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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: View North to Mt Conness from Puppy Dome

This aperture series from f/2 through f/16 evaluates the near-to-far performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: View North to Mt Conness from Puppy Dome

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/16, plus crops.

View North to Mt Conness from Puppy Dome
f2.8 @ 1/250 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 18:20:10
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH + polarizer Breakthrough Photography X4
ENV: Puppy Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, altitude 8650 ft / 2637 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.5 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Peaks and Valley, Mt Conness Southern Spur

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 evaluates the far distance performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Peaks and Valley, Mt Conness Southern Spur

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/5.6, plus crops.

Peaks and Valley, Mt Conness Southern Spur
f2 @ 1/1600 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 12:25:26
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Mt Conness area, altitude 10100 ft / 3078 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.66 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH Aperture Series: Unacceptable Optical Swing (Lens Skew)

UPDATE: I added another example of the lens skew (optical swing), showing that even F/5.6 cannot hide the problem. What a turd of a sample. How in hell did it leave the factory?

The Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH is an ultra high performance optical design, as per its claimed MTF performance. IMO, a better approach would be to publish a guaranteed minimum MTF performance based on testing real lenses.

High performance lens designs are difficult to manufacture to specifications, but according to the video with Peter Karbe of Leica, the optical design is such that small spacing errors of lens groups should have little effect on performance, and the lens groups are matched in order to work synergistically. Similarly, the claim is made that assembled lenses have real MTF very close to the computed-best MTF.

But the brand-new Leica 50/2 APO that I am shooting repudiates the assumptions that one might take away from that video. Moreover, if it met Leica quality control standards at the factory, then I say that Leica quality control standards need improvement. My comments of course are on this one sample—I have no idea how much sample variation there is among Leica SL lenses. The 28/2 APO-SL and 35/2 APO-SL were both superb.

Everything I am shooting at distance shows a visibly-soft left side of the frame (when focused at center or to the right). With no way to try another sample while on my trip, this is really frustrating.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH: Lens Skew, Optical Swing

The Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH has excellent symmetry—no complaints, it is a beautiful performer consistent with its claimed MTF. And yet, wider-angle lenses typically have more symmetry issues. I just love the 28/2 APO, so I’d really love to have a 50/2 APO with similarly good behavior.

Southern spur of Mt Conness
f2 @ 1/1600 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 12:25:26
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Mt Conness area, altitude 10100 ft / 3078 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.66 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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Video with Peter Karbe on how Leica designs and builds its Leica SL lenses

This video with Peter Karbe of Leica has many interesting insights into how Leica designs and builds its Leica SL lenses. For example, sustantial effort went into quality control and “desensitization” of the spacing of lens groups. Also, the claim is that real lenses have MTF very close to the computed-from-model MTF.


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Leica SL2 Firmware Update 3.0

This firmware update showed up very recently, in the middle of my trip; I will re-evaluate Leica SL2 operational notes and Leica SL2 bugs if there are any changes that address the problems.

Leica has done a lot of work on this release, but I don’t see any improvements that fix the bugs and operational issues, and the only new feature that might be useful (for me) is the Enhanced Live View setting for dim conditions.

After setting date/time, the camera cannot exit the Date & Time menu, leaving the camera inoperable. Turn the camera off/on to restore it to operational status.

Leica.com: Leica SL2 Firmware update 3.0 and release notes

PHOTO & VIDEO

  • _NEW: Exposure metering method Highlight-Weighted
  • _NEW: iDR (Intelligent Dynamic Range) for the optimization of darker areas
  • _NEW: Anytime manual access to Pixel Mapping
  • _EXTENDED: Additional settings for image properties (Highlight and Shadow)
  • _IMPROVED: Autofocus with improved algorithm
  • _IMPROVED:User profiles will now store the currently active operating mode and exposure mode
  • _NEW: Enhanced Live View as auxiliary function for image composition in the dark
  • _NEW: Image Overlay

VIDEO

  • _NEW: Follow Focus
  • _NEW:HEVC video formats (H.265) and video formats with reduced bit rate at the same picture quality (L-GOP)
  • _NEW: Segmented Video as protection against data loss
  • _NEW: Waveform Monitor
  • _NEW: Configurable reference values (Color Bar and Test Sound
  • _NEW: REC Frame for a more detailed display of a running recording
  • _NEW: No more recording time limitations
  • _EXTENDED: Optional import of custom LUT profiles
Leica SL2

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SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with M-Mount Lenses: Piper Mountain Wilderness

re: Field Curvature for Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon, Mirrorless Cameras vs M-Cameras
re: MTF on Mirrorless Cameras, Sensor Cover Glass

The issue: ray angle interacts with the sensor cover glass thickness; a lens is designed assuming a specific thickness. Deviations from that thickness degrades optical performance, particularly off-center. A secondary issue is color shading, along with accentuated field curvature and astigmatism.

One would hope that the L-Mount alliance would have standardized on sensor cover glass thickness and characteristics, so that lenses of either brand could be used with the same results on either-brand camera. But in marketing, form trumps function.

Definitive finding for M-Mount lenses

This shootout between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1R is definitive in proving major image quality differences between the SL2/S1R for M-mount rangefinder lenses, including sharpness and color shading and field curvature.

SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with M-Mount Lenses: Piper Mountain Wilderness

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/8, plus crops.

Piper Mountain Wilderness abutting Death Valley Road
f1.4 @ 1/6400 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-18 12:24:03
LEICA SL2 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
ENV: Piper Mountain Wilderness, altitude 5600 ft / 1707 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, pull 0.17 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Roy P writes:

Not in the least surprised – this is the kind of garbage I got from the S1R using M lenses, which is why I returned the S1R to B&H, following my 3-day trip to Alabama Hills. Some of the multi-shot high-res images were also quite hideous. Stopping down to f/5.6 on the Zeiss 35/1.4 ZM and Leica 50/2 APO were not bad, but still, just not satisfactory.

TW, the guy who used to make the kit for the 6-bit coding no longer makes them. Any other way to fool the SL2 with a non-Leica lens? Maybe just hand-paint a pattern on the lens?!

DIGLLOYD: coder kit for M lenses is no longer made. You'll have to set the lens coding manually.

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DEFINITIVE SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with Leica SL Lenses: View North Over Puppy Dome

The issue: ray angle interacts with the sensor cover glass thickness; a lens is designed assuming a specific thickness. Deviations from that thickness degrades optical performance, particularly off-center. A secondary issue is the color rendition, which can depend both on the sensor itself, its IR-blocking layer, and the electronic processing of the camera.

One would hope that the L-Mount alliance would have standardized on sensor cover glass thickness and characteristics, so that lenses of either brand could be used with the same results on either-brand camera. But in marketing, form trumps function.

Definitive finding: Leica SL lenses

This shootout between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1R is definitive in proving major image quality differences between the two cameras for Leica SL lenses, sharpness in particular.

SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R, View North Over Puppy Dome

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

View north over Puppy Dome
f2.8 @ 1/1250 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 17:31:04
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tuolumne Meadows, altitude 8650 ft / 2637 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.56 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Reader Comment: Leica SL2 and Leica SL Prime Lenses for a 2-Lens Kit

Eeraj Q writes:

Excellent coverage of the SL primes with compelling evidence. Even having owned a few of the SL primes for some time now, your observations brought forth new ideas and information. But then, this is expected from you!

Two questions:

1. What is your take on a SL 28 / SL 90 as a two lens kit for landscapes and call it a day?

2. What do you think of cropping on a high MP camera in general? Especially, if not printing and only viewing images on a high res monitor. With 47MP on SL2 or S1R on tap, cropping gives a lot of leeway so the SL 28 could be 35mm after crop if needed. 50MM perhaps a bit much, so assume a max crop of 28mm --> 35mm. Is this a viable strategy for field usage?

I think you know where I am coming from - your earlier post about a two lens with a max of three lens kit being most optimal for most use cases continues to make a lot of sense. Obviously, talking about primes here.

Finally, with SL lenses costing down payment for a decent car, it is well worth the price of subscription to your site.

For anyone on the fence, here is what no other reviewer has covered in this minute detail:
•  Issues with unstable focus marring IQ that you covered in your earlier S1R / SL prime series
• One of the most compelling examples I have seen on multi-shot mode not only increasing resolution but also decreasing noise. Eye opening. (S1R)
•  Hits and misses with the SL 90 / SL 50 Summilux for portraits on the S1R

DIGLLOYD: each to his own, but I’d go 28/75 instead of 28/90. But that’s a stretch in coverage, so 28/50 might make more sense all-around, less of a gap. The combination of 21/35 makes sense too, assuming a 21mm prime appears.

Dry Waterfall
f2.8 @ 1/100 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:17:22
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 1.4 stops, +40 Shadows, +10 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Forest Fire Smoke Plagues the Eastern Sierra and Yosemite

Planning on a trip to the Eastern Sierra or Yosemite? It might be hit-or-miss.

Entering Yosemite on September 17, smoke veiled the Yosemite high country, but by late afternoon it has partially cleared, and that resulted in the images posted a few days ago, from Tenaya Canyon.

On September 18, a monstrous black smoke plume enveloped the Eastern Sierra from Lone Pine to Lee Vining, so thick that it completely obscured the entire range from view. AQI went from near zero (crystal clear) to extremely unhealthy in a matter of a few hours, inducing burning eyes and a headache as just some of the obvious problems.

Below, I drove south towards Big Pine and thence into the Inyo range near Eureke Dunes in order to try to escape the rapidly advancing smoke plume which sent AQI from crustal clear to extremely unhealthy within an hour.

Smoke plume advancing rapidly over Eastern Sierra to Hwy 395
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 25; 2021-09-17 18:45:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 4080 ft / 1244 m

[low-res image for bot]

I drove towards Eureka Dunes to escape it, and camped overnight with clean air, but by morning the yuck surrounded me and the entire White Mountains area and I spent the next day and night sealed up in my van with nowhere to escape the smoke.

Below, by early morning there was no escape even east of the White Mountains into northern Death Valley.

Smoky conditions in Piper Mountain Wilderness area, just north of Death Valley
f1.8 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-18 17:21:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 5434 ft / 1656 m

[low-res image for bot]

On September 19, a northwest front blew away the thick choking smoke from the Eastern Sierra, resulting in the cleanest air in years that I can recall—stunningly crisp views to even far-away peaks, totally free of haze. That lasted all day and part of September 20, when smoke breached the Tuolumne Meadows area.

By the morning of September 21, another massive smoke plume enveloped the Eastern Sierra. Peaks began disappearing from view and the acrid choking smoke was out of the question. So I drove east into Nevada for clean air, which as I write this is still clean, but half the sky eastwards to the Sierra is a massive grayish-white mess. Supposedly it might clear out tomorrow.

Below, the temporarily stratified smoke plume rapidly would fill all the air within a few hours with dense choking smoke. I could see it fill Glacier Canyon (near Mt Dana) and other nearby areas, so I left in haste.

Smoke plume early in its advance, Lee Vining Canyon
f1.8 @ 1/1800 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-21 09:12:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 9339 ft / 2847 m

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed Rocks

I’m really enjoying field-shooting the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL*. It just seems to fit so many scenes so well and delivery spectacular results. And this sample has showed no build-quality issues.

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed

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

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

*Not so the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL, which has an obvious optical swing that leaves the left edge soft —all distance scenes noticeably weak on the left until f/5.6. I will be showing its lens skew which is obvious and a practical disaster, as I only have two Leica SL lenses to work with on this trip. It goes to show that claims of “hand assembly” and “MTF testing” blah blah blah are invariably marekting bullshit when a suitable distance scene immediately shows a problem. The 50/2 is also a pratical nightmare when shooting towards the sun—very difficult to shade the front lens element adequately to avoid its awful flare problems . The 28/2 has flare issues also, but is is much easier to shade it, perhaps because of its superior rectangular lens shade (inadequate round shade for the 50/2).

Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed Rocks
f2 @ 1/13 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 19:01:19
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 7600 ft / 2316 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.85 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Tenaya Creek

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Tenaya Creek

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

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Tenaya Creek
f2.8 @ 1/200 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:44:42
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 63°F / 17°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.5 stops, +30 Shadows, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Last Light on Polished Granite Humps

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Last Light on Polished Granite Humps

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

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Last light on glacial polish, Tenaya Creek
f2 @ 1/2500 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:06:01
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 66°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.33 stops

[low-res image for bot]

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Backlit Meadow

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off the general imaging performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a near-far scene that is typical of landscape photography

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Backlit Meadow

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

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Autumn Meadow, near Tenaya Lake
f2 @ 1/1000 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 16:41:06
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Lake area, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Dry Waterfall

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off the sharpness of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a subject with extemely fine detail.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Dry Waterfall

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

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

I started visiting this area 30 years prior, so I know this area well. This waterfall (n spring!) in Tenaya Creek is dry every year in September barring an early storm. But the upper drainage in this area was dry enough from the 2021 drought to kill all larger trout in pools that had survived past droughts, except for some 2-inch minnow here and there. They should repopulate, barring several consecutive years of drought this bad.

Dry Waterfall, Tenaya Creek
f2.8 @ 1/100 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:17:22
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 1.4 stops, +40 Shadows, +10 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Some National Forests in California Closed for Fire Concerns to Reopen Thursday Sept 16, Inyo National Forest soon OPEN

re: Where to Photograph in a State Largely Veiled in Smoke?
re: National Forest Service Closes All Southwest Region National Forests in California
re: Alternative to Closed California National Forests: Yosemite Day Pass System

Some of the National Forests in California are reopening two days prior to the end of the order, as of 00:00 Thursday September 16. So you are good to go on Thursday.

Hooray! That means I can visit my favorite places in the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains, both in the Inyo National Forest.

Other more southerly national forests remain closed and the closure is extended to Sept 22.

Forest Service Ending Regional Closure Order Two Days Early; Five Forests to Remain Closed Under Local Orders

VALLEJO, Calif., — Sept. 14, 2021. The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region will end the regional closure order affecting National Forests in California at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 15, two days prior to the original end date of Sept. 17. However, forest-wide closures will remain in place and be extended until midnight on September 22nd on the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests in Southern California due to local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state.

In addition to the four National Forests that will remain closed in Southern California, some National Forest System lands throughout the state will be closed under local closure orders in areas of ongoing wildfires to ensure public safety. This includes the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California, which has a forest closure order until Sept. 30. Fire restrictions also remain in place across all National Forests in California to prevent new fire starts. Please refer to the local National Forest that you plan to visit to obtain specific information on closures and restrictions.

...

Never made sense for Inyo National Forest.


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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL: Veiling Flare, Ghosting Flare, Ray Flare

Another flaring disaster in the APO-Summicron-SL line. The results are beautiful when the front lens element is shaded. Otherwise, they are piss-poor.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Flare

Includes pairs of images, with and without shading the front lens element (lens hood always attached).

In my opinion, the Leica APO-Summicron-SL line needs to be recalled, with the design fixed to address the piss-poor flare performance. The ray flare with the 50/2 APO-SL looks like an outright obvious design defect, just for starters.

Severe flare with Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
f5.6 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-13 09:13:13
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Backyard

These examples at f/2 (mostly) were shot handheld with IBIS on the Leica SL2.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Performance is about a lot more than sharpness—it includes bokeh, correction for secondary color, distortion, etc. The combined effect is what counts, and the 50/2 APO-SL delivers the good.

Along with its 35mm sibling, the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH is a spectacular performer with apparently zero or near-zero distortion. Get yours today!

Two-tone pumpkin, first light
f2 @ 1/640 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-09-13 09:30:49
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH RAW: +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Leica SL2 Multi-Shot High-Res Mode vs Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode: Pumpkin Vines

re: Workflow for Multi-Shot High-Res Mode Images in Adobe Camera Raw

I’ve extended this page about the Leica SL2 multi-shot high-res mode to include a comparison with many crops to Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode.

Leica SL2 Multi-Shot High-Res Mode vs ACR Super Resolution Mode

Both Multi-Shot High-Res mode and Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode have significant image quality flaws, which I detail/show. And when I went looking, I found some very serious flaws in ACR SuperRes mode in other images—ugly stuff that would preclude its use.

I’m disappointed in the Leica SL2 implementation of multi-shot high-res mode because it appears to be the crappy Mode1 style of the Panasonic S1R, which generates lots of motion artifacts when there is subject motion. The result is the opposite of what you want in MultiShot mode: ugly color artifacts, double images, staircasing, etc.

Pumpkin and Vines
f8 @ 1/5 sec Multi-Shot HighRes, ISO 100; 2021-09-09 19:10:39
LEICA SL2 + Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
RAW: +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, USM {6,50,0}, SmartSharpen{30,0.7,20,0}

[low-res image for bot]
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Alternative to Closed California National Forests: Yosemite Day Pass System

re: National Forest Service Closes All Southwest Region National Forests in California

Unicorn Peak, Yosemite

UPDATE, September 14 2021: now mostly open, see Forest Service Ending Regional Closure Order Two Days Early; Five Forests to Remain Closed Under Local Orders

...

The weather has turned beautiful and the air is crystal-clear here and in the Eastern Sierra. Or at least very good (varies a little). Most beautiful time of the year, IMO.

From mid-September on, the Eastern Sierra offers its world-class charms, what with advancing season turning aspen golden and scub blueberries bright red, and the wonderful slanting light of autumn and the generally favorable temperature range. But you can’t go there* this year! Except for Yosemite.

I have long loved shooting in the Eastern Sierra from late September through mid November, but with the national forest closures, it cannot be done unless and until the closures are lifted. Nor can I plan for a trip to leave on the day the bureaucrats make up their minds to open or close for another two weeks (closure ends Sept 17, but might be extended).

* The mid and southern national forests in California are closed to all recreational use through September 17. At the time I wrote this, it’s unknown if the closures will be extended (presumably into October), or whether the order will lapse.

Workaround — Yosemite

I found a workaround to the national forest closures: vising the high country within Yosemite National Park itself, which is not affected by the forest closures—Yosemite is managed by the National Park Service, not the National Forest Service—entirely different management entities.

While normally I visit just outside the park in wilderness areas abutting it, the park itself is a great location, albeit usually overcrowded, which is why over the past decade I have increasingly avoided the park itself until mid/late October. But with the restricted number of day use entries, most of which will end up in Yosemite Valley, people and traffic should be very light—a bonus!

Yosemite day pass system

The Yosemite day-use entry pass system at recreation.gov allows purchasing a 3 day entry pass. The pass is good for a vehicle, whether it be yourself or half a dozen of your friends/family. Cyclists need no pass as I understand it, so pedal on in if you can. Which I might do on this next weekend, parking near the entrance.

Plan in advance since Fri/Sat/Sun go very fast upon “release”. Multiple passes can be purchased abutting each other in dates, covering a week or more.

I did not snag a pass for the weekend of Sept 18/19, but I have my entry through the park covered on Sept 17, as well as the entire next week, and I plan on fleshing that out some more once the passes are released for purchase.

If visiting more than one 2/3 day period, I recommend purchasing an annual pass ($80), or the lifetime pass if you are 62 or older. With the annual/lifetime pass, the day-use fee drops to just $2 for three days— $0.67 per day.

Recreation.gov: Yosemite day-use pass reservations
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Infrared Leakage to 850nm with Leica SL2?

re: Infrared Contamination: Good Color Gone Bad
re: infrared

I was chatting with Graham Clark of Breakthrough Photography (terrific filters and polarizers) and we got on about their new “Black Magic” filter, which solves the infrared pollution problem seen on certain video cameras, and does so without loss of T-stop. For a camera that leaks infrared and thus captures it, the results can range from subtle to seriously yucky with an awful magenta cast and degraded sharpness too.

Leica cameras have had various infrared pollution issues over the years (the Leica M8 was so bad it made a decent infrared camera, unmodified), so I wondered if the Leica SL2 might have an issue. Flipping on my Hooga Health infrared panel 850nm LEDs, I found that indeed the Leica SL2 passes 850nm light, as shown.

850nm light is WAY beyond the appropriate infrared cutoff of 720nm, used by all the Japanese camera brands in their sensor cover glass filter stack. My speculation is that the Leica SL2 (and other models) pass more infrared because of the much thinner sensor cover glass sandwich.

Using the Breakthrough Photography Black Magic filter almost entirely eliminates the infrared leakage at 850nm. The filter is designed for complete blockage of both UV and infrared at 720nm and beyond—I’ll share a spectral transmission graph soon.

Spectral transmission for Breakthrough Photography “Black Magic” filter
Full visible light transmission with no color cast, complete sharp cut of UV and IR

I confirmed this finding both with images on the SL2 as well as with the naked eye also—I can plainly see the 850nm lights by naked eye as much brighter and more red than shown below*, but I can barely seen them when viewed through the filter.

I am hoping to get a Breakthrough Photography 'Black Magic' filter in 67mm before my trip so I can see whether cutting out infrared past 720nm makes a difference to Leica SL2 color rendition. Maybe, maybe not; it all will depend on the relative proportion of visible light vs infrared. But in sunlight, about half the energy is infrared (not sure how much of that is in the 720-1100nm range that a digital sensor responds to). So it could be that the SL2 cuts out 5 or 6 stops of infrared (or less or more) and that it might affect the color balance (and sharpness!) when more infrared is in the mix.

I cannot judge whether the leakage proven below is of sufficient degree to alter color rendition. But if the SL2 is leaky, then it is surely leaking from 720nm out to 850nm and likely way out to 1100nm. That cannot be good for color rendition in some conditions.

* Never stare at any intense lighting. While they don’t seem that bright to my eyes at 850nm, they are fairly powerful LEDs and won’t make your retinas happy—this is why blocking goggles are supplied.

Infrared pollution with Leica SL2 at 850nm
f2 @ 1/15 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-11 14:59:59
LEICA SL2 + Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH

[low-res image for bot]

Turns out that the Sony A1 also leaks a little 850nm light, as shown below. It appears to be quite a lot less leakage than the Leica SL2.

Infrared light leakage at 850nm with Sony A1 at 850nm
f2 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-11 15:54:27
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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