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Sony A7R IV

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Sony A7R IV Takes the Floor

I am sure Sony planned the Sony A7R IV announcement for my drive home from Yosemite followed by my dentist visit for four new front crowns—busy day yesterday! Sony must have an 'in' with someone in Scott’s Simulation.

It’s nice to have real teeth again (six were broken during my Dec 30 bike crash).

I will have a lot to say about the Sony A7R IV in coming days and in my in-depth review. There is much to like, and yet the most important feature of the Sony A7R IV (for me) looks to be dead on arrival for practical use.

I can’t foresee any company overtaking Sony at this point. Mirrorless is Sony. Sony is mirrorless. All the other me-too'ers are there to keep the Sony juggernaut going. Sony dominates the sensor business too. Fujifilm has wisely staked out the medium format area with Hasselblad a distant second. The DSLR is dead.

Meanwhile, the Fujifilm GFX-100 is here and I have a backlog on Canon EOS R and the Voigtlander FE NOKTON 21mm f/1.4 Aspheric. I will interleave coverage of the two latter items into my coverage of the GFX-100.

Sony A7R IV — high demand, pre-order for priority

Due to ship on September 12, we’re 8 weeks away from when I can start reviewing.

Demand is likely to be very high, so pre-order ASAP.

If my information is correct, you should be able to preorder the 🔥 Sony A7R IV at B&H Photo starting 10 AM Eastern Time July 18.

Thank you very much for ordering via diglloyd.com ads/links to B&H. More on that win-win below.

Help me help you

I need your help.

B&H Photo has generously loaned gear to me for over a decade. Loaner gear is critical to my reviews. But B&H needs something in return: sales originating from diglloyd.com.

When sales from diglloyd.com fall off, I must divert time to ads/promotion, which takes time away from my review coverage and blog. Such as this afternoon, when I would have much preferred writing all about the new Sony A7R IV.

I don't like too many ads—they clutter things and distract. If readers can make a habit of buying through links to B&H Photo, over time I hope to reduce the clutter.

EASY and FAST way to help me and you: buy using diglloyd.com links/ads

1. Go to diglloyd.com
2. Click through any link or ad to B&H Photo (or OWC).

- One click-through on any link to B&H attributes sales to diglloyd.com in that browser session. - No need to click through over and over, unless you quit the browser.
- High-priced items count the most, as total dollar amount is the most important metric.
- click-throughs even without purchase show interest too!
- Does NOT work: adding yourself to a B&H mailing list, and ordering through email link in email from B&H. Love

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Thanks!


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This is the machine I would have lusted over for myself until a few months ago. Well, it doesn’t have the Vega 16 or Vega 20 GPU, but I discount the GPU as of much value for my work. The internal 4TB SSD solves all sorts of travel headaches for storage.

MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.9 GHz Intel-Core i9 six core, 32GB memory, 4TB SSD, Radeon Pro 560X

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Lundy Canyon Resident Beaver Made it Through Winter + Sow and Cub (black bear)

I’ll be home tomorrow with a bunch of material—I got enough and enough variety in spite of being laid low by a back problem for 3 days—can hike again now.

The resident beaver (there are others up and down too) made it through the winter.

I saw a nice healthy sow (female bear) as I drove in at dusk... she stood up on hind legs to check me out when I got out of the car. A beautiful orange colored black bear (not black at all). Coloration looked more like a grizzly than a black bear but fortunately there are only black bears in California.

A bit later while driving out, I spotted a furball of a bear cub. I decided not to photography there that evening, not so much because I was worried about safety for myself, but I prefer the windows and doors on my van intact rather than lying on the ground torn away. I would advise anyone visiting Lundy Canyon to take appropriate precautions because sooner or later bears discover what an ice chest means. There are no bear boxes at the Lundy Canyon trailhead.

Kudos to Canon’s superb focusing in low light. The Canon EOS R just nails it and the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L is everything I might hope for in a lens.

f1.2 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 50; 2019-07-15 19:57:19
Canon EOS R + RF85mm F1.2 L USM

[low-res image for bot]

The tweaked back was OK 4 days later.

f1.8 @ 1/2200 sec, ISO 20; 2019-07-10 18:12:12 [altitude 7381 ft / 2250 m]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

Three Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM Aperture Series: Lee Vining Creek Through Meadow + Young Pine Amid Its Ancestors + Mt Dana, Earth Shadow Rising (Canon 5Ds R)

This series looks at far distance performance of the Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM.

The 200/1.8L ceased production around the time DSLRs emerged. Its predecessor, the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM, is 1/3 stop slower and might have better performance in various ways.

So how does the 200/1.8L hold up at 50 megapixels, a challenge never envisioned when the lens was designed?

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM Aperture Series: Lee Vining Creek Through Meadow

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM Aperture Series: Young Pine Amid Its Ancestors

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM Aperture Series: Mt Dana, Earth Shadow Rising

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

f1.8 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 100; 2019-07-12 18:49:31
[location “Lee Vining Creek”, altitude 9500 ft / 2896 m, 60°F / 15°C, Enhance Details, LACA corrected]
Canon EOS 5DS R + Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

[low-res image for bot]
f2.8 @ 1/6 sec, ISO 50; 2019-07-12 19:54:28
[location “Mt Dana from Saddlebag Lake area”, altitude 10000 ft / 3048 m, 60°F / 15°C, USM{8,50,0}, Enhance Details, LACA corrected]
Canon EOS 5DS R + Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

[low-res image for bot]
f4 @ 1/25 sec, ISO 100; 2019-07-12 19:08:27
[location “Saddlebag Lake area”, altitude 9950 ft / 3033 m, 60°F / 15°C, Enhance Details, LACA corrected]
Canon EOS 5DS R + Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

[low-res image for bot]
Voigtlander 21/1.4 for Sony FE

2 aspherical elements, 4 partial dispersion elements, floating elements, manual focus, 12 blade diaphragm, EXIF transfer.

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Snow Levels in Sierra Nevada Appear to Be a Record

With a quite cool May and June and heavy dumps of snow in May, the winter of 2018/2019 might not have brought record snowfall, but to all appearances the July snowpack is the greatest I’ve ever seen it. Below is Mt Dana, still with a hefty covering of snow.

I had planned to hike Glacier Canyon (the canyon at left of this image) today, but a sciatica-like reaction following a long and late hike has been very painful and left me unable to ponder hiking more than a few hundred yards at best. Things just seized up in my lower left back, perhaps no surprise given ongoing issues with it. I’m not looking forward to carrying the Fujifilm GFX-100 around. [Update July 14: as far as I can tell, super tight muscle/tendons are key aspects one of the side effects lingering from antiobiotic use in March/April, so I did two things to address the tightness (cycling and muscle relaxant) and am back to baseline and can walk around again]

f5.6 @ 0.6 sec, ISO 50; 2019-07-12 19:54:41
[location “Mt Dana seen from Saddlebag Lake area”, altitude 9960 ft / 3036 m, 60°F / 15°C, LACA corrected]
Canon EOS 5DS R + Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

[low-res image for bot]

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Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L Aperture Series: Lingering July Ice on Exfoliating Granite (Canon EOS R)

This series evaluates the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L at far distance on the 30-megapixel Canon EOS R, looking for sharpness, field curvature, color correction.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L Lingering July Ice on Exfoliating Granite

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.2 to f/5.6.

f1.2 @ 1/8000 sec, ISO 100; 2019-07-11 19:50:21
[location “Tenaya Canyon”, altitude 7400 ft / 2256 m, 70°F / 21°C, polarizer=Zeiss, Enhance Details, vignetting corrected]
Canon EOS R + RF85mm F1.2 L USM

[low-res image for bot]
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
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Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L: Evaluating White Balance and Tint When Stopping Down

With most if not all f/1.2 and f/1.4 lenses, there can be a significant shift in color when stopping down. The effect can vary with the sensor/camera, being particularly noticeable with the Nikon D850 for example. See the three examples in my review of the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art.

This page looks at white balance and tint shifts from f/1.2 through f/5.6 with the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L White Balance and Tint Across Apertures

These white balance and tint results differ substantially from the results show in Canon EOS R White Balance and Tint in Adobe Camera Raw. In that article, I noted a “whacky white balance and tint”. It appears that Adobe fixed a bug.


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Reader Comment: Zeiss Loxia 21/2.4 and Voigtlander FE 21/1.4:

Sebastian TR writes:

Voigtlander FE 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical

Just wanted to say, have really been enjoying your mirrorless lens comparisons of late - in particular the Sony FE mount - absolutely fantastic resource you have built up (and are building up!).

I originally used your article a year ago before a trip to Japan to help purchase the Zeiss Loxa 21/2.4 and it has been spectacular - really pleased with the decision helped by your article! :)

Just reading about this new Voigtlander - seems to be getting quite a few well received reviews! After this particular comparison, just a couple of questions:

1) Have heard a fair bit about sample variation on Loxias in addition to field curvature effecting things - assume your copy is good / still the same from the original review? Also if due to the field curvature on the loxia - assume this explains why it's not performing as good with this "oblique" perspective / focus point? ( although left @ 2.8 seems to be quite different on the lox

2)The loxia shots look to be taken with a bit less available light / reflective ambient light - just wondering if that could make a difference in lens performance , and explain part of the difference ? Also noticing on the right side (the sandstone bricks) seem to have a bit better highlight rolloff on the Zeiss 21 - wondering if that is a colour rendering thing or again the ambient light changing shifting tone?

3) Would love to see / get your thoughts on how the Loxia compares to the Voigtlander in regards to chromatic aberration , colour control and flare?* *(often use the Loxia for film work as well as photography - so these elements are just as important as resolution / micro contrast to me :)

Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8

Sorry for the long read ! - just really interested & yet have been very happy with the loxia 21 ! I still wish Zeiss would bring out a premium FE / Mirrorless line - perhaps APO 1.8 / 2.0 high performance yet fairly compact primes... one can dream eh! :)

Thanks again & keep up the fantastic work !

DIGLLOYD: I have seen no sample issues with any Zeiss Loxia lenses—highly unusual. However, there is always some variation and no process is perfect.

Lighting with comparisons vs evaluation: I always take this into account and I specifically address field curvature in my MemChu oblique comparison.

All wide angles have some field curvature. Frequently it is pveripheral forward field curvature for wide angle lenses but it can be the reverse, or wave-type field curvature (more common in fast lenses).

I’ll bea addressing these questions above more as I shoot in the field—I’m in the Eastern Sierra as I write this.

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Canon EOS R + Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L

Just mounted the Canon RF 85m f/1.2L on the Canon EOS R. What a high quality flange on both—notably more solid than the L-mount Leica lenses on the Panasonic S1R which have a slight slop (the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50/1.4 did not, and one other reader reported the same mount slop with Leica SL lenses).

The Canon RF 85/1.2L is huge and clearly built for performance as the priority—none a trace of the Nikon NIKKOR Z compromises. Canon RF lenses (at least the 50/1.2L, 85/1.2L, 28-70/2) feel like serious pro gear. Not one Nikon NIKKOR Z lens can say the same.

If the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L is any indication, I expect the 85/1.2L to be the world’s best. But what a boat anchor, as in sheer neck-yanking weight. However lovely the images might be, this is a serious chore to heft this thing.

Dr S, this is NOT a rig for you.

Still, Canon should deliver a high megapixel mirrorless camera out, imaging performance should prove out Canon’s distinctive “size and weight be damned, it’s the optical quality” strategy. Which might ultimately sway me to Canon once that body arrives.

I also have on hand the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L and the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro STM. The 35/1.8 macro ships without the Canon EW-52 lens hood, which is outrageous because the front lens element is right there out in front, quite exposed.


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Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical Aperture Series: Rodin Courtyard (Sony A7R III)

This aperture series assesses the Voigtlander Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical at night from f/1.4 through f/9, looking for sharpness and control of secondary color and overall image rendition, including sunstars and point spread function.

In diglloyd Mirrorless:

Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical Aperture Series: Rodin Courtyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 to f/9. Savor the full resolution images by scrolling around, preferably on an iMac 5K or Apple Pro Display XDR.

If you are OK witih manual focus get this lens, right now! (and please use my link). This is the best 21mm f/1.4 I have ever seen, mirrorless or DSLR.

f2 @ 4.0 sec, ISO 50; 2019-07-03 21:30:21
[Enhance Details, push 0.33 stops, -37 highlights, LACA corrected, +40 shadows]
Sony A7R III + Voigtlander FE NOKTON 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical

[low-res image for bot]

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Reader Comment: Panasonic S1R “re-think my kit and jump head-long to a new system?”

Dr S writes:

Panasonic S1R

Yesterday was my first opportunity to hold the Panasonic S1R at my local brick and mortar. Despite being invested in Sony and Nikon I made the effort to hold and feel the newest kid on the block because of your glowing comments on multi-shot hi-res mode that yields such wonderful images. Would my visit cause me to re-think my kit and jump head-long to a new system?

The answer, after handing, is a resounding no. Why? Weight and size! For my aging bones (and I am not that old) and my chronic back problems, the S1r is a behemoth. I left the heavy DSLRs awhile ago for the smaller mirrorless and my torso has been happy since. You have shown over time that excellent imagery can come from Sony and Nikon mirrorless with the appropriate lenses, this fact being punctuated with your most recent review of the Voigtlander FE 21mm f/1.4.

Sony is not going to stand idly by and not come out with newer bodies with enhanced image capabilities. And if it is not ultra hi-res as Panasonic has produced, it will still be much more than adequate for me. I cannot speak nor presume to speak for others. Indeed, there is a segment that requires Phase One, Fuji, MF for their work.

However there is large segment out there that don't. I am one of them. And in that group (assuming it exists) smaller, extremely capable mirrorless systems will be the ones I gravitate to. As you stated, I hope Sony issues a firmware that enhances resolution. However, if they have the tech to do so, they may incorporate that into a newer model for the sake of sales. Indeed, they need the appearance of being at the top of the mirrorless FF heap.

DIGLLOYD: the size doesn’t bother me that much (the Sony A7R III is too small), but the weight while not a show-stopper for field use given the unrivalled imaging potential, is nonetheless highly unattractive downside for field usage. OTOH, the S1R feels like the best built mirrorless on the market.

Since Sony’s pixel shift is incompetent for field usage, I do not have much that Sony will achieve the results that Panasonic has with the Multi-Shot High-Res mode, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised. But so far, Sony sees computational photography as shitty toy apps in its dilettante Play Memories store.

As to “excellent imagery”—not so much with Sony and Nikon and Canon, as shown in the pixel shift vs single-shot examples I posted yesterday—the context even just on Sony vs itself shows how crappy image quality really is.

See my in-depth review of the Panasonic S1R in L-mount mirrorless.Subscribe now

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Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical Aperture Series: Red Electric Cart — should knock your socks off (Sony A7R III)

This aperture series assesses the Voigtlander Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical at night from f/1.4 through f/4, looking for sharpness and control of secondary color and overall image rendition.

In diglloyd Mirrorless:

Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical Aperture Series: Red Electric Cart

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 to f/4. Savor the full resolution images by scrolling around, preferably on an iMac 5K or Apple Pro Display XDR—on those displays they should knock your socks off.

Yes, you want this lens, right now! This is the best 21mm f/1.4 I have ever seen. Well, probably the best 21mm lens of any speed (DSLR or mirrorless) that I have seen.

It’s frustrating as hell not having Multi-Shot HighRes mode or a 100MP sensor. The Sony A7R III is making me chafe with frustration, being fresh off high grade 125MP images from the Panasonic S1R. Where’s my firmware update for the A7R III already, Sony?

f1.4 @ 13.0 sec, ISO 50; 2019-07-03 21:16:12
[+100 shadows, Enhance Details, push 0.45 stops, LACA corrected]
Sony A7R III + Voigtlander FE NOKTON 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical

[low-res image for bot]

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Shootout: Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical vs Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8: MemChu Oblique

This shootout compares the Voigtlander Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical to the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 on a near-to-far scene from f/1.4 through f/11.

This scene with its oblique viewpoint was chosen to ferret out differences at the edges at far and near areas, in case field curvature might otherwise disadvantage one lens.

In diglloyd Mirrorless:

Shootout: Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical vs Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8: MemChu Oblique

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 to f/11, plus crops.

Yes, you do want this lens, right now!

Voigtlander 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical about $1199

f2.8 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 50; 2019-07-03 19:48:40 [LACA corrected, Enhance Details]
Sony A7R III + Voigtlander NOKTON 21mm F1.4 Aspherical

[low-res image for bot]

Reader Comment: Canon EOS R “has brought the fun and results back”

Brian S writes:

Leica 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R

Sensors + focus assist have finally allowed the performance of lenses such as the Leica 180mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R to reach their potential. I bought the lens back in 2009 based on your review.

It's so fun to shoot with now.

I enjoyed with the Canon 5D "Classic" with an alternative focus screen, although the 12MP sensor didn't take advantage of it. When I upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark III the manual focus lens fun ended due to no interchangeable focus screens.

The Canon EOS R has brought the fun and results back. The rendering and bokeh on this lens are so amazing... especially considering how much smaller it is than the Canon 200mm f/2L IS which is the only lens that brings similar results, in my experience.

DIGLLOYD: Yay!

Of course these comments apply to Sony mirrorless and Nikon mirrorless and L-mount mirrorless also.

Mirrorless has made shooting DSLR lenses so much more reliable too—focus can pretty much be guaranteed via magnified Live View and even unmagnified it is probably bettr than today’s horrible DSLR focusing screens.

Regrettably, I had to sell most of my Leica R lenses to raise funds. But I still have the Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH and the Leica 100mm f/2.8 API-Elmarit-R.


Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Or as good as an approximation as the Supreme Court will allow.

Thank you to all those who served in the armed forces, then and now.

Doesn’t look like any fireworks pictures for me—I have the Voigtlander FE 21mm f/1.4 Aspheric, but close-range access like at Shoreline Ampitheatre doesn’t work—no real cameras allowed.

f1.4 @ 1.3 sec, ISO 64; 2019-05-05 19:33:59 [Enhance Details]
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 APO-Sonnar

[low-res image for bot]
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Apple Pro Display XDR: the Best Viewing Experience in History for Images?

Print may be favored by some, but not me. It’s my repeatedly-confirmed view that those arguing for prints have seen properly presented images on an iMac 5K—when I test for validitu, the response has always been “haven’t actually seen it”, or similar. I present all my work in Retina resolution on this site—it’s beautiful to behold that way.

The 6K Apple Pro Display XDR delivers a drool-worthy combination of resolution and screen size with true professional grade peformance While the future promises 16K, 6K is what is practical for now.

The Apple Pro Display XDR along with the 2019 Mac Pro form a truly high end professional-grade solution. See the overview and specifications:

  • Retina 6K Display
  • State-of-the-art calibration and a sophisticated algorithm ensure that you get the highest-quality color possible
  • 32-inch (diagonal) IPS LCD display with oxide TFT technology
  • Resolution: 6016 by 3384 pixels (20.4 megapixels) at 218 pixels per inch, aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Brightness: 1000 nits sustained (full screen), 1600 nits peak
  • Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1
  • Color: P3 wide color gamut, 10-bit depth for 1.073 billion colors
  • Viewing angle: Superwide angle with high-fidelity color and contrast at 89º left, 89º right, 89º up, 89º down Fully laminated; 1.65% reflectivity
  • 2D backlighting system using 576 full array local dimming zones, Apple-designed timing controller (TCON) chip engineered to precisely control high-speed modulation of both 20.4 million LCD pixels and 576 LEDs in backlight for seamless synchronization
  • True Tone technology with dual ambient light sensor (ALS) design to ensure an accurate viewing experience in any ambient lighting condition
  • Reference modes: HDR Video (P3-ST 2084) HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886) NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C) PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU) Digital Cinema (P3-DCI) Digital Cinema (P3-D65) Design and Print (P3-D50) Photography (P3-D65) Internet and Web (sRGB)

I doubt I’ll be able to afford one, at US$5999 ($4999 + $1000 for optional Pro Stand)—WOW.

The Apple Pro Display XDR has the same downsides for photographers as does the iMac 5K: it will not be a good choice for evaluating image sharpness, due to too-high pixel density, see: Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment.

But I sure want one—the Apple iMac 5K has by far been the most pleasurable viewing experience ever for my images. Still, I rely on the NEC PA302W for editing decisions.

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Panasonic S1R / Panasonic S1 Lands with a Thud — Competes poorly Against Medium Format (Updated with Reader Comments)

The Panasonic S1R has arrived with all the desirability of a bloated carp floating in the lake during a bass-fishing tournament.

While I love its Multi-Shot High-Res mode (the best camera feature in years for landscape and similar), few seem to take note. In spite of my in depth reporting on it showing how incredible the image quality is, which is about much more than resolution.

There is so much brand fatigue that no one wants to risk a bet on a new mirrorless platform. Fear is a powerful persuader, and with real legitimacy in this case—fear of investing in a dead end system—Sony has won the mirrorless game as I suggested several years ago given the CaNikon sloth.

Sony presumably will presumably drive the fish truck to the lake soon, and dump several kinds of trophy bass in.

Panasonic S1R blunders into medium format pricing territory, pricing is about the same as 50 megapixel medium format, and with a path to 100 megapixels (Fujifilm medium format). So the lenses carry forward to more and better, including when 100MP costs half what it does now.

I don't have access to sales figures, but I’d be very interested in knowing how many S1R camera bodies have sold versus Nikon Z7 / Canon EOS R / Sony A7R III. Note the aggressive rebates by Canon, Nikon, Sony, and still no rebates for the S1R, aside from a modest trade-in program.

Gordon S writes:

I am not sure about the market but your reports on Hi-rez pushed me over the edge - I got a Panasonic S1R a few months ago when the SanJose camera had a trade in event ( plus the extra 400 bucks for trade in). Could not be happier and recently got the Leica 75mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH ( Sold off my Leica Sl and 24-90). I love it ! Hoping to get the Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH but it seems to made of “unobtainium” :) Typical Leica BS - hard to make, blah blah blah.

Keep up the great work - While the masses are not always you have made lifetime supporters of your work!

DIGLLOYD: the 35/2 APO should be very nice, but I've been waiting for a loaner, like everyone else.

A big thank you to everyone who uses links on my site to buy from B&H Photo.


MacPerformanceGuide.com

Cineo Matchbox—a Portable Ultra High Quality Light Source with Optional Battery + new Cineo Lightblade

See Cineo Matchbox: Bought 3 of them for my Mercedes Sprinter Photography Adventure Van, Really Right Stuff BH-25 Attaches Them Almost Anywhere.

Cineo Matchbox LED remote phosphor lighting

It’s on sale, it’s discontinued, I have six of them—I adore the light quality. Three are installed in my Sprinter van.

The one catch for battery usage is the overpriced $99 bracket which is needed to attach a Sony NPF battery—it ought to be included. But with that bracket, I can carry the Matchbox in the field, which I used for subtle fill light in this stitched image. Don’t forget batteries.

But I now have a new interest in a newer Cineo offering, more on that below.

Below, this image used the Cineo Matchbox for subtle fill light. The beauty of the Matchbox is in its field portability and battery powered operation and 1% to 100% continuously variable flicker-free light that nearly matches sunlight.

Old Stump View To Mt Conness at Sunset
f1.8 @ 1/4 sec, ISO 31; 2017-11-08 17:58:07 [focus stack 6 frames]
NIKON D850 + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

[low-res image for bot]

The new Cineo Lightblade

I wrote to Cineo asking for a demo unit of their new Cineo Lightblade. It looks like something I could really use for for my office and perhaps for my van—I always seem to have too little light when I want it. I have some hope of being able to evaluate one:

Let me talk to the powers that be on my side. Not sure if you heard the news, NBCUniversal acquired Cineo Lighting. Let me see what we can do as we have a lot of changes and process we are managing. I will follow up with you.

Hopefully the new process will sort itself out and get me a Lightblade to evaluate.

Cineo Lightblade remote phosphor lights in 1 or 2 or 4 blade configurations, 2 feet or 4 feet long

Reader Comment: “Glad to hear you are back in the thick of things”

James K writes:

You must be fully recovered from your recent crashes if you are carrying the Otus 28mmm in the field.

...Glad to hear you are back in the thick of things. You will have lots of work to do this fall.

DIGLLOYD: I make a point of NOT carrying the Otus 28 very far—it’s just too bulky and heavy. So sad that Zeiss targets video only now, with huge and heavy lenses when f/2 would do great with superior performance and are more field usability.

For the past few days, I’m feeling great again! I rode 81 miles /3000 calories yesterday and felt great, stronger at the end than when I started, based on years of experience a sure sign that my body is working again and ready to accept severe training loads (I’d ride 3+ hours day ~2200 calories @ ~208 watts if time allowed). Still, my strength has returned only in the past week or so. The turnaround started in mid June, after an assault by back to back antibiotics back in late March and mid April. The cure of antibiotics was worse than the disease (UTI and then prostatis).

For UTI and prostatitis I have learned something: try to pee it out first—it worked for me after the Eastern Sierra Double, which I completed in record-slow time (for me). But I missed 5 other double centuries this year—too weak even for my baseline training rides.

I advise extreme prejudice against antibiotic use unless absolutely necessary. Aside from destroying the gut microbiome (the “2nd brain”), antibiotics can affect muscles and tendons and nerves and just about everything.

I must be sensitive to antibiotics: Metronidazole was my first really bad experience, causing peripheral neuropathy that took two years to recover from. This go-round, I had physical and cognitive effects that hit me hard in April/May both physically and cognitively. The brain part gave me some deja vu with respect to my 2018 concussion along with ADD* for a few weeks (worse than after my concussion!), with one scary day of a severe inability to concentrate that I have never before experienced. I hope to not have to take antibiotics ever again. For myself, I consider antibiotics the most dangerous types of drugs out there in commonplace usage.

* Atypical Attention Deficit Hypoactivity disorder (not "hyper").

From my Dec 30 bike crash, two root canals preceded 6 crowns to fix cracked or broken teeth. A root canal on a molar wasn’t bad, but a root canal on a front tooth is not an experience I care to repeat. For a few weeks more, I have 4 plastic temporary crowns on the four front teeth and the durable ones get installed later in July. Even the plastic onese look terrific compared to the hillbilly broken front tooth 'look'. I'm deferring the wisdom teeth extraction until 2020—I’ve had my fill of dentistry, even if expertly done! And my bank account is drained.

My gratitude to all my subscribers who have stuck with me the past 15 months. And hopefully the foregoing will spare at least one person some damage.

Zeiss Loxia for Sony Mirrorless
$1349 SAVE $150 = 10.0% ZEISS 21mm f/2.8 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1169 SAVE $130 = 10.0% ZEISS 25mm f/2.4 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1169 SAVE $130 = 10.0% ZEISS 35mm f/2 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$854 SAVE $95 = 10.0% ZEISS 50mm f/2 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1259 SAVE $140 = 10.0% ZEISS 85mm f/2.4 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless

Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical for Sony Mirrorless

See my Mac wish list.

On the way for testing is the Voigtlander Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical.

Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical
  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
  • 2 Aspherical Elements
  • 3 Partial Dispersion Elements
  • Floating Elements System
  • Manual Focus Design
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 9.8"
  • Manual Aperture Ring Can Be De-Clicked
  • 12-Blade Diaphragm
  • Contacts Transfer Exif Data

The Voigtlander FE Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical looks to be an all-new design for Sony mirrorless from what I can tell. If so, it might fill an interesting slot.

Most of the Voigtlander FE wide angles have been adapted rangefinder designs and suffer accordingly in the outer zones, but this 21mm might be quite good and it is an alternative to the excellent but two stops slower Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8—I’ll see soon enough how it shakes out. The new designs like the 65mm and 110m are outstanding.


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These Macs are not the very fastest, but with a bit more memory they’d be just fine for most photographers. They’re really fast for everyday stuff, way faster than necessary.

And the 4K and 5K screens are just awesome for images—PC users take note of how crappy most PC displays are—these are terrific displays with a free computer included!

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Shootout: Panasonic Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 OIS vs Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-105mm f/4 OIS @ ~74mm: Painted Rock

Get Panasonic S1R at B&H Photo.

This page looks at performance of the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 OIS versus the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-105mm f/4 OIS near 70mm on a highly detailed 3D target at relatively close distance from f/4 through f/11.

In diglloyd L-Mount Mirrorless:

Shootout: Panasonic Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 OIS vs Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-105mm f/4 OIS @ ~74mm: Painted Rock

Presented at up to 125 megapixels (shot in 187MP Multi-Shot High-Res mode from f/4 through f/11, with crops.

f5.6 @ 1/60 sec Multi-Shot HighRes, ISO 50; 2019-05-31 14:38:14
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 7300 ft / 2225 m, 60°F / 15°C, Enhance Details, LACA corrected, distortion corrected]
Panasonic S1R + Panasonic Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 OIS @ 73mm

[low-res image for bot]
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Reader Comment: How Much Resolution is Enough?

Chris R writes:

Good work with the recent Zeiss Otus images along with some of your other favorites too, loving all the recent Zeiss lens tests you doing on the Panasonic S1R, it’s certainly giving you some resolution to play with.

I’m really pleased to see you shooting the likes of the Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 with the S1R also, just shows how damn good it is and more than assures me that it will never let me down quality wise, not on my mediocre Canon 5DM4 sensor!

But out of all of it, Zeiss seem to have the upper hand on the colour fidelity compared to the likes of Sigma etc, colours just seem richer, I’ve seen other online testers and images can sometimes look cold, magenta or both, Canon are particularly cool with a pinkish look to their lenses, but think we’ve spoken of this previously.

But I ask at the end of the day, how much resolution his enough for real world everyday publications, indeed an A4 front cover only needs a 24mb file and I often get asked to just supply images for web and press release at around 11 MB, I know you love the detail along with the resolution for landscapes which is key, but realistically if you were using imaging on a Billboard, Rip software generally takes an image of 50% up to size.

Yes, I know the extra resolution is handy for cropping if needed and gives you more freedom and less restrictions, but as iv’e said, for most commercial applications I maybe using only about 70% of my 5Dmk4’s full resolution and picture libraries require around a 50mb file minimum.

DIGLLOYD: heck, iPhone images look good on billboards from distance! If the job is magazines, I recommend using 42/45/47 megapixels at least, if only to avoid digital artifacts like moiré and color aliasing and staircasing and noise. It’s about far more than resolution, as the Panasonic S1R so persuasively demonstrates with its Multi-Shot High-Res mode.

The golden age of photography is upon us, but on top of that, the golden age of high visual impact photo-realistic visual immersion is coming soon to a wall near you. 8K displays (7680 X 4320) are not far off, and the new VESA display standard incorporates 16K display support.

Print is irrelevant to me and to most camera users these days. While nothing beats a strong composition, presbyopia means that 8 X 10 magazines are increasingly not enjoyable—National geographic is just too damn small. Even 11 X 14 sucks, since type size is apparently for those under the age of 40. It will only get worse, and close-up glasses don’t really solve the core issue.

I love seeing details in my images that I didn’t even notice firsthand. I love photorealism, I love the unexpected find in an image, and I can’t stand mushy details, as I am so attuned and attentive to the world out there. Faces too interest me that way, well just about everything. Just the way I am wired.

I for one intend to shoot for future enjoyment with 10K (up to 10240 X 6820) an intermediate goal, and 16K (15360 X 8460) perhaps 5-8 years out. That’s my target as I shoot here in 2019. For now, the iMac 5K is the best thing going for viewing, excepting the coming Apple Pro Display XDR.

See also: Photographic Film Really Was Not Much of a Performer.

Eric B writes:

Something you said today alarmed me though, “print is irrelevant to me and to most photographers.”

In my world, here in the Portland, Oregon area, my circle of photographic friends do not consider an image to be finished until it is on paper. As you know there are many wonderful papers available to us now and excellent printers. I do not sit at my computer all day and try to use my phone less. My home and that of most of my friends is adorned with prints, some are mine, some are by colleagues. I am fortunate to have picture molding in my home and can change out images relatively easily with no holes in the wall.

I am well aware that people print less. My monthly group now has more people projecting images than showing prints but often there’s some problem with the projector or computer, delaying the showing; one needs to reduce the ambient lighting, and the images frequently look just awful, even decent ones

With projected images, one is limited to a few moments of viewing, viewing is at a distance, details are not often visible, and a critique is all but impossible. When we show prints, one can linger over a nice one, look at it carefully and closely; critiques have meaning.

I’m not giving up the print, I hope many others agree. I often wonder why we worry about high resolution cameras when the images will be seen only at significantly lower resolution on a screen, or horrors, a phone.

DIGLLOYD: prints will endure of course, and I do enjoy some large prints in my small home—but I have nowhere to store/swap them, nor the money, time or inclination to do so. Each to his own, as it ought to be.

The operative word is "most", as in probably 99% of people shooting a real camera, even ignoring camera phones, which are used for more than 99% of the images made today. Eric’s own words capture that: “my circle of photographic friends...” is surely a tiny circle compared to the millions of people buying cameras today. It’s just not a thing that people make prints anymore, let alone high quality ones or large sizes. I do, my readers most likely do, but I don’t plan to print much anymore, maybe never again. It’s a cost and space issue, and the accumulation of crap over time as I age along with a lousy user experience (unpack a print from storage to view it? Ugghhh).

Images are worthless if they cannot be viewed. There is a ton of pleasure in viewing images which are far too numerous to print and display. There is a ton of pleasure in a photo realistic viewing experience, which prints do not do as well as the best electronic medium already does.

my circle of photographic friends do not consider an image to be finished until it is on paper”: Isn’t this at least a personal preference, if not an outright conceit which has no factual or logical basis? Tradition is not an argument. Preferences are not an argument.

If viewing images electronically looks bad, that's bad execution and/or bad technology. Bad prints look bad also! Neither is a fact of reality or a constant. The dynamic range of prints is inherently inferior to to a good display, because prints are a reflective medium (backlit 'chrome' type prints could improve upon that), while displays are a transmissive medium. I know that some new print techniques on metal and such and/or ultra high gloss paper can be eye popping, but they still cannot compete on dynamic range, and in any home environment like mine, there are always reflections that further diminish print viewing. Still, I do like my coated canvas prints. But a 10K display at six feet wide would be awesomely better and can deal with ambient light by adjusting color and brightness.

I like my large prints (six feet wide preferred, but at least 3 feet wide). IMO, prints under 3 feet wide suffer from “ageism”—smaller ones are a physical hassle (presbyopia) to view for me—I am not interested in reading glasses for enjoying a print in my house, so nothing less than 3 feet will do. Nor do I have the money to make large high quality canvas prints I prefer!

As for detail, I’ll put the visual impact of an iMac 5K up against any similar-size print. The fact is that the human eye responds primarily to contrast, and the iMac 5K kicks the crap out of prints for that. The 32-inch Apple Pro Display XDR arrives this fall, and it will surely be the finest viewing experience ever seen, particularly for black and white and its larger size is just about perfect for general viewing. It offers 6016 X 3384 pixels (20MP) at 218 DPI and I challenge anyone but the youngest people with 20/20 vision to care about higher DPI—the eye responds to contrast down the pixel level on such a display, which a print simply cannot compete with, end of story.

Then there is damage—having kids, all my prints in the hallway have dings.

Of course I understand that physical media have appeal and always will—me too. But that has a limited role to play.

Point is, we will have 8K/10K/16K displays up to 8 feet wide or larger, with 16K within a decade. The possibilities for viewing my images when I want at up to huge sizes I could never print well with full detail and contrast will make prints look like dusty artifacts.

Meanwhile, the iMac 5K is a terrific display that comes with a free computer.

Emil B writes:

Your points about the overall decrease in need for photographic prints and increase in viewing images on a monitor are well taken.

As a photorealist painter, a few years back I have given up on using photographic prints as references for my painting and have switched to the use of an iPad.

The only time I resort to printing is if a gallery requests to view my print portfolio. At a local society of artists I exhibit along with photographers who continue to show prints as their end product. In world class galleries in San Francisco and Carmel photographic prints continue to be offered for sale. Cultural, technological and economic factors seem to have dramatically reduced interest in purchases of both photographic prints and paintings.

In view of your statement about the irrelevance of prints, how do see the future of photography as a fine art?

DIGLLOYD: the medium does not take away the art, at least for photography. That would confuse vision and persuasion and insight of the artist with the means of presentation.

While certain photographers have for historical reasons become associated with the physical aspects of their work (e.g., Ansel Adams lengendary printing skills), that is not an essential attribute of a fine composition. I was unimpressed (actually disapponted) with Adam's prints I saw in the Adams family house when I visited— an iMac 5K with the contrast and tonal range that Adams could ony dream about woud be better—maybe his work can be retargeted for modern digital displays? Displays will only get larger/better with more pixels for more photorealism? See iMac 5K for Stunning Black and White Images.

Unlike inherently 3D art (e.g. sculpture), photography is 3D rendered as 2D with perceptual tricks to imply 3D. The medium matters little for photography except insofar as it adds some particular characteristic unobtainable otherwise (e.g., platinum printing) or some other sense like touch or smell or hearing—but I don’t touch or smell or hear my prints, and most everyone smothers prints under glass (adding a veil if not outright reflections). The wonderful physically sensual texture of a very fine rag paper is... not touchable upon display! Bastions of art (museums and such) disallow direct contact. Of what merit then is anything but the presentation that best persuades the visual cortex?

Recommended: Medium Format Magazine

I write for Medium Format Magazine—great articles and highly recommended.

If you’re shooting medium format, there is a lot of perspective to read with no other publication like it out there. Subscribe to Medium Format Magazine ASAP!

                 
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Reader Comment: Lens Adaptability, Lens Adapters

The golden age of photography is upon us, which includes the golden age of lenses. Optical quality has never been better—along with the grunt to make it even better, computational photography.

Chris R writes:

Here’s another observation, in the not so distant future, regardless of which system you use, there will be an adapter for just about every system so that any third party lens, or indeed, camera system will be universally adaptable to any lens so it won’t be as much of an issue which system you settle for.

DIGLLOYD: sort of, but not so much at a practical matter, for many reasons.

I do go to the trouble of adapting lenses in special cases, such as shooting Zeiss DSLR lenses in Multi-Shot High-Res mode, or F-mount lenses on the Nikon Z7 or Canon EF lenses on the Canon EOS R, but it’s far from ideal from a handling perspective (and no EXIF either).

Flange focal distance

First, the flange focal distance governs whether a lens adapter can be inserted between a lens and the camera. For example, the 16m flange focal distance of the Nikon Z7 lets (in priniciple) all other mirrorless and DSLR and rangefinder lenses mount via a lens adapter.

That’s because the flange focal distance of other camera present camera systems range are 18mm or greater, thus allowing at least a 2mm gap for an adapter to be inserted between lens and camera. While 2mm is iffy for support/stability reasons, it already exists for Nikon DSLR lenses (46.5mm FFO) to Canon DSLR (44.0mm FFO). Thi

The foregoing is why just about any lens can be mounted on the Nikon Z7, but Nikon NIKKOR Z lenses cannot be adapted to any other system, at least not without inserting additional optics (yuck) or dubious into-camera-throat designs.

Fujifilm lens mount schematic: implies 3.1mm thick sensor cover glass, 26.7mm flange focal distance

Electronics

Most lenses these days lack an aperture ring, so a lens adapter has to, at the least, provide electronic translation from the camera to the lens for aperture control. And when it comes to autofocus support, good luck with many adapters—poor AF performance.

Lens support

Camera brand X does not support lens correction of random Camera brand y lenses—so distortion correction and chromatic correction and vignetting correction are all off while shooting. This is sometimes OK, but sometimes a serious problem in that framing becomes difficult for a lens with significant distortion. Worse, most raw convertes including ACR do not provide any selectable lens profile support for Lens Y on Camera X, recognizing the len properly only when shot natively.

Physical

Many lenses are too heavy and too awkward to be practical and increase the risk of damage to both lens and camera flange (bumps, sheer weight). There are also two additional mounting surfaces which have significant risk of having planarity deviations versus a single mounting interface of a native lens.

Optics and sensor cover glass

The variations in sensor cover glass* thickness can be small to large, but high performance lenses can be very sensitive off-axis to differences. Thus performance of a lens designed for 0.8mm thick Leica M sensors is most often degraded massively on mirrorless—no exceptions so far—see MTF on Mirrorless Cameras of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for the huge losses (although it can offer stunning performance by f/8).

* Total effective filter stack thickness includes the sensor cover glass and its index of refraction, plus additional layers such as an IR-blocking layer.

Differing sensor cover glass thickness vs design parameters causes light rays to diverge inappropriately, killing performance


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