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Fujifilm Starts Professional Services Program

Fujifilm USA has started a professional services program. See the terms and conditions.

There are at least two things that grate:

  • To be forced to sign up within 30 days seems unfriendly at best. Sony’s pro services ($99 a year) have no such time cutoff.
  • Warranty extension is “outsourced to a 3rd party”. Not much of a confidence builder.
  • Alaska and Hawaii residents are excluded. Is this just to save shipping costs?
  • Registration of purchased products must be done within 30 days.Proof of purchase ought to be enough.
  • Non-transferable.

Still, a pro shooter has a lot of benefits that if needed are very worthwhile, such as 2 day turnaround, clean and check, loaners, and dedicated hotline and email support.

Fujifilm Professional Services (FPS) provides outstanding support for professional photographers. For only $499 per year, qualified GFX system owners can rest assured that they have Fujifilm's Professional Service on their side. Members in the GFX FPS Program will receive exclusive phone and email support, complimentary Check and Cleans, discounted and expedited services, and express repairs and loaners where applicable.

Program Eligibility Requirements:

Participant must own no less than one (1) FUJIFILM GFX digital camera body and one (1) GF lens product, each of which were registered at www.RegisterMyFujifilm.com within 30 days of purchase. Program sign-up is subject to registration verification. Membership is personal to the member and is non-transferrable.

Participant must sign up for the GFX FPS Program within 30 days of purchase of a GFX System product. Once registration has been completed, the GFX FPS Program will apply to all GFX System products that are subsequently purchased by the participant and that have been properly registered within 30 days of purchase, for the remaining applicable Program Term.

Participant must be at least 18 years of age, and must reside in the continental United States or the District of Columbia, excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the US territories.

Participation is subject to the GFX FPS Program Terms and Conditions as well as the general terms and conditions of the Program and other terms that Fujifilm may designate from time to time.

...

Fujifilm GFX pro services program

Is the Fujifilm GFX Suitable as a Digital Back?

I have my doubts that adapting 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX is more than an awkward kludge (because it sure feels that way with adapters on Sony), but given the non-deterministic focusing problems affecting all the GF lenses and the uncertainty of whether a forthcoming Fujifilm firmware update will fix the problems, it is at least worth thinking about.

Nikon and Canon have given no sign that they take the high-end market seriously (I’m talking about high-end as in Nikon D810 and Canon 5DS R, not sports shooters). How long will CaNikon fecklessly ignore the market opportunity by sticking to hopeless dinosaur products, ones that force me to use a loupe instead of an EVF and deal with the needless bulk of a mirror box? I never want to buy another DSLR myself. Maybe CaNikon are not ignoring the market and have some awesome rabbit under the hat, but the natives (like me) are getting very restless.

Is the Fujifilm GFX in effect a digital back that will save the day for CaNikon users who look increasingly abandoned at the (non sports) high end?

Suppose that one has (like me) a large collection of Zeiss and Canon and Nikon lenses. An adapter is awkward, but might it be worth the trouble if Nikon cannot get its hapless and inept act together with a D850 with serious advancements, before it implodes from market pressures from Sony. Ditto for Canon, though Canon has far more leeway due to its vastly larger product lines (much more than Nikon), so show us something already, CaNikon!

The old saying that the easiest way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one seems to hit the mark for Nikon: shrinking a solid business into a moribund one.

Adapting lenses is not elegant but it might be better than spending for yet another dinosaur DSLR—let’s see what happens this year.

  • Lenses for the 35mm format have a variety of potential shortcomings on the GFX. But even if one can gain only 20% or so on imaging area, the high sensor quality and the increased area may be a winner.
  • Traditional medium format lenses (Mamiya, Pentax, Hasselblad, etc) are highly unlikely to perform as well as lenses designed from scratch for the GFX sensor. Ditto for view camera lenses. But there are some standouts, and some may have special imaging qualities that make them worthwhile.
  • Fujifilm offers adapters for a view camera and for Hasselblad lenses and there are other adapters and there is also the Cambo Mini View Camera with GFX adapter. Color shading may be an issue, but tilt and shift come to mind.

I for one think that Nikon and Canon must deliver (or at least promise delivery) of some new exciting full frame camera by end of 2017. Better yet, deliver a GFX-like camera with large sensor that not only takes a new mirrorless lens line, but comes with a high quality adapter for compatibility with existing DSLR lenses. Otherwise, hang up the jock strap.

Nikon and Canon are NOT going to survive selling to sports and wildlife shooters, even if sports shooters decide that the Sony A9 remains a less good choice than a traditional DSLR. And if even a significant percentage of sports/wildlife/action shooters go with the A9 (consider the implications of even a 20% switchover to Sony A9), the pressure on CaNikon will go from high to existential. So anyone with a collection of high-grade lenses might start thinking about a different digital back for those lenses, such as the Fujifilm GFX.

While we’re at it, what if Sony produces a medium format body, one compatible in some way with the existing E mount lens lineup. That would be a death blow to CaNikon IMO.

Not having used these GFX lens adapters (yet), I am merely showing the options that might be viable.

Dracast LED: Just ordered another one

I have Dracast LED500 Silver Series Bi-Color LED Light with Dual NP-F Battery Plate that I ordered when it was only $199. It’s a nice compact well built little unit.

The larger Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light with V-Mount Battery Plate (or Gold Plate) is $379.95 / 45% off today only at the B&H Deal Zone, and I just ordered a SECOND one, having been enjoying the first one and its sibling for a few months now.

Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light

The simple fact is that I don’t see as well in dim light as when I was younger. My kids can rad in light that stymies me!

I love flipping on this light and swiveling it where I need it. And so I ordered a second one for ever better illumination.

Also important to me is the bi-color feature so I can tune the color to what I prefer. For example, at night I bias it to warmer (yellowish).

Today only in B&H deal zone $379.95 with stand and accessoriies.

...

 

Below, the Cineo Matchbox is currently $129 off and ony $333 with excellent color rendering (CRI). I liked it a lot when I tested it.

Cineo Matchbox LED remote phosphor lighting

Adapting Lenses to the Fujifilm GFX

One last thing before I send back the loaner Fujifilm GFX is to establish how lenses for 36 X 24mm format perform on the larger 44 X 33mm sensor of the GFX.

I expect to receive the about $150 FotodioX Nikon F Lens to Fujifilm G-Mount Camera Pro Lens Mount Adapter tomorrow. In the past I have been very displeased with Fotodiox quality (had to destructively remove one by sawing it off a Zeiss lens), but I am going to give this new offering a fair trial.

 
FotodioX Nikon F to Fujifilm G-Mount Lens Adapter

The lenses I intend to check out to at least establish behavior are the following:

A this point, my intent is a 'survey': what has potential and what does not and in general does does the quality hold up to a useful level.

Back in 2014, I investigated the performance of the Zeiss Touit lineup for Sony APS-C format on Sony full frame format including classic ratios like 4:5 and 1:1 and panoramic, with remarkably good results.

FotodioX Nikon F to Fujifilm G-Mount Lens Adapter

Considerations in applying a lens designed for the 36 X 24mm format on the much larger 44 X 33mm format are several:

  • All lenses will vignette much more than on the 36 X 24mm frame, some excessively, some modestly. Vignetting can vary substantially depending on focusing distance (decreasing with closer focusing unless focal length shortening tricks are use). Stopping down reduces vignetting substantially.
  • Just because a lens covers 44 X 33mm area does not mean the quality will be worthwhile. And even if the lens is sharp, there may be excessive field curvature or focus shift and/or aberrations that increase to greatly reduce the point spread function outside the 36 X 24mm frame. Such things might require using only at f/8 or f/11 for example.
  • Color shifts from ray angle might be an issue with some lens designs.
  • Planarity of the lens adapter is always a concern, as is the increased lever-arm torque on the lens mount with a heavy lens.
  • Flare and uneven lighting outside the 35mm frame area.
  • ... and so on.

Why anyone would bother mounting a 'dog' of a lens like the Nikon 50/1.4G on the GFX as shown in the product shot is dubious, both for very poor focusing throw and feel but also for its modest optical performance and severe flare issues. It is precisely for this reason that I feel it is worthwhile to try the best and establish the gamut of performance, so perhaps I’ll mount that Nikon 50/1.4G and see how badly or not so badly it does.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

FOR SALE: Lloyd’s Own Lenses (Zeiss, Leica, Voigtlander, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Rodenstock, Schneider)

I’d rather just keep a growing collection, but that’s just not feasible, for both space and financial reasons—I constantly have to be working with the newest lenses for my publications. There is no ROI (return on investment) for lenses that I rarely or ever need for my publications. Plus the ongoing insurance costs are negative ROI, plus I have to buy certain new gear each year. It’s time to clean house on some very good lenses.

  • All lenses here are “good samples” as far as my testing has determined; I never keep bad samples.
  • Nearly all are with original box and packaging (all that stuff up in the attic, I never throw away boxes).
  • My reputation is more important to me than any sale. I would never knowingly sell any gear with an issue. It’s that simple—just not worth it. Local buyers welcome to inspect firsthand.
  • All my glass tends to be pristine. If I see any kind of optical marring, I will note it prior to final sale.
  • Please note that new lenses have dust inside! Used lenses always have some dust, even after a week or two of use. NONE of my gear has ever gone to Burning Man or anything 1/10 that extreme.
  • Overseas is just too much of a hassle, but if payment is made I can hold a lens until buyer visits my area.

LNIB = Like New in Box

Payment as agreed upon. You pay FedEx 3 day shipping and are responsible for any California sales tax, if applicable.

Nikon mount

All Nikon lenses are original USA models—no gray market.

Zeiss sales are because I have the Milvus replacements for the lenses I’m selling. These are all excellent samples, some particularly so.

  • Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm f2.8 SL II with lens hood LNIB $550.
  • Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL II with lens hood LNIB $340.
  • Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G LNIB $450
  • Nikon 45mm f/2.8 ED PC-E Micro Nikkor $1299. Shows some wear, but perfect glass and mechanical.
  • Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G $250
  • Nikon AF-S 85m f/1.4G $1050
  • Nikon AF-S 105mm f2.8 ED VR macro $600
  • Nikon AF 105mm f/2D DC-Nikkor $925 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 21mm f/2.8 Distagon $1150
  • Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/2 Distagon $825
  • Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar $1425 (particularly outstanding copy with superb symmetry at distance)

Canon mount

All Canon lenses are original USA models—no gray market.

  • Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye $525
  • Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM $400 LNIB
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II $1350 excellent (lens hood has scratches, but lens is very lightly used).
  • Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L $560
  • Zeiss ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon: $1225 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar: $975 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar: $1375 LNIB

Olympus

  • Olympus E-M1 + Olympus 45mm f/1.8 w/ lens hood + Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 ASPH + Panasonic DMC-GF3 $1050.
  • Olympus SHG lenses (set of three): 7-14mm f/2, 14-35mm f/2, 35-100mm f/2 with two MMF-3 lens adapters for Micro Four Thirds: $4200 Great choice for videographers. These are the most highly corrected lenses that Olympus makes.

Leica

All Leica lenses are original USA models—no gray market.

  • Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH (prior version but 6-bit coded) $2900. My testing showed no meaningful difference vs the 2016 version.
  • Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH (6-bit coded) $1750.
  • Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH black $6800. I was told by Leica that this was a hand-picked best of batch sample (chosen for me as replacement from original problem run of the 50/2 APO).

Rodenstock and Schneider view camera lenses

All on Linhof Technikardan lens boards, copal shutters.

  • Rodenstock 135mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S Copal shutter + Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFE PRISTINE
  • Schneider 400mm f/5.6 APO-TELE-XENAR Copal shutter+ Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFER PRISTINE
  • Fujifilm Fujinon A 240mm f/9
  • Linhof Tecknikdan 4 X 5 View camera with quickload holders and various mounting boards.
4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

B&H Photo NAB Specials

See also my wish lists and top deals pages B&H Photo.

B&H has a variety of specials for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show.

Shop all B&H Photo NAB specials.

B&H Photo NAB Specials (partial list)
$4999 SAVE $3000 = 37.0% Canon EOS-1D C Camera in All Other Categories
$299 SAVE $150 = 33.0% GoPro HERO4 Black in Computers: Other
Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E

See my Sony mirrorless wish list and other wish lists at B&H Photo.

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus
50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E

I have the about $2999 Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E on request at B&H Photo. It is now shipping, but I am unsure of arrival data as yet.

  • Sony E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/0.95 to f/22
  • Manual Focus Design
  • De-Clicked Aperture Ring
  • 15 AR-Coated Aperture Blades

It looks like all the right mechanical things have been done, except perhaps the rather smooth focusing ring (no texture)—though the Zeiss Milvus line has smooth rubber and that works fine. A lot depends on how it actually feels and operates.

From what I am reading, the optical design is the same as the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95, which I reviewed back in January. What Meyer-Optik has done is deliver a completely different build around cherry-picked samples.

I am curious if an all-new rangefinder design that is 1/3 the price of the Noctilux for Leica M could possibly perform as well—or better*. It is possible, since Leica’s prices for M lenses are stratospheric with poor value being inbred at Leica and prices going up yet again next month.

That is, an all-new design that takes ray angle into account might mean something approaching a real T/1.0—I’m guessing T/1.1 if done well.

For example, f/1.2 lenses on DSLRs (so far) are really more like T/1.4 due to ray angle—not very “fast” at all. Canon even cheats and compensates for the light loss with the 85/1.2L II.

A really fast lens is great fun:

* You too can experience the Noctilux feel with a Noctilux coffee mug. Fill it with coffee and it will have similar heft!

Our trusted photo rental store

Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS — Portraits

The about $1499 Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is a pleasing lens.

At Photoshop World, I had just 3 minutes today to take a few snaps of a skilled and lovely model as seen below (competing with 25 or so other photographers, nearly all with 24-70 or 70-200 zooms, LOL). Me, I just had the Sony 100/2.8 STF GM. I took 82 seconds to fire off 11 frames and dang I love that Sony A7R II focusing.

UPDATE: I’ve posted three samples. Viewed properly at high-res on an late 2015 iMac 5K, the images are stunning.

UPDATE 2: I’ve added the black and white conversion settings and Adobe Camera Raw conversion settings and two more poses using different processing approaches.

Examples: Portrait Model

Includes images up to full resolution in both color and black & white.

I like the Sony 100mm f/2.8 STF GM a lot—it balances very nicely on the Sony A7R II, it’s razor sharp, the focal length is ideal for portraits, and its rendering style is unique even among apodized lenses. The brightness loss of two stops (f/2.8 is as dark as f/5.6) is regrettable as a working challenge, but I applaud Sony’s decision to not go half-way—the results are beautiful (model or not), and I deem the 100/2.8 STF GM a must-have lens for the Sony shooter.

As for the A7R II, the images look fantastic at full res at ISO 1600. The black and white images I’ll take over an Leica M Monochrom any day (far more flexible and more detail). What does it imply for CaNikon or Leica or even medium format when the next-gen Sony hi-res camera will without a doubt improve the performance in every aspect, the 24MP Sony A9 being a technical tour de force ummatched by anything on the market?

__METADATA__
At f/2.8 (camera records as f/5.6 in EXIF)
__METADATA__
__METADATA__

John G writes:

Seems like Sony continues their roll with killer new lens designs.

I thought the picture is quite beautiful. The photograph prompted my email. Stunning tonality—a quality I hesitate to ascribe to the Sony cameras themselves.

DIGLLOYD: the results (at ISO 1600) speak for themselves—stunning. See the full-res images in both color and black and white.

Sony is the most innovative company in the business today—cameras like the A9 and now optics like the 100/2.8 STF GM.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

Sony’s New α9 Camera Appears to Target the High-End Sport Shooter Market

Get the about $4499 Sony a9 and about $2499 Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS at B&H Photo.

I have to laugh a little—starting a few years ago I posited breakthroughs that would challenge the best DSLRs even for sports shooting. I remember many a reader email admonishing me that the blackout issues, the phase detect focusing challenge, etc all made mirrorless inferior and would not be beaten anytime soon, if ever. I had total faith that this viewpoint was in serious error, and even if this new A9 fails in some area(s), time will take if far forward, leaving DSLRs in the dust if indeed that is not now already the case.

Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

And so here it is complete with zero blackout, 20 fps for 241 RAW images, 693 focus points with 93% frame coverage over far more of the frame than any DSLR can manage, phase-detect (!) autofocus, silent and vibration-free shooting, in body image stabilization (IBIS), 4K video, enhanced pro support services, and more.

I had to do a double take: this is an E-mount camera taking FE lenses from what I understand, so it is a perfect complement to the Sony A7R II. The death knell for the DSLR?

The use of phase-detection points also enables the use of A-mount lenses via the optional LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 lens mount adapters with full continuous AF/AE tracking compatibility.

I have said that Sony was gunning for DSLRs, and this is clearly the case with the A9—the finally “victims” are in the crosshairs: high end sport shooter DSLRs.

The about $4499 price is in the same territory as the high-end pro DSLR cameras, so even the price is consonant with the area of application.

Also announced is the new about $2499 Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS.

Any revision to the Sony A7R II will surely see at least some of the improvements seen in this new camera—I am hoping the zero blackout feature at last.

Sony’ press release below. Emphasis added

Groundbreaking Full-frame Mirrorless Camera Delivers Unmatched Speed, Versatility and Usability

  • World’s First1 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP2 resolution
  • Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting3 at up to 20fps4 for up to 241 RAW5/ 362 JPEG6 images
  • Silent7, Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec8
  • 693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second
  • Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer, Dual SD card slots and extended battery life
  • 5-Axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step9 shutter speed advantage
    ...
Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

NEW YORK, Apr. 19, 2017 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their new revolutionary digital camera, the α9 (model ILCE-9).

The most technologically advanced, innovative digital camera that Sony has ever created, the new α9 offers a level of imaging performance that is simply unmatched by any camera ever created – mirrorless, SLR or otherwise.

The new camera offers many impressive capabilities that are simply not possible with a modern digital SLR cameras including high-speed, blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 fps, 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second, a maximum shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 seconds and much more. These are made possible thanks to its 35mm full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS sensor – the world’s first of its kind – which enables data speed processing at up to 20x faster than previous Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras11. This unique sensor is paired with a brand new, upgraded BIONZ X processing engine and front end LSI that maximizes overall performance.

This industry-leading speed and innovative silent shooting7 is combined with a focusing system that features an incredible 693 phase detection AF points. Covering approximately 93% of the frame, the focusing system ensures that even the fasting moving subjects are reliably captured and tracked across the frame.

The new α9 also features a vibration free, fully electronic, completely silent anti-distortion shutter with absolutely no mechanical mirror or shutter noise, making it an extremely powerful photographic tool for any shooting situation that demands quiet operation. To ensure maximum usability and reliability, the camera features a new Z battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of W batteries, as well as dual SD media card slots, including one that supports UHS-II cards. An Ethernet port (wired LAN terminal) is available as well, and there is a wide variety of new settings, controls and customizability options that are essential for working pros.

“This camera breaks through all barriers and limitations of today’s professional digital cameras, with an overall feature set that simply cannot be matched considering the restrictions of mechanical SLR cameras” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “But what excites us most about the α9 – more than its extensive product specs – is that it allows professionals to see, follow and capture the action in ways that were never before possible, unlocking an endless amount of new creative potential.”

A New Standard of Speed and Focusing Accuracy

Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

Critical to the record-breaking speed of the new α9 is the combination of the new stacked 24.2 MP2 Exmor RS image sensor, new BIONZ X processor and front end LSI.

The immense processing power from these new components allows for faster AF/AE calculation while also reducing EVF display latency. The processor and front end LSI are also responsible for the larger continuous shooting buffer, enabling photographers to shoot at a blazing 20 fps4 with continuous AF/AE tracking for up to 362 JPEG6 or 241 RAW5 images.

The camera’s innovative AF system tracks complex, erratic motion with higher accuracy than ever before, with the ability to calculate AF/AE at up to 60 times per second(10), regardless of shutter release and frame capture. Further, when the shutter is released while shooting stills, the electronic viewfinder functions with absolutely no blackout, giving the user a seamless live view of their subject at all times (12). This feature truly combines all of the benefits of an electronic viewfinder with the immediacy and “in the moment” advantages that not even the finest optical viewfinders can match, and is available in all still image modes including high speed 20 fps4 continuous shooting.

With 693 focal plane phase detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the frame, the camera ensures improved precision and unfailing focus in scenes where focus might otherwise be difficult to achieve. The Fast Hybrid AF system – pairing the speed and excellent tracking performance of phase detection AF with the precision of contrast AF – achieves approximately 25% faster performance when compared with α7R II, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are captured.

Professional Capabilities in a Compact Body

Sony’s new full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that give it a true professional operational style.

The α9 features an all-new, high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. The new Tru-Finder, which is the highest resolution viewfinder ever for a Sony α camera, incorporates an optical design that includes a double-sided aspherical element, helping it to achieve 0.78x magnification and a level of corner to corner sharpness that is simply outstanding. The EVF also utilizes a ZEISS® T* Coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt.

This all adds up to a luminance that is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the α7R II, creating a viewfinder image with a brightness level that is nearly identical to the actual scene being framed, ensuring the most natural shooting experience. The frame rate of the Tru-Finder is even customizable, with options to set it for 60 fps or 120 fps13 to best match the action.

The α9 is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.0 steps 9, ensuring the full resolving power of the new sensor can be realized, even in challenging lighting. Also, with a simple half press of the shutter button, the effect of the image stabilization can be monitored in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen, allowing framing and focus to be accurately checked and continually monitored.

The α9 also offers an Ethernet port (wired LAN terminal), allowing convenient transfer of still image files to a specified FTP server at high-speed, making it an ideal choice for studio photography, high-profile news and sporting events and more. There is a sync terminal as well, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync.

New Features for Fast Operation

Sony’s new α9 has several new and updated focus functions that support faster, easier focusing in a variety of situations. The camera features a multi-selector joystick on the back of the camera, allowing shooters to easily shift focus point within the frame by pressing the multi-selector in any direction up, down, left or right when shooting in Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot focus area modes. The new model also offers touch focusing on the rear LCD screen for easily selecting of and shifting focus towards a desired focus point or subject.

New for Sony E-mount cameras, the α9 includes the addition of separate drive mode and focus mode dials, plus a new “AF ON” button that can be pressed to activate autofocus directly when shooting still images or movies.

Additional new capabilities include the “AF Area Registration”, which allows frequently used focus area to be memorized and recalled via custom button assignments. There is also the ability to assign specific settings (exposure, shutter speed, drive mode, etc) to a custom button to be instantly recalled when needed. The camera can memorize and automatically recall the last focus point used in a vertical or horizontal orientation as well, instantly switching back to it when that specific orientation is used again.

For enhanced customization, a “My Menu” feature is available, allowing up to 30 menu items to be registered in a custom menu for instant recall when needed.

Double Battery Life, Double Memory

The innovative α9 camera features an all-new Sony battery (model NP-FZ100) with 2.2x the capacity of previous Sony full-frame models, allowing for much longer shooting performance.

Also, based on extensive customer feedback, the new camera offers two separate media card slots, including one for UHS-II media. The same data can simultaneously be recorded to both cards, or the user can choose to separate RAW / JPEG or still images / movies. Movies can also simultaneously be recorded to two cards for backup and more efficient data management.

High Sensitivity and Wide Dynamic Range

The unique design of the α9 image sensor represents the pinnacle of Sony device technology. The 24.2 MP 2 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor is back-illuminated, allowing to capture maximum light and produce outstanding, true-to-life image quality. The sensor also enables the diverse ISO range of 100 – 51200, expandable to 50 – 20480014, ensuring optimum image quality with minimum noise at all settings.

The enhanced BIONZ X processor plays a large part in image quality as well, as it helps to minimize noise in the higher sensitivity range while also reducing the need to limit ISO sensitivity in situations where the highest quality image is required.

The new α9 also supports uncompressed 14-bit RAW, ensuring users can get the most out of the wide dynamic range of the sensor.

4K Video Capture

The new α9 is very capable as a video camera as well, as it offers 4K (3840x2160p) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor15, 16. When shooting in this format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. Recording is also available in the popular Super 35mm size.

Additionally, the camera can record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps, which allows footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking17.

New Accessories

Sony has released a variety of new accessories to compliment the new α9 camera, including:

  • NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Battery – high-capacity battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of the NP-FW50 W-series battery. It also supports InfoLITHIUM® technology, making it possible to view the remaining battery power as both a percentage display and five step icon on the camera’s LCD screen.
  • VG-C3EM Vertical Grip – provides same operation, handling and design as theα9 camera, doubles battery life and allows USB battery-charging via the camera body.
  • NPA-MQZ1K Multi-Battery Adaptor Kit – External multi-battery adaptor kit capable of functioning as an external power supply for four Z series batteries and as a quick charger. Kit comes with two packs of NP-FZ100 rechargeable batteries.
  • GP-X1EM Grip Extension – Grip extender with same look, feel and design as α9 body. Enables more solid hold on camera.
  • FDA-EP18 Eyepiece Cup –eye piece cup with locking mechanism
  • BC-QZ1 Battery Charger –quick-charging battery charger. Charges one new Z series battery in approximately 2.5 hours.
  • PCK–LG1 Screen Protect Glass Sheet – hard, shatterproof glass screen protector with anti-stain coating to prevent fingerprints. Compatible with touch operation and tilting LCD screen

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α9 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will ship this May for about $4,500 US and $6,000 CA. It will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.

Notes to Editors:

  1. As of April 19th, 2017
  2. Approx. effective
  3. Electronic shutter mode. At apertures smaller than F11 (F-numbers higher than F11), focus will not track the subject and focus points will be fixed on the first frame. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds.
  4. “Hi” continuous shooting mode. The maximum frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. Visit Sony’s support web page for lens compatibility information.
  5. “Hi” continuous shooting mode, compressed RAW, UHS-II memory card. Sony tests.
  6. “Hi” continuous shooting mode, UHS-II memory card. Sony tests.
  7. Silent shooting is possible when Shutter Type is set to “Electronic” and Audio signals is set to “Off.”
  8. 1/32000 shutter speed is available only in the S and M modes. The highest shutter speed in all other modes is 1/16000.
  9. CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw stabilization only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.
  10. At shutter speeds higher than 1/125 sec, smooth and blackout-free live view images are shown in EVF.
  11. Compared to the front-illuminated CMOS image sensor in the α7 II.
  12. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds.
  13. When the auto or electronic shutter mode is selected the viewfinder frame rate is fixed at 60 fps during continuous shooting.
  14. Still images, mechanical shutter: ISO 100 – 51200 expandable to ISO 50 – 204800.
    Still images, electronic shutter: ISO 100 – 25600 expandable to ISO 50 – 25600.
    Movie recording: ISO 100 – 51200 expandable to ISO 100 – 102400.
  15. In full-frame shooting, the angle of view will be narrower under the following conditions: When [File Format] is set to [XAVC S 4K] and [ Record Setting] is set to [30p]
  16. Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card required for XAVC S format movie recording. UHS Speed Class U3 required for 100Mbps or higher recording.
  17. Sound not recorded. Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card required.

Buttons look to be very similar to the Sony A7R II, but I deem them too small and tight as compared to a Nikon or Canon pro body, and not laid out well for quick and easy access including with gloves on in cold conditions.

Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9
Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

Reader comments

James P writes:

Unfortunately just because they announce this camera the PRO sports shooter market will still be controlled by both Nikon and Canon. Why, simply because of their PRO support, both Canon and Nikon have outstanding service to the pro users, expediting repairs, loaners and being on site for equipment issues at major events.

Sony is making nothing but disposable, cheaply made cameras that will not hold up to the demands of a working sports photographer, Period. They are toys and when they break, where do you send them, you don’t, you buy a new one. Sony is an electronics company, not a PRO camera maker. I had a A7II for all of one month, nice file, but too small and a menu system that is not user friendly, a flash system or should I say no flash system that can compete with both Nikon and Canon. It’s great to dream, but there are PRO camera makers, such as Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad, Phase and Leica that may not have all the things you want in a camera but have the most important thing that a PRO depends on and that is service of their products and support to the working PRO, those that make a livelihood using their gear depend on that.

DIGLLOYD: the market will decide this point, not assertions by me or anyone else.

I’ll be the first to agree that I Sony’s professional services program remains a weak point, but note that Sony is opening walk-in centers in Los Angelese and New York, so clearly the point is not lost on Sony. It’s a move forward, just like the A9.

As for “disposable cheaply made cameras”, I don’t dismiss an as yet unseen camera out of hand before even giving it a chance. And while I know that Sony has had some issues, my A7R II has worked flawlessly since I got it—more than I can say for Leica or Hasselblad or Fujifilm.

As for Leica being taken seriously as a 'pro' system, this is surely a joke (!) to list it with Nikon and Canon! There are/were terrible problems with the S system (now defunct), the M system has left users like me hung out to dry and the SL system is too little, too late and too little even now.

Bottom line here is that this note seems based on the past. I don’t hold the past against any vendor, if they march down the right path going forward.

Roy P writes:

The focus has always been accurate even with my A7RM2 and Canon 200-400 lens with both the internal and an external 1.4x TC, for a net focal length of 784 mm. Haven’t done pathological test cases like with low contrast subjects in very low light, but at least in reasonable light, the focus is always spot on.

The question is the speed of focus acquisition and tracking. The A7R focus acquisition is not bad with an MC-11, but the Canon 5DSR is noticeably faster, and the 1DX2 is instantaneous. So I am interested to know if this is a camera or adapter limitation, or both. So I’ll be looking at how much better the AF performance will be with the A9 , and whether the adapter makes any difference.

Nikon and Canon users have been staying with their DSLRs because mostly due to their glass investments. Also, Sony has been perceived as inspired by consumer electronics and not photography, and somewhat toy grade. I think all of that instantly changed with the A9, and there are going to be thousands of people wondering if the time has come to make a switch.

A 24MP weather sealed camera with dual cards, 20 fps, almost 700 AF points, silent shooting, unblocked view and sensor stabilization that weighs less than a half of a 1DX2 or D4/D5 is impossible to ignore. So the first question that’s likely to be running in the heads of any Nikon / Canon user who heard about the A9 is likely to be how well will my lenses autofocus with the A9. I got that exact question from a friend in the U.K. who owns a 1DX2 and 5DSR, and several Canon lenses.

I think the A9 is a whack on the head with a baseball bat for Canon and Nikon. Any 2-3 of the enhancements below would merit a switch to a different system. This list should trigger a stampede, to get out before others start putting up their gear on eBay:

  • 24MP resolution, which is more important than just in landscapes, because a lot of action images are heavily cropped, esp. birds in flight. The extra pixels are invaluable in capturing detail.
  • 20 fps likely doubles the yield of in-focus frames from a burst of shots
  • 693 in-sensor PDAF points must be amazing
  • 60 times per second focus measurement to set focus, unprecedented
  • Zero black outs, so much easier to keep the subject in sight
  • Silent shooting
  • Large buffer size
  • Half the weight and bulk
  • Sony’s CEO must have told his team “Look fellas, watching a crucifixion might be entertaining, but we have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have time. Let’s just go for the slaughter.”

DIGLLOYD:

Fujifilm Announces 23mm f/4 and 110mm f/2 Lenses for GFX

Fujifilm today announced the new about $2599 Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 R WR and new about $2799 Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R WR.

My review pages are stubbed out for the 23mm f/4 and the 110mm f/2 and will be fleshed out when these lenses become available, with an anticipated ship date of late June. Available for pre-order now.

Separately, there is a rumor of a firmware update for the Fujifilm GFX which might address autofocus performance. I am hoping it deals with the erratic and highly variable autofcus performance I saw with both GFX bodies I used.

FUJINON GF23mmF4 R LM WR Lens

The FUJINON GF 23mm F4 R LM WR Lens has a focal length equivalent to 18mm in the 35mm format and is perfectly suited for landscape and architectural applications. Despite the super-wide angle of view, distortion is kept to a minimum, and with the high-resolution performance extending all the way to the edges, sharp depiction power as if looking at an actual landscape is achieved.

FUJINON GF110mmF2 R LM WR Lens

The FUJINON GF 110mm F2 R LM WR Lens is a medium telephoto lens for portraits. With a focal length equivalent to 87mm in the 35mm format, it achieves a brightness of F2.0 when used wide open to deliver beautiful bokeh. The high resolving power of the area in focus and the rich bokeh unique to medium-format large-diameter lenses depicts portraits with a realistic three-dimensional feel.

GFX View Camera Adapter G

The GFX View Camera Adapter G allows the GFX 50S to be used as a digital back. The view camera adapter allows the GFX 50S to be mounted to the standard graflock-type back of a view camera*. This allows the use of FUJINON large format camera lenses, such as the CM-W FUJINON lens series. The camera or lens shutter can be triggered, allowing the user to choose the optimum method. The large image circle and the bellows of the view camera can be used with tilt, shift and swing movements, effective for product and architectural photography.

*There may be instances in which the adapter cannot be mounted depending on the shape of the view camera.

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First Look: Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Aperture Series: Dolls

The about $1499 Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is a curious beast.

I’ve taken my first look at how it behaves—off to Photoshop World tomorrow.

Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Aperture Series: Dolls

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

In EXIF data, the A7R II records f/5.6 for f/2.8, f/6.3 for f/4, and f/7.1 for f/5.6, which is confusing post-shot; one has to interpret in reverse to determine what was used. I deem this a bug because it corrupts the definition of f-stop vs T-stop. It also conflicts with Sony specifications: claim f/2.8 but record f/5.6? It’s not a good approach—let f-stop be f-stop and leave it at that.

At f/2.8 (camera records as f/5.6)
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In case you need serious speed, OWC will be showing something at NAB that hits speeds that were reserved for RAM not that long ago.

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Fujifilm GFX Dynamic Range: Kitchen HDR

I admit to being fascinated with the quality possible from the Fujifilm GFX—I mean, I just cannot do this sort of thing (quality and detail) with the Canon 5DS, not even close. And in the other direction, I am disappointed once again by the flaky autofocus of the GFX.

Accordingly, I’m showing another dynamic range example which might be the most impressive example yet; this one follows the Grant Lake and Lundy Canyon Boulders examples.

Black and white conversions often place greater demands on pixel quality, so this example offers both color and black and white renditions, with two exposures, one that requires 2.8 stops push and one 3.46 stops push (plus maximal shadow boost).

Fujifilm GFX Real World Dynamic Range: Kitchen

Presented in both color and black and white. Includes images up to full resolution, ACR processing settings and RawDigger histograms. The black and white results are particularly beautiful, reminiscent of the best black and white film.

Below, faux HDR gross underexposure (to preserve the outdoor elements) combined with a 2.8 stop push and +100 shadow boost and -100 highlights.

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Reader Perspectives on the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX

Michael Erlewine has bought, tried and returned both the Fujifilm GFX system and the Hasselbld X1D system.

Different purposes may lead to different conclusions and decisions, but his comments may be of use to prospective purchasers of these systems, at least as food for thought:

Reader Comments on Hasselblad X1D, With Responses

Reader Comments on Fujifilm GFX System, With Responses

 
Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D

 

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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Examples, Eastern Sierra

These examples taken in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Examples, Eastern Sierra

Includes images up to full resolution.

The Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 has potential—if one can get a good copy.

It was terribly disappointing to come back with many images, of which these are only a small sampling, to find that always the right side is blurred when focused at distance from what appears to be strong lens skew. How does such a lens get shipped to customers? It is a medium format system (not entry-level APS-C), and this is unacceptable quality control.

Violent winds whip across Grant Lake, whose dry spillway will almost certainly be needed for the 2017 snowmelt.

Grant Lake, part of the June Lake loop
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Jason W writes:

I really like your shots on the GFX 50s. I think the aspect ratio and your composition style work well together.

Additionally, you've changed my opinion of the quality of the images the GFX 50s is capable of. Most samples I had seen before didn't look that great, but given the baseline of your other FF images compared to the new shots you've posted, the quality is definitely there.

DIGLLOYD: I have always liked the 4:3 aspect ratio. Many times it works better than 3:2, and I always found 17:6 (as with Linhhof Technorama 617S IIi) difficult.

I am now persuaded that the GFX sensor (meaning the final output from sensor and electronics together) exceeds the quality possible from the Nikon D810 and yields 50 megapixels instead of 36. That’s setting aside lens selection and optical performance, focusing problems and lens skew and so on, just speaking in terms of sensor quality. The lenses are definitely the weak point in a variety of ways, all practical and image-impacting. But when things go the right way, the results are very satisfying.

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Fujifilm GFX Dynamic Range: Grant Lake

In practice it is all too easy to underexpose so as not to blow highlights, which for most cameras results in quality losses that drop below an acceptable threshold for darker areas. So I see this comparison as highly relevant in choosing a camera system. That is why I have long favored the Nikon D810 with its ultra-clean ISO 64 over any Canon offering.

Two frames are shown here, both at f/8. One frame was shot two stops underexposed accidentally (1/1000). A moment later, the frame was shot again with two stops more exposure (1/250). I wondered how well the image quality would hope with the underexposed frame versus the optimal exposure frame, particularly given the shadow boost and push and fairly aggressive sharpening of Amount = 25.

Black and white conversions often place greater demands on pixel quality, since some color channels may be emphasized and those channels by themselves may be noisier and/or just become noisier by being, in effect, pushed considerably. For that reason black and white renditions are also shown in this example.

Fujifilm GFX Real World Dynamic Range: Grant Lake

Presented in both color and black and white. Includes images up to full resolution, ACR processing settings and RawDigger histograms.

This image could not have been made with color reversal film; it would have consisted of a nearly black foreground in order to capture the sky without blowing out. Aggressive contrast control was used to brighten the foreground area, including a 2.5 stop push for the underexposed image.

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Fujifilm GFX + 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Three Pines

I’ve more or less gravitated to the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 as the most reliable lens for the Fujifilm GFX, although I can’t stand its cheap feel: a whiny focusing motor and a front that tends to pinch my finger with its in/out non-internal focusing reminiscent of the crummiest 50/1.8 lenses from CaNikon.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

Still, with a little stopping down the results with the 63/2.8 are very nice—a combination of very high sensor quality and very good lens performance.

Sometimes its left/right skew works out well, as in the Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek series, and sometimes the lens skew is a problem until f/9 or so, as in this series, plain to see:

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Three Pines

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

It’s disappointing to find that 2 of the 3 GF lenses have lens skew (63/2.8 and the 32-64/34 zoom, the 120/4 is symmetric), but many vendors have such issues. Still, given the price of the system, I expect more. The lenses look nice but I wonder what the quality of the innards is like, and how rigorous the alignment can be, and whether it will deviate over time.

Three Pines, Lee Vining Canyon
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Larry J writes:

Just wanted to compliment you on the splendid Lee Vining creek photo. I can just imagine it printed 48" on the long side, hung and properly lighted. Beautiful image.

DIGLLOYD: yes, it should hold up beautifully at 48 inches (1.22 meters). It really looks fantastic on an iMac 5K filling the screen... the detail and pixel quality right into the dark tones is really beautiful. I look forward to seeing 8K displays arrive, which is one reason I am publishing my medium format work at full-res. I also look forward to a 75 to 100 megapixel image sensor, see next note.

Dr S writes:

If Fuji were to be able to correct via firmware (don't know if that is even a possibility) their AF anomalies, and correct focus shift, would the system rise to a "reference" standard for Lloyd Chambers? BTW it also seems that moiré from your examples can be a pesky issue at times.

DIGLLOYD: yes—the sensor is fabulous, setting aside the severe moiré issues which may make the camera problematic for some professionals, be it product photography, architecture, fabrics and clothing, etc.

The GFX moiré is as strong as I’ve seen with any camera (and shown in most of my examples), and may stem from Fujifilm’s custom sensor design that enhances sharpness. IMO, it is critical to get to a 100 megapixel sensor if only to reduce the moiré issues.


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Reader Question: Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 for Sony Mirrorless

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

See my review of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 APO-Sonnar in Guide to Mirrorless.

I’ll be adding to that review once I get a production copy.

Eric C writes:

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8

It’d be great to read a short essay online of your thoughts on the Zeiss Batis 135 – I enjoy fast lenses (own the Sony 50/1.4 and 85GM, used to have the Sony 35/1.4 but tired of its decentering) – but I really appreciate your previous points on ‘why all the big, heavy glass?!’  Which is why I have the Batis 18 and Batis 25.

For whatever reason it seems like there’s a large group that thinks a 135mm is only for portraits and REQUIRES f/1.8.

But I see so many other uses for it and am also leery of a big, heavy lens that won’t be a primary focal length for me.  But, I’d like a very high IQ lens so I’d be more inclined to use it more frequently.

It might be a bit dismissive to call the Batis 135 a ‘jack of all trades’ – perhaps more appropriate to say it hits a sweet spot – but it’s too early to make that call and also one of the reasons I lament the demise of the local dealer where you could just handle the lens in person or on a camera body.

In any case, your keen sense of IQ without requiring ultra fast/big/heavy puts you in the perfect position to offer your thoughts on this if you have time.

DIGLLOYD: see The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses. It applies nearly as much to f/1.8 or f/2 at these longer focal lengths.

When Zeiss designates a lens as “APO”, it’s the real deal, not the faux APO that Leica delivers with focus shift (sometimes) and gobs of secondary color (although the 50/2 APO may be an exception). This alone makes the Batis 135/2.8 highly appealing. In a scene like White Truck at Night, the image is not only razor sharp, but devoid of any violet fringing or hazing, even around high contrast areas—and blacks remain detailed and black (not dark gray).

The idea that a portrait requires f/1.8 at 135mm is absurd—it’s a nice-to-have for occasional use for sure, but one quickly grows tired of one out of focus eye and blurry everything except the iris, and that’s if you can focus on the iris and you and the subject do not move even 1mm before exposure. Even at f/2.8 there is precious little depth of field, so f/1.8 is a curious solution in search of a problem. The truth is that out in the field, the f/2 of the Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar is of marginal use, and it carries a heavy penalty of size and weight, quite literally. If you have a perfect copy as I do, then f/2 may be of some utility, but I find that f/4 is more appropriate even for modest depth of field.

When I mount the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 to the Sony A7R II, I have a highly portable and ultra-high performance 135mm lens—something I’ve never before had available to me. I can’t say how many times the Zeiss ZF.2/ZE 135mm f/2 for Canon and Nikon has stayed behind in the bag in the car because of its weight and bulk. If you don’t take a lens along, you can’t use it. Add to that the fact that the Batis 135/2.8 includes optical image stabilization that works in combination with the Sony IBIS, and it’s a 'killer' solution that has no peer.

As for image quality, the Batis 135/2.8 is the most even-tempered 135mm lens I have yet used, with a gorgeous flat-field (no field curvature) 'cut' through the scene—better than the DSLR lens for sure in that regard. At f/2.8 it is nearly a match the best lens for Leica M at f/5.6 and wildly outperforms the Leica 135/3.4 APO-Telyt-M—crazy good. There is nothing to gripe about even by my picky standards. And if things like contrast and flare are included, it’s astonishing in its abilility to deal with any challenge with optical aplomb.

White Truck at Night
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Deals at OWC / MacSales.com

OWC / MacSales.com has some great weekender deals.

See all Weekender Specials.

A few callouts:

Apple factory refurbished iMac 5K deals at MacSales.com

Lloyd at Photoshop World Apr 19/20/21

Stop by and say hello if attending Photoshop World 2017, in Orlando, Florida.

I’ll be at the Other World Computing / MacSales.com booth demoing/showing how I use OWC products in my work and photography.

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Fujifilm GFX + 63mm f/2.8 at Their Best, Aperture Series: Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

Enough with beating a dead horse on the focusing variability.

Here is a series that shows off the Fujifilm GFX and Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 at their very best.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

These images look fabulous by f/4.5 on an iMac 5K or better. Even f/2.8 looks very nice in total visual impact, though the lack of depth of field is noticeable. It’s loads of fun scrolling around the full-res image on the iMac 5K—so much detail of such high quality.

It seems clear to me that a 100 megapixel sensor would be very worthwhile not just for more detail, but to reduce or eliminate moiré and color aliasing in places (see comments that follow).

This is why you want medium format—for example the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS simply cannot deliver this kind of pixel quality: megapixels are not all the same, not even close. It is the kind of result that make me think “sell the 5DS R and get a GFX”. Of course I cannot do that—I have to review Canon lenses! But that’s the thought anyway.

Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek
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Larry J writes:

Just wanted to compliment you on the splendid Lee Vining creek photo. I can just imagine it printed 48" on the long side, hung and properly lighted. Beautiful image.

DIGLLOYD: yes, it should hold up beautifully at 48 inches (1.22 meters). It really looks fantastic on an iMac 5K filling the screen... the detail and pixel quality right into the dark tones is really beautiful. I look forward to seeing 8K displays arrive, which is one reason I am publishing my medium format work at full-res. I also look forward to a 75 to 100 megapixel image sensor, see next note.

Dr S writes:

If Fuji were to be able to correct via firmware (don't know if that is even a possibility) their AF anomalies, and correct focus shift, would the system rise to a "reference" standard for Lloyd Chambers? BTW it also seems that moiré from your examples can be a pesky issue at times.

DIGLLOYD: yes—the sensor is fabulous, setting aside the severe moiré issues which may make the camera problematic for some professionals, be it product photography, architecture, fabrics and clothing, etc.

The GFX moiré is as strong as I’ve seen with any camera (and shown in most of my examples), and may stem from Fujifilm’s custom sensor design that enhances sharpness. IMO, it is critical to get to a 100 megapixel sensor if only to reduce the moiré issues.


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Fujifilm GFX Focusing Precision and Aperture Series with 63/2.8: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

Like the Cerro Gordo Church series, this series shows the problematic focusing imprecision that plagues the Fujifilm GFX, with all its lenses (32-64mm, 63mm, 120mm). I don’t expect behavior to be any different with the 23/4 and 110/2, but I am curious to see if it is better or worse with the 110/2 since there is razor thin depth of field at f/2 at 110mm.

The variability shown here was observed over and over in the field, a great source of aggravation because it becomes hit-and-miss to obtain optimal results. The greatest errors occur at distance where focusing precision is at its worst, and where tiny changes in focus can make a big difference.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills (Focus Variability)

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/8, along with crops.

I feel it is important to show at least two examples of misbehavior when I find it. For example, I showed a dozen or so examples of the Hasselblad X1D focusing issue, one which Hasselblad has acknowledged and is working on. Hasselblad has also promised me an X1D and lenses for re-testing when the time comes. So kudos to Hasselblad—I can’t ask for more than that (fix and take a fresh look).

BTW, I still have not heard a peep from Fujifilm. I never believed the original GFX problem diagnosis, now disproven as a theory given the same misbehaviors proven with a 2nd brand-new GFX and 120/4.

Mt Whitney and Whitney Portal, as viewed from Alabama Hills
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Things I Plan on Reviewing in the next few months

I’ve gotten several inquiries on what I plan on reviewing.

I know that many readers are not medium format shooters, but when a new product category appears, it is necessarily a high priority (Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D). Medium format also provides a valuable perspective on state of the art image quality. I am hoping that another vendor (Sony?) throws a hat into the ring too. Medium format coverage will be settling down soon, though rumor has it that Fujifilm will be releasing the 23mm f/4 and 110mm f/2 lenses next week, so those will enter the review mix as soon as I get get ahold of them.

I have already reviewed the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 APO-Sonnar, but I plan on working with it more when I get a production copy.

Shown below are items I plan on reviewing in the next two months or so. I am open to other suggestions, as always, the deciding factors being (a) reader interest that will drive subscriptions and (b) new or unique capabilities.

The Leica M10 with its new EVF will probably be June, availability being an issue. A key question I want to answer is just how it compares to the M240 (form factor aside)—is its image quality better than the Leica M240, or just different—and is different better in all ways?

I’m disappointed at being stuck at 24 megapixels, even if the extra resolution were only to avoid moiré and color aliasing and other digital artifacts. Leica has made the classic mistake of assuming that its existing user base is the only viewpoint—if Apple had done this we’d all still be using flip phones instead of smart phones. It takes vision and leadership to move a product category forward, and so far Leica’s vision has been a disappointing failure. I see the M10 as a nice improvement over the M240 (an assumption at this point, based on specs), but it offers nothing really new. It is incrementalism costing $6600 on top of an $8000 investment in the M240. Hard to swallow, for me at least—that Leica does nothing to improve the M240 experience after 3+ years.


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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 @32mm Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Museum

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR at 32mm on a planar scene—the building. The results here show two behaviors that are destructive to image quality:

Aperture Series @32mm: Cerro Gordo Museum (Focus Variability + Right-Side Blur)

Includes image sizes up to full resolution, plus crops, all from f/4 through f/11.

Cerro Gordo Museum
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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 @32mm Focus Stack: Barroom Interior

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

Even at f/11 at 32mm, depth of field is very limited, a confounding issue with medium format, since diffraction rapidly kills image quality past f/11. Hence focus stacking is highly relevant for landscape shooting or any shooting where one wishes for the image to retain reasonably good contrast (which f/16 would destroy from diffraction) and yet much more depth of field is needed than a single shot can provide.

Here I wanted to see what I could do to make a near-to-far composition in a static interior. This is a challenge that an interior photographer might encounter, but it should be obvious that this layout mimics many a landscape scene as well. Here, even f/16 would be far from adequate for depth of field (with bad consequences for overall image quality), so stacking is the only option. A tilt-shift lens would not help given the 3D projections within the scene. Only focus stacking can solve the challenge here.

A 3-frame stack was used, which is still easy to work with, particularly for a non-moving subject, and no wind to make a mess via overlapping grass/leaves/etc. The first frame is focused on the leading edge of the table (close distance), the 2nd frame on the chair on the dining table (middle distance), the 3rd on the far wall.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Focus Stack @ 32mm: Barroom Interior

Includes image sizes up to full resolution as well as Adobe Camera Raw conversion settings and the black and white layer conversion settings. Presented in both black and white and color.

Barroom Interior, Cerro Gordo
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Observations on Image Quality: Fujifilm GFX vs Hasselblad X1D, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810

This page summarizes my observations and thoughts so far on the Fujifilm GFX vs Hasselblad X1D vs Canon 5DS vs Nikon D810:

Fujifilm GFX: Observations on Image Quality vs Hasselblad, Canon, Nikon

On my recent trip, I happened to be shooting both the Canon 5DS R and the Fujifilm GFX. I was impressed at the stark differences in image quality, which prompted me to write the above and to discuss these four cameras.

     
Fujifilm GFX, Hasselblad X1D, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810

 


Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Aperture Series @35mm + Focus Stack: Decrepit Truck

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

This aperture series at medium distance shows performance from f/4 through f/11.

It also includes a 2-frame focus stack at f/9, which is interesting to compare to both f/9 and f/11. Depth of field is a major limitation of medium format, hence focus stacking is even more useful than with 35mm format. A 2-frame stack is easy and fast to shoot for a scene like this.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Aperture Series @35mm + Focus Stack: Decrepit Truck

Includes image sizes up to full resolution from f/4 through f/11.

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Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Ore Cart

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 at relatively close range on a subject whose key details are in the central half of the frame.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR Aperture Series: Ore Cart

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/9.

There is some very strange behavior at work in this series, which I discuss.

 

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Fujifilm GFX Focusing Precision and Aperture Series: Mining Town Church

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 at distance, and expressly shows the problematic lack of focusing precision that one can expect from the Fujifilm GFX. The variability shown here was observed over and over in the field, a great source of aggravation. The greatest problems occurs at distance, as here, where precision is at its worst and where tiny changes in focus can make a big difference.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Church (Focus Variability)

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/6.4 along with discussion of the GFX focusing behavior here and in many other series in the field.

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Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Distortion Example

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

The optical design of the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR relies on software correction, requiring corrections for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration. This page looks at the true optical distortion of the 63/2.8, which is moderately high.

Distortion correction in software is never desirable in quality terms, primarily because it always has some effect on micro contrast, which puts a hard limit on how crisp an image can look (image pixels have to be remapped by some fractional number of pixels).

While the Fujifilm GFX corrects the distortion for viewing purposes while shooting, the raw file is recorded without distortion correction applied, and some field of view is lost by correcting it. Worse, the GFX sets a flag in the raw file that requires corrections, which Adobe Camera Raw offers no option to ignore.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR Distortion

Image sizes up to full resolution.

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Which is faster for RAW File Conversion, CPU or GPU?

A few months ago, I wrote The GPU remains a Science Fair Project. While I freely acknowledge that the GPU can be essential for some work (hugely faster), the fact of the matter is that using the GPU is not necessarily a win, and GPU-based processing can cause all sorts of glitches and crashes and weird behaviors*. I suspect the GPU is involved in the latest weird behavior I am seeing.

* That the GPU is problematic is a fact encoded right into the mouse-over help in the Photoshop GPU preferences: “if such and such happens, disable this option”.

GPU vs CPU performance

In the past month or so, I’ve spent a lot of time preparing work from the raw files for the Hasselblad X1D (uncompressed raw) and the Fujifilm GFX (compressed lossless raw).

The Fujifilm compressed lossless raw files offer huge space savings of 30% to 60% so I favor them, but GFX raw files are glacially and painfully slow in the Photoshop/ACR window even on the fastest Mac you can’t even buy from Apple (3.3 GHz 8-core 2013 Mac Pro with D700 GPUs). So slow that my work efficiency is seriously impaired—the X1D files are a joy to work with by comparison, albeit about double the size (both cameras have identical image resolution).

There is a false premise out there that a fast GPU solves most performance problems. But this is untrue in a significant number of real-world cases. Anyway, what matters is what actually happens in the real world, for the work one actually does.

I wondered how fast CPU vs GPU would be on my 3.3 GHz 8-core 2013 Mac Pro. This test was prompted by the painfully slow response time in the Photoshop/ACR window. That the time (below) is only 1.34 seconds per file is impressive, but it is far slower than that due to poor software design (and bugs) in the Photoshop/ACR window—and that window is my gating factor for getting work done (previewing, choosing, changing processing settings, etc).

While the GPU-enabled results are slightly and consistently faster, the processing time difference is 2% or less, which is meaningless within the margin of error and meaningless in a workflow. The CPU-based approach is just as fast as the fastest *dual* GPU option Apple offers* (D700 GPUs). A 4-core or 6-core Mac Pro or 4-core iMac might be a bit slower, but the D700 GPUs are the fastest GPUs Apple offers and yet they have nothing to offer in this workflow challenge. Worse, most users do not order the D700 GPUs (fastest) but instead have the slower D300 or D500 GPUs.

Curiously, the Hasselblad X1D files take significantly longer to process, whereas in the Photoshop ACR window, they are much more responsive to work with.

* I don’t know if Photoshop uses both GPUs or not.

System config: 2013 Mac Pro 8-core 3.3 GHz with D700 GPUs, macOS 10.12.4, Photoshop CC 2017.0308.r.207.

Seconds to convert 123 Fujifilm raw RAF (lossless compressed) to TIF

Mike H writes that the Adobe web site states that “Camera Raw currently doesn't take advantage of more than one graphics processor. Using two video adapters does not enhance Camera Raw's performance” and also that

For ACR specifically, I don't think export operations are accelerated though I'm not 100% sure.  I think only some editing options in ACR are accelerated.  I think your nearly identical results might support this.

DIGLOYD: both points make makes sense since little difference is seen. If anything, it argues strongly to a point I’ve made for years about assessing one’s own specific workflow for whether paying for a faster GPU is worthwhile. The GPU of course may be helpful in Photoshop and Lightroom in other areas, so it all gets down to what one’s actual workflow involves.

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