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Reader Comment: Leica M11 Handgrip

Louis F writes:

The M11 is fantastic with the Leica Grip. It covers the bottom of the camera and has a door one can open to access battery and SD card. The Arca-Swiss cutouts are an added benefit plus the built in swivel screw for attaching it to the M11 makes it an easy accessory to use. Combine the grip with a Thumbs-Up and one’s grasp of the camera is nice and snug and positive addition at least for my hand.

I am using the handgrip on my M11 which I received Friday, and of course take off the Thumbs Up when EVF needed/wanted.

DIGLLOYD: I’ll have to see/feel the about $430 Leica M11 Handgrip myself before accepting these claims, which I have no basis for endorsing or refuting.

Price aside, I have two concerns. First, is the front grip part good, or so-so? It doesn’t look that good in the picture, nothing like the Sony A1 grip, but maybe it’s OK, but it doesn’t look like it given the lack of indentation. Second, is the dovetail on the base plate really compatible or not, because I’ve seen plates that mate poorly with some Really Right Stuff clamps.

The about $290 Leica M11 Thumb Support thing is a non-starter for me as I always am using the EVF, which occupies the top shoe.. Certainly I would not be removing/stowing/reinserting it ever (what a hassle!)—the EVF would go onto the camera and stay there.

CLICK TO VIEW: Leica M11 and Best Lenses

Roy P writes:

I have preordered the Leica handgrip, but $430 is an absurd price. I can’t imagine Really Right Stuff, Kirk or Sunwayfoto not coming out soon with a grip for $100-150.

But the Leica version has some kind of a rubber cover at the base, presumably to protect the battery compartment from moisture.  I don’t know how useful that is – I don’t have anything covering the battery in my SL2, and I never had anything covering the battery in my S cameras.  Maybe the M11 is less weather-sealed overall and is more vulnerable.  In any case, I don’t plan to use it in such extreme conditions, so I may not need this rubber fold out cover thingie.

I will get the Leica screen protector.  Vello makes these for $25, but I’ll give Leica the benefit of the doubt that their $45 version will work better with the M11’s LCD screen and touch sensitivity.

DIGLLOYD:

Leica M11 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Examples: Alpine Creek Ad-Hoc Handheld

Just an appetizer— more to come, but heading out for a bike ride while the weather lasts. Also, having to manually fix all the incorrect EXIF info is a time-wasting PITA.

...

This page shows ad-hoc handheld examples with the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon on the 60MP Leica M11 at Alpine Creek, shot at dusk after I had finished some more careful studies with various lenses. Comments on both the camera performance and the lens.

Varying ISO (auto ISO), all handheld unless noted, focused at 100% magnified Live View using the Leica Visoflex 2 EVF. No noise correction.

Leica M11 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Examples: Alpine Creek Ad-Hoc Handheld

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: Leica M11 and Best Lenses

f1.4 @ 1/250 sec handheld, ISO 1250; 2022-01-15 16:34:31
LEICA M11 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon RAW: +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

 

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The Leica M11 is the Best M Camera Ever — and One that I’d Like to Own

This ought to trigger the binary thinkers out there (“Lloyd hates  Leica”, “biased because using non-Leica lens”, and similar twaddle from trolls and nitwits who don’t read my reviews). My previous post triggered at least one such.

I’ve had 48 hours with the Leica M11, loaned to me by a friend. Now I have a week or so of work ahead to publish my impressions and the images I made with it.

Caveat prelude: the Leica M11 has issues, just like previous models

Several significant design problems affect my ability to make good exposures and do actually in some cases damage both color rendition and detail capture. These are design decisions (bad ones) that one will have to learn to live with. They are likely never going to be fixed, as clearly Leica things they are a good idea. I have detailed some of these with the M10-R and will do so again with the M11.

Then there are the bugs, and who am I to say they are not also design decisions? Card compatibility, camera hangs, permanent alteration of raw files. These things can be fixed. Will they? I don’t know.

The ergonomics are awful (no grip), making my hand hurt within 5 minutes by trying to pinch it with two fingers on front. Gotta get a 3rd-party grip.

Top pick might not show in list: Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical @AMAZON.

CLICK TO VIEW: Leica M11 and Best Lenses

Leica M11

But overall.. BEST EVER M

I’m loving the image quality and sharpness I’m getting with the Leica M11. Looks to me to be the best sensor Leica has ever delivered in an M camera. If you are going to shoot a rangefinder, your ship has arrived!

The total image quality includes noise, color, dynamic range—these are are fantastic, As is the near-freedom from color aliasing and color moiré—never before in an M camera.

The new high-res EVF would have been nicer built-in, but I and finding that focusing is a breeze as far as manual focus goes. A real winner.

The 60MP capture resolution is at the least giving you oversampling (always a plus), and with suitably high performance lenses, you are going to get more than you bargained for, meaning a real bump up in capture resolution. This surprised me, as I thought that ray angle effects would dominate the performance.

There is something odd about the Leica M11—the lenses do not look right. Don’t panic—I mean that in a good way: there seems to be less degradation of lens performance (ray angle effects). The new sensor is surely involved, but perhaps the sensor cover glass could have been thinned-out and thus reducing the 'hit' to optical performance? I don’t know, and it’s still clear that some M lenses are really not up to the 60MP challenge.

Bottom line

The Leica M11 has some significant flaws. But never before has an M camera felt so compelling to me, and the Leica M rangefinder platform and its diminutive lenses now look unbeatable on a total system compactness and performance axis, if you can manage the manual focus.

I’d love to own the Leica M11 and I could see it as an outstanding hiking camera owing to the compactness of the lenses.

Top pick might not show in list: Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical @AMAZON.

CLICK TO VIEW: Leica M11 and Best Lenses

Roy P (Leica M11 owner) writes:

Based on what (very little) I've seen so far, I must say I am very pleased and impressed by the M11.  So far, I haven't even used the EVF or any of the other lenses, but just using the RF and with the CV50, I took a couple dozen test shots around the house, and I can't believe what I'm seeing.  It looks like my CV50 is well-aligned to the RF in my M11 - focus has been spot on.  Leaning against a support, I've been able to take shots at shutter as low as 1/4 sec.  The multi-field metering has so far worked very nicely when presented with imbalanced scenes with extreme contrasts, ranging from near-white to near-black areas.

There are a lot of irritating and goofy things in the firmware which will hopefully get fixed fast.  This is absolutely the worst firmware-readiness for any camera launch I've ever seen.  The old Canon S-90 pocket cameras had far more robust firmware than this $9,000 camera.

But setting that aside, I can't believe how much I'm liking this camera.  Finally, there is an M camera that has the potential to fulfill the old vision of carrying a very small camera bag like a hip-hugging Tamrac, with 5-6 M lenses that cover the range from 16 or 18mm all the way to 135mm.  I will likely re-acquire some of my old favorite M lenses that I used to own in the past.  

DIGLLOYD: agreed. I’d love to own the Leica M11. But to own one with EVF and grip and spare battery is an $11K proposition, out of my reach.


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Leica M11 Lens Detection: Uncoded Lenses Hang Camera if Lens Detection = Off. Also Permanently Damages Raw Files

I’m loving the image quality and sharpness I’m getting with the Leica M11. But fantastic image quality has a bitter overtone what with sloppy firmware bugs, which are not just a hassle, but actively DAMAGING my captures.

How to make the M11 hang upon startup, forever, until you swap on a coded lens?

It’s unbelievable that Leica can ship this defective firmware to customers. Actually, that’s not true: it’s very believable, perhaps even probable and predictable, because my Leica M240 took two years to gain stability.

Leica M11: Lens Detection, Hangs Camera, Makes Uncoded Lenses Unusable

I am sure that someone out there is going to write and say “works for me”. To that person I say: “how do you think I shot this series?”. Because it worked for me the first time too, until the M11 brain-farted—and stayed that way. I think I have the steps noted to reproduce it in Bug #3 on the page above.

I can no longer use the Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar (an uncoded lens) without being forced to use a lens coding, because the M11 will hang after power-on 100% of the time—no menus, no shutter, no Live View, just a “dead” camera that will not operate in any way. Until I mount a coded lens and then go through the steps I detail, no number of power off/on cycles will unbrick it for use with an uncoded lens.

I also verified that the same problem exists with another uncoded lens (Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon). What a disaster for anyone using uncoded lenses. An untested science fair project.

The Leica M11 delivers delightful performance far beyond prior M cameras. What a shame that it cannot get the basics right.

CLICK TO VIEW: Leica M11 and Best Lenses

And it gets stupider...

The most brain dead thing of all is that the Leica M11 (and Leica M10-R/M) will not even list lens codes for any lens except older ones that originally shipped without a 6-bit code. So you cannot for example manually choose “Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH” for the Voigtlander 50/2 APO-Lanthar. It’s almost as if Leica prefers to make it difficult for their customers to use their cameras with anything but Leica-brand lenses?

Thus the only way to code a Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar as a Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH is to physically modify the lens to have the 6-bit code for the Leica 50/2 APO. I tried the Match Technical Coder Kit, and the M11 failed to recognize it, possibly because of the wrong marker density and reflectance (?). I would not want to swap out the lens flange to try to make it work, which is how one user has done it.

WAIT—it gets EVEN STUPIDER and DAMAGING TOO

I’ve added a 3rd bug to the page above: when an uncoded lens is set to use a specific lens coding, the M11 forgets that coding every time the camera is turned off and back on, choosing some other profileguaranteeing permanent and irrevocable alteration to your raw file files every time you forget turn the camera on and forget to reset the lens profile. Can you remember every time 100 times in a row? Even if you can, it makes using the camera a chore.

Since I turn the camera off/on constantly to save battery power, this is an ongoing train-wreck, with no solution. About 90% of my Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 images were altered permanently in this way, by being coded for a Leica 50mm f/2. Just because I powered the camera off and back on again.

Reader comments

Roy P writes:

Jeeze. Leica is strangely tone deaf and clueless as to what is happening outside its own echo chambers. It’s amazing they can put out a camera without such basic testing, considering they have a lot of their own legacy lenses without the 6-bit coding. It looks like the guy who was making after-market 6-big coding kits for M mount lenses hung up his shingle too soon. He should restart his business and double his prices – I think there’s a market for it.

I had all kinds of problems using a Sony SD tough card on my Leica M10 Monochrom, which seemed like a shutter release button problem, so my camera got sent to New Jersey… twice to get it “fixed”, and I still had the problem, which is when I realized it had to do with my memory card! The camera apparently worked just fine, except that the shutter release button wouldn’t work. My camera was away for 3 months in total, because they were too dumb to simply put out a message like “Card error – unable to write”. Even that would have been a problem, since the card works just fine in other cameras, including the Leica SL2. Very frustrating.

DIGLLOYD: I was a software engineer for 30 years. Done right, you have unit tests and manual tests (“do 1/2/3...), etc. And like making sausage, you come to see how the sloppy crowd (most) do their jobs: they skip testing by and large.

And Roy P continues:

Common sense says Leica should have one 6-bit code (e.g., all white / 111111 or all black / 000000) for “Do nothing”. With 6 bits, they can only have a max of 64 M lenses, which itself makes no sense.

Even better, they can hugely expand the universe of these codes. I don’t know what they use inside the camera to see these bits, but they are really fat bits. Surely, the bit-reader inside the camera could be made more sensitive than reading bits that are like 1/8th of an inch thick. Leica should put a bit-reader in the camera that’s 2x more sensitive than the current bit-reader that would instantly make it a 12-bit space that would expand the current universe of 64 different lens codes to 4096 different lens codes. It would be trivial to deal with the current lenses that already have the coarse codes painted on them – just read each bit as a double bit, i.e., a 1 is read as a 11, and a zero is read as a 00

And if Leica could improve the bit-reader sensitivity by 3x, which should NOT be hard to do, they could create an 18-bit space, which would support 256,000+ different lens codes. So Leica could license a bank of numbers to each lens manufacturer, so CV would have its own budget of say, 4096 different lenses and they could use them to encode their own lenses with not just a number to represent a lens, but different exact versions of that lens, so precise profile can be captured.

But it starts with a bad presumption: Common sense!

DIGLLOYD: yep. But Leica is not in the business of supporting anything other than their own lenses—foolish given that ecosystem support sells more gear for all.

Eeraj Q writes:

Eagerly awaiting further results from your M11 testing. VM 50 APO seems like a no brainer based on your tests. My own experience with this lens, though not on M11, suggests the same - it is a jewel at an unbelievable price

Would like to see how the Zeiss ZM 35 F1.4 fares if you still have that lens. It seems the best lenses for M mount are from Voigtlander and Zeiss. As an aside, I bought the ZM 34 F1.4 based on your tests years ago. It is now my "never sell this" lens - hard to fault this lens.

Anyone considering "investing" in Leica (if it can be called an investment) would do well to read your in-depth tests in your Leica section. To date, I have not seen anyone else show the nuances of lens behavior like focus shift, optimal focus placement and other considerations to extract the most out of the optics.

Contrary to the popular opinion on some forums that "Lloyd is a Leica hater", I find your observations objective and backed by data and imagery. Can't say the same of other arm-chair "reviewers".

DIGLLOYD: most of my top picks for Leica M are not Leica-brand lenses, the exception being the very difficult-to-find new Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH.

Not in stock at B&H? Voigtlander VM 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical @AMAZON


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Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical Aperture Series: Orchard View to House at Dusk

With the Leica M11 offering the unprecedented (for Leica) resolution of 60 megapixels (up from 40 megapixels), it seemed only fitting to debut its performance with a a lens fit for the task.

This aperture series from f/2 through f/16 evaluates the Voigtlander VM 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical on the 60-megapixel Leica M11 for sharpness, depth of field, focus shift and overall rendering quality.

The series also serves as a proof that that the Leica M11 with appropriate lenses can deliver an unprecedented amount of fine detail, and detail that is all but free of color aliasing and color moiré, a first for Leica M (color) cameras.

Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical Aperture Series: Orchard View to House at Dusk

Includes images from f/2 through f/16, plus a 2-frame focus stack at f/8.

If you like sharpness, order the Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical @AMAZON. You will not find a sharper lens for the Leica M11.

f8 @ 6.0 sec electronic shutter focus stack 2 frames, ISO 64; 2022-01-14 17:22:27
LEICA M11 + Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH
ENV: 56°F / 13°C
RAW: Enhance Details, vignetting corrected, pull 0.55 stops, +40 Whites, USM {8,50,0}, diffraction mitigating sharpening, SmartSharpen{40,0.8,20,0}

[low-res image for bot]
Note: lens was miscoded; acdtual lens is Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical

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Leica M11 — Rangefinder vs EVF Focusing Accuracy

It’s such a time-waster when the camera wipes out the drive mode when powered off/on (2-second self timer reverts to off). Leica has had years to fix this, but it’s still there.

I did a bunch of shooting this morning with the Leica M11.

Including full ISO series at 60MP, 36MP, 18MP, which I will be showing/comparing. Pixel binning (Leica’s “triple resolution technology”) sure looks like an inferior “solution” in search of a problem, at least for what it purports to achieve. I’ll be showing why I say that.

Anyway, here is a look at rangefinder vs EVF for focusing accuracy.

Leica M11: Focusing Accuracy with Rangefinder vs EVF

Focusing errors: rangefinder vs EVF
In stock as of 9 AM Jan 13

Leica M11 — First Look Coming

A good friend of mine handed over to me tonight a Leica M11 + EVF, along with a Leica 75mm f/2 APO, Voigtlander M 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar and various other lenses.

I’ll be shooting it tomorrow (Friday) for a day and will do what I can to provide a good solid look at it operationally, and in terms of image quality. Coverage will be in diglloyd Leica.

Leica M11
In stock as of 9 AM Jan 13

SHOOTOUT: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM vs Voigtlander FE 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical: View South over Patriarch Grove

I’m not sure why I had not published this outstanding comparison from last June—I overlooked it somehow.

Which 50mm lens for landscape?

This comparison pits the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM against the Voigtlander FE 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar on a 3D target. It evaluates sharpness across the field, focus shift, distortion, field of view, and bokeh.

It’s the margin of victory that might suprise.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: View South over Patriarch Grove

Includes images from f/1.2 to f/11 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.

CLICK TO VIEW: 50mm lenses for Sony mirrorless

View South over Patriarch Grove
f5.6 @ 1/200 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-05 06:21:15
Sony A7R IV + Voigtlander FE APO-Lanthar 50mm f/2 Aspherical
ENV: Patriarch Grove, altitude 11400 ft / 3475 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, pull 0.5 stops, +50 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +20 Contrast, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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The $10K 60MP Leica M11 Announced

The $10K (when made functional) 60-megapixel Leica M11 should ship in volume within 2-3 years, based upon past delivery performances.

Leica M11Leica BP-SCL7 batteryLeica Visoflex 2 Leica M11 Handgrip • Leica M11 Thumb support

Glad to see it in concept, but after years of waiting it’s still the wrong design and far out of my price range. And while that latter point might not trouble some readers, it is getting a bit absurd.

Leica M11

Technical*

  • 60MP Full-Frame BSI CMOS Sensor
  • Triple Resolution Technology (pixel binning)
  • Optical 0.73x-Magnification Viewfinder
  • 2.95" 2.3m-Dot Touchscreen LCD
  • Internal 64GB Memory and SD UHS-II Slot
  • ISO 64-50000, Up to 4.5-fps Shooting
  • Wi-Fi & USB Type-C, Dedicated FOTOS App
  • Lightweight Aluminum Top Plate
  • Electronic Shutter up to 1/16000 (transit time?)
  • Multi-Field Metering
  • Live View Stabilization

* Could Leica will fix their web site so that clicking on "Stories" or "Technical specs" does not produce an http 403? Firmware team also does web design maybe? Is it that hard to pay someone for 10 minutes to click on key links?

I will probably review the Leica M11, but the pricing blows a huge hole into my equipment loaner budget, which makes it exceedingly difficult to manage, given unpredictable delivery times (budget is deducted as soon as I request the camera).

I’d take the Fujifilm GFX100S system any day over this. And you can have two or 3 Fujifilm GF lenses with the GFX100S for the price of the M11 without any lenses.

Disgrunted “hung out to dry” 11-year M user viewpoint

No lessons learned at Leica. No practical usability improvements. Pricing up.

No built-in EVF, rangefinder useless for sharp pictures, still only 2 or 12 second self-timer, poor ergonomics without spending a lot to make it heavier and bulkier, decent but inadequate rear LCD.

Did I mention no built-in EVF? You have to pay extra for the FrankenEVF.

Still the useless-for-sharp-pictures space and needlessly expensive rangefinder design, which makes the camera unnecessarily complex, inaccurate, heavy and bulky and in need of adjustment any time a new lens is obtained (but that only takes 2-3 months of downtime and is a risky proposition with more than 2 lenses). Not that the rangefinder is adequately precise for even a 40MP sensor. Diehards with cognitive commitments love it though, and you can get the FrankenEVF for only another $740. Price no object? The FrankenEVF will trouble your stowage and degrade your usage of the camera forever vs a built-in EVF. And that’s a price no one can afford.

Add a handgrip with baseplate for only another $430 and a thumb support for only another $290. Bargain!

You can mount lenses incapable of sharp images on a 40MP sensor on the 60MP Leica M11, to capture more of that delicious Leica je ne sais WTF. OK, oversampling has its benefits, and a little of the frame might be sharper. Perhaps this is why Leica is offering 18MP and 36MP image capture from the 60MP sensor, via pixel binning, a form of downsampling, in camera.

= $10655 + 9.25% sales tax in California = $11640. Use the B&H Payboo card and you can save the sales tax.

Without a lens!

Bank account drained, when you save up for your first lens, get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon or the Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar. Best optical performance, best haptics/ergonomics, best build quality, lowest price by far.

Not in stock at B&H? Voigtlander VM 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical @AMAZON


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Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: Last Season’s Plant Spikes in Spring Meadow

This aperture series from f/1.2 through f/11 evaluates the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM for overall rendering style and bokeh, and secondary color. The series also omits vignetting correction, to show how vignetting can be a feature (not a bug to be fixed).

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: Last Season’s Plant Spikes in Spring Meadow

Includes images from f/1.2 to f/11 at up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Last Season’s Plant Spikes in Spring Meadow
f1.2 @ 1/160 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-11 19:43:47
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
In stock as of 9 AM Jan 13

Reader Comment: Artifacts in Super Resolution in Adobe Camera Raw

re: Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution
re: Adobe Camera Raw Enhance Details

It always surprises me a little when hype on the internet convinces a large enough critical mass of photographers to make a cognitive commitment that feature X is good, when it is readily seen to be severely flawed with only a quick examination using one’s own eyes.

The persuasion power of “social proof” then leads to confusion as in “why it’s not working for me” when others say it is terrific ergo “I must be doing something wrong”. It is not so—trust your own judgment when the facts lead you there.

Wolfgang Z writes:

Always interesting to read your great blog, which I do regularly.

I wanted to ask you and your readers if you also came across strange artifacts with the new “Super Resolution” feature in Adobe Camera Raw.

Whenever I want to merge two or more photos to HDR, I keep getting artifacts when subsequently I want to use Super Resolution in ACR.

The photo was shot from a tripod, the motive is completely steady, and the HDR shows no artifacts, even if I sharpen it a lot.

But as soon as I apply the Super Resolution, the artifacts appear on different parts of the picture. No artifacts occur if I do this with a single picture from the series.

I have tried all HDR settings like aligning, or ghosting on and off – no difference.

The issue can easily be reproduced: Open two (steady) photos with different exposures in ACR, click merge to HDR. Then on the dng file, click enhance/super resolution. If you don't want to wait for the process to finish, look around in the preview crop and you will soon notice the artifacts. The artifacts look like wavy lines or mosaic, around edges of detailed objects.
[diglloyd: this just adds confusion, a single photo suffice]

The same problem was posted here before, but never solved: https://community.adobe.com/t5/camera-raw-discussions/super-resolution-creates-weird-artifacts/m-p/11914651?profile.language=en

Anybody have an idea what this can be, or what to do?

DIGLLOYD: the above shows how confusing things to get—the false premise that the technology works well leads one down various rabbit holes, making it even more confusing. Classic case of Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is the right one—the technology is fundamentally flawed/broken. No solution to be found! And doesn’t involve HDR or merging or anything else.

It's a great idea (glad to see such attempts by Adobe!), but at this point Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution and Enhance Details are science fair projects unsuitable for discerning high quality work. Artifacts make it wholly unusable for all the landscape photos that I have tried it on and I have yet to find a landscape image where artifacts are not a problem.

Adobe Camera Raw “Super Resolution” Mode Added to Enhance Details — Unacceptable Digital Artifacts
Adobe Camera Raw “Super Resolution” Mode

I am not saying that all areas of an image will have problems—the technology can work impressively well on some types of subject matter. But the artifacts included finger-painting smearing in smooth areas, crosshatching/dotted areas (“insect eyes”), distortion of the scale of details, and color artifacts.

Stick with Gigapixel AI to scale-up a finished image, though it too can have some distortion-of-scale issues at time.

Enhance Details has issues too

Enhance Details also has problems. And on every brand camera I’ve tried it with. You can get away with it at smaller sizes, but beware the pattern noise it generates.

Abandoning Adobe Camera Raw Enhance Details—Crosshatching Pattern Noise

Bottom line is that both these enhancment technologies (forms of computational photography) are just not ready for prime time. Not even close.

Below, toggle to compare—the artifacts are ugly checkerboard crosshatching in nature (“insect eyes”) along with lots of weird green pixels, and they are all over the place. The entire image has hundreds of such ugly patchs. Where the upscaling works, it works beautifully. But where is goes awry, it is unacceptable.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH Aperture Series: Backlit Open Forest

The pleasant feel of September is always nice here in the early January. Though it was 66°F on my bike ride today—cannot complain.

This aperture series evaluates the distance performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a near/far landscape scene with focus at relatively close distance. Focus shift is of particular interest.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH Aperture Series: Backlit Open Forest

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

Backlit Open Forest
f5.6 @ 1/125 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 16:20:31
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7600 ft / 2316 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.33 stops, +20 Whites, +20 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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re: recommended Macs for photographers and videographers
re: 2020 iMac 5K: Recommended Models and Accessories.

MPG tested the 2020 iMac 5K 3.6 GHz Intel Core i9 10-core / 128GB / 2TB / Radeon 5700. Smart move: buy with 8GB memory, then add 64GB or 128GB OWC memory to save a ton on memory cost (same memory as 2019 iMac 5K).

Please buy your gear at B&H Photo and OWC/MacSales.com using any link from this site.
Unsure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

The 2020 iMac 5K will be the last Intel-based Mac that I ever review, so far as I can tell. I expect that Apple will release at least a 10-core if not 20-core Apple Silicon iMac 5K/6K in 2022.

2020 iMac 5K

Review

Vew current Mac wishlist and all current OWC wishlists.

My 16-page review of the 2020 iMac 5K evaluates it for its real-world value versus two existing Macs that I already own, the 2019 iMac 5K (my travel Mac), and the 2019 Mac Pro (my desktop when at home).

This review is heavily focused on photographers and their use cases.

REVIEWED: Apple 2020 iMac 5K (October 2020)

Unsure of what to get? Consult with Lloyd.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Memory, Storage,etc

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended iMac 5K (buy OWC memory separately)


OWC Thunderblade Thunderbolt SSD

Blazing fast, up to 32TB.

YEE HAH!



√ No more slow and noisy hard drives!

Stunning New Photo Book: Inside the High Sierra, by Claude Fiddler

Claude Fiddler is a friend, and I was pleased to see him finish his book, a labor of love for some years now. I’ve got an advance electronic version to look through, and I’ve pre-ordered a printed copy.

Readers know I’ve spent a good deal of time in the Eastern Sierra, though having passed several earlier decades of my life not visiting it more than a few times to Yosemite. Well, life distracts us all through work and kids, doesn’t it?

 

“Inside the High Sierra” by Claude Fiddler

As many days as I’ve spent in the Eastern Sierra, much of it has been repeat visits to half a dozen of the same areas, for practical reasons. Now I wonder if I’ll have the years and the strength to explore the magical places I have not visited.

And in that sense, Claude’s book is a “problem” for me: inciting a desire to visit the places he has photographed so well, magical places far off the beaten track. For me, such places are the most rewarding of all, radiating a sense of timelessness stemming from minimal evidence of humans.

Claude gets WAY off the beaten track in his images, and that makes them fascinating to me. They’re not your classic “from somewhere near the road” images... wow!

The photographs are gorgeous... I draw in my breath with some of them as if I were there, wishing I were there... it’s a bittersweet longing. When I can, I want to return to my recently self-imposed rule: “visit at least one wholly new area each trip”.

Inside the High Sierra, by Claude Fiddler can be ordered at https://www.wolverinepublishing.com/store/inside-the-high-sierra-preorder.

Claude’s comments on the image below: “I call it the Observation Basin. Not so named on any map. The particular lake sits below Observation Peak and Mount Shakespeare. Photo falls off into the Middle fork of the Kings River just south and west of the confluence with Palisade Creek. The ridgeline in the photo background are the Devil's Crags. A two day hike from Bishop Pass or any other trailhead for that matter.”

Observation Basin Sunset, ©1988 by Claude Fiddler
Captured with Gowland 4x5-inch view camera + 150mm Fujinon lens on Gitzo Studex tripod, Kodak VPL film.

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Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: Boulder and Flowering Shrub Amid Aspen

Digging back into my June 2021 archives...

This aperture series from f/1.2 through f/11 evaluates the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM for sharpness near-to-far and across the frame, secondary color correction, and bokeh.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: Boulder and Flowering Shrub Amid Aspen

Includes images from f/1.2 to f/11 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Boulder and Flowering Shrub Amid Aspen, Lundy Canyon
f1.2 @ 1/125 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-11 19:40:03
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Marmots with the Sony FE 200-600mm

For whatever reason my thoughts returned to marmots I photographed last June.

I’ve added a new picture or two.

Sony FE 200-600mm: Examples: White Mountains Marmots

Notes included on effective crop factor used for the images.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Juvenile Marmot
f8 @ 1/160 sec IBIS=on EFC shutter, ISO 200; 2021-06-04 13:41:20
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS @ 600mm
ENV: White Mountain Rd, altitude 11600 ft / 3536 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: +20 Whites, +15 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
In stock as of 9 AM Jan 13

Reader Comment: Fluid Heads for Video

Reader Roy P writes:

My research on these for video has led me to a very interesting conclusion: the fluid heads these days are much nicer than the ones they made even 4-5 years ago.  They make them in a huge range of size, weight and capabilities, and they can be used very effectively for still photography, for pretty much all genres.  I'm beginning to like these much more than any ball head, gimbal, or my FlexShooter - these are terrific for pretty much any use case that does not require a geared head.

I'm testing a few different fluid heads (Sachtler, Manfrotto, Leofoto) right now, and from what I've seen so far, I will likely end up standardizing on one or more fluid heads except for the times when I must have my ARCA Cube. I've already tested the Sachtler, and it's absolutely fabulous. I will probably get a second one, a much smaller and more compact head for more casual use.

Sachtler Ace XL Fluid Head is just superb.  There are others like the AKTIV and FSB series, but those are for more hard-core videographers.  They are bigger and heavier, and also cost $1000 to $1500 more.

The ACE XL costs $584 + another $98 for the RRS clamp, for a total of $682.  Not cheap, but it does so much more than a BH-55, which costs $489.  Of course, it’s much bigger and heavier than a ball head.  The weight as shown is just about 3.75 lbs without the handle, which I won’t be using most of the time.

But this is so much nicer to use than any ball head or gimbal or the FlexShooter.  For my use cases, the Sachtler as configured below is a keeper.

BTW, the Manfrotto 500AH is very popular amongst videographers because it’s cheap ($200).  But it is hideous – it is bulkier, almost a pound heavier, not as nicely made as the Sachtler, and with much weaker functionality compared to the Sachtler.

I have another cheapie (Leofoto Mini Fluid Head) also coming in and I’ll see how that goes.  It has a lower load rating and has fewer features, but it might have its use cases, too (e.g., long hikes – it weighs only about 1 lb).  It comes with an ARCA clamp, too.

Last item, for $89, this NiSi Macro Focusing Rail NM-180 is tremendous value, and the quality is excellent.  It would be great value at 3x the price – just a good pano clamp alone would cost more than $89!  I ended up buying two of these. 

[DIGLLOYD: a few days later]

On a different note, the Leofoto BV-5 arrived, and while not bad for video, it is easy to get spoiled by the Sachtler ACE XL, and it is REALLY hard to go back to any other fluid head, other than even higher-end Sachtler models!

But the BV-5 weighs only 418 g without its handle, and it replaces a gimbal or the FlexShooter very effectively for lenses like a Sony 70-200/2.8, 100-400 or even the Sony 200-600 (say tele lenses weighing up to about 6 lbs).  Its load capacity of 9 lbs can comfortably handle these lenses + camera.  Of course, it’s good for some casual video with these lenses, as well.

It can also be used as a ball head, but it can’t turn it down 90° forward or backward, so you couldn’t take photos of your shoes from a tripod.  Another problem with all fluid heads is that they have long clamps (60mm or longer) pointing fore-aft.  So if you have a camera with a form-fitted L bracket, you would need an extra clamp to orient the lens to face forward.  Not too onerous, if you use an RRS 40mm or 55mm dovetail plate + a light-weight clamp, but it’s a bit of a nuisance.  Or you could put an RRS panning clamp as a permanent clamp over the BV-5, for a total price of $175 + $235 = $410 and total weight of 418 + 310 = 728 grams, and that should be a good all-round head, albeit with restricted tilt up or down.

A correction and a comment:  I had mentioned that the Leofoto BV-5 was unable to tilt down 90° — that was operator error on my part.  Most of these smaller fluid heads have an asymmetric up and down tilt.  In one direction, they go 90°, but only about 70-80% in the other direction, where they typically place the pan lock screw knob.  The Leofoto BV-5 does this too.  So that does indeed make the BV-5 usable also as a general purpose ball head, of course limited to its max load capacity of 9 lbs.  I still like this best as a very lightweight (0.9 lb) dedicated monopod head.

Its best use might be as a very light head for a monopod, though.  For monopods, this is really an  excellent solution.  This is probably how I’m going to end up using it most of the time

DIGLLOYD: follow the links above, my feed is not showing all items in the ad below.

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum writes:

You may not know of the story of the fluid head inventor, Chadwell O'Connor, Walt Disney, and steam locomotives ...

https://discussion.cprr.net/2008/01/obituary-of-chadwell-oconnor.html

He also built the replica transcontinental railroad steam locomotives for the National Park Service.

http://CPRR.org/Museum/Replicas/index.html

DIGLLOYD: just in case I am ever on Jeopardy.

Jorin H writes:

You may want to check out this product too: iFootage Komodo K5 Fluid Head

One of the best lightweight and inexpensive video heads I have had my hands on.

DIGLLOYD: .

John R writes:

I had a different use for a video head: until my boys went to university, I photographed a lot of canoe sprint and surf lifesaving. Using a ball heads for the necessary speed, I was plagued by sloping horizons which my OCD had to correct.

I got a Manfrotto video tripod with spirit levels, set it up flat and could happily pan to follow the action in one axis with the other two axes kept aligned by the video head. No more sloping horizons and downhill lakes.

DIGLLOYD: lots of tripod heads can pan on level; I use the Acratech pano head with leveling base as my preferred hiking head.

Paul B writes:

After a long search for a high-quality two-way head, I found one during the last Photokina at the booth of Fa. Berlebach—the Model 553 with its high precision mechanics and a neatly processed friction allows the camera versions to glide very precisely and securely without the tiresome tilting of many ball heads. Another elaborate 3-way model Pegasus is also available (up to 15kg), but the 553 met my requirements.

DIGLLOYD: .

Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 Aperture Series: Backlit Bristlecone Sunrise (Fujifilm GFX100S)

This series from f/1.7 through f/9 evaluates the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR at relatively close distance for overall rendering style including sharpness, bokeh, and secondary color.

Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 Aperture Series: Backlit Bristlecone Sunrise

Includes images from f/1.7 to f/9 at up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

Backlit Bristlecone Sunrise
f1.7 @ 1/70 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-05 05:40:06
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR @ 65.5mm equiv (80mm)
ENV: Patriarch Grove, altitude 11200 ft / 3414 m, 48°F / 8°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
In stock as of 9 AM Jan 13

Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 — Great Lens for Panoramic Stitching

Because I was focusing on the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 and Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 on that trip, I shot the Fujfilm GF 50mm f/3.5 little that trip.

But the 50/3.5 was and is my favorite lens for Fujifilm medium format. High optical performance with minimal distortion make it ideal for panoramas.

Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 Examples: Mountains

Includes panorama up to 192 megapixels.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

View south towards Deep Springs from White Mountain Road
f7.1 @ 3.0 sec electronic shutter panorama 4 frames, ISO 100; 2021-06-05 20:24:21
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 8800 ft / 2682 m, 50°F / 10°C
RAW: distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.5 stops, +20 Whites, +15 Dehaze, +20 Clarity, USM {10,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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

B&H Photo Mega Deals — Free Overnight Shipping Ends Today

Need a great computer for photo work? Consult with Lloyd today or tomorrow for 15 minutes for $60, and I’ll point you at a great deal and explain why, exactly what to order.

Free Overnight Shipping Ends Today.

Check out various TOP DEALS (updated daily, bookmark for future reference):

One time mega deals below..

Deals expire Dec 29 at 11:59 PM EST.

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