Pelican iM2700 Storm Case with Padded Dividers, on sale today as I write this. What I like a lot about this case is its more squarish form factor which offers a lot of volume, yet by standing it on its side when not needed, floor or table space can be freed up—great for use in my van.

Its wheels were a big plus for the several nights I had to spend in a hotel what with my Mercedes Sprinter van being worked on in Reno—no way was I going to leave any of my photo gear in my vehicle which mean hauling it inside—super easy with the Pelican case. I also used a smaller case also, which was also excellent.

Below, variations of the Pelican 1615AirTP I used for the PhaseOne gear, and a few others.

*While not rated bear proof, most are lockable and would be a good way to store food to be able to quickly remove it from a vehicle, and stow inside a bear locker in one case—fast and easy.

Such cases are easy to move around, and when items are snug, can be turned on their sides to free up floor space, a huge plus for travel in my van (driving vs actively doing stuff in the interior). They can also be tied down or at least secured for the unlikely even of an unplanned interaction of the van with other solid matter.

Pelican Air 1615 loaded with PhaseOne IQ4 and lenses and other photo stuff
f2 @ 1/15 sec, ISO 500; 2019-12-03 19:43:50
iPhone 11 Pro Max + iPhone 11 Pro Max 6.0 mm f/2 @ 52mm equiv (6mm) ENV: altitude 506 ft / 154 m
Pelican Air 1615 loaded with Phase One IQ4 gear

[low-res image for bot]

Upgrade the memory of your 2018 Mac mini up to 64GB

Deep Sony Discounts for Students and Educators via B&H Photo EDU Advantage Discount Program

Active Dates: Nov 26 2019 to Jan 15 2020. Subject To Change without notice.

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Sony gear at B&H Photo EDU Advantage Discount Program for Students & Teachers
B&H Photo EDU Advantage Discount Program for Students & Teachers
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