Michael Erlewine

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About Michael Erlewine

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    Michael Erlewine
  • Birthday 18/07/41

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    Big Rapids, MI USA
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    Lenses, Focus Stacking, APO, Medium Format
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  • Fav. Camera
    Nikon D810, Hasselblad X1D
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    Zeiss Otus Series
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  1. This interview, for me, was very comforting, because it clearly answered a number of the more technical worries I had about the Nikon D850, including the quality of the low ISO 64, and others. Very much worth watching. Here are 20 questions about D850 answered by two Nikon technicians: https://www.dpreview.com/news/6772782345/exclusive-nikon-answers-20-popular-questions-about-the-nikon-d850
  2. Nikon D810 with the Zeiss Otuse 85mm f/1.4
  3. My view seems to differ very much from many of the comments here. As I see it, the D850 will be even more successful than the D810. For one, the great improvement of the LCD means that the need for a FF mirrorless EVF from Nikon is postponed until perhaps Nikon can produce a killer mirrorless camera for landscapes, etc. If the ISO 64 is equal to or better than the D810, that factor alone has distinguished the D810 from other cameras and caused it to compare favorably to even the MF mirrorless offerings. Although it does not interest me as a manual lens user, the increased AF is remarkable. And I could go on and on, but you can read all this almost everywhere by now. I will just simply repeat my hunch that, if all things work well on the D850 as they should, the camera will sell briskly and possible really well. Nikon (IMO) produces better quality cameras than just about anyone else. Certainly Sony is not (yet) at Nikon’s level, and so on. I have my order in for the D850 and it is way less expensive than the Sony X1D and Fuji GFX that I bought, tried out, and returned. Not to mention that all my lenses that fit the Nikon mount. So, I believe it is a monster camera. We shall see.
  4. Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 55mm
  5. Nikon D810, Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar
  6. I get asked how I do close-up photography, so I decided to write some of this down, rather than answer the same question many times, since it is kind of long. So, this article is for those that are interested. I thought it might be helpful to outline some the various approaches to close-up and macro photography that I regularly use. In particular, since I use a variety of different lenses (most of them are not real macro), I push them toward the kind of close-up work I enjoy. Bellows Work I do a lot of work with bellows and have all kinds of them around my studio. However, in recent years I mostly use the Cambo Mini-Actus, with some minor modifications. As for cameras, I am using the Nikon D810 on the rear standard, but I also sometimes use the Sony A7RII. The D810 has better low ISO performance and generally produces better results than the Sony A7RII... in my opinion. As for lenses on the Actus rig, I’m all over the board. There is no doubt that my most-used bellows lens (and most-used lens overall) is the El Nikkor APO 105mm f/5.6 lens. Note the “APO,” because the standard El Nikkor 105mm lens is quite ordinary compared to the incredible El Nikkor APO 105mm. I also have used the larger version, the El Nikkor 210mm APO lens, which also looks good, but is very heavy and unwieldy IMO, so much so that I just sold my copy of this rare lens. Another lens that I use on the Cambo Mini-Actus is the Nikkor AM-ED Macro 120mm f/5.6 lens and that too is a very fine lens, but just shy of the quality of the El Nikkor APO 105mm. I also have the 210mm version of the Nikkor AM-ED, which is great, but again, large and unwieldy. Still other lenses I use with the Mini-Actus are the three Printing Nikkor lenses that I own, the 95mm, 105mm, and the incredible 150mm Printing Nikkor, and some LF Schneider lenses. These Printing Nikkors are very highly corrected APO lenses, but their coatings are not particularly modern, IMO. Great for the studio, but less useful in bright light and outdoors, but they are very, very sharp. And there are many other lenses that I have tried on the Mini-Actus, too many to bother listing here, but they include a variety of large-format lenses, the Multiphot Macro Nikkors, and many others. The main value to me of the Cambo Mini-Actus is its ability to tilt the front standard and compress an image front-to-back somewhat. This is particularly useful for stacking, where artifacts tend to multiply the greater the difference between the front and rear of the subject you are photographing. Using Tilt, I can telescope that down to something much more manageable in terms of generating artifacts through stacking. When using the Cambo Mini-Actus, I tend to stack rather than take single shots. And by stacking I mean stacks from 50 to 150 layers. I have modified my Cambo Mini-Actus by purchasing a considerably longer rail and accompanying bellows. In addition I have replaced the rear standard on the Min-Actus (which has a fixed camera mount) with their new rear standard that allows me to switch camera mounts in seconds. This is very helpful. I have also added a two-way level to the rear standard, and a focus-whip that easily attaches to the fine focus knob on the Mini-Actus. You can plug it in or take it out in second. The Mini-Actus also allows both the front and rear standards to shift right and left, plus the rear standard can be moved up-and-down vertically. I don’t shift much, but the sideways shift is good for panoramas or adjusting, etc. Most of my Cambo Mini-Actus work is done in my small studio, but I have taken it out on many occasions and it is not clumsy or difficult to haul around. It really is small and light. Prime Lenses for Close-Up Work Another approach I use a lot is using prime lenses, including non-macro lenses for close-up work. I do not have many macro lenses that I feel are good enough for what I am looking for, although I have owned (and still own) many macro lenses. The list of parameters that make for a really great lens are enough that most lenses fail in one way or another. I still use them, of course, but I just don’t consider them “all around” lenses. The exception would be the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 Apo-Lanthar macro lens from Cosina. IMO, this is the best all-around macro lens that I know of. The CV-125 is a very fast lens (f/2.5), a very sharp lens, highly corrected (APO), has nine 9 aperture blades, a close focus of 14.96 inches (38 centimeters), a 1:1 reproduction ratio, plus a long focus throw (630 degrees) Now, prime lenses can also be used to create a long stack of many layers, just as I do on the bellows, but there is another approach, that if used carefully, also does a great job, and that is what I call “short stacks.. These are stacks of 2-6 layers, where each shot is carefully focused to capture one or another part of the main image. They are then combined as a stack. I use Zerene Stacker, and have tried (I believe) most if not all stacking software. Zerene is easily the best of the bunch. Short stacks can save time and are very useful in the field, where wind may pick up or the sun go behind a cloud, and so on. We simply examine the frame and the subject beforehand, deciding which points of the subject we want in focus. Also, with some of the larger prime lenses, stacking does not always work so well, so very short stacks, even of one or two layers, or, of course, sometimes no stack at all. Many times a single layer is best, using as high an f/stop as we can get away with. Or, we can pick exactly what we want to have in focus and kind of paint in focus. For example, we may to devote a layer to each of the three flowers in a photo, and be using a fairly high f/stop like f/11 or so. And, in addition, we may want to do a refined stack of 20 or so layers just on one particular flower. This idea of painting focus becomes the technique of choice if you are shooting a very fast lens, one with a razor-edge of focus that is sharp wide-open. In that case we literally (but slowly) paint focus exactly where we want to have it, and let the rest be the natural bokeh of a fast lens. And quite often I use the wider well-corrected prime lenses, like the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4, taking only a couple shots. I may want one shot close and a second a little farther back to get more sharpness in the background. Focus stacking does not always have to be used (or overused), but can assist in focusing just the parts where we want attention, and by using only a few layers. This is especially useful for landscape shots. Focus Rails I must have a dozen focus rails, but I use them very little, since they are not ideal for stacking. I use the Novoflex Castel-L Focusing Rack, with the Arca quick release. To this I add the Novoflex Fine Adjustment Handle. I use racks for lenses that have no helicoid, like the CRT-Nikkor, which is one of my favorite lenses. I also mount the camera and certain other lenses, whose focus throw is too small to get fine focusing. I used to have to put the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 APO Macro on a rail because its focus throw was too small to do much with. Extensions As far as using extensions, my rule of thumb is don’t. They always mess up the IQ of the lens. However, with high-quality prime lenses like the Zeiss Otus series, I regularly use Nikon’s smallest extension, which is the K-1 Ring, which is 5.8 mm. This does not seriously destroy the quality of the lens it is on, but does allow me to get closer. I have, of course, all kinds and sizes of extensions, but they sit in a drawer, aside from the K-1. Close-up Lenses I have a lot of close-up lenses, but literally never use them. I have tried many times, but they mess up the IQ of the lens, to my eyes. I don’t use them. The same with tele-adapters. A lens is a lens is a lens, and anything other or extra takes away from why we buy it. Turning a great lens into an ordinary lens makes no sense to me. Combining F/stops Another technique, one that has to be used sparingly and carefully, is to combine or “stack” shots at different ISOs. Let’s say you want the soft mood and bokeh of f/1.4, but may not have time to paint focus, due to outside conditions. It is not difficult to take a background shot at f/1.4 and another dead-center (but at a higher f/stop, with more depth of field) on a flower. In the final photo you don’t want the background in focus, because you lose some of the mood. In post you can stack or otherwise combine different ISO layers, but they can be very different, so feathering and touch-up is usually required. For example, you can take a soft background of some flowers and place in the center of the flowers part of an image done at a much higher ISO. In that way, you can combine the effect of bokeh with sharp focus. You can do using this method, instead of painting in focus. As for myself, I prefer to paint in focus, but in the field there sometimes is no time to do a long stack, particularly with wind, light, etc. A couple shots at different ISOs can look pretty good. This technique, however, IMO, is moving away from my preferred methods. But, it can work and to a significant degree. Summary So, there are some of the main approaches I use to take close-up photos. I seldom use the macro range 1:1 (or above) anymore, because more and more I like the context I get with a wider frame. Focusing on the eye of a dragonfly or honeybee, after a short while, is just not particularly interesting to me. I want to see at least the whole head of the insect in a setting that is natural. And microphotography interests me not at all, but I can appreciate other’s work in these areas, if it is superb. Those are some of the main techniques I use for close-up photography. Close-up photo with the Sony A7RII and the new Voigtlander 65mm Macro View full article
  7. Close Up Techniques

    I get asked how I do close-up photography, so I decided to write some of this down, rather than answer the same question many times, since it is kind of long. So, this article is for those that are interested. I thought it might be helpful to outline some the various approaches to close-up and macro photography that I regularly use. In particular, since I use a variety of different lenses (most of them are not real macro), I push them toward the kind of close-up work I enjoy. Bellows Work I do a lot of work with bellows and have all kinds of them around my studio. However, in recent years I mostly use the Cambo Mini-Actus, with some minor modifications. As for cameras, I am using the Nikon D810 on the rear standard, but I also sometimes use the Sony A7RII. The D810 has better low ISO performance and generally produces better results than the Sony A7RII... in my opinion. As for lenses on the Actus rig, I’m all over the board. There is no doubt that my most-used bellows lens (and most-used lens overall) is the El Nikkor APO 105mm f/5.6 lens. Note the “APO,” because the standard El Nikkor 105mm lens is quite ordinary compared to the incredible El Nikkor APO 105mm. I also have used the larger version, the El Nikkor 210mm APO lens, which also looks good, but is very heavy and unwieldy IMO, so much so that I just sold my copy of this rare lens. Another lens that I use on the Cambo Mini-Actus is the Nikkor AM-ED Macro 120mm f/5.6 lens and that too is a very fine lens, but just shy of the quality of the El Nikkor APO 105mm. I also have the 210mm version of the Nikkor AM-ED, which is great, but again, large and unwieldy. Still other lenses I use with the Mini-Actus are the three Printing Nikkor lenses that I own, the 95mm, 105mm, and the incredible 150mm Printing Nikkor, and some LF Schneider lenses. These Printing Nikkors are very highly corrected APO lenses, but their coatings are not particularly modern, IMO. Great for the studio, but less useful in bright light and outdoors, but they are very, very sharp. And there are many other lenses that I have tried on the Mini-Actus, too many to bother listing here, but they include a variety of large-format lenses, the Multiphot Macro Nikkors, and many others. The main value to me of the Cambo Mini-Actus is its ability to tilt the front standard and compress an image front-to-back somewhat. This is particularly useful for stacking, where artifacts tend to multiply the greater the difference between the front and rear of the subject you are photographing. Using Tilt, I can telescope that down to something much more manageable in terms of generating artifacts through stacking. When using the Cambo Mini-Actus, I tend to stack rather than take single shots. And by stacking I mean stacks from 50 to 150 layers. I have modified my Cambo Mini-Actus by purchasing a considerably longer rail and accompanying bellows. In addition I have replaced the rear standard on the Min-Actus (which has a fixed camera mount) with their new rear standard that allows me to switch camera mounts in seconds. This is very helpful. I have also added a two-way level to the rear standard, and a focus-whip that easily attaches to the fine focus knob on the Mini-Actus. You can plug it in or take it out in second. The Mini-Actus also allows both the front and rear standards to shift right and left, plus the rear standard can be moved up-and-down vertically. I don’t shift much, but the sideways shift is good for panoramas or adjusting, etc. Most of my Cambo Mini-Actus work is done in my small studio, but I have taken it out on many occasions and it is not clumsy or difficult to haul around. It really is small and light. Prime Lenses for Close-Up Work Another approach I use a lot is using prime lenses, including non-macro lenses for close-up work. I do not have many macro lenses that I feel are good enough for what I am looking for, although I have owned (and still own) many macro lenses. The list of parameters that make for a really great lens are enough that most lenses fail in one way or another. I still use them, of course, but I just don’t consider them “all around” lenses. The exception would be the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 Apo-Lanthar macro lens from Cosina. IMO, this is the best all-around macro lens that I know of. The CV-125 is a very fast lens (f/2.5), a very sharp lens, highly corrected (APO), has nine 9 aperture blades, a close focus of 14.96 inches (38 centimeters), a 1:1 reproduction ratio, plus a long focus throw (630 degrees) Now, prime lenses can also be used to create a long stack of many layers, just as I do on the bellows, but there is another approach, that if used carefully, also does a great job, and that is what I call “short stacks.. These are stacks of 2-6 layers, where each shot is carefully focused to capture one or another part of the main image. They are then combined as a stack. I use Zerene Stacker, and have tried (I believe) most if not all stacking software. Zerene is easily the best of the bunch. Short stacks can save time and are very useful in the field, where wind may pick up or the sun go behind a cloud, and so on. We simply examine the frame and the subject beforehand, deciding which points of the subject we want in focus. Also, with some of the larger prime lenses, stacking does not always work so well, so very short stacks, even of one or two layers, or, of course, sometimes no stack at all. Many times a single layer is best, using as high an f/stop as we can get away with. Or, we can pick exactly what we want to have in focus and kind of paint in focus. For example, we may to devote a layer to each of the three flowers in a photo, and be using a fairly high f/stop like f/11 or so. And, in addition, we may want to do a refined stack of 20 or so layers just on one particular flower. This idea of painting focus becomes the technique of choice if you are shooting a very fast lens, one with a razor-edge of focus that is sharp wide-open. In that case we literally (but slowly) paint focus exactly where we want to have it, and let the rest be the natural bokeh of a fast lens. And quite often I use the wider well-corrected prime lenses, like the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4, taking only a couple shots. I may want one shot close and a second a little farther back to get more sharpness in the background. Focus stacking does not always have to be used (or overused), but can assist in focusing just the parts where we want attention, and by using only a few layers. This is especially useful for landscape shots. Focus Rails I must have a dozen focus rails, but I use them very little, since they are not ideal for stacking. I use the Novoflex Castel-L Focusing Rack, with the Arca quick release. To this I add the Novoflex Fine Adjustment Handle. I use racks for lenses that have no helicoid, like the CRT-Nikkor, which is one of my favorite lenses. I also mount the camera and certain other lenses, whose focus throw is too small to get fine focusing. I used to have to put the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 APO Macro on a rail because its focus throw was too small to do much with. Extensions As far as using extensions, my rule of thumb is don’t. They always mess up the IQ of the lens. However, with high-quality prime lenses like the Zeiss Otus series, I regularly use Nikon’s smallest extension, which is the K-1 Ring, which is 5.8 mm. This does not seriously destroy the quality of the lens it is on, but does allow me to get closer. I have, of course, all kinds and sizes of extensions, but they sit in a drawer, aside from the K-1. Close-up Lenses I have a lot of close-up lenses, but literally never use them. I have tried many times, but they mess up the IQ of the lens, to my eyes. I don’t use them. The same with tele-adapters. A lens is a lens is a lens, and anything other or extra takes away from why we buy it. Turning a great lens into an ordinary lens makes no sense to me. Combining F/stops Another technique, one that has to be used sparingly and carefully, is to combine or “stack” shots at different ISOs. Let’s say you want the soft mood and bokeh of f/1.4, but may not have time to paint focus, due to outside conditions. It is not difficult to take a background shot at f/1.4 and another dead-center (but at a higher f/stop, with more depth of field) on a flower. In the final photo you don’t want the background in focus, because you lose some of the mood. In post you can stack or otherwise combine different ISO layers, but they can be very different, so feathering and touch-up is usually required. For example, you can take a soft background of some flowers and place in the center of the flowers part of an image done at a much higher ISO. In that way, you can combine the effect of bokeh with sharp focus. You can do using this method, instead of painting in focus. As for myself, I prefer to paint in focus, but in the field there sometimes is no time to do a long stack, particularly with wind, light, etc. A couple shots at different ISOs can look pretty good. This technique, however, IMO, is moving away from my preferred methods. But, it can work and to a significant degree. Summary So, there are some of the main approaches I use to take close-up photos. I seldom use the macro range 1:1 (or above) anymore, because more and more I like the context I get with a wider frame. Focusing on the eye of a dragonfly or honeybee, after a short while, is just not particularly interesting to me. I want to see at least the whole head of the insect in a setting that is natural. And microphotography interests me not at all, but I can appreciate other’s work in these areas, if it is superb. Those are some of the main techniques I use for close-up photography. Close-up photo with the Sony A7RII and the new Voigtlander 65mm Macro
  8. NikonRumors.com posted some more information on the D850 from leaked advertising photos. See that site for more details. Here is what most interests me: No low-pass filter ISO from 64 to 25600 (hope it is the same or better ISO 64) No mechanical vibration using LiveView for still images. New “Natural Light” AWB 45-Mpx Uses Expeed 5 (same as D5) Focus-Stacking: Focus-adjusting system, max of 300 layers, customized release (0 to 30 sec), customizable 10 steps). 130% frame coverage compared to the D810 Uses D5 153 AF System This camera is looking better and better.
  9. I have received my copy of the Voigtlander 65 Macro APO-Lanthar f/2 lens for the Sony E-Mount. I wish that it was also available for my Nikon F-Mount cameras, sigh. An updated CV-125mm APO-Lanthar (for Nikon) is something I have looked forward to for years, so this may be as close as I get, but on Sony rather than Nikon. Arriving in a very attractive and form-fitting package, the lens is a solidly-built all-metal lens with a focus throw of maybe 300-degrees, just what I like for a macro lens, and that degree of focus throw reminds me of the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO Lanthar, one of the great macro lenses, which I will see how it compares to. The CV-65 is a rather pretty lens. The f/stops go from f/2 through f/22. It has 10 diagram blades, with a minimum focus range of 12.2” (31 cm). The reproduction ration is 1:2, which I like because I seldom require 1:1, although I am sure others will complain about that. And yes, it is manual focus, with no stabilization or tripod collar. It weighs (635 g, 1.38 lb. Although I read online that many photographers think of a 65mm Macro as a strange length and wonder how to use it, as a close-up photographer, that length is just perfect for adding context to a shot. There are very few macro lenses that I know (or use) around this size. I had the 50mm Zeiss Makro-Nikkor, but it was not corrected well enough, so I eventually sold it rather than having it sitting there on the shelf looking nice, but never used. I also have the 50mm Leica Elmarit-R Macro that I converted to Nikon F-Mount and I use it all the time. It is a very nice lens. Yet, the idea of a wide-angle macro lens is almost an oxymoron. There are not many of them. So, I am very happy to see this from Cosina/Voigtlander and I hope it is just the first in a line of quality APO lenses like the legendary CV-125 APO Lanthar Macro that I treasure. So, this new 65mm Macro looks good and feels good in the hand, not too big and not too heavy, but heavy enough. How does it perform? In a word, it performs well. It is definitely sharp enough for my work. Very sharp. The color is good and needs less correction than images from the Nikon D810. If I have any problems with it, they are same as I have with the Sony A7RII, which I am not as used to as my Nikons and IMO not as well-designed, but that is a criticism of the A7RII and not the CV-85 Macro. If I have a single complaint, it is that there is not enough contrast to the shots, but that can, to some degree, be corrected in post, but still I am not happy about that. Perhaps some of you out there will have a different experience. Will I keep it? Not sure yet, but perhaps not, especially with the Nikon D850 coming soon. I could use the context of a wide-angle macro, but perhaps not at the expense of having to mess with the A7RII, which while I respect that camera, I don’t really like it that much. But that’s my problem. However, if they offered it in a Nikon F-Mount, I would buy it in a minute. Here are a couple shots, with the A7RII and the CV-65 APO. The Moon Flower is a single shot, the Hibiscus is a stacked shot. In general, for about $1000, I can’t say where you could find a macro lens of this quality, but I look forward to hearing from others. I compared both the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar to the new Voigtlander 65mm f/2 APO-Lanthar by taking shots of the same subject and found them quite similar in terms of sharpness. I see no reason to have one over the other. For me, the only reason to keep the Voigtlander 65mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar is for the wider angle. I am still considering keeping this new lens or sending it back. As I continue to check out the Voigtlander 65mm APO-Lanthar on the Sony A7RII, I am more impressed than I at first was. This is a very nice lens at a bargain price and one that I plan to keep. I include some shots of a stacked image, along with cropped 100% close-up. Not bad, eh? My main reason for keeping this lens will not be for the A7RII, but for its successor, whatever better camera that might be. It took me a while to separate my possible complaints about the CV-65 from my complaints about the Sony A7RII, which are mostly about the lack of dynamic range or whatever you want to call it. To my eyes (and IMO) the Nikon D810 has a better dynamic range, especially in the low ISO department. And I value that.
  10. I have received my copy of the Voigtlander 65 Macro APO-Lanthar f/2 lens for the Sony E-Mount. I wish that it was also available for my Nikon F-Mount cameras, sigh. An updated CV-125mm APO-Lanthar (for Nikon) is something I have looked forward to for years, so this may be as close as I get, but on Sony rather than Nikon. Arriving in a very attractive and form-fitting package, the lens is a solidly-built all-metal lens with a focus throw of maybe 300-degrees, just what I like for a macro lens, and that degree of focus throw reminds me of the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO Lanthar, one of the great macro lenses, which I will see how it compares to. The CV-65 is a rather pretty lens. The f/stops go from f/2 through f/22. It has 10 diagram blades, with a minimum focus range of 12.2” (31 cm). The reproduction ration is 1:2, which I like because I seldom require 1:1, although I am sure others will complain about that. And yes, it is manual focus, with no stabilization or tripod collar. It weighs (635 g, 1.38 lb. Although I read online that many photographers think of a 65mm Macro as a strange length and wonder how to use it, as a close-up photographer, that length is just perfect for adding context to a shot. There are very few macro lenses that I know (or use) around this size. I had the 50mm Zeiss Makro-Nikkor, but it was not corrected well enough, so I eventually sold it rather than having it sitting there on the shelf looking nice, but never used. I also have the 50mm Leica Elmarit-R Macro that I converted to Nikon F-Mount and I use it all the time. It is a very nice lens. Yet, the idea of a wide-angle macro lens is almost an oxymoron. There are not many of them. So, I am very happy to see this from Cosina/Voigtlander and I hope it is just the first in a line of quality APO lenses like the legendary CV-125 APO Lanthar Macro that I treasure. So, this new 65mm Macro looks good and feels good in the hand, not too big and not too heavy, but heavy enough. How does it perform? In a word, it performs well. It is definitely sharp enough for my work. Very sharp. The color is good and needs less correction than images from the Nikon D810. If I have any problems with it, they are same as I have with the Sony A7RII, which I am not as used to as my Nikons and IMO not as well-designed, but that is a criticism of the A7RII and not the CV-85 Macro. If I have a single complaint, it is that there is not enough contrast to the shots, but that can, to some degree, be corrected in post, but still I am not happy about that. Perhaps some of you out there will have a different experience. Will I keep it? Not sure yet, but perhaps not, especially with the Nikon D850 coming soon. I could use the context of a wide-angle macro, but perhaps not at the expense of having to mess with the A7RII, which while I respect that camera, I don’t really like it that much. But that’s my problem. However, if they offered it in a Nikon F-Mount, I would buy it in a minute. Here are a couple shots, with the A7RII and the CV-65 APO. The Moon Flower is a single shot, the Hibiscus is a stacked shot. In general, for about $1000, I can’t say where you could find a macro lens of this quality, but I look forward to hearing from others. I compared both the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar to the new Voigtlander 65mm f/2 APO-Lanthar by taking shots of the same subject and found them quite similar in terms of sharpness. I see no reason to have one over the other. For me, the only reason to keep the Voigtlander 65mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar is for the wider angle. I am still considering keeping this new lens or sending it back. As I continue to check out the Voigtlander 65mm APO-Lanthar on the Sony A7RII, I am more impressed than I at first was. This is a very nice lens at a bargain price and one that I plan to keep. I include some shots of a stacked image, along with cropped 100% close-up. Not bad, eh? My main reason for keeping this lens will not be for the A7RII, but for its successor, whatever better camera that might be. It took me a while to separate my possible complaints about the CV-65 from my complaints about the Sony A7RII, which are mostly about the lack of dynamic range or whatever you want to call it. To my eyes (and IMO) the Nikon D810 has a better dynamic range, especially in the low ISO department. And I value that. View full article
  11. In Praise of the APO-El Nikkor 105mm I cannot say enough about the fine qualities of the APO-Nikkor 105mm enlarger lens. I would not even think of using a lens as slow as the APO-El Nikkor (f/5.6), but I have no problem using this lens and I do almost every day. It is that good. In fact, the more I use it, the more I want to use it. It has a style all its own, one that calls out for me to try this, that, and then some other thing with it. The lens is very sharp, but in a very organic way that does not appear as cold or cut and dried. Its color is superb, perhaps because it is so very well corrected. And you don’t want to confuse with its younger brother the APO-El Nikkor 105mm lens that is not APO (apochromatic). They are not in the same ballpark. Perhaps every photographer finds one lens that just fits them to a “T” and this may be mine. It’s not that I don’t have (and love!) many other lenses, but for some reason this little gem is undeniable. And I have to use it on a bellows, with what that entails, so it’s not a slam-dunk. And while I love the Zeiss Otus lenses, the Voigtlander 125mm APO-Lanthar and on and on, I’ve yet to find a more compelling lens than the APO-El Nikkor 105mm. And I also took the time (years) to seek out its big brother the APO-El Nikkor 210mm lens and found one. It is just a much larger and heavier version of the APO-105mm. There is nothing better about the 210 than the 105mm. I decided to sell it because of its bulk, but I wish I had a backup copy of my APO-El Nikkor 105mm. Photographers speak of certain lenses having a unique “style.” IMO, the legendary Noct Nikkor is one of those or the Voigtlander 125mm APO-Lanthar. The APO-El Nikkor 105mm is one of those special lenses. I can’t put my finger on what makes this lens’s style so exceptional, but there it is. Perhaps one of you out there who have used this lens can explain it to me. And it is so flexible. In fact, this lens caused me to get a much longer rail (and bellows) for my Cambo Mini-Actus, so that could pull back and get closer. Here is a shot I took yesterday with the Nikon D810, using the APO-El Nikkor 105mm.
  12. The Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 is not an Otus, but it is as close to one as I have seen a less expensive lens come. And it fills a gap in lenses that, as a close-up photographer, I need, although I have other 35mm lenses, but I don’t “like” them. Is it sharp? Yes, it is sharp, not ultra-ultra sharp, but sharp enough to pass the “sharp” test with me, easily. It does not distract me for lack of sharpness. The color is good. There is some very, very minor fringing, I believe, but not enough for me not to use the lens. I am not so concerned with traditional one-off photos, but more in how the lens will stack. It stacks well for a wide-angle. Does it take extension? Yes, it takes the K1-Ring, 5.8mm of extension... pretty well, which is good for a wider-angle lens. It has 9 rounded blades. The close range is 11.81 inches (30 cm), which is excellent. The filter is 72 mm. It is manual focus, which is all I use anyway. It has an ample focus-throw, which is wonderful, since many wide-angle lenses have a short focus-throw. According to all sources, this is a brand-new lens design, not the warmed-over of previous Zeiss lenses, and it shows. This is something new, a high-point for Zeiss with lower-priced lenses. The only fault I have found so far (and it can be anticipated) is that it does not do super-well with highlights and light areas. It’s OK, and I can work around it, but the highlights seem to wash out a little early IMO. I order, but send many lenses back. I believe I will keep this one. Nikon D810, Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4
  13. The last of the spring shadow photos, this one at the local cemetery. The lovely tree and branch shadows on the ground will be gone in a couple days, for the leaves on the deciduous trees are starting to pop. It will soon be all shade. 45mm lens, Hasselblad X1D