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Great Blue Herons Require a Very Long Lens, at least in my backyard

re: The Most Useful and Practical Telephoto for Wildlife Might Be the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO

Below, my shot today of a Great Blue Heron, with a very inadequate 100mm focal length om the Olympus ZUIKO SHG 35-100mm f/2 ED (100mm is equivalent to 208mm in 35mm format).

That’s why the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 would be so darn handy... that heron would fill the frame at the long end of the 150-400mm at its 400mm setting and with the built-in TC 1.25X, it offers 5X the magnification (25X smaller area) than the 100mm of the 35-100mm zoom.

Please use these links to buy, thank you.

CLICK TO VIEW: Olympus Micro Four Thirds and fantastic lenses for it

Great Blue Heron
f4 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 200; 2021-03-06 14:20:42
Olympus E-M1 Mark II + Olympus Zuiko SHG 35-100mm f/2 ED @ 207.6mm equiv (100mm)

[low-res image for bot]

Of course, context matters: sometimes you can get really close.

White Egret
f4 @ 1/1500 sec, ISO 200; 2005-08-14 13:46:56
NIKON D2X + Nikon AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8 IF ED @ 300mm equiv (200mm)

[low-res image for bot]


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Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH: My Initial 'Take'

re:Voigtlander M 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical
re: World’s Best 35mm Lens? Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar for Sony Mirrorless and Leica M Coming in April

Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH

In diglloyd Leica, I offer some insights into the new Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH, including:

Overview of Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH

Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH: MTF

Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH: Distortion

Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH: Vignetting

At a wallet-busting price of nearly 7X the Voigtlande 35/2 APO, the new Leica 35/2 APO doesn’t look any better based on MTF charts. So it will come down to actual field performance.

For landscape, I’ll go out on a limb just a little and suggest that the Voigtlander looks like a more consistent performer across the frame, even if the Leica has a tad more micro contrast in a very small central area at f/2.

But the main thing (if you can afford it), is that the two lenses likely will 'draw' differently. The smart move if you can afford the Leica 35/2 APO: get it, but also get the Voigtlander 35/2 APO, and shoot them side-by-side to see which is most pleasing to your own type of photography*.

Or course I want to review both lenses (and the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon) on the Leica M10-R and Leica M10-M, but the sky-high prices exceed my equipment loaner budget, so I don’t know to make it happen just yet. Maybe some reader will loan me an M10-R or M10-M and the lens for a few weeks.

* You might need to 6-bit code the Voigtlander 35/2 APO if it has color shading issues. At least one of the 35mm Leica M lens codes should work well for the Voigtlander.

MTF for Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH
Distortion for Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH
Vignetting for Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH


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The Most Useful and Practical Telephoto for Wildlife Might Be the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO

re: Inexpensive Camera for Wildlife: Olympus E-M1 Mark II + Reader Comments, including the reader comments.

Olympus M.Zuiko 150-400mm f/4.5

UPDATE: more reader comments added, scroll down.

Each spring and fall in particular, I feel a little frustrated with lacking the reach to get some good images. For example, here in spring a Great Blue Heron regularly lands about 80 feet out my office window (looking for gophers). I’d love to get some images but this bird is extremely skittish; just exiting the house and off s/he goes. All these years, and not one acceptable image. Yet I could shoot right out my office window (swing-open windows).

Great Blue Heron diet — Highly variable and adaptable. Eats mostly fish, but also frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, birds. Has been seen stalking voles and gophers in fields, capturing rails at edge of marsh, eating many species of small waterbirds. 


But the longest lens I have for the Olympus E-M1 Mark II is the Olympus ZUIKO SHG 35-100mm f/2 ED. A world class lens, but it only gets out to 200mm equivalent, and I need more like 800mm for such birds or other wildlife that size and smaller.

That’s why I’d love to own the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO. Not just for home, but it would be great for all sorts of grab-n-click shots in the outdoors, with plenty of opportunities right out the van window.

Even without its built-in 1.25X teleconverter, the 150-400mm is the equivalent of about a 312-832mm. With the teleconverter, about a 400-1000mm and it’s still at f/5.6, which is slow but acceptable. On the E-M1 Mark II, handholding with quality is feasible too, what with the optical image stabilization and the IBIS.

James M, a wildlife photographer since 1949, writes:

I have used the Olympus M.ZUIKO 300mm f/4 IS PRO for several years and it has never let me down. The upcoming Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 IS lens may be an additional reason, but I have yet to see a critical review. For less than 300mm there are many good lens options. I often use the Panasonic Lumix 42.5mm f1.2 ASPH.

DIGLLOYD: yep the 150-400mm is the ticket, and those other lenses are great too.

Is a 20-megapixel sensor enough for wildlife? I think so, but take a look at the image below and see what you think. Thing is, depth of field is a major consideration (double on Micro Four Thirds at the same aperture), and if you have twice the reach and/or can handhold shots, you get a lot more winning shots much more easily. Try shooting one of the full-frame super-telephotos—major PITA in practical terms.

Please use these links to buy, thank you.

Roy P writes:

As the adage (created by me, but I’m probably the millionth co-author) goes, it’s the lens that matters, and the camera is just an accessory to the lens.

I just couldn’t pass up this Oly lens. For hand-held shooting of wildlife, BIF, planes, etc., the sheer reach and portability of this lens is unmatched, and I’ve got to believe the optics will be very good for the stated used case. I don’t think I will be doing pano stitching at the max focal length with the 1.25x switched on. My only concern is the viability of Olympus as a company, but the fact they came out with this camera is a sign they are not dead. This lens should be a pretty big success.

Also, a little worried about the camera. A 33% price drop is not normal – that happens when a product is being end of lifed. So I don’t know if there’s a new camera coming as well, that would obsolete this camera.

I don’t think I’m buying any other lens for this. I don’t want to own yet another system!

DIGLLOYD: yes, the camera is an accessory for some lenses, [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], etc)! The price drop on the Olympus E-M1X is probably just demand-based—it’s a niche camera. And perhaps it’s too big for most shooters (those with any lens but the 150-400mm!) and just not worth the weight and bulk over the Olympus E-M1 Mark III—and thus has sold poorly (I’m not clear on what exactly the E-M1X does better). The Panasonic Leica 8mm f/3.5 fisheye might be a suitable complement to the 150-400mm.

Eeraj Q writes:

Glad to see Tigger survive the coyote encounter. Handsome cat. I like the B&W version [diglloyd: see below] - another great illustration of using B&W when the light generally sucks, but monochrome can still make for a compelling image. Agree with your assessment on MFT for wildlife. Not a wildlife person here, but I always wondered about the need to carry boat-anchor full-frame long lenses for that rare trip where I might see a whale or something far away. Olympus is surely a strong contender here for people like me, who don't make a living shooting bears or eagles, but still want a decent wildlife shot if the opportunity arises. Might rent one for a trip to Alaska whenever that happens.

DIGLOYD: most pros might do well to have the Micro Four Thirds solution at hand. I’m not sold on struggling with a lens like the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS or Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS.

Since his encounter with coytotes a few weeks ago, Tigger has really ramped up his tree-climbing—he’ll rocket up a tree lightning fast, or run up a limb 30 feet up and out, pause and survey the scene, etc. He loves olive branches as a “kitty tease”, and has shredded several dozen now. I’ve never seen a cat so at home in trees.

Tigger the Tree Climber
f2.8 @ 1/200 sec handheld, ISO 1250; 2021-03-02 17:40:03
Olympus E-M1 Mark II + Olympus Zuiko SHG 35-100mm f/2 ED @ 207.6mm equiv (100mm) RAW: USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Below, tough lighting. I prefer Tigger’s gorgeous patterned colors, but when the light is tough like this, monochrome works well—toggle to compare.

Tigger the Tree Climber
f4 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 800; 2021-03-02 17:41:30
Olympus E-M1 Mark II + Olympus Zuiko SHG 35-100mm f/2 ED @ 108mm equiv (52mm)
RAW: LACA corrected, push 0.5 stops, +13 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +20 Whites, +5 Dehaze, +37 Clarity, Chroma NR {10}, USM {6,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Roy P writes:

The Olympus 150-400 lens should indeed be excellent for wildlife.  This lens + the Olympus 40-150 f/2.8 + two bodies should be everything you need for all wildlife / safari photography.

The big question mark has been the viability of Olympus as a company.  Frankly, I’m quite surprised they came out with a new lens, and a very high end one at that.  That could be a sign that the company has now moved past its nightmare years and found some new financing and support to continue its operations.

The other big question is the viability of the MFT format.  There is strong competition at the APS-C level from both Fuji and Sony, and there is also strong competition at the 1” sensor segment from the Sony RX100 and RX10 cameras.  Between these two, the MFT faces enormous pressure.  With the only other MFT camera maker (Panasonic) being very video-centric, Olympus is fighting a lonely battle, and you have to wonder if one day they will just fold.

If the risk of folding goes away, this does provide an attractive option for wildlife photographers.  The Sony and Canon 600mm f/4 lenses and cameras like the R5 and A1 will be the best for wildlife, but they are big, and as you pointed out, you get a lot more DOF from the MFT.

BTW, what is the top of the line Olympus camera?  I’m not familiar with the models.  The most expensive camera seems to be the OM-D E-M1X, with its built-in vertical grip.  This camera is on sale, with a $1000 price drop, from $3K to $2K.  I don’t know if that’s good news or bad news.  Any chance they could be coming out with a new body?

One wildcard is the Sony RX10, which has not seen an upgrade in some 3-4 years.  This is a grossly underappreciated camera, IMO.  I took mine to Kenya in 2018 and I came back with a lot of very good photos with it.  The only problem is, it’s built like a toy.  IMO, if Sony created a rugged version of this camera with a more pro-like implementation of the lens with fast zoom and fast AF / tracking, in a rugged body with weather sealing, etc., even if they tripled the price from $1700 to $5000, it would be a formidable lens.  I have a lurking suspicion that the RX10 might see an upgrade this year.

But the Olympus 150-400 lens with its built-in zoom and focusing, as well as the 1.25x integrated extender, should be really nice.  The big question is whether Olympus is going to be around!

DIGLLOYD: top of the line is Olympus E-M1X, but the Olympus E-M1 III looks awfully appealing as an all-around that is great for telephoto wildlife work too. I got the E-M1 II for only $899 so I’m sticking with that for now.

If it really is about maximum performance for high-speed wildlife capture (the “Pro capture” feature), stick with Olympus lenses. According to James M:

For wildlife, the Pro Capture mode is very valuable. For example if you want to capture a lion pouncing on its prey. Oly is the only camera that has this mode. But it will not work if a Pany lens is attached. The manual does not point that out clearly. You only learn it the hard way.

The most pressing problem I’m seeing is a total failure to focus on the eyes. Maybe I’m doing it wrong somehow? Maybe the E-M1 Mark III or the E-M1X actually work for Eye AF?

Tigger Closeup
f2.8 @ 1/160 sec, ISO 1000; 2021-03-02 17:40:35
Olympus E-M1 Mark II + Olympus Zuiko SHG 35-100mm f/2 ED @ 207.6mm equiv (100mm)
RAW: push 0.35 stops, +40 Whites, +5 Dehaze, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]


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FOR SALE: Leica M Gear, Canon EF 200/2.8L IS, View Camera Gear, Zeiss Batis/Loxia

Most items with original box, lenses with lens caps, etc, except as noted. Clear and clean glass, known-good lens samples owned by Lloyd.

Local sale (San Francisco Bay Area) preferred so buyer can inspect lens, but can ship FedEx insured. Contact Lloyd.

Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia

Leica M

View camera gear

All items with original box, lenses with lens caps, etc. Clear and clean glass, known-good lens samples owned by Lloyd

  • Rodenstock 135mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S Copal shutter + Linhof Technikardan lens board $1250 PRISTINE
  • Schneider 400mm f/5.6 APO-TELE-XENAR Copal shutter+ Linhof Technikardan lens board $1750 PRISTINE
  • Schneider 150mm f/4 Tele-Xenar medium format lens (Pentacon)
  • Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm f/2.8 MC Sonnar medium format lens (Pentacon?)

Canon

$950 Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM — see this page.

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L and stuff
f1.8 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 20; 2019-09-15 09:22:47
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 ENV: altitude 473 ft / 144 m

[low-res image for bot]

 


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Reader Comment: “applaud your new monochrome site... D850M a joy to work with”

re: Reader Comment: Black and White Photography “samples you have are some of the best I have seen”

See my developing Monochrome workflow pages, part way done with lots more planned.

The monochrome workflow pages currently resides in Making Sharp Images, but they will become their own Monochrome section in the future, incorporating the diglloyd Infrared publication. I need to sort out some kind of video support for screencasts and such, ideally on a platform that can’t throw away my entire subscriber list as YouTube did a few years ago, or otherwise stomp on me or arbitrarily demonetize my videos (as YouTube also did).

Gary VZ writes:

I applaud your new monochrome site.

On your recommendation, I bought a Nikon D850M from MaxMax.com a year ago and what a joy it is to work with. The tonal gradations, absence of noise, and high resolution are all strong selling features. The Zeiss Otii and Milvii lenses are superb in this application (as they are in color). Of special note for me are the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 and Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 and the Nikon AF-S 200mm f2 VRII

I am a regular reader of your blog and I appreciate your objective equipment reviews.

DIGLLOYD: the D850 Monochrome image quality is indeed superb. I found no image quality problems with it as I did with the Leica M10 Monochrom. Indeed, the D850M the noise is far superior (spectacularly low), plus the D850 + Milvus/Otus sharpness leaves Leica M10M and the compromised M lenses in the dust.

You can get a Nikon D850M converted to monochrome at maxmax.com—please let them know I referred you.

Eeraj Q writes:

Excellent walkthroughs in your "MONOCHROME IMAGERY" section. Never thought of using the Dehaze filter for B&W until I browsed through "Using the Dehaze filter for Monochrome Images". The example shown in that section and being able to quickly see the effect from 0 to 100 Dehaze is very useful. Practical techniques that can be learnt quickly for very effective results - highly recommended reading for anyone who is on the fence.

On a separate note, glad to see Tigger survive the coyote encounter. Handsome cat. I like the B&W version - another great illustration of using B&W when the light generally sucks, but monochrome can still make for a compelling image. Agree with your assessment on MFT for wildlife. Not a wildlife person here, but I always wondered about the need to carry boat-anchor full-frame long lenses for that rare trip where I might see a whale or something far away. Olympus is surely a strong contender here for people like me, who don't make a living shooting bears or eagles, but still want a decent wildlife shot if the opportunity arises. Might rent one for a trip to Alaska whenever that happens.

DIGLOYD: I’ll keep filling out the monochrome section over the coming months. As for wildlife, I think even most pros might do well to have the Micro Four Thirds solution at hand.

Please buy using these links. My top recommendation as a first lens for D850M is the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4—spectacularly good.

Pine Creek Peaks at Dusk, Crescent Moon
f4.5 @ 6.0 sec electronic shutter stitched from 10 frames (5 X 2), ISO 31; 2019-10-03 18:36:21
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 + filter B+W Dark Red 091
ENV: Pine Creek Tungsten Mine, altitude 9000 ft / 2743 m, 50°F / 10°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, pull 1.3 stops, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
Eureka Dunes set against Superstition Mountains range
f8 @ 1/15 sec electronic shutter, ISO 31; 2019-10-07 10:20:33
NIKON D850 monochrome + Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 + filter B+W Dark Red 091
ENV: Talc mine to the west, altitude 6200 ft / 1890 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: pull 1.75 stops, +100 Shadows, +100 Highlights, +72 Dehaze, USM {20,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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Every Photographer Should Have a Color Checker Card to Establish Neutral White Balance and Tint for Each Camera and Lens Brand Combo

re: white balance and tint

Datacolor SpyderCHECKR

One of the very first things I do with a new lens or camera is to establish what is a neutral white balance and tint settings for a specific camera+lens combination. See white balance and tint.

I like to at least get a baseline on mid-day sun and late-day sun and blue shade, because tint required for neutrality changes as the color temperature changes. But it’s more challenging than that:

  • Sometimes Adobe ships defective camera or lens profiles for Adobe Camera Raw. Later, an update fixes the problem; I’ve seen 10 to 20 point swings in magenta, for example.
  • Each lens line (eg Sony vs Sigma vs Zeiss) tends to have differing color temperature (yellow/blue) and tint (magenta/green characteristics. Usually a lens line is self-consistent, but rarely matches another brand.
  • Tint in particular can change with aperture. See for example White Balance and Tint — Huge Difference Wide Open vs Stopped Down.
  • Tint changes with color temperature. Just about every camera I used has a green shift as the light becomes more blue. Under the right conditions, I can show this phenomenon in a single capture (meaning there is no “correct” tint, only a magenta or green bias in some areas).
  • Polarizers and filters can affect tint slightly (usually only a little). Usually only a few points, but if you’re picky it’s worth knowing.

So... get the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR ASAP as it is 36% off today only. The clamshell design (BH SKU DASC) is best to start with, though some other ones are useful too, like the pocket-size ones. Also be aware that some displays are not color accurate (like my LG 5K) and that you should have a color managed display from NEC or Eizo.

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Fujifilm GFX100/Fujifilm GFX100S: 16-shot high-res mode looks like crap

re: Fujifilm GFX100S Pixel Shift Mode: How Good is it, and is it Viable for Non-Studio Photography?
re: pixel shift and multi-shot high-res mode

Definitions as used here:
pixel shift= 4-shot capture acquiring an RGGB sample at each photosite using full-pixel sensor shift
multi-shot high-res mode= shift using fractional pixel shifts, typically 8 or 16 exposures

Fujifilm GFX100S

See previous discussion of Fujififilm GFX100 16-shot mode.

I’ve had a chance to look at some multi-shot high-res mode raw images from the Fujifilm GFX100 sent by reader Alfred C, including a still life studio image.

The results are singularly disappointing in (a) not having any more real detail than a single capture, and (b) showing digital artifacts.

And that’s a still life with fixed lighting. Outdoor images are hideous, with massive out-of-register color pixels.

Sad to say, Fujifilm has screwed the pooch with its 16-shot multi-shot high-res mode science fair project. What was wrong with giving us a usable (for static subjects) 4-shot pixel shift like Sony and Pentax? How can a company as talented as Fujifilm ship a feature that is total crap? For that matter, why isn’t PDAF banding their top priority, since it’s the #1 image quality flaw in the GFX100/GFX100S.

Compared to the intelligent Panasonic S1R multi-shot high-res mode it’s a complete joke, and it makes the Sony A7R IV pixel shift mode (4-shot) look great by comparison, because at least the Sony algorithm works beautifully for static subjects.

Even the low end cameras can do far better: the Olympus multi-shot high-res mode of the Olympus E-M1 Mark II and Olympus E-M5 Mark II are excellent in still life capture.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm GFX100 and Top Lenses

Fujifilm GFX100S pixel shift algorithm

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3rd-Party Lenses for Nikon Z, Canon RF, Sony E, Fujifilm GF Mirrorless Cameras

re: The Camera Market is Down to Two 35mm Format Contestants: Sony A1 and Canon TBD

A system that locks you into their brand lenses is a poor value proposition. The hassle of lens adapters and all their problems is not a reasonable solution—I’m talking native-mount lenses.

At the outset, the strength of the Sony mirrorless ecosystem was and is its wide range of lens choices, starting with its partnership with Zeiss. Sony’s brilliant strategic move at the outset was to allow/encourage the development of lenses from other vendors. So we now have Sony/Zeiss, Zeiss Loxia, Zeiss Batis, Voigtlander FE, Sigma FE and half a dozen other brand lenses for Sony.

Similarly, Fujifilm medium format allows other brand lenses in native mount, and Fujifilm itself even offers a lens adapter for H-mount lenses and an adapter for its cameras to view camera lenses.

The good news is that 3rd-party options have emerged for all the mirrorless brands now. Is this not the golden age of photography?

Still, top-grade lens companies like Zeiss and Sigma have yet to support Nikon Z and Canon RF platforms, and it’s unclear if that will change—probably not unles Canon and Sony increase market share, which seems unlikely.

Please use these links to buy, thank you.

Non-Nikon native-mount lenses for Nikon Z

A good start, but only 2nd-tier vendors Sigma, Zeiss.

Non-Canon native-mount lenses for Canon RF

A good start, but only 2nd-tier vendors Sigma, Zeiss.

Non-Fujifilm native-mount lenses for Fujifilm medium format

Not bad, given the relatively small market. But only 2nd-tier vendors Sigma, Zeiss. I’d sure like to see what Zeiss and Sigma could do on a 44 X 33mm sensor.

Non-Sony lenses for Sony mirrorless

A huge cornucopia of lenses for Sony including Sigma and Zeiss.

Please use these links to buy, thank you.

Sampling of native-mount lenses for Sony mirrorless

 

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Mid range zooms: the new Sigma FE 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary

re: The Camera Market is Down to Two 35mm Format Contestants: Sony A1 and Canon TBD

The strength of the Sony mirrorless ecosystem is its wide range of lens choices. A system that locks you into their brand lenses is a poor value proposition.

Mid range zooms for Sony

If you’re in the market for a mid-range zoom, the new entrant is the Sigma FE 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary, claimed to perform as well as its sibling, the Sigma FE 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art.

At 470g, the Sigma 28-70/2.8 is considerably lighter than its 835g 24-70/2.8 sibling, and significantly smaller too. It might make a good choice for an all-arounder, and a 28-70mm still matches up great to a 12/14-24mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom, for those looking to do it all with just 3 lenses.

Please use these links to buy, thank you. See also Voigtlander for Leica M.

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Recommended Lenses for the Leica M Shooter: Voigtlander M Nokton 75mm f/1.5, Voigtlander M 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar, Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar

re: World’s Best 35mm Lens? Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar for Sony Mirrorless and Leica M Coming in April

Leica M shooters might want to take note of some extremely low-cost* but very high quality lenses for the Leica M platform.

In particular, the Voigtlander M 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar and Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar are spectacular performers as in best on any platform.

Although I have not tested it, the Voigtlander M Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical might give the Leica 50mm f/1.2 Noctilux-M ASPH a run for its money, at 1/7 the price.

And the Voigtlander M Nokton 75mm f/1.5 Aspherical reportedly has very pleasing bokeh, at 1/5 the cost of Leica’s 75/2 APO offering.

* Relative to Leica offerings.

Please use these links to buy, thank you. See also Voigtlander for Leica M.


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Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar vs Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM

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re: World’s Best 35mm Lens? Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar for Sony Mirrorless and Leica M Coming in April

   
Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
   
Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2
APO-Lanthar

Really cool to see two new top-flight 35mm focal length prime lenses showing up for Sony mirrorless. Maybe the world’s best 35mm lens vs Sony’s f/1.4 offering should make for a really interesting comparison.

Accordingly, I am deferring review of the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM until the Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar becomes available in April. The choice of manual focus or autofocus will surely decide the matter for some (in favor of AF), but size/weight and performance for others.

For landscape and those who wish to travel compactly/lightly, the Voigtlander offering is unbeatable at 352 grams vs 524 grams for the Sony, and much more compact dimensions.

The Sigma FE 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art is superb, but it is huge and heavy (1090 grams). Still, I should probably try to get all three together because the Sigma 35/1.2 was really impressive when I reviewed it.

My expectation of a “good sample” is highest for the Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lantharbecause of excellent quality control at Cosina Voigtlander, and the simplest lens design of the three. It can be tough getting a top-performing sample of exotic lens designs of f/1.4 and f/1.2 speed—the Sigma 35/1.2 had some sample variation issues.

It also makes me wonder: for those who need a compact/lightweight top performer for some uses (the Voigtlander), but also want a fast high performer autofocus lens, maybe the Voigtlander and Sigma could turn out to be fine choices as a combo? Also, for some uses, the best overall illumination at f/1.4 or f/2 might be a serious factor for consideration, like astrophotography, or 'street' shooting.

Finally, characteristics like distortion and field of view might be considerations (the Sigma 35/1.2 has substantial barrel distortion). I’d expect the Voigtlander to have the least distortion (TBD), and it does have the widest field of view. When used, distortion correction has a real impact on actual micro contrast, so a low-distortion lens like the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 is a big plus.

Please use these links to buy, thank you. See also Voigtlander for Sony.

Eric B writes:

I am very much looking forward to your reviews of the new 35mm E mount lenses. I have the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar and it is truly spectacular.

I wonder if you might include the interesting Sigma FE 35mm f/2 DG DN in that group. It appears to be light, relatively inexpensive, and desirable as part of a small prime set for Sony E.

I do not question the excellence of the Sigma f/1.2 but at 1 kg, (compared to the f/2 DG DN at 325 grams, the CV f/2 at 352 grams and the even the Sony GM at 524 grams) it will likely never see the inside of my camera bag whereas the Sony GM and/or the CV 35 APO are decent candidates. It’s great to have so many excellent choices. Thanks for all you do.

DIGLLOYD: Yes, I should probably add the Sigma FE 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary to the grouping. Though I have yet to be satisfied with any of the Contemporary lenses performance, with 3 aspherical elements, the Sigma 35/2 might turn out to be a fine performer if it can control field curvature and be free of focus shift issues. Its sibling the Sigma FE 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary makes visually appealing images, but disappointed me in field use and could not perform satisfactorily on the mosaic test. And when I look at some sample images with the Sigma 35/2, they looks pretty poor in the outer zones on distance scenes.

Top-class 35mm lenses for Sony mirrorless
  Voigtlander FE50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Sigma FE 35mm f/2 DG DN Art Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Sigma FE 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art
Aperture range: f/2 - f/16
1/3 stop clicks or stepless aperture
f/2 - f/22 f/1.4 - 16 f/1.2 - f/16
Iris blades: 12 blades
circular aperture through f/16
9, rounded 11, rounded 11 blades, rounded
Focusing range: 13.8 in = 35 cm - INF 10.6 in = 27 cm - INF 9.8 in = 25 cm - INF 11.81 in / 30 cm - INF
Reproduction ratio: 1:6.46 0.18X = 1:5.5 0.26X = 1:3.84 0.19X = 1:5.26
Angle of view: 62.2° 63.4° 63° 63.4°
Number of elements/groups: 11 elements in 9 groups
5 special dispersion glass
2 double-sided aspherical
10 elements in 9 groups 14 elements in 10 groups 17 elements in 12 groups
Filter thread: 49mm 58mm 67mm 82mm
Weight (nominal): 352g 11.5 oz = 325g 524g 38.45 oz = 1090g
Dimensions: 62.6 x 67.3 mm 2.8 x 2.7 in = 70 X 67.4mm 76 X 96 mm 3.46 x 5.36 in = 87.8 x 136.2 mm
Includes: Front and Rear Lens Caps
Lens Hood
Limited 1-Year Warranty
LH577-01 Lens Hood
Sigma LCF-55 III 55mm Lens Cap
Sigma Rear Cap LCR II for Sony E Mount Lenses
Limited 1-Year Warranty + Limited 3-Year U.S.A. Warranty Extension
ALC-F67S 67mm Front Lens Cap
ALC-R1EM Rear Lens Cap
ALC-SH164 Lens Hood
Lens Case
Limited 1-Year Warranty
Lens Case LH878-02 Lens Hood
Sigma LCF-82 III 82mm Lens Cap
Sigma Rear Cap LCR II
Limited 1-Year Warranty + Limited 3-Year U.S.A. Warranty Extension

Image below from Patriarch Grove from Above At Dusk, View Southwest.

Sunset at Patriarch Grove
f1.2 @ 0.4 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2019-10-24 18:24:21
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art + polarizer Breakthrough Photography X4
ENV: Patriarch Grove, altitude 11500 ft / 3505 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected, +40 Shadows, -80 Highlights, +40 Whites, +10 Contrast, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

 

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Reader Comment: “had I read your article before, I surely could have spared money and disappointment before buying”

re: Fujifilm medium format

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Alberto D writes:

Fujifilm GFX-50S

Dear Mr. Chambers,

I’m reading your site with great interest and your articles are more than helpful—thumbs up for your great work.

I have recently  switched from Canon EOS 5Ds R to the Fujifilm GFX-50S system. I’m happy but I wasn’t aware of the weakness of the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 lens and bought it. I have the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 and the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2, which are good—maybe I was lucky no focus issues at the moment.

I have kept three Leica R lenses that I’ve used with Canon. The Leica 280/2.8 APO-Telyt-R with the 50 GFX-50R was terrible but It has a lens separation problem discovered by a Technician—very disappointing considering the original cost of the lens.

The 100/2,8 APO-Macro-Elmarit-R is ok but not so good as I expected, and the 50 Summicron shows vignetting from 5,6.

Having read your articles before I surely could have spared money and disappoint...

Many thanks have a nice day— Alberto D

DIGLLOYD: the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 is a very good lens (I’d have no objection to having a good sample), but it does have some mild field curvature and focus shift issues—perfectly reasonable in context, but I prefer the flatter field and freedom from focus shift of the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5. Plus the 50/3.5 is a much better pairing with the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7. Because anything but negligible focus shift or field curvature a Big Deal on a 100-megapixel sensor with 3.76 micron pixels—a big PITA. Even the 50/3.5 has a little field curvature towards the corners.

Adapting 35mm-format lenses

I do not recommend any 35mm-format lenses on the Fujifilm medium format system. Yes, a rare few do reasonably well stopped down to f/8 or f/11 (ugh), but most are a waste of time—inadequate coverage and/or massive field curvature outside the 35mm frame and so on. As well as awkwared to use.

Introduction to Adapting Lenses to Fujifilm GFX: Overview and Experience with Zeiss DSLR Lenses

Evaluating 9 Top-End 35mm DSLR Lenses on the Fujifilm GFX

Adapting Lenses to the Fujifilm GFX

Even a good sample of the Leica 280mm f/ 4 APO-Telyt-R cannot take a sharp image if there is shutter vibration—for example on Leica M240 it as a disaster at any speed under 1/500. Be sure to use the electronic shutter.

f6.4 @ 1/50 sec, ISO 100; 2017-04-05 08:00:24
GFX 50S + Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR @ 51.6mm equiv (63mm)

[low-res image for bot]
f2 @ 7.5 sec, ISO 100; 2017-07-28 04:51:53
GFX 50S + Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR @ 90mm equiv (110mm)

[low-res image for bot]

Monochrome: Making of “Mining Cabin Interior” (Fujifilm GFX100)

re: Reader Comment: Black and White Photography “samples you have are some of the best I have seen”

Added to my Monochrome workflow pages:

Making of “Mining Cabin Interior” (Fujifilm GFX100)

Includes images up to full camera resolution in five variants, and discussion of settings used and two alternative conversion approaches.

Gary VZ writes:

I applaud your new monochrome site.

On your recommendation, I bought a Nikon D850M from MaxMax.com a year ago and what a joy it is to work with. The tonal gradations, absence of noise, and high resolution are all strong selling features. The Zeiss Otii and Milvii lenses are superb in this application (as they are in color). Of special note for me are the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 and 100mm Otii and the Nikon AF-S 200mm f2 VRII

I am a regular reader of your blog and I appreciate your objective equipment reviews.

DIGLLOYD: I’ll keep working on the monochrome stuff.

f13 @ 2.5 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-04-22 17:34:47
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
ENV: old mining cabin NE of Eureka Dunes, altitude 6500 ft / 1981 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.1 stops, +25 Shadows, +40 Whites, +20 Clarity, +20 Texture, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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Fujifilm GFX100S: Lenses On Sale

re: Fujifilm GFX100S

Two of the zooms and also the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 are on sale at $500 off.

The Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 is a top performer, albeit with a bit of focus shift, but outstanding results can be had from it.

The two zooms are very good, but as with all zooms on all platforms, they are generally not quite as strong as the prime lenses. Personally, I’d prefer the 45-100mm over the 32-64mm.

Important to my B&H loaner support — buy your Fujifilm GFX100 and Sony A1 and lenses via links on this site.


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Using a Black and White Filter Layer in Photoshop for Monochrome Conversion

re: Reader Comment: Black and White Photography “samples you have are some of the best I have seen”

Added to my Monochrome workflow pages:

Color to Monochrome: Black and White Layer

Color to Monochrome: Black and White Filter Layer vs Black & White Mixer

Image below is a vintage image—not related to these new pages.

~f/5.6 @ 1/500 sec handheld, ISO 100 +2.25 stop push, Fill Light=20
Sony NEX-7 + Novoflex lens adapter + Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH

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“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, by Charles Mackay

Worth a read in these interesting times.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay @AMAZON

You don’t have to read it cover-to-cover, it’s possible to pick and choose one story at a time.

Book: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay

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Some Processing Technique and Examples now in Monochrome Section of Making Sharp Images

re: Reader Comment: Black and White Photography “samples you have are some of the best I have seen”

I’ve made a first pass at various pages in the Monochrome section of Making Sharp Images.

The pages with “TBD” in front of the titles in the table of contents are to be done.

Mining Structures near Death Valley
f9 @ 1/25 sec, ISO 100; 2020-04-22 18:31:56
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
ENV: old mining cabin NE of Eureka Dunes, altitude 6500 ft / 1981 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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Reader Comment: “painful to watch the slow death of Pentax”

re: Reader Comment: Black and White Photography “samples you have are some of the best I have seen”

Roy P writes:

Pentax 645Z

Didn’t realize Pentax was still making its 645 cameras – I thought this line had ended with the Pentax 645D.

Well, it looks like somebody there woke up and read a newspaper ad for the Fujifilm GFX100S. The camera design shows how dated it is.  Painful to watch the slow death.

Interestingly, here are the sensor comps:
Fujifilm GFX-50S: 8256 x 6192
Pentax 645Z: 8256 x 6192
Hasselblad X1D II 50C: 8272 x 6200

So the Pentax 645z has the same sensor as in the Fujifilm GFX50S. Not sure what sensor the Hasselblad X1D II uses.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t think the sensors are the same in the Pentax 645Z as in the Fujifilm GFX-50S. I might be wrong, but the GFX50S has problematic color moiré and color aliasing issues (perhaps due to its micro lenses) and I don’t recall seeing that on the 645Z or the Hasselblad X1D II 50C. Plus the 645Z is a camera from 2014—a design that is 7 years old and 3 years older than the Fujifilm GFX-50S.

The Pentax 645Z offers superb image quality (see below), and without PDAF pixels. It would make make a superb monochrome camera if it can be converted, presumably even better than the Nikon D850 monochrome, but with (mostly) inferior lenses to Zeiss Milvus and Zeiss Otus. Maybe if the cost were half of what it is?

And it looks like Pentax (B&H Photo page) the pricing figures have been transposed for discount versus the price given current market conditions — seems like the discount of $2700 and price of $5000 should be swapped. And the Fujifilm GFX-50R was as low as $3500 for some months last year.

Image from Aperture Series: Green Aspen Leaf on Black Rock (Pentax 645Z). Toggle to compare B&W to color.

Green Aspen leaf on black rock
f11 @ 0.8 sec, ISO 100; 2014-08-10 16:28:00
PENTAX 645Z + Pentax 645 D FA 90mm f/2.8 Macro ED AW SR @ 70mm equiv (90mm)
RAW: push 0.8 stops, +20 Whites, +15 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

 


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