Michael Erlewine

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About Michael Erlewine

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    Michael Erlewine
  • Birthday 18/07/41

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Big Rapids, MI USA
  • Interests
    Lenses, Focus Stacking, APO, Medium Format
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  • Fav. Camera
    Nikon D810, Hasselblad X1D
  • Fav. Lens
    Zeiss Otus Series
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. It’s been since about June of 2016 when I ordered the new Hasselblad X1D and waited. Then I ordered the Fuji GFX... and waited. I sent both of those back for various reasons along with a lot of lenses, etc. Then I ordered the Nikon D850 and waited just a little. I received my copy today and have only had a couple of hours of time in on it. There may be some deep-dark flaw, but I have not seen it yet. Some of our techsperts will have to check that out. My initial impressions, so far, are: (1) The ISO 64 seems to be there. (2) The extra Mpx are definitely worth it. Very much a difference that counts. (3) The new LiveView screen is better than the D810 by a lot, but also perhaps a little more difficult to focus, not to see, but to adjust focus. (4) The sharpness of older lenses like the photo here taken with the Voigtlander 125mm APO-Lanthar push this lens to a higher state of us. The camera makes sharpness... sharper, IMO. (5) The color on the LiveView screen looks different than the D810, but the end result (color-wise) is excellent. No complaints. I don’t use auto-focus and I still have not got the camera set up properly, but I’m working on it. So my initial impression is that this camera is as good or even better than I had hoped and at a HUGE savings in cost, not to mention that I have so many great lenses in the Nikon F-mount. If I have a single doubt, and I am not done checking this out, the highlights may clip... slightly more easily than the D810, but I will wait for gear guys to test this. So far, so good. Photo by the D850 and Voigtlander 125mm APO-Lanthar lens.
  6. 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
  7. Nikon D810 with the Zeiss Otuse 85mm f/1.4
  8. 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.
  9. Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 55mm
  10. Nikon D810, Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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