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15+ Reader Comments on “Request for Feedback: How Best to Partition my Publication Offerings”

diglloyd publications, March 2019

What follow are comments on yesterday’s post Request for Feedback: How Best to Partition my Publication Offerings.

I thank those who wrote to offer their viewpoint. In the interest of working through to the best plan by speaking to the viewpoints, I here include many of the emails I received.

The core issue I think I really face is this: I compete with free stuff. Quality or not, that is plenty good for 99% of people buying cameras. My core reader base is that remaining 1%.

Knut K writes:

1) I do find having a combined format + manufacturer grouping very appealing. That would mean putting Nikon 35mm format DSLR‎ + mirrorless together but not Fuji 4/3 and Fuji medium format.

2) People with niche interests are at risk of being pushed out of useful subscription options. I for example am only interested in Pentax. I clearly run into a dilemma‎ when I find Pentax to be bundled with a lot of stuff I'm absolutely not interested in and when I furthermore notice that my area of interest (Pentax) is not receiving updates despite Pentax churning out 2-3 lenses every year.

DIGLLOYD: I see Nikon and Canon as special cases because they have provided a clean and compatible path from their DSLR lenses to their mirrorless solutions. But I don’t see that it makes sense (or that time allows) re-reviewing DSLR lenses on mirrorless and there ought to be no difference in performance anyway (I have yet to see any).

Grouping Nikon and DSLR mirrorless (ditto for Canon) together would mean that DAP would be gutted—a possibility—but then Pentax becomes unsupportable on its own (there is near-zero demand). It would also raise the issue of where things like all the Sigma DSLR lens reviews would go. I can’t think of an organizing principle that would satisfy everyone if that were done.

Pieter K writes

I just bought the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art based on your published photos and review. My best lens. period. The first lens Ihave that is overall good at f1.4.

There are more good review sites, but your field work photos and observations stand out. So your observations are important to me. The full sized jpegs are also very important. Still $100 is my limit. Your site stands out in a world of FAKE-news and (sponsored) reviews. I can imagine it is difficult to find the right path to make enough money. But this is my position as a costumer.

DIGLLOYD: this speaks to the cost issue for some, and the need for some entry beyond an all-or-none or similar offering.

Stuart M writes:

I would welcome a flat all in one subscription and wouldn’t mind sponsorship as long as you retained editorial independence. Ads are fine with me unless embedded in video then they are a pain.

My interest in photography has waxed and waned over the years . It waxed with the discovery of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 which I purchased along with the Sony A7R III.

I subscribed specifically to get all your reviews on Zeiss lenses as it’s a lot of money and your offering is unique. No one likes to waste money on stuff they don’t need so I went for the a la carte options from your subscriptions. Now and again I find something of interest that is off limits but not worth purchasing another subscription for.

My interest wanes when there are no prospective purchases to get excited about. Sony is driving my interest at the moment. My interests are birds in flight, nature , close ups , landscapes a little but not street photography or portraits for which I would use my iPhone and that complements my serious photography very well.

I have migrated from Canon to Sony and I agree DSLR is dead in the water. Why have I kept subscribing ? The websites I’ve bookmarked are Mark Galer, DP review, Sony Alpha Rumours and Photography Life but yours is the first one . Mark Galer is very good for the how to, DP review is nowhere near as good as it was -they seem to be drifting and just going through the motions-there seems very little passion there nowadays. But your offering is unique.

The articles are quite challenging but that is a plus point , I love it when you savage a dodgy lens. I must admit I keep reading to validate my expensive purchases and there was some alarm when it seemed the Zeiss Otus was no longer king of the hill.

What would I like more of ? More shoot out comparisons . Surprisingly there are very few comparisons of image quality Sony A7R III vs Sony A9, and I would love someone to have done a proper job on that .

I would like comparisons between your current favourite lens in differing focal lengths to new challengers . I am only interested in the best that I can afford but medium format is a stretch for me . Different genres of photography would be welcome . You have done some good still lifes- bowl of fruit for example and it would be nice to replicate what you do here in the UK . More reviews of longer lenses -the Sony 400mm f2.8 for example .

Your thoughts on the photographic industry are always interesting and refreshing. Also post processing would be good . I have Capture One as I don’t want my photos to be held hostage by Adobe and don’t like their subscription model but mastering it is very difficult.

Anyway I am grateful to you for opening my eyes to the merits of the Zeiss Otus -it reignited my interest in photography and I have learnt a lot from you . Thank you

DIGLLOYD: all points noted. Regarding comparing Sony A7R III to Sony A9, that could be done for image quality, but when it gets to sports and such, doing so becomes far more time/experience intensive to do well—not sure that’s viable.

There is a flat all in one option already and has been for some years. Any existing subscriber can login and the flat $200 yearly fee is there. Any existing subscriptions can be layered and spread out over the yearly subscription (no time or value lost).

Rainer U writes:

For me as a working pro photographer your site is a wonderful source of information. I subscribe to it, in order to get the informations I need when I ponder about new gear. So, it would make a lot of sense to partition along the lines of applicability, linked to brands where it makes sense.

For example: as a Nikon shooter I am of course very much interested in everything from/for that brand. Now that they are blending DSLR and mirrorless together, you should, too. Same for Canon.

Sony mirrorless would be another chapter including every lens you review for that system (Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia, Voigtlaender). It does not make sense to include Batis and Loxia lenses in diglloyd Zeiss, because their "application pattern" is totally different.

Another chapter would be medium format. If I ponder to invest into medium format, I shall be happy to subscribe to this one because the application/format comes first, the brand comes second. If I ponder to switch to Sony mirrorless, I shall subscribe to this one to get all the needed information including all lenses available (Voigtlaender and Zeiss Batis and Loxia).

Other chapters could be Fuji X or MFT, if you want to dive further into these systems.

If I need advice on workflow/software issues, I shall subscribe to this one (MSI). Probably many subscriptions in that partitioning order will vary over time, for example if I switch from Nikon to Sony, I shall drop the Nikon subscription. But, on the other hand, if I am not sure where to switch to (f.e. Canon mirrorless or Sony) I shall subscribe to these two until I make up my mind.

A full subcription to everything should of course be possible, too, for those who want it. I hope I could make my point clear. This degree of differentiation will probably make work a little harder for you in terms of paperwork and billing, but as the camera market becomes so diverse, you should, too.

DIGLLOYD: this runs long the lines I am thinking, the most important question being how diglloyd Advanced DSLR would be split up if Nikon and Canon DSLR lenses are pulled under those brands, particularly where Sigma DSLR lenses and Pentax stuff would go. It gets confusing even to me.

Lefteris K writes:

a) First of all, thank you for your suggestion to use “Picture Element” as a print lab. Fantastic results.

b) On partitioning, may I suggest a new section with content focused only on Image Editing (ACR, Photoshop etc). Not “tips and tricks”, but “best practices and problems”. Better to separate it from the camera/lens section.

c) Finally, I noticed that the only thing that almost all functions (Exposure, Shadows, Vibrance etc) of image software do, is to change the R, G, B values of pixels. Nothing more, nothing less. Given this, one could argue that “correct exposure” is a far more important subject, since “chaning exposure afterwards” only changes RGB values towards white or towards black (an intervention far different than what light produces during exposure).

DIGLLOYD: I love writing about other stuff besides reviews, but this has been increasingly tough given the pressure to keep subscriber content fresh.

I think that workflow and similar would fit very well under Making Sharp Images — all things shooting through “post” to making fine images. BTW, I consider MSI the most important publication I offer for photographers looking to hone their skill set.

Exposure: yes, this is why I have often recommended RawDigger. I should probably go into using it in Making Sharp Images, as well as techniques in the field for optimal exposure.

Michael E writes:

Probably, you need to get on the sponsor bandwagon like most others, so you can have some certain income. Perhaps you can balloon up your offerings so it is even more incredible than you already have, by just clarifying it more and more.

Perhaps B&H or someone wants to help you sell their stuff and become a household name. The people who don’t like you having ads have to get over it. Anyway, if you present all of the good stuff equally (but truthfully), what’s to complain

Of course, if you try to please the advisers that’s a slippery slope from there is no coming back from. There is the problem as I see it. Who would be so open to allow you to tell the truth about products?

OR... perhaps you can sign with any company who wants whatever they want to use from the collection. If they want to just only use what they want, so be it. We all would soon know it and also still be subscribed to. In other words, help them sell whatever they want and gear your offering around what a company needs. Comparisons, comparisons, etc. The good stamp of approval... something like that.

DIGLLOYD: B&H Photo is already very helpful both in loaning gear and in income from ads. Other World Computing (OWC) is just as critical (ads). Some users really dislike the ad presence, but I have kept ads out of the subscriber pages. Sure I’d love to eliminate the ads (much cleaner look), it is just impossible from a financial standpoint.

The benefit of using B&H is that I am not tied to any brands.

As to other things.. yes there might be possibilities I have not thought of. Endorsements would be acceptable to me only on the basis of being the product I would gladly prefer and buy with my own money.

Roderick writes:

I have subscribed for some years, initially to parts but recently to ALL.. I appreciate your approach to testing and keep a continuous watch on your Blog. I read most items fully even if they are not on the makes I use. Thus I hope to be continuously informed about developments so will be ready to change technique or equipment as designs and my needs change. Technical knowledge is always useful.

The current partitioning is not a problem to me. The small tweaks are fine to me. I can see however that the burgeoning mirrorless offerings from the industry will overload this section before long. In the past I guess many users had strong brand loyalty so might not subscribe to makes they did not intend to use – ever! Partitioning by brand then acceptable.

Now people may feel the need to follow all the mirrorless cameras before choosing one brand. Partitioning therefore not acceptable. Furthermore as the number of lenses from independent makers increases, and they are issued with minor tweaks for different mounts, all followers of MIRRORLESS will want all of them. This makes logical partitioning difficult.

My own position is that I use a Nikon 850 and by preference Zeiss lenses. However declining eyesight and three replacement leg joints have driven me to use AF lenses of longer focal lengths for field work as I cannot focus accurately enough on the high megapixel sensor, and cannot get down for plant close-ups. I watch the mirrorless field, but so far have no plans for a change – yet.

DIGLLOYD: partitioning is purely a financial issue as everything is available, and the worst case is the one fixed price for all publications. What I’m trying to do is to make some subsets more palatable on a cost basis so that someone interested in, say, just Nikon does not subscribe at all—and I have received comments to that effect (“I only am interestd in Nikon”). Obviously $79.95 for everything would be great, but I don’t see the volume X the price working out.

Jason W writes:

Limited access partitioning is frustrating but for me but acts as a gateway to convert to all-access. I don't know if that's a common experience, you'd have to examine membership histories to know what's going on, but I think it's an important point worth exploring. If limited access subscribers rarely become all-access subscribers, then perhaps partitioning would be critical to maintain these subscribers who want to remain in their silos.

Alternatively, if limited access subscribers convert to all-access at a notable rate and ultimately form the backbone of your subscriber base, well, your plan should be built around that.

As someone who has been both limited access and full-access, I know limited access partitioning at this moment would limit the value of your site. I originally came to diglloyd because I was buying camera gear and wanted advice, but I seldom do this anymore.

I tune in now because I don't know what will end up being interesting, and it's the surprises that present the value. I want to keep my finger on the pulse of the industry, see real-world applications and also follow lifestyle articles to live vicariously while I am on lunch break.

DIGLLOYD: there is decent conversion rate to “everything” access. At this point I would say that my “everything” subscribers are the backbone that makes it all work and I would greatly prefer one simple pricing model. But I don’t know how to reconcile lower pricing with access to everything—I cannot see that working (sales volume X price = revenue). I find that all-in subscribers are mostly professionals and similar.

There are a good number of one-offs but less than in heyday years where things changed so fast. That is, someone just wants to know about some new camera or a few lenses. Some of those convert to all-in, but some people see it as research-and-buy and thus some years go buy before subscribing again—that’s tough on me becuase my fixed costs don’t change.

Jeff C writes:

I consider your work the best analysis resource on the internet for honest opinions and self-education. When it comes to subscribing to Diglloyd.com, for me, it's all about price and where I fit into the world of photography.

I perceive value accordingly and in tiers. This is how I rank the various offerings:

Top Tier (ranked highest on down.)
• Medium Format
• Leica
• Zeiss

Secondary Tier
• 
Mirrorless
• Advanced DSLR

Tertiary Tier (Educational)
• Making Sharper Images *
• Infrared

I'm barely hanging in there content wise. As a Canon shooter, which I am considering jettisoning, your focus on the top tier has been, unfortunately, slowly losing my interest. I blame this entirely on Canon's marketplace ineptitude and quality. Until recently, Canon has been a desert.

As I said before, your abilities are amazing. What keeps me coming back is seeing your amazing travels (minus the biking accidents), and hearing your insights on various lens at the secondary tier level. I'm hoping that knowing where my head is at will help in your decision process.

I took a class with Vincent Versace in February where he made this comment about pricing: "I make my money by nibbling on your ass instead of taking it out in one big bite." Also, when I worked in a music store 30 years ago, the owner would say to me: "Half a loaf is better than none.".

Having said all that, I know you are considering creating subscriptions based on gear. I totally get it from an ease of workflow perspective for you. However, I would ask you to consider looking at the financial level of your customer base and the pricing of the gear; Then build subscriptions accordingly. Price wise, $70-$75 a year is about my max range unless I'm in the market for a new $3500 camera or $2500, Then I would consider going up to $100-$130 while I shopped. As a long time subscriber, I thank you for your time and all your amazing efforts.

DIGLLOYD: the gear I review these days rarely is under the $3000 mark for a camera and a lens (just look at a Sony A7R III or Nikon Z7 camera body).

As perspective, here in California, sales tax is 9.25%, or $277 tax. Cable bills are easily well over $100/month, ditto for cell phones. People pay those without blinking.

For continuing subscribers at $200/year (everything deal), the cost is thus quite a bit less than sales tax on about the cheapest system and about the sales tax on one or two lenses. On higher-end systems the subscription cost is a rounding error, and I see that there is not much price sensitivity on the high end.

Categories like APS-C and Micro Four Thirds draw very little subscription interest. My feeling over the years is that buyers of such systems simply are not the kind of buyer (generalizing here) that are willing to subscribe, or even more fundamentally, prepared or interested in the advanced-user information. Since it takes just as much work to review a low-end camera or lens, I have abandonded the low end.

Edo V writes:

Your strength is the thorough lens reviews. You mention aspects that nobody else reports (as far as I know). I would happily pay $50/year just to learn about the lenses, or $99/year, which is what I pay for a subscription to two magazines from a Dutch consumer magazine.

Personally I cancelled my subscription to your site because you mentioned somewhere that a 16MP sensor was capable of yielding a 1 meter wide print, with a good lens and Prime (DXO), which I use. I knew enough and stayed with Micro Four Thirds and saved a lot of money, and did not renew my subscription, thereby saving more. Such observations are valuable, and you read them rarely elsewhere.

But I wonder if there is a market for your work. You do not get mentioned often or at all on other "review" websites (usualy opinionated amateurs who do not understand the difference between sharpness and resolution, or bokeh and depth-of-field, etc.). Perhaps a some marketing research would help, especially with a shrinking market?

On the other hand I would guess that with the recent breakthrough of mirrorless and smaller cameras, the upcoming higher resolution sensors for 24x36mm and the new larger-format cameras, there is a need for somebody who sifts the wheat from the chaff and who calls a spade a spade.

Your recent remark that a 24x36mm sensor can be as good as medium format (mentioned in connection to that gorgeous BW panorama) is of great value to somebody who is pondering what to buy. Comparisons and advice would be most welcome to many?

On a personal note speaking as a geologist and petroleum consultant. Running a business on your own is not easy for a technical-oriented person who speaks up and does not tolerate fools in his line of expertise, and who operates in a shrinking market. Networking is the key, but if that is lacking in your mental make-up (as it is in mine) you may well have a problem.

DIGLLOYD: while I greatly enjoy one-on-one interaction with people, I’m an unabashed individualist with little sense of marketing or sales. But I do feel that I have a good sense of what people are looking for by subscribing, based on a decade of hearing feedback.

One “flaw” I have is not holding back from criticizing poorly done aspects of a camera. I know this has cost me business as some people integrate their choice of camera into their ego (Leica and Fujifilm X user come to mind).

Jon L writes:

Regarding the restructuring. I think makes sense to roll all of the image formation, post-processing technique and workflow into MSI. Apart from the recent stuff on focus stacking, MSI has been relatively moribund. I have continued to subscribe to it because the information in there is timeless and I refer to it often. Further, one might anticipate future cross-platform / platform independent changes in image processing (such as “Enhance”, etc.) or other issues NOT related to system-specific bodies or lenses etc that would reasonably be covered here. Things like tripods and other things currently under “Various” in DAP as well.

Moreover, having a partition focusing on technique would seemingly justify a higher fee than you currently charge for MSI alone; I would suggest at least the same as if not more than DAP is now.

With most of the interest in mirrorless and Medium format, DAP will likely have relatively less new content, but remain a valuable source for this of us who remain at that level. Pulling technique out would likely justify a modest decrease in the cost of DAP as the amount of new content diminishes.

Gear-wise, I find the Zeiss partition stands open its own feet. That, plus there likely will be a way to use Zeiss lenses on nearly every 35 mm platform (NOT medium format as you have shown) justifies maintaining its separate identity at an appropriate price. I guess the real question here is Zeiss for mirrorless bodies. Are you going to be testing with Batis, Loxia and future designs for each mirrorless system? Seems that would be a lot of work if you plan to subdivide mirrorless into brand groupings. Might pull Zeiss for mirrorless back into Zeiss and increase the price.

Makes sense to keep medium format separate.

Mirrorless: depends on your subscriber base:
• Already switched to mirrorless or thinking about it?
• Committed already to a system or considering which system to buy in to?
• How many are subscribing to the total package vs. isolated parts?

If you subdivide mirrorless into Manufacturer Groups, you might consider group packages such as : Sony (or Canon or Nikon)+ Zeiss + MSI for a slight discount over individual prices.

As an amateur, I subscribe to the entire package, but use DAP, Zeiss and MSI 80% of the time. Follow mirrorless as I may eventually go there (again, a specific demographic: how representative am I of your subscribers?). I don’t look at Leica, IR or Medium format as I ill never go there. I buy the whole package because the cost covers the individual components I am most interested in. Any excess is good for you and supports your free stuff. (I have learned a lot from your pages).

DIGLLOYD: I definitely intend to discount bundles/packages so that someone interested in, say, Mirrorless can just get all mirrorless at one price. But there are also those who just want Sony or Canon or Nikon or L-mount.

Making Sharp Images (MSI) is more relevant as ever, and I consider it my most important publication for a photographer looking to improve technically. I agree it needs some love (additions). I agree that it should be soup to nuts for shooting through “post”.

Reader Kevin S writes:

I don’t really have skin in this decision, since I subscribe to ‘all’, but thought I would give you my reasoning on the question, as I often have to make such structuring type decisions in my day job.

I think that the partitioning of content should be determined by the main boundaries between communities of interest/usage, and it’s clear you are thinking this way as well. But this is getting increasingly complicated as the number of mounts proliferate, most of the mirrorless mounts have many options for adapting, and third party lens makers extend their range of supported mounts. I know you are not generally a fan of adaptors, but the pace of change in this industry is so rapid that it’s not practical nor necessary to ‘sell and replace’ a whole quiver of glass when the next shiny new camera development comes along.

I believe it will take a long time for DSLR makers to really replicate their range in mirrorless-specific lenses, and even longer for most folks to convert their arsenal to all mirrorless glass. This is reinforced by the excellent mount adapters fielded by Nikon and Canon. So I believe it is important to keep the major mount-centered brand lens content together by brand – i.e. Z/F, RF/EF, and FE/E. The DSLR camera content could just go with the workflow content over to Making Sharp Images, since at this point it is more about users getting the most from the current DSLRs than about very many people shopping for new DSLRs.

Since third party lens makers are (by necessity) expanding their range of supported mounts (Sigma comes to mind foremost), and there are more of them coming out of the woodwork, I think this content should be separated into one or more transversal partitions spanning the range of FF-capable mounts they support. For me, adapting Zeiss manual focus lenses to mirrorless Z (or RF) is a wonderful long term solution (when not hiking too far). This would encourage many people to subscribe to one or more of these to supplement their main mount subscription, i.e. one ‘vertical’ mount brand sub + 1 or 2 ‘horizontal’ 3rd party lens subs. Zeiss and Sigma could be separate partitions, or even grouped into one as I expect many folks will be shopping between them for high quality lens options. Other partitions could be bargain brands (at a low subscription price!) and niche brands.

The easy ones to separate out, as you point out, are Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X (APS-C), Leica, and Medium Format as these are largely standalone communities of interest. Pentax is harder to place – it could be standalone as well, treated like the major FF-capable mounts, or even lumped with the DLSR camera content in Making Sharp Images.

I find it easier to think through this graphically, so attached is a slide with the suggestions above laid out in a table. Something like this could also be used to explain the structure to subscribers.

In any case, those are my thoughts – hope some of this is useful to your thinking to make a more future-proof structure for your treasure trove of content.

DIGLLOYD: I agree on the area of interest/usage point, so long as it doesn’t also raise confusing ambiguities (confusing to a newly arrived potential subscriber).

The clean Nikon and Canon transition are head-scratchers: I doubt I would re-review those lenses on mirrorless (no meaningful difference) and yet I can see that mirrorless users would be interested. And where to position Sigma DSLR lenses and what happens with Sigma mirrorless lenses? I don’t have a good sense of it except that in the past, tying a lens to its native-mount publication (and/or camera mounts) made an excellent organizing principle.

I don’t see Micro Four Thirds and APS-C as having much gas left in the tank,or Pentax either, so one option is to drop 'em in somewhere reasonably related, not to create small mostly archival areas.

The graphic below just confuses me so I cannot see new readers understanding it.

Suggested partitioning of content from reader Kevin S

David R writes:

My one comment on this is that in connection with mirrorless, I would distinguish between full frame mirrorless on the one hand and APC and Micro 4/3rds mirrorless on the other.

While I haven't gone mirrorless yet (still shooting NIkon D850 and D500), once I do, I want to see reviews not only on Nikon FF cameras and lenses but also on Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Leica. I see a significant difference between those interested in FF and those interested in less than FF.

Large Format, whether mirrorless or not, should be its own category (and is one I would likely subscribe to as well). The difference between the exotic Phase One, Hasselblad LF and the 1/5th the price Fuji, Pentax and Hassy lesser LFs remains very interesting. I suspect we will soon see higher MP FF from the lower end and I would very much like to hear your thoughts on those versus the second-mortgage FF cameras out there.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t have any plans to continue APS-C coverage—there is just no interest and that level of buyer just does not subscriber. Micro Four Thirds is hanging in there but not much better. So those two will likely just fall by the wayside unless something compelling shows up in MFT.

Already I partition as David R suggests, the change is that everything in 35mm format is going mirrorless and that is the gist of the organizational challenge.

Nick C writes:

Hope all is well, and appreciate the candor in asking your clients for feedback on your digital offering.

Lowering the price is nothing but a race to the bottom that serves no-one. Partitioning the offering is, as you say, given the confluence of technologies and brands, an increasingly meaningless proposition. Heck, I don’t consume much on your site, but it’s a pain in the ass trying to figure out what to subscribe to.

Perhaps an all-inclusive, $20/month subscription to all content is a palatable option to more people than $200/year, which then has to be manually renewed. I would wholeheartedly subscribe at $20/month on a recurring plan, set it and forget it.

I have converted a business through my consulting services from a one-time sale to a monthly subscription model at a fraction of the one-time cost, and business has increased substantially.

One more item that I’d like to address, the B&H and OWC products grid peppering your site is an incredible annoyance. I spent some time devising custom ad blocking rules to get rid of that. I have no idea how lucrative that is for you, but at least for us paying folk it’s an unnecessary battery drag. As always, appreciate all your work and am happy to continue subscribing, whatever your model might be.

DIGLLOYD: lowering the prices is a losing proposition as I have never seen it drive meaningful volume.

As for partitioning, the issue is that while all-in-one is BY FAR the best solution, it dissuades new customers who find the price too high and/or want only one specific area or brand.

The problem with montly is that I cannot guarantee any particular area will get coverage (depends both on my time and industry developments). And it drives a behavior of wait-subscribe-abandon-repeat each time a particular are of interest arrives (and doesn’t encourage regular visits). So while I could see a 6-month subscription, I can't see month by month working.

As to ads, there are no ads on subscriber pages, so we are talking just about the public and free-to-all blog. And those ads are absolutely critical: B&H loaners are what makes reviews possible as well as income from B&H. OWC is also essential, as much or mor so. I would have to quite tomorrow and do something else if I lost these advertisers.

Colin H writes:

As a self-employed photographer I appreciate your conundrum. Pricing is the hardest thing I do.

I currently subscribe to Advanced DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras. A few years ago I think you used to segregate by brand and I just subscribed to Canon and that worked fine for my needs. I had been subscribing to just DSLR until my recent renewal when I added mirrorless because I can see that is where the industry is going and I wanted to get your take on Canon mirrorless as I use that DSLR system. I’m sure I will look at reviews you write on the inevitable sony pro mirrorless cameras (because I can with the subscription) so I can keep up with them, but at this time I have all my money in Canon and will probably stay there because the switch would be too expensive.

Honestly I’m not “thrilled” about having to pay for the mirrorless subscription but I am because that is the way you have the offerings structured. In some ways it seems like if I am paying for a DSLR Canon subscription I shouldn’t have to pay for a Canon Mirrorless subscription, too. On my own I probably would not pay to subscribe to a Sony-only “channel” at this time because I am not that interested in the system.

So the current structure works ok for me. If you change it my main interest is being able to compare Canon DSLR bodies and lenses to Canon mirrorless offerings and how existing Canon lenses will work new mirrorless offerings using the adapter(s). This is something I would like you to write on now whenever you get the Canon R and an adapter back in your hands as that would be the way I would move into that system (by buying a mirrorless body first with an adapter and updating lenses later). So I need legacy glass to work as well on the mirrorless as it does on the DSLR.

I guess from your point of view you have to buy two Canon bodies (for example) so you can test DSLR lenses on a DSLR and one mirrorless body for mirrorless lenses so your costs essentially double? If that is the case you are loosing money on the current mirrorless subscription set up and charging for each brand might make more sense.

I realize you write about a bunch of different optic and camera brands, but I’m never going to buy a zeiss lens for my Canon cameras so I’d appreciate you allowing single brand photographers to be able to subscribe to just their brand no matter what the camera body or lens mount.

DIGLLOYD: I never segregated by brand for DSLR or mirrorless, excepting Zeiss DSLR lenses and Leica, both of which are high-end specialty.

Colin H’s concern about “have to subscribe to two things” is well noted, but perhaps a special case due to the transition strategy Nikon and Canon have both employed (excellent manufacturer-supported lens adapters). But I am thinking out at least a year, and how long are DSLR lenses on mirorless relevant? Plus I can’t see value in re-reviewing. And I don’t know how to handle Sigma and other-brand lenses for Nikon and Canon (and Pentax). Thus DAP is a good fit—DSLR stuff. But I acknowledge the thought process as valid.

Oren G writes:

1. Merge Zeiss DSLR Lenses with Advanced DSLR. Best way of maintaining an offering that will be attractive to those who retain interest in this declining sector of the market, also would be consistent with a general move toward unifying material relevant to each platform. OK to move asides on workflow and technique into a separate workflow/technique product along with the current Making Sharp Images content.

2. OK to merge Leica SL into a new product aimed at the L-mount platform, with the Leica M / M-mount lenses / Leica fixed-lens material remaining in a separate product.

3. For Mirrorless, consider five "branches", with separate subscriptions but attractive bundle discounts: Nikon full frame, Canon full frame, Sony full frame, L-mount full frame, Everything Else (i.e., N/C/S smaller-than-full frame, Fuji APS-C, Pentax if they ever show up to the party, m4/3, all fixed-lens other than Leica).

4. Medium Format as-is makes sense.

DIGLLOYD: worthwhile ideas, but doesn’t merging Zeiss DSLR Lenses with DAP just dilute out the perception of what is? Seems just confusing.

Ronald G writes:

My thoughts are to split mirrorless up by brand and leave the rest alone other than rebalancing prices. Especially do not waste time splitting DSLR if no one cares anymore.

What would increase value for me would be if each section ended with a definitive summary and conclusions section. I do not have your skill in examining images. Thus your opinion is more valuable to me than providing me with images. Especially, product comparison opinions. This is not a suggestion to change what you are doing, but rather to do one more thing per section. If I am seriously interested in some point I'm willing to examine images in detail. But purchasing decisions are not necessarily in that category. I'd much rather your opinion to guide the purchase than the raw data.

DIGLLOYD: some kind of split-up for mirrorless is what seems to make more sense to me. I cannot see gutting DAP and merging areas that have worked very well so far (e.g., Canon and Nikon in DAP vs Zeiss DSLR Lenses).

Point noted on conclusions. Sometimes this is tough (bad sample lenses) but I have been putting more conclusion type stuff into each page.


MacPerformanceGuide.com

Request for Feedback: How Best to Partition my Publication Offerings? (updated with addendum)

See the reader comments on this post.

First off, let me thank every subscriber, particularly those that subscribe to the “everything” deal, a flat yearly fee of $200/year for any logged-in subscriber (or $250 for new subscribers). That level of support makes all partitioning issues moot.

I am looking for strictly well considered thoughtful feedback on what follows. Be sure to read the final section before sending feedback, as it captures my current thoughts on restructuring.

diglloyd publications, March 2019

For years I have partitioned my by-subscription publication offerings into categories. For a decade I have adhered to a logical framework which makes for a clear-cut organization for clarity on what to subscribe to.

This partitioning no longer suffices what with virtually everything going mirrorless even while interest in DSLR cameras and lenses drops to a barely perceptible heartbeat (from the standpoint of new subscribers). In the future, nearly all my work will be in mirrorless or medium format because the industry has almost completed that transition.

I would greatly prefer one flat fee as I do now ($200 for any subscriber, $250 initially), but that I have found is too high a price for those looking for only a few things about lenses or cameras. Nor can I see things remaining viable by cutting my prices drastically—years of feedback show that there this does not make up for the price reduction (quip: “we lose money on every sale, but we make it upon volume”).

To continue with the existing partitioning would mean (mostly) one giant publication (diglloyd Mirrorless) containing nearly all new gear (mirrorless) of all brands. That means inflexibility in pricing. It benefits no one to have a single price perceived as too high for a narrow area of interest (“I’m just interested in Sony”); it discourages new customers. A lower price means finding other employment, as years of experience tells me that a lower price does not drive sufficient volume for a boutique business like mine.

Summarizing the current partitioning of publication (by subscription) content

This is a summary, for details and the organizational logic involved see Which Content is in WHICH PUBLICATION for my logic on what goes where.

Ideas I am considering for new partitioning/organization

These are some of these ideas I am considering and not considering.

I am not considering a fine-grained a-la-carte approach, as this has serious organizational and confusional/frustrational drawbacks (cross-linking and similar, shopping cart, which to buy, brands of lenses for the same mount, etc). I am not considering mingling medium format with Sony mirrorless or similar.

The following publications make sense unchanged or largely so:

  • diglloydMedium Format — no change, all medium format as now.
  • diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses — no change, all Zeiss DSLR lenses as now.
  • diglloyd Advanced DSLR — Move workflow and anything about post processing or shooting technique into Making Sharp Images. Retain existing DSLR camera and DSLR lens reviews (even if adapted to mirrorless). [In the case of Nikon and Canon, one could argue to merge DSLR stuff with the same-brand mirrorless stuff, but that would gut it and leave it severely weakened to the point where it doesn’t make sense. Nor do I see mirrorless shooters having much interest in DSLR cameras or lenses looking out a year or two. Better to retain its integrity.]
  • diglloyd Making Sharp Images —same, except incorporate workflow material from diglloyd Advanced DSLR.
  • diglloyd Leica — same, except remove the Leica SL content into diglloyd L-Mount Mirrorless.

A variant of the above given the manufacturer support of Canon and Nikon for their DSLR lenses is to lump together “clean path” transitions together, e.g., Canon DSLR and mirrorless, Nikon DSLR and mirrorless. But what to do with what is left in DAP like Pentax, which cannot stand on its own, or Voigtlander lenses, etc. The organizing principle of DSLR lenses makes more sense to me on the whole. OTOH, a Canon EOS R user with a stable of Canon EF lenses would likely disagree. I see that.

Possible restructuring

Partitioning would to the extent feasible preserve access for current subscribers to current content / brands, with the possible exception of the new area e.g., the L-mount consortium (but “everything” is always everything).

Pricing would be adjusted since each area would be more focused.

diglloyd Mirrorless Cameras

Partition existing content by brand(s) or mount type.

For example, {Sony mirrorless, Nikon mirrorless, Canon mirrorless, L-Mount consortium, Fujifilm mirrorless, Micro Four Thirds}. That would allow pricing flexibility of several kinds, and also provide valuable feedback on what to focus on. A simplified variant of this would be to group some brands together, e.g., Nikon + Canon, Sony + Fujifilm. That is somewhat arbitrary and I’m not sure it makes sense for that reason, but it would reduce the offerings from six to four.

Cross-brand comparisons would be organized at a separate area where, for example, a comparison of Nikon Z to Sony FE would require subscription to both.

diglloyd Leica

Retain existing focus so that Leica M and Leica Q and all M-mount lenses remain. The key and not very significant change would be to move the Leica SL coverage into diglloyd L-Mount Mirrorless.

Contact Lloyd with feedback.

Addendum

This side is surely a boutique and unique business. Do you want to see it continue? I like what I do and want to keep doing it. I gratefully thank everyone who subscribes, but particularly all those who subscribe for the fixed-rate everything deal.

This is a high stakes stressful decision for me. The wrong choice could spell the end of my business entirely e.g., not being able to pay my mortgage (literally). So I cannot take risks that have the potential to undercut revenue; I have no financial buffer at all. Thus I am not receptive to “everything for half the price” ideas.

Note to readers who dislike ads: without them, this site would cease to exist, so blocking them is understandable, but works against me, not with me.

Radical alternative #1: half price for one month

A radical and risky alternative might be to have all-or-none, offering one-time-one-month or yearly subscription. The issue there I see is timed/delayed subscribing, reading everything and coming back a year or two later and repeating. Very high risk: a low price might precipitate a revenue crisis without a corresponding bump up in subscribers—yikes.

Radical alternative #2: all or nothing

All or nothing for $150/year. I don’t know how many first-timers I would lose due to the price; it would have to be offset by an increase in renewals. Risk unknown, makes me nervous.

Radical alternative #3: sponsorship with a twist

Free of charge, but $50 a year or something like that for access to high-res images (for revenue reasons and to reduce abuse and image theft). Major sponsorship required with multi-year contract, the downside being an ad presence on all pages. This is my most preferred alternative as I would love to have my work exposed to a far larger audience. It is also a low-risk path if a suitable agreement can be reached.

Reader feedback

I would summarize reader feedback in several ways. Please excuse me if I have misunderstood or mischaracterized anyone who took the time to write—thank you.

  • Area of usage/area of applicability seem to me (and some readers) most relevant. For example there is little relation between Fujifilm X and Fujifilm GFX other than F-u-j-i-f-i-l-m. I don’t see brand name as a viable organizing principle without additional factors; Fujifilm GFX is much more suited to Medium Format—totally different audience. Similarly, diglloyd Zeiss is only Zeiss DSLR lenses, which can be shot on just about anything, though initially only on CaNikon DSLRs—that area exists separately as a specialty area.
  • Some readers advise that brand is what matters which I think comes down to a speciously simple idea, the spelling: C-a-n-o-n or N-i-k-o-n or S-o-n-y means that that brand stuff goes with that brand partition. There is some validity to that for Canon and Nikon because of their excellent transition path (lens adapters). But it breaks down in several ways: Zeiss makes mirrorless, DSLR and rangefinder lenses. Zeiss Loxia (Sony only) falls only into Sony mirrorless interest, just as Zeiss ZM associates only to Leica M. What if Sony creates a medium format camera? Similarly, Fujifilm X is a radically different area than Fujifilm GFX which properly is part of Medium Format. Brand alone is not a good organizing principle.
  • For years I have seen that there is some degree of confusion on the current partitioning. I hesitate to do anything that makes it harder to understand. Easier or harder to understand does not a priori mean more or fewer offerings, only that clarity is needed on each. But I would say that at some point, too many offerings is hopelessly confusing. It also means that easily stated organizing principles are the only hope to make it understandable.
  • The fact that a lens can be adapted to another platform would lead a disorganized mess, since some lenses can go on just about any camera of any format size. This is why lenses have always associated with their native mount, or been placed in their own specialty area (e.g., Zeiss DSLR or Zeiss ZM in Leica). The weak area in this argument are Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses because of the excellent manufacturer transitional support.
  • Some readers are already annoyed at partitioning. Most solve that via the already-available flat yearly fee of $200/year for any logged-in subscriber (or $250 for new subscribers). My thanks. Some want more for the same price (e.g., DAP and Zeiss for the price of one), a sentiment I understand (value) but there is no value to anyone in going out of business. Thus as I see it, partitioning is not really the issue, it’s a comment on pricing.
  • One reader suggested a partition similar to diglloyd Zeiss for Sigma lenses, given that so many are now multi-platform rejiggered versions of the same design. Many more are coming and maybe they will also be the same opticla design for all mirrorless. I am pondering that, but it has issues, like DSLR vs native designs and who knows what else (medium format Sigma lenses?). I think the best albeit imperfect answer remains the same: a lens goes into the publication for its native mount. Just because a lens shares the same optical design is not IMO a strong argument e.g., Zeiss Loxia 35/2 vs Zeiss ZM 35/2 are the same optical design (Loxia tweaked slightly), but totally different platforms.
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Reprocessing Fujifilm GFX-50S Images with Moiré and Color Aliasing Issue using Adobe Camera Raw Enhance Details

See Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature: How it Works and How to Use It.

The biggest weakness in image quality with the Fujifilm GFX-50S (and Fujifilm GFX-50R) has been moiré and color aliasing, badly damaging the pixel quality with some images and in some cases polluting the color even over broad areas.

In the previous post, I wrote that “the Adobe Camera Raw Enhance Details Feature is the most significant feature introduced in Photoshop/Lightroom in a long time...”

This reprocessed page with Standard/Enhanced crops proves that out in a compelling way. In diglloyd Medium Format:

Fujifilm GFX-50S: Moiré and Color Aliasing (plus Adobe Camera Raw Enhance Details)

Includes half a dozen varied crops that tell a compelling story. If you’re not using this feature, it’s time to start using it!

Compatibility: macOS 10.13 or later or Windows 10 October 2018 update or later.

Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature: standard (left) vs Enhanced (right)
f4.5 @ 1/600 sec, ISO 100; 2017-03-31 17:52:03
[location “Cerro Gordo Mines”, altitude 8500 ft / 2591 m, 50°F / 10°C, LACA corrected]
GFX 50S + Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR @ 50mm equiv (63mm)

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Zeiss Batis/Loxia for Sony Mirrorless
$1169 SAVE $130 = 10.0% ZEISS 25mm f/2 Batis 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
$849 SAVE $100 = 10.0% ZEISS 50mm f/2 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1079 SAVE $120 = 10.0% ZEISS 85mm f/1.8 Batis in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1259 SAVE $140 = 10.0% ZEISS 85mm f/2.4 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1529 SAVE $170 = 10.0% ZEISS 135mm f/2.8 Batis in Lenses: Mirrorless

Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature: Most Important Raw Converter Feature in Years, My Suggestion to Adobe for UI Fix

See Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature: How it Works and How to Use It.

Having used it for over a month now, my view is that the Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature is the most significant feature introduced in Photoshop/Lightroom in a long time, possibly ever if one excludes core features assumed present anyway. Which in my view means that Adobe Camera Raw is the only raw converter I would consider at this point in time for my work.

The Enhance Details feature practically eliminates moiré and always improves the image at least subtly, and sometimes handsomely. A feature that “just works” is a huge win.

Compatibility: macOS 10.13 or later or Windows 10 October 2018 update or later.

Continues below...

 
Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature

My Suggestion to Adobe

As far as I can tell, the Enhance Details feature has only one downside: the workflow hassle of extra steps and unwanted huge intermediary files. But that flaw be fixed with a simple interface change (a single checkbox).

I’ve written to my contact at Adobe twice now requesting this change, who has promised to forward my view to the developer of the feature:

First, kudos on a GREAT feature. Enhance Details seems to have no downsides! Awesome!

Not so good: inserting hassle into workflow: constant hassle of having to take the time to generate enhanced DNG files and later delete them. Make it a checkbox that is a part of the normal workflow. I don't care if it slows down the conversion and I most definitely do not want the huge files.

I encourage anyone of like mind to contact Adobe, citing this blog post and affirming its suggestion.

Suggested change to user interface for Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature

Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Aperture Series: Orange Poppies (Nikon D850)

See my Sigma SLR lenses wishlist at B&H Photo.

This pair of aperture series near MOD (Minimum Object Distance) evaluates sharpness and bokeh and secondary color.

Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Aperture Series: Orange Poppies (Nikon D850)

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/4 and f/1.4 through f/6.3.

Orange Poppies
f1.4 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 100; 2019-03-18 17:55:23
[altitude 500 ft / 152 m, 58°F / 14°C, Enhance Details, LACA corrected]
NIKON D850 + Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Orange Poppies
f1.4 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 100; 2019-03-18 18:02:22
[altitude 500 ft / 152 m, 58°F / 14°C, Enhance Details, LACA corrected]
NIKON D850 + Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Aperture Series: Road Grader, Alabama Hills (Nikon D850)

See my Sigma SLR lenses wishlist at B&H Photo.

This close-medium range series evaluates lens performance from f/1.4 through f/13, including sharpness, color correction, focus shift, bokeh.

Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Aperture Series: Road Grader (Nikon D850)

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/13.

Grader, Alabama Hills
f1.4 @ 1/3200 sec, ISO 31; 2019-03-04 12:38:01
[location “Alabama Hills”, altitude 4600 ft / 1402 m, 55°F / 12°C, LACA corrected, Enhance Details]
NIKON D850 + Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM Examples: Night Shooting (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

These examples shot in the White Mountains of California, Laws Railroad Museum, and also near Reno, NV.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Examples: Night Shooting

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

f8 @ 8.0 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-27 17:10:44
[location “Laws Railroad Museum”, altitude 4000 ft / 1219 m, 45°F / 7°C, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM Examples: White Mountains (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

These examples shot in the White Mountains of California late in the day to night. Some examples use pixel shift and some do not. Includes some astrophotography and dusk shots as well as daylight.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Examples: White Mountains

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Pixel shift mode on the Pentax K-1 Mark II can be a godsend for images like the one below, which required considerable contrast control. While it often has issues from subject motion and is thus inapplicable, when it works, it halves the noise level, which makes for ultra low noise even with aggressive contrast control where deep shadows are opened up. The noise is far superior to the Nikon D850 or Nikon Z7, including a freedom from hot pixels.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine just after sunset
f9 @ 3.0 sec PixelShift, ISO 100; 2018-11-25 16:54:38
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 10600 ft / 3231 m, 35°F / 1°C, USM{8,50,0}, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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It can be a challenge to capture the rising earth shadow due to contrast. Here, the use of pixel shift provided the ultimate in detail along with ultra noise.

Earth shadow rising, view down Wyman Canyon
f6.3 @ 0.5 sec PixelShift, ISO 100; 2018-11-25 16:46:48
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 30°F / -1°C, LACA corrected, USM{8,50,0}, "Earth shadow rising, view down Wyman Canyon"]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Orange sunset light on ancient bristlecone pine stump
f13 @ 1/40 sec PixelShift, ISO 100; 2018-11-25 16:12:24
[location “Whit Mountain Road”, altitude 10650 ft / 3246 m, 38°F / 3°C, diffraction mitigating sharpening, LACA corrected, USM{8,50,0}]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Extreme blue after sunset, looking south along the White Mountains
f2 @ 1/80 sec handheld, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 16:34:47
[location “White Mountains”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 25°F / -3°C, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Donald S writes:

I know that you are very busy and I value your blog for all of it’s first rate information!!! I hope that you have just a moment for a compliment. I now live in Indianapolis but grew up in SoCal and made many trips to Mammoth for skiing, fishing, etc.. Your excellent pictures bring back many memories of those trips. I especially like your recent one titled: “View from White Mountain Road to Deep Springs after fresh snowfall”. I’ve always been on the other side looking at the White Mountains, and they don’t look quite like that!

I hope you can continue your work. Many items are a little expensive for me now, but I like to know what is possible.

DIGLLOYD: the image is unusual in that I think hardly anyone would shoot it, and yet it captures two places closely related at once under wildly different conditions and ecosystems and with a rare quilt of snow covering it just right. The White Mountains look barren from a distance, but there is a lot there to see. Pity not more water though.

View from White Mountain Road to Deep Springs after fresh snowfall
f1.4 @ 1/5000 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 14:05:36
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, Enhance Details]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: View to Silver Peak from White Mountain Road (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

This demanding scene at far distance is a challenge for any lens. It is an excellent demonstration of the optical performance of the Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW, which is really good on this scene but with a slight symmetry problem, which was also seen in View South Over Fresh Snow to Deep Springs.

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/11. Shot with pixel shift for maximum detail, which is indeed maximal.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: View to Silver Peak from White Mountain Road

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/11.

View to Silver Peak communications towers from White Mountain Road
f1.4 @ 1/2000 sec PixelShift, ISO 100; 2018-11-25 15:59:07
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 10500 ft / 3200 m, 32°F / 0°C, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Olympus E-M1X

IN STOCK

New for sports shooters with eye AF tracking!
Making micro four thirds bigger?

Pentax K-1 Mark II: Using Pixel Shift with Focus Stacking

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax K-1 Mark II, I’ve added a focus stacking example in both color and black and white with the frames using pixel shift. When there is no motion, pixel shift is just tremendous: no detectable noise along with incredible per-pixel detail free of aliasing and moiré.

Pentax K-1 Mark II: Overview/Comparison of Resolving Power with Pixel Shift

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

One of the most selective colleges in the country lies in the valley yonder—Deep Springs College.

Old bed springs
f11 @ 15.0 sec PixelShift, ISO 100; 2018-11-26 15:22:44
[location “Cottonwood Canyon, old ranching cabin”, altitude 8500 ft / 2591 m, 35°F / 1°C, LACA corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening, USM{12,50,0}, focus stack 5 frames]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: View South Over Fresh Snow on White Mountains to Deep Springs (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

This demanding scene at far distance is a challenge for any lens. It is an excellent demonstration of the optical performance of the Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: View South Over Fresh Snow on White Mountains to Deep Springs

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/9.

One of the most selective colleges in the country lies in the valley yonder—Deep Springs College.

View from White Mountain Road to Deep Springs after fresh snowfalls
f1.4 @ 1/5000 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 14:05:36
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, Enhance Details]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

[low-res image for bot]

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

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: Backlit Bristlecone at Sunset (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

This aperture series shows from f/1.4 through f/13 puts the Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW into a tough shooting situation, taxing its flare control and contrast, and color correction. Observations are made on why a really highly corrected lens is preferred versus just “good” correction as in the Pentax 50/1.4.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: Backlit Bristlecone at Sunset

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/13.

Backlit bristlecone at sunset, White Mountain Road
f4.5 @ 1/160 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-25 16:35:22
[location “White Mountain Road, big hump”, altitude 10600 ft / 3231 m, 35°F / 1°C, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Data transfer speeds up to 2800MB/s

Looking for a Capacious Supremely Fast SSD for Your Photo or Video Work? OWC Thunderblade Thunderbolt 3 SSD

See also OWC ThunderBlade Gen 2: up to 8TB SSD, Runs Cooler and Faster at Lower Cost and Banishing the Drone of Spinning Hard Drives: and Fans: Moving to 8TB OWC Thunderblade SSD.

I value both speed and silent operation when I work and finally the product has come along that gets both done for me with no compromise.

I now use the internal SSD plus the 8TB OWC Thunderblade SSD while I work, not having to listen to any fan noise or spinning hard drives. A nice bonus is that I save power (electricity) as well. More units can be daisy-chained for more capacity.

I still use hard drives extensively but they are now relegated to overflow storage for years-old work, and backups. See my discussion of tiered storage in Banishing the Drone of Spinning Hard Drives: and Fans: Moving to 8TB OWC Thunderblade SSD.

High speed over 8TB

Below, this is about as fast as a Thunderbolt 3 SSD can go (2.7 GB/sec). The speed is jaw-dropping across the entire 8TB of capacity for both reads and writes.

OWC Thunderblade Thunderbolt 3 SSD: Sustained Transfer Speed

Transfer speed across the various I/O sizes is similarly impressive:

OWC Thunderblade Thunderbolt 3 SSD: Speed vs Transfer Size

OWC Thunderblade 8TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD: speed across the full 8TB of capacity

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 29mm: Backlit Sprinter on White Mountain Road (Pentax K-1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo. Deep discounts are seen on Pentax K-1 Mark II and lenses today.

This medium range aperture series at 29mm shows why it is important to account for the field curvature at 24mm and at 40mm, namely, that the usual assumptions about focus placement need to be substantially modified to obtain full sharpness. A discussion is included of how to to do and thus reliably obtain higher total sharpness for any obliquely-shot scene like this.

Pentax HD DFA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 29mm: Backlit Sprinter on White Mountain Road

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/9.

f2.8 @ 1/4000 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 12:29:42
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 7500 ft / 2286 m, 35°F / 1°C, Enhance Details, LACA corrected, USM{20,50,0}]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR @ 29mm

[low-res image for bot]

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Examples: Late Day and Night, White Mountains (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

I’ve added some examples for the Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW, shot in the White Mountains of California.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Examples: White Mountains

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

f2 @ 1/80 sec handheld, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 16:34:47
[location “White Mountains”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 25°F / -3°C, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 24mm: Sunset over Snowy Landscape, White Mountains View to Sierra Nevada (Pentax K-1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo. Deep discounts are seen on Pentax K-1 Mark II and lenses today.

This medium to far distance aperture series shows the performance range of the Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED WR at 24mm from f/2.8 through f/13 on the Pentax K-1 II.

The issues here are field curvature and peripheral forward focus shift. Guidance is given on how to use the lens to its best given those behaviors.

Pentax HD DFA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 24mm: Sunset over Snowy Landscape, White Mountains View to Sierra Nevada

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13.

f9 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 15:48:06
[location “White Mountains”, altitude 8800 ft / 2682 m, 25°F / -3°C, LACA corrected, Enhance Details]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR @ 24mm

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Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 40mm: Snowy Landscape at Dusk, View Towards Big Pine (Pentax K-1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo. Deep discounts are seen on Pentax K-1 Mark II and lenses today.

This medium to far distance aperture series shows the performance range of the Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED WR at 40mm from f/2.8 through f/11 on the Pentax K-1 II. A pixel shift series was shot but not used due to too many checkerboarding issues.

The issues here are field curvature and peripheral forward focus shift.

Pentax HD DFA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 40mm: Snowy Landscape at Dusk, View Towards Big Pine

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

f9 @ 1/8 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 16:24:41
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 25°F / -3°C, diffraction mitigating sharpening, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR @ 40mm

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Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 63mm: Snowy Landscape at Dusk, White Mountain Road (Pentax K-1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo. Deep discounts are seen on Pentax K-1 Mark II and lenses today.

This far distance aperture series shows the full performance range of the Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED WR at 63mm from f/2.8 through f/11 using pixel shift on the Pentax K-1 II. Detail rendition is just stunning with a little stopping down.

A scene like this is extremely demanding for any lens revealing the slightest weakness or asymmetry. When a lens delivers under these conditions, it’s a keeper.

Pentax HD DFA 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM ED Aperture Series @ 63mm: Snowy Landscape at Dusk, White Mountain Road

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

At about $997 after $300 rebate, the Pentax HD D FA 24-70mm f/2.8ED SDM WR is steal. Ditto for the Pentax K-1 Mark II which delivers incredible detail with ultra low noise when using pixel shift.

f2.8 @ 1/125 sec PixelShift, ISO 100; 2018-11-29 16:19:52
[location “White Mountain Road”, altitude 8300 ft / 2530 m, 25°F / -3°C, LACA corrected]
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR @ 63mm

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Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: Moots Mooto X YBB MTB (Pentax K1 II)

See my Pentax K wishlist at B&H Photo.

This close range aperture series shows the full performance range of the Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW from f/1.4 through f/16 using pixel shift. In spite of the exceptionally flat lighting, textural rendition is stunningly good.

This series is also an outstanding demonstration of the dulling effects of diffraction: dulling starts subtly at f/8 and the dulling accelerates from the.

Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture Series: Moots Mooto X YBB MTB

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/16.

f5.6 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 100; 2018-11-26 16:05:27
PENTAX K-1 Mark II + Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

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Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG HSM Sports Panorama: Clouds at Sunrise, Alabama Hills and Mt Whitney Range

See my Sigma SLR lenses wishlist at B&H Photo.

I’ve added twp 240 megapixel 9/10-frame stitched panoramas to the examples posted about 10 days ago in Mt Whitney and Alabama Hills, Pre-Dawn to Early Sun.

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG HSM Sports Examples: Mt Whitney and Alabama Hills, Pre-Dawn to Early Sun

These panoramas are spectactular, but really need an 8K display at the minimum or a 15 X 5 foot print where it would still be 153 dpi. At the least, view it on an Apple iMac 5K. I have no space for such an image as a print, but it would be awfully nice to see it at that size. Check out the climbing anchors on top of the spike at center in the full-res version!

My thoughts with such results is that there is no need for medium format; dynamic range of the Nikon D850 is just about as good, and it’s faster and asier to operate a 70-200 on 35mm than on medium format.

Clouds and light on the Alabama Hills and Mt Whitney range north
f9 @ 1/25 sec, ISO 64; 2019-03-08 06:24:59
[location “Alabama Hills”, altitude 4600 ft / 1402 m, 40°F / 4°C, "looking northwest", diffraction mitigating sharpening, panorama 9 frames, USM{10,50,0}, LACA corrected]
NIKON D850 + Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports @ 200mm

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First light on Mt Whitney Range from Alabama Hills
f8 @ 8.0 sec, ISO 64; 2019-03-08 05:49:47
[location “Alabama Hills”, altitude 4600 ft / 1402 m, 40°F / 4°C, LACA corrected, panorama 10 frames]
NIKON D850 + Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports @ 135mm

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Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series @ 24mm: Alabama Hills Rainstorm Creek (Nikon D850)

See my Sigma SLR lenses wishlist at B&H Photo.

This aperture series at distance shows the performance the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art at 70mm from f2.8 through f/11.

This series is shown reluctantly, mainly for confirmation of the very poor performance seen at the other focal lengths: badly blurred edges. Here at 70mm it is at its worst.

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series @ 70mm: Alabama Hills Alabama Hills View to Snow-Covered White Mountains

Includes images from f/2.8 through f/11 along at up to full camera resolution.

Companies that allow seriously out of whack lenses to ship to customers deserve scorn as it does serious damage to a photographer’s work: my reward for all the hours spent in non-repeatable rare conditions is crap-grade images. There is no recovery from that. I cannot go back and repeat a once-a-year storm conditions, the snow way down the mountains slopes, water in the dry creekbed, etc. All of the material I shot is damaged by this poor performance. Shame on Sigma for letting a sample like this ship to customers.

This image is not my favorite at all, but it shows the poor performance well.

Alabama Hills view to Snow-Covered White Mountains
f8 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 64; 2019-03-06 13:06:20
NIKON D850 + Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art @ 70mm

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James K writes:

Your Sigma 24-70mm shot is not even iPhone quality. What a piece of junk. What a waste of your valuable time. I just returned 3 copies of their 16mm f/1.4 MFT lenses because they couldn’t auto focus accurately. One of the copies was sent to me directly from Sigma and that lens had such poor quality at f/1.4 and f/2 that I could’t believe my eyes. Pure crap, worse than your 24-70mm by a mile.

Sigma quality control is terrible. I will not buy any of their products again.

DIGLLOYD: well, I won’t go that far (“iPhone quality”). But shooting raw on the iPhone delivers hugely better results than the garbage that Apple’s JPEGs provide.

I wonder what is going on with Sigma quality control. I had not had such troubles with many Sigma DG HSM Art lenses. James K has had a lot of trouble recently.

Jason W writes:

So the 24-70 2.8 DG HSM sample here is clearly atrocious, but how would you characterize Sigma's general quality control versus Nikon, Canon or Fuji?

With the Fujifilm GFX, you had a 110mm sample that was even worse than what we're seeing here and I rarely hear complaints about their lenses. I worry some might throw the baby out with the bathwater, as Sigma has loads of word class glass.

DIGLLOYD: I’ve had very good luck with Sigma DG HSM Art lenses to date. I actually went and shot some test series with the Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4 to rule out some kind of Nikon D850 camera sensor alignment issue, because the Sigma 28m f/1.4 DG HSM Art was also off a bit and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG HSM Sports needs a lot of stopping down. I could find no issue at all with the Milvus 25/1.4, which establishes the camera as OK. I don’t know what to think at this point.


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B&H Photo Deals of the Week

A few notes:

  • The upcoming Panasonic S1R and Panasonic S1 are being promoted with a battery and battery grip included free (claimed $435 value).
  • 31% off a 2017 MacBook Pro is about a deep a discount as I’ve ever seen on a Mac. The 2018 MacBook Pro is a notably better machine, so if you need the best, stick with the 2018 model.
  • I tried the Sony Digital Paper System and the screen is great. If you want a big highly readable tablet for this sort of stuff, it’s excellent.

Looking for more deals? Bookmark my Top Deals pages, so you can scan quickly by brand name for top deals for that brand.

B&H Photos Deals of the Week March 11-18
$998 SAVE $400 = 28.0% Sony a7 II Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless
$2798 SAVE $400 = 12.0% Sony a7R III Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless
$3998 SAVE $500 = 11.0% Sony a9 Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless
$1169 SAVE $130 = 10.0% ZEISS 25mm f/2 Batis in Lenses: Mirrorless
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