Published On: Sat, Feb 1st, 2014

Insights

Nikon Servicing Vintage Cameras and Lenses in Japan for a Limited Time

Posted on December 9th, 2017

Camera companies usually limit their repair services to newer camera and lens models that have plenty of replacement parts in stock, but Nikon is doing something different over in Japan: for a limited time, the company is offering to service your vintage, discontinued manual focus cameras and lenses.

For a fee, Nikon will perform a variety of inspections and adjustments to a range of older 35mm SLR lenses and cameras, including the Nikon F, F2, F3, FM, and Nikkormat.

If you hand over a manual focus SLR camera, here’s the list of 10 things Nikon will do for you:

  1. Winding mechanism inspection
  2. Inspection of rewinding mechanism
  3. Shutter speed inspection
  4. Exposure accuracy check
  5. Infinite matching inspection
  6. Body back check
  7. Mirror operation check
  8. Speedlight emission / synchronous inspection
  9. Appearance Check and replace malt plane
  10. Appearance cleaning

For manual focus lenses, the checklist includes 7 items:

  1. Infinite matching inspection
  2. Distance ring operation check
  3. Check zoom ring operation
  4. Aperture ring operation inspection
  5. Diaphragm blade operation check
  6. Inside the lens, dust and mold inspection
  7. Appearance cleaning

The maintenance will be completed in an estimated two to three weeks after the camera is sent to the Nikon Repair Center in Yokohama.

For now, it appears that this offer is available only in Japan, and there’s no word on whether it will be available in other countries. To take advantage of the servicing in Japan, you’ll need to send your camera in before March 31st, 2018.


Image credits: Header photo by Arne List

Review: The Light L16 is Brilliant… and Braindead

Posted on December 8th, 2017

On Oct 8, 2015, a completely unknown company announced a new camera which promised to change how we think about photography: “The L16 combines breakthrough optics design with never-before-seen imaging technology to bring you the camera of the future.”

The L16 would use 16 camera modules with varying focal lengths with folded optics instead of 1 single sensor, and use “computational photography” to fuse the individual photos together with depth data, producing results that would be “DSLR quality”.

The marketing promised a unicorn camera that prosumer/enthusiast photographers like me would want to carry around as an every-day tool. In theory, I would be able to leave my traditional cameras behind — today a FujiFilm X-T2, Leica Q and Sony RX100mk5 — and travel with just the Light L16.

2 years and 1 day after I pre-ordered my camera, my Light L16 finally arrived.

After two months with the L16, I can say it certainly has been an adventure. It’s a production camera with beta software, so the experience today represents the beginning part of a potentially long journey of software updates and improvements (my experiences here reflect impressions based off of the Nov 2017 update). But today, the L16 is an infuriating combination of brilliant and braindead.

It’s hard not to appreciate the brilliance of Light’s approach, and when it works, it truly is game-changing. With the L16, you have an impossible zoom range of 28–150mm packaged into a simple brick form-factor. You will get “reach” shots that are impossible in small form factor cameras today.

Light L16 at 150mm, original October 2017 firmware

However, be forewarned, it’s not small — it’s still a substantial chunk of kit, with quite a bit of mass. Protrusions are blissfully absent, so the L16 will slip into any bag or large pocket, like a jacket pocket. I find it amusing that Light’s marketing suggests you’re going to go biking with this thing in your back pocket. No way.

Top to bottom: FujiFilm X-T2, Light L16, Sony RX100mk5

Taking photos is simple point-and-shoot. As you would hope, once the L16 phones home and gets the latest software update, you’ll get your first photo quickly out of the box, just like any other camera. Certain things, such as zooming, are gesture-based, and others are embedded in on-screen controls. These will require a bit of familiarity to master; however, at the end of the day, it works very much like a smartphone, and it’s easy to adapt to the interface.

Photos taken with sufficient light (e.g. outdoor daylight) produce results that very good, and often excellent. This camera loves light and needs a lot of it. Do so and you will be rewarded.

Light L16, November 2017 firmware
Light L16, November 2017 firmware
Light L16, November 2017 firmware
Light L16, November 2017 firmware

The level of detail in the photos shot in the right conditions (and focal lengths) can truly be astonishing.

A 70+ megapixel image from the L16 at 28mm (left), and the same image zoomed to 2:1 (right)
A 70+ megapixel image from the L16 (left), and the same image zoomed to 2:1 (right)

However, as you learn to live with the camera, in all its beta glory, the frustrations mount.

Today, the output is sterile — less like a typical camera RAW image and more like a video shot in LOG format, a neutral image file that requires meaningful tone-mapping to be acceptable. I know what a good RAW file looks like, and this is simply not it.

Pictures are sharp but feel somewhat artificially sharp. If you’re looking for micro-contrast nuances in the output, the optics simply don’t lend themselves to this. If you’re looking for wide dynamic range with 2 stops of adjustment in either direction, the L16 RAW files don’t have this either.

I suspect some of this (such as dynamic range) will change dramatically and quickly over time with Light’s continuous updates, but today, it’s not where it needs to be. Expect to spend some time in Lightroom if you want images that pop.

Light L16 DNG, unprocessed (top), post-processed in Lightroom (bottom)

There are detail issues that are readily visible when viewing the large resolution photos as well. For the L16, ultra-high resolution doesn’t necessarily guarantee you sharp detail. Image merging issues and detail crush in areas like foliage make it impossible to count on being able to make Web-resolution crops of full resolution images.

100% crop of Light L16 DNG shot at 70mm. Note the soft cable pulley contrasted with the sharp crane.
100% crop of Light L16 DNG file. This is not handshake you’re seeing. This is a bad image merge.

Keep in mind, even if they nailed the detail edge-to-edge, the resolution is variable. You only get the “max” resolution at 3 distinct focal lengths, 28mm, 35mm, and 75mm. At some points, you approach camera phone resolution, such as at 69mm. Light explains this in great detail here.

Source: Light (https://support.light.co/l16-photography/explained-variable-resolution)

At 28mm, you add a new element to the results as well. The L16 uses multiple overlapping images to create one high-resolution image. At the outer edges of 28mm, there is no overlap. The effect is significant softness on the outer borders of the final image.

Source: Light (https://support.light.co/l16-photography/explained-variable-resolution)
When images don’t overlap, you will see artifacts like this (L16 image viewed at 2:1)
Artifacts from where the 28mm sensors end and the overlap of 28mm/70mm begins (viewed at 2:1)

The autofocus reminds me of the old SLR AF systems with in-body screw motors. Focusing is a (relatively) noisy affair of moving mirrors, and focus is prone to hunting. In its current iteration, it is also completely devoid of any features you would find on modern camera bodies, such as face detection, and object detection. If you don’t touch focus, you don’t get a depth map on the right subject as well.

Autofocus is imprecise at best. It is unclear how many discrete AF points the L16 has, but touch-focus seems to have its fair share of misses. Frankly, the L16 autofocus will have you begging for your smartphone camera. You’re not going to shoot any sports or action with the L16 unless you zone focus, and that experience is poor at best. Sure, you can do it, but even a bargain DSLR with a kit lens will do better. It will be interesting to see how much improvement can be made to the L16 autofocus via software, but again, today it’s simply not there. Even after the November 2017 update, which did improve the autofocus performance, we are not even close to a world where objects simply “jump” into focus.

There is no shutter priority. There is Auto, which works like P mode, and there’s Manual, which requires you to set ISO, and shutter separately. In Auto, everything is done for you, including ISO. Why Auto-ISO isn’t separated out is unfathomable. So you have to resort to manual to keep ISO under control. Photographers have been doing this for decades, so no big deal right? Try setting up that shot quickly on the L16. Without any dials, this camera is an ergonomic nightmare.

There is also no way to set aperture while taking the photo. While aperture can be adjusted AFTER the photo is taken in post-processing, it cannot be recorded when the photo is taken. What does that mean? If you go out and take 250 photos that day, every one of those 250 photos that you want to control depth-of-field will require fine-tuning in Lumen, the desktop software, BEFORE you go into your regular photo workflow. Furthermore, you will need to remember what your original intent was with the photo. Not an exercise I relish on a multi-day vacation.

Now, if you don’t ever shoot aperture priority, this is a non-issue. You can skip any workflow in Lumen and let the L16 do all the work, and it works like leaving your camera in P mode or full Auto mode. All your photos will come out at f/15, with everything in focus. Landscape shooters will love this infinite depth of field. However, if you do any amount of aperture priority shooting, this can add HOURS to your workflow. Remember, Lumen is only barely passable as a beta today and requires a fairly modern computer to perform, so it’s not a quick affair either.

Any errors in depth mapping will require you to “paint” them into focus. I have yet to produce a single image in Lumen that has nailed the depth map without needing correction. In many cases, like fine hair detail, I have all but given up and left everything as is, at f/15.

When depth mapping fails. Blueberry will never get her whiskers back.
Depth mapping errors in Lumen 2.0.58. Not even close.

Seriously, if you love bokeh, you want to love this product for the ability to adjust DoF and refocus. Lumen simply isn’t able to do it to any level of consistency. Shoot a few portraits, adjust the DoF to f/2.8 or f/4.0, spend the rest of your day trying to save edge details, hair, and poorly matched depth. Every one of the photos that Lumen misses on will make you wish you sucked it up and carried a different camera.

If you’re used to popping in an SD card into your computer, letting Lightroom import a few hundred photos while you watch TV, and then go into post-processing, the added step of doing everything in Lumen will infuriate you. It’s a pretty photographer hostile workflow.

Without any image stabilization, and with somewhat unknown sensor capability as of today, low light also challenges the camera, sometimes to a crippling degree. AF struggles as available light diminishes, and all those great long focal lengths are effectively useless.

There’s a reason why Apple is putting stabilization in the 56mm lens of the iPhone X — it takes a steady hand to shoot telephoto, and as shutter speed slows, camera shake will ruin the moment without image stabilization. Translated: you’re not going to be shooting 150mm handheld landscapes at night with the moon as your only illumination unless you have rock steady hands.

The lack of low-light capabilities is also readily apparent when the L16 is pushed above ISO 400. If you’re expecting to go out to dinner with friends, and bring the L16 to capture the moment, you’re going to be frustrated with many missed moments and some generally poor output with crushed shadow detail.

There is nothing this camera does with urgency. You may as well stick with your smartphone, which at least has face detection. This camera’s sweet spot today (November 2017 firmware) is sunrise to sunset. If you want a camera that you can carry into the night and shoot handheld, go and buy a FujiFilm X100 or a Ricoh GR and get a 90% hit rate on your photos — these are well-known compact APS-C based, low-light camera leaders. Honestly, even the 1-inch sensor on the Sony RX100 runs circles around the L16 in true low light.

Sony RX100mk5, ISO 3200 1/13 sec
Light L16, ISO 3050, 1/25 sec

So where does that leave us?

For those who don’t tinker with their photos much, the L16 is the only camera of its kind that exists as a brick form factor that can carry a 28–150mm equivalent zoom. Knowing the limits and adjusting aperture sparingly, you could convince yourself this is a manual camera that requires time and effort to take your photos. The subjects you tend to shoot will be things that can stay still for short periods of time (pets), or don’t move at all (landscapes, still life, plants, buildings, etc.). In many ways, it’s like a medium format camera — it’s slow, sometimes fussy, with only fair low light capability at best, but in the right hands with the right tripod stabilization, you can make awesome photos. And I do think you can get awesome out of this camera in the right conditions, provided you’re willing to follow a post-processing workflow in a tool like Lightroom.

For those that demand fast autofocus, image stabilization, proper low-light capabilities (clean and sharp ISO 3200-6400 is pretty much industry norm), and streamlined photo processing workflows, it’s hard to not wonder what else your money buys you. After all, the L16 is an almost $2000 camera. Granted, I paid much less as an early pre-order, but it’s hard not to compare it to the current market leader in compact pocket cameras, the Sony RX100 mk5, a $999 camera.

Sony RX100 mk5 resting comfortably inside the Utomic L16 bumper case

The RX100 may not zoom like the L16 (it has a 35mm equivalent 24–70mm f/1.8-f/2.8), but it offers 5-axis stabilization. The RX100 may not offer the same amount of megapixels (at 20.1MP) but it can shoot a convincing ISO 3200, and in some cases usable ISO 6400, with minimum noise. The RX100 uses a surprisingly fast 315-point phase detection (same tech as DSLRs) autofocus mechanism, and can even shoot daytime sports without fear of missing the moment (at up to 24 frames per second). The RX100 also actually fits in your pocket in a way that the L16 can never.

And therein lies the problem: for a camera that the Light L16 aspires to be (one that is competing with DSLRs), the closest competition I can think of is a pocket point-and-shoot from Sony that is smaller, less expensive and more capable today. And in today’s world where things are viewed at web and mobile resolutions, I have found even the iPhone X to be a formidable competitor to the L16 for casual photography. The iPhone X even shoots RAW directly into Lightroom.

iPhone X DNG (top), Light L16 DNG (bottom) viewed at scaled resolution

As much as the L16 is an engineering marvel, it is a camera designed by computer scientists and engineers and has little thought put in it for the actual photographer that will use it. In my opinion, it can be a downright terrible camera for photographers despite that it can often deliver great images in the right conditions. It makes me wonder if any of the professional photographers that shot the L16 for the Light blog would ever consider the L16 for their kit if it they were buying it themselves?

I’m sure Light’s tech is worth a lot, and they will get bought by a well-capitalized company that will do amazing things with it, but acquisitions are rarely kind to customers of tech startups. It would most certainly be the end of the L16.

Meanwhile, things that are important to the modern photographer are absent today. This is a laundry list of high value, but missing, features that are pedestrian, even on cameras well under $1000: fast power-on to first photo time, low shutter lag, quick autofocus speed, aperture selection at time of exposure, DoF preview, low-light capabilities, dynamic range, and friendly post-processing workflow. Everything about photography with the L16 requires a lot of effort, harkening days past where you had a 24 exposure roll of film, and you went to great lengths to make every exposure count. If that’s your shooting style, I guess you will be ok with the state of affairs. In my opinion, in 2017, these are terrible attributes for a go-anywhere camera marketed for convenience. To their credit, some of this stuff has gotten better since the November 2017 release, but we’re not even close.

The computational photography fans will be quick to note that this is a software-driven product and the camera will keep getting better. To some extent, this is true, although I find it hard to believe anyone will relish revisiting 6-month-old photos just to post-process again to get a better photo. Furthermore, the reality is also that the quality of photos will likely only get better up to a certain point — the question is when we will hit certain insurmountable limitations of the hardware, including low light and autofocus capabilities.

Don’t get me wrong — in ideal conditions, it truly behaves like a pocket medium-format camera, and you simply cannot get this kind of resolution in anything like it for under $10,000 today (e.g. a Fujifilm GFX50s with 32–64mm lens).

iPhone X DNG file (left), L16 DNG file (right), viewed at 1:1

But when daylight runs out, or when the right photo opportunity strikes, I always question whether the L16 is ready to take that shot. Unlike other cameras produced by current market leaders, even after the latest software update, I still find it hard to trust the L16 to be ready and capable when I need it to be. After two months, I never grab the L16 when I want to go out to take some photos — and that’s a problem.

On December 5, 2017, I made my peace with the camera and asked Light for a full refund. I really wanted to love it. I just don’t.

Would I recommend you buy it today? Absolutely not. Your mileage may vary, but it’s a lot of money for a rough product.

Do I think Light knows these are the issues and are feverishly working on addressing them? Yes, I do. Do I think they can fix a lot of this stuff fairly quickly? Sure.

The product is simply too unfinished today. Without roadmaps, we don’t know if we’re looking at weeks, months or years to get to a solid version 1.0. That’s troubling for a startup company that is already years late delivering a product. Maybe they figure it out sooner than I expect. I can always buy the camera again if it actually becomes great.

On the upshot, I do have a new found appreciation for how good the cameras I own really are. It’s like returning a terrible rental car and falling back in love with your car, all over again.


About the author: Albert Lee is a technology enthusiast who’s always trying new gadgets. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Header photo by Light

B&H is Shipping an Extra $3,200 Sony a7R III to Customers by Accident

Posted on December 7th, 2017

When I picked up my new $3,200 Sony a7R III camera from B&H Photo at UPS on Monday morning, I was surprised at how it was packed, because it was a box inside a box. This never happens, so imagine my surprise when I opened this rather large second box to find two cameras inside.

Knowing the law, for a split second I knew that I could keep what was inside, but I immediately reached out to my contact at B&H Photo during my drive home to find out what happened. Considering others received and unboxed cameras from B&H Photo on YouTube, I hoped it was a one-off error, so I worked with them to figure out how this happened. They figured out that any 7lbs box being shipped must be a double pack, which was where our conversation stopped.

Since then, I have discovered that I was not the only one to receive two cameras. I am not sure why this person wanted to be on the news for returning something they didn’t pay for, but I highly encourage any of you to do the same thing.

Depending on the size of this error someone will likely lose their job around the holidays. There are also your fellow photographers out there that are being deprived of stock by this error of unknown size.

I’ve done some digging and I know more than 20 people who have received an extra camera, so that is a fairly significant loss on everyone’s behalf. Roughly $66,000 is not a bad salary and it could be a much larger error than that, so if the cameras aren’t returned you can bet jobs will be lost.

I don’t believe in a lot in this world and karma certainly hasn’t worked in my favor, but it still doesn’t change things. People should try to do the right thing. So if you receive a second camera in error, contact B&H Photo. If they take the time to reach out to you because you received one, just send it back and be happy with the camera you paid for.

Happy Holidays and thanks for reading.


Update on 12/8/17: Alex Workman is another customer who received two cameras after ordering one:


About the author: Louis Ferriera is a second-generation Leica photographer that learned analog photography on a first production year Leica M3 that he inherited from his uncle. Photography has been an avocation of his for 25 years and he became involved in professional photography when the transition to digital photography began in the 90s. You can find more by Louis on Fuji Addict, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, 500px, and Twitter. This article was also published here.

Sony a7R III Weather Sealing: A Closer Examination

Posted on December 7th, 2017

When we finished our teardown of the a7R III, we didn’t anticipate just how badly people wanted to see the new camera body’s weather sealing.

This may seem like a no-brainer since weather sealing is something avid Sony mirrorless camera shooters like myself are pining for (not that it’s stopped my A6000 from weathering the occasional shower). But, the truth is that the a7R III is not sealed the same way as an underwater camera or the more extreme weatherproof DSLRs.

If you open the new Sony up, you won’t find gaskets or airtight rubber seals on each individual button and screw like you might on a Pentax. Instead, Sony appears to have taken a subtler approach to protecting their latest full frame from the elements. A mix of some rubber, a tight fit, and rather large lips at the edge of each piece of the chassis seem to do the job when it comes to keeping the rain out of sensitive components.

The first thing we noticed was this long edge that the top cover attaches to the main body by.

In addition to a tight fit, this edge poses a fairly tight, sealed wall that should be difficult for any rain to climb through and get inside your a7R III.

We noticed this design throughout the major parts of the camera body. From what we’ve seen, as long as all the pieces are fitting together properly and the camera hasn’t been submerged, water should have a tough time making it past these barriers.

The ports are also protected by tight covers similar to those found on the A9.

Moreover, the jacks themselves are their own individual components, protecting the integrity of the camera in the event that one gets waterlogged.

The flip-open dual SD card slot (the unequivocal best new feature of the a7R III, admit it) has rubber stripping running along to edges to keep those memory cards nice and dry.

However, most of the rubber sealing is found on the top cover. This is the part we would expect to bear the brunt of any downpour, so it makes sense to have the most rubber and most aggressive edges here.

Sony went the heaviest on the rubber here by the shutter button, but there’s some rubber stripping throughout the frame of the top cover.

Here’s a little above the viewfinder…

…some more to the left above the LCD…

…and a fair amount here, around the main controls and dials.

After taking a closer look, we found that there is indeed more than one way to skin a cat or, alternatively, to weather seal a camera. As this teardown suggests and as other sources online will tell you, do not expect the a7R III to be 100% weatherproof or waterproof. With that said, do expect the a7R III to withstand rain much better than its predecessors. Whether or not it’ll handle adverse conditions better or worse than other weather sealed DSLRs should be left to testing.


About the author: Pat Nadolski is part of the team at Kolari Vision, an infrared camera conversion business based in New Jersey. You can learn more about the company’s service’s on its website. This article was also published here.

A Mantis Shrimp-Inspired Camera That Sees Polarized Light

Posted on December 7th, 2017

Researchers from the University of Illinois have managed to create a new camera called the Mantis Cam that can see polarized light. This technology provides possible solutions for everything from unlocking the mysteries of the underwater world to early cancer detection.

The research was published in the journal Optica and takes its inspiration from the mantis shrimp, a crustacean with an incredible visual system. Humans have 3 different types of color receptors, but the mantis shrimp has 16 different receptors alongside another 6 polarization channels.

Animals in the underwater world use polarized light for “covert communication channels” as well as hunting and navigation.

On the left is “normal” light, and on the right a scene captured from polarized light.

“The animal kingdom is full of creatures with much more sensitive and sophisticated eyes than our own,” says Viktor Gruev, co-author of the study. “These animals perceive natural phenomena that are invisible to humans.”

The technology works by stacking photodiodes on top of each other in silicon within the camera. It allows color to be seen without using special filters. In the mantis shrimp’s eye, photosensitive elements are stacked vertically on top of each other in the same fashion. This allow for shorter wavelengths of light to be absorbed.

“By combining this technology with metallic nanowires, we effectively have replicated the portion of the mantis shrimp visual system that allows it to sense both colour and polarization,” said researcher Missael Garcia.

Viktor Grueve (right) – professor of electrical and computer engineering; and graduate student Missael Garcia (left). Photo by L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

While offering opportunities in healthcare such as early cancer detection, the technology can also be used to decode the sensory and communication systems of animals underwater.

This video shows examples of the technology in action:

“By mimicking the mantis shrimp visual system, we have created a unique camera that can be used to improve the quality of our lives,” says Gruev. “The notion that we can detect early formation of cancer is what is driving this research forward. The cost of this technology is less than $100, which will enable quality health care in resource-limited places around the world.”

(via University of Illinois via The Engineer)

Freefly Movi is a Cinematic Gimbal for Your Smartphone

Posted on December 6th, 2017

Freefly creates professional drone and gimbal solutions for the cinema industry, and today it released a specialized gimbal for smartphones: the Freefly Movi.

“Movi’s incredible stabilization technology is the same found in our professional rigs,” says Freefly. “Freefly Gimbals are first-in-class stabilizers used in multimillion-dollar films.”

“Movi was designed to integrate seamlessly with the iPhone and allow users to execute stunning shots quickly and easily.”

Movi has 6 different shooting modes:

“Majestic” is a classic single operator mode. You can set fast and slow movements, and it pans with you to create cinematic shots.

“Echo” allows you to set start and endpoints of your movement, set the duration of the move, and create repeatable automated camera moves.

“Timelapse” allows you to define a start and end movement path, as well as a duration, and Movi will create moving time-lapses.

“Movilapse” slows down the movement of the Movi gimbal by 10 times, meaning that when you playback the footage at 10 times speed you are left with smooth movements through a speedy scene.

“Smartpod” allows you to lock-on to a stationary object, and Movi will keep your phone trained on it as much as possible.

“Orbit” keeps the shot fixed on your subject as you circle around it, allowing you “perfect wraparound footage.”

Movi is suitable for smartphones up to 3.5 inches wide and offers Bluetooth LE Wireless Connectivity to enable use alongside a free iOS app to aid operation.

It has 3-axis stabilization and a standard tripod mounting thread to offer increased opportunities for use. It takes a fast-charging lithium-ion battery and weighs 600 grams (excluding the phone).

Here’s an introduction to the Freefly Movi:

The Freefly Movi is available for $300 from the Freefly Movi website. It will begin shipping in March 2018.

Shooting the Milky Way Handheld with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art Lens

Posted on December 5th, 2017

After getting his hands on the new Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens recently, photographer Alyn Wallace decided to take it out into the Elan Valley Dark Sky Park in Wales to put it through its paces. His first test: shooting the Milky Way handheld.

“With the f/1.8 aperture you can let in so much light onto your sensor,” Wallace says. “This is the fastest super-wide-angle lens ever made. Sigma have totally defied the laws of physics to create this lens.”

Wallace went into the dark sky park (one of the darkest places in Wales) with the Sigma 14mm mounted to his Sony a7S II using Sigma’s MC-11 Canon to Sony adapter, which allows the lens to work with Sony’s SteadyShot in-body stabilization.

Wallace shooting the Milky Way handheld with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art

Wallace ended up shooting a 1-second exposure at f/1.8 and ISO 51200:

The straight-out-of-camera image was very noisy and pretty dark, but after some adjustments and noise-reduction in Lightroom, Nik Dfine, Wallace was surprised by the result.

“This image turned out way better than I was expecting it to,” Wallace says. “The final image is surprisingly clean. It cleaned up really nice. The detail that’s left even after that aggressive noise reduction is so impressive.

“I think this is a testament to how well this lens resolves detail because noise reduction algorithms are programmed to look for edges and to try and retain detail in those edges by not blurring them and smoothing them out. Because this lens resolves detail so well, the noise reduction software has an easy job of knowing where to do the noise reduction and where not.

After doing his handheld test, Wallace stuck his camera onto a tripod and did further tests to see how well the lens would perform with ordinary use in astrophotography. You can watch those tests and Wallace’s thoughts in the 13-minute vlog at the top of this post.

“In conclusion, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens… I can sum it up in three words: it’s a beast,” Wallace says. “It’s a beast in that it’s big and heavy, but it’s a beast in its performance — the sharpness and the detail that it resolves. It’s just second to none. It’s in a league of its own.”


P.S. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is another camera that performs well when shooting the Milky Way handheld. We’ve previously shared examples here and here.

This 32-Inch Philips Display with 99% Adobe RGB and HDR is Only $500

Posted on December 5th, 2017

Philips has announced a new 32-inch professional monitor with HDR and 99% Adobe RGB coverage: the Philips Brilliance QHD LCD P-line 328P6AUBREB. The best part: this high-end monitor will only cost around $500.

With USB-C docking for “simplicity and single cable docking,” this monitor is designed for professionals who demand “maximum quality.” This USB 3.1 technology is 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and can even charge certain laptops.

“The P-line monitors are designed to deliver precise, accurate and color-critical color performance,” says Philips product manager Artem Khomenko. “We are proud to bring this new model to the market, and to meet the high standards of professionals.

“This model is the perfect fit for graphic designers, CAD engineers, photographers, video editors and other professionals who rely on an outstanding on-screen reproduction of fine details.”

The monitor’s HDR technology ensures “exceptional brightness and contrast” alongside a rich palette of “new colors never before seen on a display.”

The monitor’s display is 10-bit with 1.074 billion colors, all of which is supported by 12-bit internal processing. This allows for natural colors and smooth gradients. It has a 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB color gamut, offering professional color standards across its 2560×1440-pixel display.

IPS technology is used to give the monitor a viewing angle of up to 178-degrees without loss of color accuracy or brightness.

Aside from the features of the actual screen, the monitor has Philips’ SmartErgoBase which allows for easy adjustments. It also has Philips’ LowBlue Mode, reducing “potentially harmful” shortwave blue light.

There is also “flicker-free technology” and built-in stereo speakers. The monitor is also a “good choice” for users with eco-friendly buying habits, as it is made of 65% post-consumer recycled plastics.

The Philips 328P6AUBREB P-line display will be available in January 2018 at a retail price of £439 in the UK. Both DPReview and AnandTech report that the monitor will be cost at or around $500 when it’s available in the United States.

About the Author

- "The Back Page" was developed by Kristakov & Co. as an aggregation resource tool for sharing tips, techniques, inspiration and news with the larger photographic community. The site is threaded with information that is produced for or can be found around the web in disparate sources. The Back Page serves as a means of bringing those disparate sources together for discussion, comment and insights.

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