Michael Erlewine

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Michael Erlewine last won the day on 16 November

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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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    Nikon D810, Hasselblad X1D
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    Zeiss Otus Series
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  1. I am “trying” to test out the Sony A7R3 in single-shot and pixel-shift mode, testing it against itself and also as close as I can to see how it compares to the Nikon D850. These shots are taken on the Cambo Actus Mini technical camera, using the D850 and A7R3 cameras in as close to the same conditions I can manage. They were shot within minutes of each other in natural light coming in a window on a snowy and overcast day. The lens is the APO-El Nikkor 105mm lens at f/5.6. The larger image is just an overview shot, a pixel-shifted image from the Sony A7R3 to provide context. There are two crops: One is with the Nikon D850 “as taken” and a second shot as cleaned up in post. Obviously, the second image could be to whatever taste we want. This comparison does show me that the Nikon is similar (to a degree and IMO) to what we call S-log in video. It is a bit of a canvas that we must tweak and finish in post, while I notice that the images from the A7R3 are much more finished and ready-to-go. I may prefer the S-log qualities; not sure yet. And the second image compares a single image from the A7R3 with an image that has been pixel-shifted. As for this, I don’t see all THAT much difference between the two for all the pixel-shifting work. So I hope others can test this themselves and weigh in here with your thoughts. Yes, I see some differences, but not as much as I expected. Of course, I have a lot more to do to form my own opinion of what I am seeing.
  2. Here is an single image (unstacked) at f/16 to give you an idea of what the A7R3 can do. This is pixel-shifted using the Voigtlander 65mm Macro lens for Sony E-mount.
  3. Here is a proof-of-concept stacked image taken with the Sony A7R3 using pixel-shift as follows: This is what I call a “short stack,” in this case six pixel-shifted images (each image using four pixel-shifts). These six resulting TIF images were then stacked using Zerene Stacker to produce a final stacked image. Because I only took six images, there are areas in the photo that are not in focus, perhaps most easily seen in the Spadix (large vertical in center), where I focused on the bottom and top of the Spadix, but not in the center. If I were to take a more normal stacked image, it might have 50 or more layers, but here, to save time, I just made six images. The result shows me that the A7R3 will work well for focus stacking, especially if they ever automate it better than they have now. I had to do each of the six images separately, since I don’t know how (or if) there is a way to batch process these at this point. I am impressed by the color and (unlike my Nikon D850), the A7R3 did not require much of any color adjustment. Interesting. I was using the APO-El Nikkor 105mm on the Cambo Actus, with the Sony E-mount, and a little time delay. So, to repeat myself, I see no reason why this setup will not be excellent for focus stacking. However, to be really useful, we would need software that accessed a folder and automatically processed all the 4-image pixel-shift packets in that folder and (for me) then converted the composite images (in this case six) into TIF files, ready to stack in Zerene Stacker. Aside from adjusting the exposure level, I did not post-process this image much at all. Sorry if this is a little sloppy, but I am doing it for me and sharing it with you, if you can find it helpful.
  4. The Sony A7R III arrived today. The menu system is the usual nightmare. What I need is a list of how to set it up instead of figuring it out all over again. So far, I can’t determine yet how to magnify the view so I can shoot from it. It’s not in the same league as the new Nikon D850 except perhaps in the pixel-shifted image, which of course, is why I bought it. If I had any sense, I would send the whole thing back and just use the Nikon D850. LOL. The pixel-shift on the A7R3 is easy to use, but for a focus-stacker very tedious, physically, but they seem to have done it right. The results are outstanding. Scary. Part of me would like to just send it back, but I probably won’t. In other words, it is not a lot of fun so far, especially since Adobe has not yet supported it. The thought of doing a 100-layer stacked image is daunting even to consider. Ouch! The tiny paper manual ONLY tells where to look at an online version and when I do, there is about nothing there that really explains much of anything. We are really on our own. You would think that with all that money Sony must have, they could hire someone like Thom Hogan, etc. to write it right. Someone will make a fortune making it easy to know how to use this camera. Looking at a pixel-shift image (my main interest) in Sony Imagining Edge Software is upsetting. For example, comparing the color in an image (pixel-shift) and the same image exported to PS as a TIF is troubling. The color is enough different between the two to make me wonder. The enclosed image (just a screen grab) shows the TIF colors in PS are more balanced than the same image at the same 100% in the Imaging Edge Software. The TIF is much better-balanced color. I must be the Sony Software as opposed to the image itself. I guess I’m getting old, not only physically, but tired of endlessly moving to new equipment with all the attendant difficulties. I just want to take photos, but I can see this is a never ending stairway and perhaps not going to heaven, either. LOL. With all my griping, the pixel-shift image at first blush is damn good. I have no excuse to send it back! Not being much of a field-shooter anymore, I don’t like the dinky-ness of the A7R3. Anyway, I have the A7R3, am (sort of) getting used to it and am afraid I will have to keep it. LOL. We will see.
  5. Using the very helpful lens-tester on CoinImaging.com: http://coinimaging.com/macro_lens_tests.html? I was able to test a number of lenses that I often use for close-up photography. The lenses I am looking at here include: Nikkor-O CRT 55mm f/1.2 Lens Nikon APO-El-Nikkor 105mm f/5.6 Nikon Printing-Nikkor APO 150mm f/2.8 Schneider MacroVaron 85mm f/4.5 These are four of the best industrial lenses that I know of. Most of you probably know of all these lenses. But something I did not know, although I sensed it, was the uniqueness of Nikkor-O CRT 55mm f/1.2 Lens, not just because of its curvature as used in monitoring CRTs, but how incredibly sharp and good it is at resolving images. I think it is best to just look at these charts. You should be able to see which colored line goes with which lens. They tell the whole story. The CRT Nikkor-O is the dark-blue line. I would be interested in your remarks.
  6. Test Results for a Few Close-Up lenses Lenses that I tend to use for close-up photography and for stacking focus have, of course, less than a 1:1 reproduction-ratio. I sometimes shoot the larger macro (1:1), but seldom and almost never anything above 1:1. The reason for this is that I prefer the context that using lower reproduction ratios allow and encourage. With this is mind, lenses than work well at less than a 1:1 reproduction ratio by definition exclude a lot of worthy lenses or limit them to shooting above that standard macro reproduction ratio of 1:1. And there are several factors aside from the reproduction-ratio that I like to monitor as well. PHYSICAL Some limitations are just physical. A lens has to be mounted on something, like a camera, bellows, rail, or some type of technical camera. And this usually involves an adapter of one sort or another. Not all lenses fit nicely on my DSLRs. Some don’t work there at all. So, typically I mount lenses on DSLRs. Some will only really work if mounted on a bellows, while others work best if on a more technical camera, where there are bellows and also movements like Tilt and Shift, etc. And finally, some lenses have to be mounted on a DSLR, which DSLR is then mounted (with the lens on the DSLR) on a focus rail. This is usually because the helicoid or focus ring on the lens has a focus throw that is too short for me to make the minute movements needed to properly stack focus. And let’s not forget that there are, as you might imagine, all kinds of odd arrangements, like reversed lenses, stacking lenses, diopters and close-up lenses, extensions, teleconverters, etc. and so on. Which lenses, then, are easier to use to get the results I want? Since I stack focus a lot, there are a few rules that are best followed for optimum results. According the Rik Littlefield, the designer and implementer of Zerene Stacker software (which is my preferred stacking software) points out that the software is happiest stacking a series of layers in the following ways, with the best method listed first. (1) BELLOWS: Best is using a bellows, with the lens fixed at front standard and camera moveable on the rear standard. Then the camera is moved forward incrementally to stack focus. (2) HELICOID: The second best method is using a helicoid (or the standard focus ring) on a DSLR to stack focus. (3) FOCUS RAIL: And last (and least suggested) is to mount a camera and lens on a focus rail and move the whole system forward incrementally on the rail. I try to stack in the above order of desirability, if possible, but it’s not always possible because some lenses have no helicoid AND won’t work on a bellows system due to the bellows (even if fully compressed) still having too much extension for the lens. The Nikkor “O” CRT lens is one of these, IMO. CLOSE-UP VS. MACRO Another factor is to determine if the lens is designed for peak performance at 1:1 reproduction ratio or higher or is its optimum performance take place below 1:1 at close-up range. And very few lenses are good at both. There is no point in buying an expensive and probably fast lens for close-up work that is not sharp until f/5.6 or above, as are many Large Format lenses. By the time you get the sharpness you want, you have already lost any bokeh and may be suffering from diffraction too. And so on. One of the most useful photography sites IMO is that of CoinImaging.COM. While a specialized form of photography (coins), this site covers a lot of what we close-up photographers need to be aware of. Here is a list of some of the things carefully documented and graphed on this site for a number of very good lenses for the kind of work I do. By all means visit this site: http://coinimaging.com/macro_lens_tests.html? RESOLUTION VS. APERTURE I need to know where for a given lens the resolution (which affects micro-contrast) is at its peak. Is that peak near where a fast lens is wide open (which is what I need) or is it only at higher apertures, which I seldom use (unless I have to) because I lose most of the bokeh. SHARPNESS VS. APERTURE It is the same with sharpness. I need to know where for a given lens that lens is sharpest. Is the lens sharp wide open or do we have to narrow the aperture until too much is in focus for the bokeh we want. CORNER SHARPNESS VS. APERTURE In a similar way, is the image just sharp in the center (and the borders less sharp or losing focus) or is the lens sharp from center to corners like a copy lens? And is there sharpness wide-open or only as we narrow the aperture. Personally, I am not so bothered by the corners not being sharp and I feel the same way about a little vignetting. Some vignette does not bother me. LATERAL CA VS. APERTURE Now, here is a factor that does bother me, chromatic aberration of any kind. Why? Because it affects the color of the entire image and a highly corrected (APO) lens has little aberration, which affects what we call sharpness, IMO. In other words, a lot of what I look for as sharpness is really caused by a well corrected lens. Not everyone realizes this. SHARPNESS VS. MAGNIFICATION Again, I need “sharp” at a low magnification (low reproduction-ratio) like less that 1:1. RESOLUTION VS. MAGNIFICATION Same with resolution or micro-contrast. I need it wide-open and on fast lens, if possible and not just at high magnification. CORNER SHARPNESS VS. MAGNIFICATION Corner sharpness, as mentioned I am not so worried about. RESOLVING POWER VS. MAGNIFICATION Yes, I need micro-contrast at a reproduction-ratio of less than 1:1. CHROMATIC ABERRATION VS. MAGNIFICATION And, I want the lens to be well corrected wide-open and for it still to be a fast lens. LONGITUDIAL CHROMATIC ABERRATION Same goes for any kind of aberration. I don’t want it. CONTRAST I need a decent amount of contrast and if the image is too washed out, like with diffraction, I won’t use the lens. FLARE Flare does not bother me, unless it is really bad. DISTORION As for distortion, it depends on the lens. The Nikkor “O CRT lens has all kinds of distortion and I love the lens for what it can do. DISCUSSION Now let’s look at a few good lenses to see if they would work for the kind of close-up stacking like I enjoy: NIKON APO-El Nikkor 105mm f/5.6 One of my favorite lenses of all time; do NOTE the “APO” because the same lens “APO-El Nikkor 105mm f/5.6” without “APO” is quite ordinary compared to the APO version. This lens is very sharp wide-open at f/5.6 and for a couple of stops higher, but I always use it wide-open. Also wide-open, the corners are fuzzy and slowly clear up, but not until several stops. It has very little lateral CA, but there is a small amount, but quite under control. I seldome notice it, yet it increases with magnification. This lens is sharp at a low reproduction ratio and loses sharpness at high magnification, especially above 1:1. In a similar way, the lower the magnification the better as far as resolution is concerned. With this lens, corners lack sharpness the more you magnify the image. Contrast is good and there is little flare to worry about. NIKON PRINTING NIKKOR 95MM F/2.8 Nikon made at least four Printing Nikkors, of which I have only three of them, the PN 95mm, PN 105mm, and PN 150mm. There is a PN 75mm, but I have never had one or seen it for sale. Of the three I have, they are not just larger (or smaller) versions of each other. They differ in terms of what you can do with them. For example, the PN 150 is sharp at the reproduction ratio of 1:1, while the PN 95 is geared more toward the lower reproduction ratios of 0.5 and so on. So, the PN 95 is the one for me. One trait they all share is a restricted range of use if we want them at their peak quality. As mentioned, those qualities vary from lens to lens. In the case of the PN 95mm lens, it is very sharp and has high resolution and that is true for both center and corners of the image. And chromatic aberration is minimal across the entire f/stop range. The PN 95 is VERY sharp at lower magnifications like 0.5 and 0.75, but it falls off at 1:1, unless you reverse-mount it, where it becomes very sharp again around 2:0. It is similar with resolution, very good at lower magnification, but not at 1:1 or above, unless reversed. Corner performance is good at 0.5 magnification, but drops off very rapidly. So, for the kind of close-up work I do, the PN 95 is the Printing Nikkor to choose over the PN 105 or PN 150. This analysis was made possible by using the very useful lens testing results at CoinImaging.com. This photo, which is a kind of abstract, is of a Japanese Iris taken with the Nikon D850 and the PN 95, stacked. I have noticed with the D850 that the color is remarkably different that the previous model, the D810. Not sure how to describe it, other than it seems to demand less color adjustment in post than the D810. In general, the D850 is an incredible camera, especially for the money. And although, I liked the color in the Hasselblad X1D, all things considered (especially lenses), the D850 is (for me!) a better bet than either the Hasselblad X1D or the Fuji GFX, both of which I bought, tried, and returned. Photo with the Nikon D850 and the Printing Nikkor 95mm NIKON PRINTING NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8 (Version A) There are two basic versions of this lens. I have the later version, which is called “Version A.” It can be distinguished from the earlier version by having a longer extension tube than the original. This lens is very sharp and has great resolution from wide open through f/4, and then begins a gradual decline. Corner performance is not good wide open at f/2.8, but is outstanding by about f/6. Minimal lateral chromatic aberration. Very, very sharp from about 0.5 magnification and then a gradual decline. Resolution is very good to outstanding from 0.5 across the magnification range. Corner performance is not good until around 1:1. Very good to excellent resolving power. Minimal chromatic aberration. No longitudinal CA. Contrast very good. No flare problems and no significant distortion. /// NIKON PRINTING NIKKOR 150 mm F/2.8 (Second Version) There are two versions of this lens, the earlier version being more rare. I have the later version, but wish I had the earlier version. Here is the scoop on the version that I have. This lens is very sharp and is most resolving wide open at f/2/8. Corner performance is good wide open, but reaches outstanding by f/4. Lateral chromatic aberration is minimal. Unfortunately, this lens is not sharp at low magnifications and does not reach outstanding until about 0.8. The lens show poor resolution at lower magnification and reaches outstanding at about 1:1. Corner performance is very good at low magnification, but deteriorates by 0.6. Poor resolving power at low magnification until 0.8. Chromatic aberration mild at low magnification, but minimal at higher magnification. Contrast is good. Flare is not a problem. No significant distortion. Slight color fringing in OOF areas. So, unless I want to shoot macro, this is NOT the lens for me, since at low reproduction-ratios, it is nothing special. SCHNEIDER MACRO VARON 85MM F/4.5 This is a lens that is not commonly used by any of the photographers I know. I have read about it for some time, but never could get enough information on it that I would risk buying a $4k lens. Thanks to CoinImaging.com, who has reviewed this lens, I can now see that this could well be an all-around close-up/macro lens similar to the legendary Vogtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar. I am going to try one out. It has a week spot, but so do all lenses that I know. Here is what I learn from studying the graphs for the lens. It has 37mm filter threads. Its five-blade aperture may well mess with bokeh, but since it is a slower lens (f/4.5), bokeh is already somewhat in jeopardy. However, the APO El-Nikkor 105mm lens is f/5.6, and I manage to work around bokeh with that lens. Certainly it is very sharp and resolution is adequate, perhaps a tad week due to the slowness of the lens. Corner performance is very good across the whole range of f/stops. Chromatic aberration is minimal across the entire f/stop range. Very important to me is the fact that the Macro Varon is VERY sharp at lower magnification like .25 and .5, and goes downhill from there, but still is sharper than many macro lenses. If there is one problem, it is that due to the fact that the lens is slow, resolution in relation to magnification is less than outstanding. However, it is outstanding at .25 and .5 magnification, which is where I usually work, so it gets a pass from me. Its resolving power is good, especially at lower magnification. Lateral chromatic aberration is very good. Contrast is good, with no flare worries, and no significant distortion. Very flat field. Has an M42 mount. This is a bellows lens, so that has to be understood. I would say from the specs that this has got to be one of the best overall macro lenses, aside from its very expensive price. NIKON 55MM F/1.2 NIKKOR-O CRT This lens has no helicoid and does not lend itself to being used on a bellows. I have to mount it on a DSLR and then mount the DSLR/LENS on a focus rail to stack images. It has a M39 lens mount and a 52mm filter thread. Nevertheless, it is one of my most-used lenses because it is fast and has a unique style, both related to a concave lens element and non-standard color. Although very fast, the lens is sharpest at f/4 and the same is true for resolution. Corner performance is not very good, especially at lower f/stops. Lateral CA is minimal wide open but becomes more severe by f/3 or so. The lens is very sharp at low magnifications, but falls off rapidly down to just “good.” I always use it wide open. Resolution fairs a little better, being very good at low magnification and falling off fairly rapidly. Again, wide open is the way to go. Corner performance is good at best in low magnification, and bad by 1:1, getting very good again at 5.0 magnification. Overall, the lens has good resolution, especially at low magnification. Lateral chromatic aberration is moderate to severe at lower magnification and off-the-charts bad by 0.5 magnification. Contrast is not good and its proneness to flare affects this. No other distortions. So, what are we to think about a lens like this? It is so bad that it’s good. However, the combination of problems creates (at least for me) what amounts to a perfect storm for interesting images. The lens is sharp wide open, at least enough to stack against the wonderful bokeh obtained wide-open. Some of my best photos EVER have been done with this lens, so I consider it an essential lens to have around. SUMMARY So, in general, what is the recipe for a lens that I would use for my close-up work? Ideally it would go like this: The lens would be fast (f/1.4 or better), sharp (and with great resolving power) wide-open, and very-highly corrected (APO). If it has a helicoid or barrel, the focus-throw must be long and not short. Ideally, it would also have JUST enough imperfections to have a pleasing style. Of course, it has to be mountable. If this is interesting to anyone, I may describe a few more lenses that are good for close-up work.
  7. I have updated my 2014 e-book on lenses titled “Lenses for Close-Up and Macro Photography” for those interested. Included are essays and lenses for what are called the “Exotic Industrials.” This is a free e-book. Made it myself and it is available and can be shared provided no fee is charged. This update is 239 pages and includes 64 more pages than the original publication. http://spiritgrooves.net/pdf/e-books/NEW LENS BOOK V5.pdf
  8. I have been experimenting with ultra-fast glass that can be mounted on a Nikon or Bellow for some years. Some examples are the Nikkor “O” CRT 55mm f/1.2 lens, The Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2, the Repro Nikkor 85mm f/1.0, and so on. My question is what other ultra-fast lenses do we know about that can be mounted on a Nikon F-Mount” Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.
  9. There are a number of threads here on the new Sony A7r3 mirrorless camera, and I even started one myself. It would be nice if we could keep this thread here on topic, since that is why I am posting it and perhaps post other issues on more general threads. What I would like to discuss is why the A7R3 may be particularly useful to me and the reasons I feel this way. And, of course, I am trolling here for more information on this topic and other photographers with a similar bent. The first “major” DSLR that I had was the Nikon D1X, sometime in 2001. And I have had almost all of the DSLRs from Nikon since then, at least of the landscape variety. Since I shoot close-up nature photos, I never cared about sports-related cameras, high ISOs, and autofocus. Anyway, for me, there have been a string of cameras all the way up to Nikon’s recent release of the D850. In my case, it’s always been onward and upward, onward to more and better features and upward toward sensors with ever greater megapixels. And the last couple of years have been kind of a climax of sorts, at least a branching out of options. And of course, I was swept up in it all, especially the seeming-endless waiting, etc. I marched through buying (and returning) three medium-format cameras, a long time ago the Mamiya RZ67 (with eleven lenses) and more recently the Hasselblad X1D and the Fujifilm GFX. And along in there I also bought and tested out the Pentax K3 and K1, mostly because of their pixel-shift technology. And I had the Sony A7S and A7R. I bought the A7R2, sold it, bought it again and sold it yesterday. I also ordered a copy of the A7R3 yesterday, mainly because of the pixel-shift feature, which brings me to my point in writing this. Of course, like many of us I am in the habit of getting cameras with more and better pixels, and without really thinking about it I imagined I would like a 100 Mpx camera or even greater. However, I have been recently having doubts about this after getting the Nikon D850 camera, with its 45.7 Mpx. I have a very big and fast PC, one with two GPUs, eight cores, a fast processor, 128 GB of RAM, etc. However, I did notice with the new Nikon D850, which has only a modest increase in megapixels, a difference in the computing power required. Keep in mind, that I stack focus, so I often have to process 100 or more large TIF files in the same batch. This takes time, and with the D850 it takes a little MORE time. Not that much, actually. However, I can see that when we get 100 Mpx sensors, it will increasingly take more time (and storage). I keep all my stacked layers, so I have many hundreds of thousands of images by now. And this set me to thinking. Of course, I have wanted larger sensors, but not just for more megapixels, but for larger-sized photosites that collect more light. That is why I originally purchased a Sony A7s, for more light and larger photosites or whatever we call them. By using the Pentax K3 and K1, both of which have pixel-shifting technology in them, I could see that they provided superior color and its resulting resolution, but I was not happy the way Pentax handled non-native lenses (of which I have a lot), so eventually it was more trouble than it was worth and the Pentax lenses did not make me happy. I like APO lenses. So, my point and perhaps question here to those techsperts out there is: can we have a discussion here about perhaps not yearning for ever greater-sized sensors and concentrate more on improving the color and resolution in smaller-sized sensors, the ones we already are using. I am happy with about 50 Mpx in sensor size, not less please, but perhaps I don’t need more. Since I don’t make prints of my images (never have), I only need a size to display on the web or place in an e-book format. Typically, I used images that are 2048 pixels on the long side for what I post, depending on where I post of course. So, I’m wondering if my Nikon D850, which is great by the way, much nicer than I had imagined, along with the new Sony A7R3 (if it works as advertised) might be all that I need? At 42 Mpx, the A7R3 is not much different than the 45.7 Mpx of the D850, and that may be as much as I need. I am wondering, since I ONLY do still photography on a tripod, whether the pixel-shift technology of the A7R3 may give me the color (most important to me) and the enhanced resolution (however that works), so that instead of having to ever project myself forward to larger and larger sensors, I might (at least for a time) be happy with what I have (or will soon have with the A7R3)? I am sure some of you here will have more technical thoughts about this conundrum I am in, either agreeing with me or pointing out something I have not thought of. Thanks for feedback. P.S. This is the style of photography I tend to do, this with the D810 if I remember right.
  10. The Sony A7R III interests me in a way the A7R2 did not. In fact, I sold my A7R2 last night. I don’t care about the higher ISOs or frames per second that can be shot. And I am fine with the 42 Mpx size. Having now worked with the Nikon D850 (which I love), I can see that even the somewhat increased size (47 Mpx) begins to further tax my computers (and Photoshop), which itself is very fast. I don’t need greater pixels than around 50 Mpx. What I do need (if it works well) is the Pixel-Shift feature that will give me better resolution for that 42 Mpx frame. That I need. I already have the Voigtlander 65mm Macro for the Sony A7R3, and many non-native lenses that I will see how they adapt. What I might want to pick up are one or two native Sony lenses that are as close to APO as possible. Those of you who use the A7R2 a lot, what are the pristine lenses for that camera that will work well on the A7R3? Thanks in advance.
  11. Having use the pixel-shift in the Pentax K1, which worked pretty well for still photography, I would tentatively trust (and oxymoron) Sony to do this better. And since I only shoot still photos, this could give me huge images with (I hope) great resolution. Although, the process of the pixel-shift technology is done in post through an app provided by Sony. That's fine with me. Perhaps with more room they will do a better job. Anyway, color me hopeful.
  12. Most folks who know my work know I am interested in focus stacking and have been for years. In the course of the last year and a half I have been through (IMO) a little photography hell, trying to find a camera to work with (or replace) my Nikon D810. This involved ordering and waiting for months and months for a copy of the Hasselblad X1D and then the Fuji GFX, both of which did not work out (for my purposes) as I had hoped they would and they cost a bundle, once you started adding lenses to the mix. And of course, Nikon was conspicuous by its absence all that time, so much so that I kind of began to give up on them, although I am a confirmed Nikon user and have way too many lenses for that mount. Then the Nikon D850 arrived and was delivered relatively quickly. But the question remained, aside from its many new features, most of which I will not use much (like high ISOs and fast autofocus), how does it work for what I really care about, which is working with LiveView and low ISOs... and especially focus stacking? Well, the verdict is in (for me anyway); it works well for everything I need it to. Well, for starters the new LiveView screen is considerably better than the D810. And marvel of marvels, I was surprised to find how much I love the ability to run silent with Electronic-First-Curtain and no mirror slap. Wow! As they say, “Silence is golden,” and it really is when stacking 100 layers for one photo. And it is very much faster because I’m no longer doing mirror-up and waiting for the vibration to die down. Without the sound of shutter activation, I just watch the LiveView screen update the screen with each press of the remote. And everything proceeds so quickly and easily. I have not tried the automatic focus-stacking feature because I like to march around objects (especially round or spherical subjects) when focus stacking, and even increments defeat that. I find the whole process of stacking focus something I mostly enjoy doing by myself. So, anyway, for those who wonder how the D850 takes to focus-stacking, my answer is better than I could have ever expected. I’m still working on the processing in post and, although the color of the D850 is different (to my eyes) than the D810, with not too much adjustment in my process, the results are what I am used to. I can’t say (or yet tell) if they are better. I can say that Nikon D850 has killed my interest in medium-format cameras, especially in terms of computer-post. I have a very fast (and expensive) computer, custom made. Even so, I can feel the difference in processing moving to 47 Mpx as compared to 36. It’s OK, but I could see that moving to 75m or 100 Mpx would seriously impact my patience. At least for now, 47 Mpx does all I need, and I very much notice that small difference in sensor size between the D810 and the D850. For me it is just enough to push me over the edge into what I have been looking for. Photos with the D850 and the APO El Nikkor 105mm on the Cambo Actus.
  13. I am liking the new D850 the more I get used to it. For my work, it is about perfect. Here are a few shots taken yesterday, two with the Nikkor CRT lens and one with the legendary Noct Nikkor. They are marked.
  14. Starting to get more of a handle on the Nikon D850. I like it! I can see I will learn to even love it. Turning off all sound in the camera as part of LiveView is way more wonderful than I would have imagined. Silence. Great for stacking photos and progress is as easy as watching the Live View screen visibly changing. I will use it ALL the time. The tilt-able screen in LiveView is helpful, but would be more helpful if it moved four ways instead of two, but not any real worry. To me, it looks like Nikon came out of the closet and threw everything they had this baby in an attempt to reinstate themselves. IMO, it works. I have (at least for now) lost ALL interest in medium-format cameras and ALL need for the mirrorless cameras with their EVFs. The improved LiveView of the D850 is enough RVF to allow me to do what I need to do until.... someday... something much superior comes along. And what an incredible bargain in price! Compared to the 15-20 thousand dollars to properly tool up for Hasselblad X1D or the Fuji GFX, spending about $3400 for the D850 (with a couple of extra batteries) is a steal. And have not even begun to explore this camera’s use in sports or nightclubs, which I will use for music acts, since I am around them a lot. Not owning many AF lenses, the little focus-stacking option (which I think just produces JPGs!) is a non-starter for me. I like to roll my own stacks, thank you, and use the best lenses I have, many of which are not Nikkors. And without a raw option for this, I would never use this feature. But some I imagine will. The D850 seems a tad heavier than the D810, but not enough to consider. The new more deeply-indented grip is nice, but I am always on a tripod, so not important to me. The batteries are said to last longer than those for the D810, but even these empty too fast for my taste. I have an L-Bracket coming soon from RRS, so until then I am using the one for the D810. Works well enough for now. I never used the on-board flash on the D810, so would much prefer to have the larger OVF viewfinder, but will never use that... Well, maybe sometimes. There are a great many features I have yet to try out, but my bread & butter settings are all there. The additional joystick I have no use for, already using the multi-selector button to move around. And, of course, setting my multi-selector-center button to magnify is the first thing I did. Works fine. I’m sure readers know all of this, so I’ am just confessing my Yes for this camera. Here is a shot with the APO-El Nikkor 105mm on the Cambo Actus of some New England Asters.
  15. May not interest many. Two shots, one with the D810 and the other with the D850, both photos labelled, with the D850 first. Each photo is a short stack, 3 shots, each focused on the flower centers. Shot on the Cambo Actus with the APO El Nikkor 105mm lens Not much post, aside from making them look OK. Nothing in the color changed. To me, shows the value of the larger sensor in resolution. Your thoughts?