Tuesday, January 17, 2017

REVIEW: ColorByte ImagePrint 10 - Discount Offer & Tutorial

Get better than Epson prints on Epson paper with ColorByte ImagePrint 10.0.17 & up
Print on Epson paper on a Canon PRO-1000 with ColorByte ImagePrint 10.0.16 & up

Back when I reviewed ColorByte ImagePrint 8 it made great prints, but the user interface - especially the mechanism for getting ICC profiles - was cumbersome. While this new user interface won't win any design awards, it's fairly straight forward to use. What's more, it requires a lot less clicking than printing directly from Photoshop using a operating system driver.

A word about sharpening

It should be noted that by default ImagePrint assumes you've sharpened your image and it won't apply any additional sharpening.

It has been my experience that Photoshop and especially Perfect Resize are much better at resizing images than letting ImagePrint do it, so if you let ImagePrint resize your images then they will be a little softer than what you'd get from the driver and  Photoshop as you'll see below.

image
Corrections Window

To compensate for this you can use the Corrections feature (shown above) in ImagePrint to add sharpening, but my preference is to use Perfect Resize to the exact output size, and then sharpen in Photoshop before bringing the image into ImagePrint. This will give you the best resize and sharpness.

Color Prints Compared

The image in this section were printed on the same paper using profiles provided by Red River when printed from Photoshop and ColorByte when printed from ImagePrint. The original was a 3456 x 5184 pixels PSD using ProPhoto RGB 16-bit, and the same file was used in both Photoshop and ImagePrint.

All of the prints featured in this article were scanned with a Epson Perfection V850 Pro Scanner using Epson Scan software. Dust and lint was intentionally left on the bed to prove that it was in fact a scan of print. All prints look more vibrant in real life.

Click the images to see the full size original scans for more detail. For best results, open the originals in Lightroom or Photoshop and compare them side by side. Please leave your browser open on this article while you are doing the comparison and delete the images after you are done comparing. 

Please note that it is near impossible to see any differences unless you are viewing at 100% or more, so do not use the thumbnails featured here to draw any conclusions.

All images are copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may not print, save, edit, or otherwise redistribute all or part of any of the images featured in this article.

Canon PRO-1000

The following print was done on the same paper, Red River Paper Palo Duro SoftGloss Rag with one printed using the best printer driver settings in Photoshop using the OS driver:


Canon PRO-1000 from Photoshop 2017.0.1

and another done using the Mixed Warm display lighting setting from the ImagePrint profile in ImagePrint 10.0.18:


Canon PRO-1000 from ImagePrint 10.0.18

The net result is that the image in ImagePrint has a much more accurate sky color (better blues) and the tonal range in the reds is slightly better. Unlike the Epson, I didn't measure any improvements in shadow details which could be due to the experience ImagePrint has had building Epson drivers over the years.

Epson SureColor P800 

The following print was done on the same paper, Red River Paper Palo Duro SoftGloss Rag with one printed using the best printer driver settings in Photoshop using the OS driver:


Epson P-800 from Photoshop 2017.0.1

and another done using the Mixed Warm display lighting setting from the ImagePrint profile in ImagePrint 10.0.18:


Epson P-800 from ImagePrint 10.0.18

Like the Canon, the sky color was much more accurate (better blues) but in this case I felt the tonal range in the reds were much better. I also saw a slight improvement in the detail in the shadows:

Black & White Images Compared

NOTE: I'll do B&W image comparisons in the near future.

Video Review & Tutorial

I've created a simple 10 minute demo of how I like to use this product and what I like about it. I've avoided getting into too much detail as this is meant to be a basic overview along with my opinion instead of a fully featured tutorial.

NOTE: While I demo this product using Windows, there is a Mac version as well.

Want more videos?

The ColorByte home page features a list of videos that discusses what's new if you are upgrading, and it is helpful to go to the Exclusive Features and Tutorials pages to quickly learn about all this product has to offer.

Conclusion

At the end of the day this product isn't just using your printer driver - it is using its own version of a more advanced version of your printer driver to give you the best results possible. This low level control of your printer coupled with excellent ICC profiles really does result in the best print quality I've seen both in color as well as black and white prints. Of course if you are handy at creating very high quality ICC profiles and are happy with the results you are getting it might not be right for you, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

The utilitarian user-interface is painfully out of date and quirky, but it's functional and does its job well. The resizing is poor compared to what you get from Photoshop or Perfect Resize so external resize and sharpening in advance is his highly recommended.

Despite it's steep price, I highly recommend it for those who earn income off of their prints and wish to give their clients the best print quality possible. I don't recommend it for hobbyists unless you are very unsatisfied with the quality of the profiles you have now for your favorite papers, and you are willing to absorb the price for better results.

If price is the only thing holding you back, then see my discount below.

Where to Buy?

Purchasing this product is a little unconventional because it requires a USB dongle to be plugged into your computer when you use this software. While you can purchase direct (please tell them you came from ronmartblog.com), I've arranged a special discount that I'd recommend you take advantage of instead. Here's details:

Get 10% OFF ImagePrint

I have worked a special arrangement with ColorByte to offer you the first ever discount that was made available for a blog several years back. ColorByte is offering a 10% off discount to readers of this article when you contact JVH Technical, LLC by phone or email. You can not get this discount through the web or ColorByte directly, so you must contact JVH and you MUST mention this blog in order to get the discount.

If you have any questions or concerns about this discount program, please don’t hesitate to  contact me directly.

NOTE: This product does offer a 30 day money back guarantee as well as a free demo that will watermark your prints.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Friday, January 13, 2017

REVIEW: Sony a6500 (Part II of II) - Good camera but not with the FE 24-70 f/2.8 G Master Lens


Sony Alpha a6500 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)

If you haven't already, please check out part one in the article titled REVIEW: Sony a6500 & 24-70 f/2.8 GM (Part I of II) as this review picks up where that left off.

Random Camera Body Thoughts

This camera features the same articulating display as the a6300 that is better than nothing but doesn't allow for selfie shots (a good thing?) and often doesn't do what you want when you find yourself wanting an adjustable LCD.

What I did often do was accidentally change the focus point when I brought my eye up to the viewfinder as my house would bump the screen and move the focus point. This irritated me quite bit, but I got used to it.

The annoying Sony menus are just as bad as ever, despite some minor changes that some suggest are improvements but for me it's much of the same.

The excellent eye tracking AF still requires you to set the camera to continuous autofocus and press a button to engage it, but it still works very well as did its predecessor. In this shot I gave it a spontaneous test and it successfully found his eye and not those of the distractions in the background:

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/4 @ 25mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 4000
Eye AF still works great

Unfortunately this image was softer than expected which was due to the performance of my test lens and being at f/4 with it. Given a sharper lens, this should would have only been better as the eye AF worked brilliantly.

All the rage about this camera body has been about its improved burst mode performance, but I'm a Canon 1DX Mark II owner so if I care about burst mode I go grab that camera. As a result, I didn't do much burst mode  shooting. I did confirm that it can quickly bang out 110 frames before the buffer fills, but it takes quite some time for it to flush that buffer even using a fast SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card. I also had mixed results with the accuracy, but given then fully frame (FE) lens (vs a cropped E-mount) I was using I decided not to explore this feature in depth.

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/5 @ 35mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 200
Even shooting on a snowy day for a couple hours, the battery performed very well

Finally, battery life was excellent in my testing (even in the cold) and Sony's excellent focus peaking worked extremely well as usual but I still wish they'd offer more color choices.

Bookshelf Test

For my bookshelf shots I always clean the lens, reset the camera to factory default, turn off stabilization (Steady Shot), use a single small AF point focused around the world tolkien on the red book, set the camera level on a tripod and then use the timer on aperture priority to get a clean shot. I've done this hundreds of times, but this time I was shocked at the results.

If you missed the first part of this review, the lens being tested with this camera is the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens.

The worst lens I've tested in years? Huh?!!!!!

Click to see full-size JPEG created from original RAW
f/2.8 @ 24mm for 25 sec at ISO 100 - 1st attempt
See here for the 2nd attempt shot

Thinking I must have obviously done something wrong, I repeated the entire process again and even used a new cleaning cloth on the lens - again the same results. The reason for my concern was extreme softness when wide open as shown here:

image
Cheap kit lens results were not what I expected from a $2000+ USD lens

To give the Sony every benefit of the doubt, I couldn't show you the JPEG's like I normally would because they were just too bad. Instead, I used the RAW files with the latest version of Lightroom and chose Camera Standard for the Camera Calibration Process 2012 Profile and I enabled Profile Lens Corrections.

I've never given a camera this much advantage in my testing, but I felt this camera needed it given what I was seeing with this lens.

I can only conclude that this could be one of three issues:

  1. Despite using a ziploc, perhaps condensation occurred when shooting in the snow and some inner element is smudged.
  2. I've got a bad lens that wasn't assembled properly or got dirty when assembled.
  3. This lens simply isn't as good as many people says it is when paired with this camera.

DxO test with the a6000 using this lens seem to indicate that it is much softer than when paired with the phenomenal Sony a7R Mark II, but no kidding right? Still, could it be this much worse?

Unfortunately Imaging-Resource lens test (formerly slrgear.com) didn't exist for this lens, so I have to assume #1 & #2 which is unfortunate as I won't likely have a chance to retest this lens / camera combo.

UPDATE: 24-70mm GM on the Sony A7R Mark II 

As promised, I decided that the results from this lens were so bad that I wanted more verification if it was the lens or the camera. Thanks to Jeff Goldner who generously loaned me his A7R Mark II so I could do this. Please note that I didn't want to reset all of Jeff's settings so these shots have DRO Off which is why they feel darker.

After some testing tonight, I've concluded that the problem is definitely the lens - and that's sad given both its price and the hype about it. Here's the f/2.8 bookshelf shot:

Click to see full-size original JPEG
f/2.8 @ 24mm for 1.6 sec at ISO 100
It's not the camera, it's the lens - it's just soft at f/2.8 when you view the original

When you zoom into 100% (and click below to see the true 100% image) you see that even the mighty A7R Mark II confirms this lens is just soft at f/2.8.

Better camera - same result

For fun, I included the 70mm here which shows the same bad results:

Click to see full-size original JPEG
f/2.8 @ 70mm for 2.5 sec at ISO 100
Things don't get much better at 70mm either

Better camera - same result

So I have to say that I'm very unimpressed with this lens, so unless I have a really bad copy I  wouldn't sink $2000 USD into this lens.

it should be noted that this lens, like all lenses does get much better at a couple stops past wide open so f/5.6 looks pretty good. See later in this article for those results and click here to see the full gallery of bookshelf shots with the Sony A7R Mark II with the 24-70mm GM lens.

For reference, to see what the Sony A7R Mark II is capable of, check out the results possible with the 90mm G Master lens - http://photos.ronmartblog.com/lens/sony/90mm.

Moiré pattern issue

image[5]

The moiré pattern issue I highlighted in part II of my a6000 review was present in a big way which was very disappointing given the fact that there wasn't incredible sharpness that typically comes with other cameras that have this issue (most frequently due to the lack of a low pass filter),

It should be noted that the Sony A7R Mark II does not show this problem (but the Mark I did slightly on occasion).

f/5.6 & f/8 didn't suck as much (of course)

Click for full size
f/5.6 @ 24mm for 10 sec at ISO 100
Better, but I still prefer the 16-24mm Zeiss results

Click for full size
f/8 @ 24mm for 20 sec at ISO 100
Also better and about the same as above


Sony a7R Mark II f/5.6 @ 24mm for 8 sec at ISO 100
While there is more distortion, the image quality is good - not stellar - but good

Comparing at 100% with the a6300

Maybe my eyes are just used to looking at the Canon 1DX Mark II with the Sigma 85mm Art series lens, but I expected more out of this lens at this price point:

f/8 @ 24mm for 20 sec at ISO 100
f/8 @ 24mm for 20 sec at ISO 100

In fact, if I look at 16-24mm Sony Zeiss lens I tested with here you can see that it's much better:

Sony a6300 f/8 @ 70mm 100% View
Sony a6300 f/8 @ 70mm for 20 sec at ISO 100 
using the Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

This is a heavy weight this lens that comes it in at 81 grams heavier than the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II and just 14 grams lighter than the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G ED). When you couple this with its huge 82mm filter size and 5.35" 136mm) length that exceeds the Canon & Nikon, it definitely seems like the Zeiss 16-70mm might be the better way to go!

Oh and if you are wondering what this lens is like at 70mm or higher ISO's, then be sure to check out the full gallery of images at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/sony/a6500.

ISO Testing

While you can view a lot more bookshelf shots here, here's a quick look at the noise found at ISO 6400:

f/5.6 @ 24mm for 1/6 sec at ISO 6400 - RAW PROCESSED in Lightgroom
ISO 6400 from RAW processed in Lightroom (no noise reduction)
(Camera Standard and Lens Correction)
Click the image for a full size version of the thumbnail
(or
click here for the full size image)

The RAW processed 6400 ISO version, even in Lightroom, looks a lot better than expected. However, the standard in-camera default noise reduction destroys the image as shown below:

f/5.6 @ 24mm for 1/6 sec at ISO 6400 - Unedited In-Camera JPEG)
Screen capture of in-camera JPEG for the raw file above
Default noise reduction destroys details pretty bad!

UPDATE: Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens

Click to learn more about this lens at B&H
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens

Good news boys and girls, thanks to my friend Jeff Goldner, I was able to test the a6500 with a proper lens - the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS. This lens shows what this camera is really capable of, and it was a lot more than the lame 24-70mm GM was showing us.

While it naturally doesn't have the dynamic range and detail of the flagship A7R Mark II (90mm tests shots here), the results are very sharp and detailed:

image
Click for the full in-camera JPEG original of this image

I also upload more in the gallery here, but this validates my original concerns. I'm glad about that because this is a camera that I've loved, even if the need for it is reaching its end of life given all the great choices on the market these days.

More Real World Shots

See the first part of this article for a bunch of real world shots and more info about my methodology, but here's a few more:

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/4 @ 42mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 100
Standard Creative Style does a good job, but...

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/4 @ 42mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 100
Landscape Creative Style is still my favorite - I love the color I get with it!

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/9 @ 42mm for 1/80 sec at ISO 200
Assuming I had a good lens, I wanted to do some depth of field tests at f/9,
but in retrospect the only value of this shot was the detail on the close snow covered leaf

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/3.2 @ 42mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 100
When I compare the subject sharpness at both open and closed down apertures, the results favored f/9 over f/3.2 for detail in the foreground subject

Conclusion

Sadly, it turned out to be one of the worst camera/lens combos I've tested and really the first Sony camera and lens combo to let me down in quite some time. In fact, It made me wished I had chosen a different E Mount lens as this combo had me doing a lot of duplicate testing in the hope that I could pinpoint the problems to something I could fix instead of this camera I wanted to love.

Since I loved the a6000 and a6300 using the the Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens, I'm going to give Sony the benefit of the doubt and suggest that users go with that combo over the more expensive Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens tested here. I suspect/hope that would give results closer to that I'm used to seeing from Sony these days.

UPDATE: The results with the 90mm G Master prove my point above, so when paired with a good lens this camera is still a decent camera. That said, the remainder of my conclusion still remains mostly unchanged...

I do find the $1398 USD price tag of this camera (at the time this was written) to be quite expensive for what you get - especially since I'm not seeing huge improvements over the a6000 (currently $548 USD) and a6300 (currently $998 USD).

Unless you need the video or burst mode improvements, I'd suggest going with one of the previous aX00 models over the a6500. I'd also prefer an easier to grip and full-frame sensor of a a7 II  (see my a7 review) over a cropped sensor at this price point, so it also seems a better choice if the incredible a7R II is out of your reach.

My once most heavily recommended camera has moved to my look elsewhere list. It's not that it's a bad camera (when paired with a great lens), it's just that it's moved into the full DSLR price range. The 7D Mark II and excellent Nikon D610  offer much more in terms of dynamic range and platform benefits with the range of lenses and flash accessories without a huge penalty in weight / size, so I think the need for this camera has faded away.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

REVIEW: Sony a6500 & 24-70 f/2.8 GM (Part I of II)

Sony Alpha a6500 Mirrorless Digital Camera at B&H
Sony Alpha a6500 Mirrorless Digital Camera

If you saw my reviews of the Sony a6000 and a6300 then you know that I'm a HUGE fan of the Sony a6x0 series cameras, so I was very excited when my review unit arrived. In fact, I was so sure that this was going to be the best one yet that I wanted to make sure I had what I had heard was one of Sony's best zoom lenses, so I decided to get the 24-70 G Master lens to pair with it:

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens at B&H
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens

Before this combo even arrived, I was certain it was going to be incredible. Given the $1398 price of the camera and the $2198 USD cost for the lens (at the time article was written) this combo at $3596 USD was slightly more than a 5D Mark IV camera body, so it better be good right?

Read on to see what I discovered in my testing.

Real World Shots - Day 1

It should be noted that for most of my testing, just like with any other camera, I typically shoot with camera default settings where the biggest changes I'll make are:

  • Shooting RAW+JPEG, turning Steady Shot off when doing long exposures (then back on again)
  • Occasional adjustments to white balance and creative style

Aside from that I use the small flexible spot or eye focus points mostly and typically work in aperture priority with auto ISO defaults. I feel this accurately represents what users can expect to get out of this camera and is consistent with how I've been testing all other cameras since 2008.

What's included here are a sample of the in-camera JPEG's (click images for full-size originals) along with more found here.

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/5.6 @ 33mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 400
This was a new trail for me so I was excited about the hike and the camera, so I saw this shot on the back of the camera and thought it was pretty cool so I was ready to show how great this camera and lens combo would be to my readers

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/5.6 @ 70mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 1250
After some previous shots that came out softer than expected I blamed the wind, my settings, my hands and kept working to get a better shot. The result was this shot with gobs of detail and a nice bokeh - I was pleased, so I foraged ahead


f/2.8 @ 29mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 100
Ah, this was it - the start of what I was hoping to get - sharp details and a nice bokeh of this scenic trail near my home

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/11 @ 24mm for 1 sec at ISO 100
Feeling confident, I used my tabletop tripod to do some long exposures with steady shot turned off - not bad!

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/2.8 @ 26mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 320
I was happy with the result here, but I was also shooting with the Sigma 85mm Art on my Canon 1DX Mark II  (see article here) so I felt like the Sony shots were too soft. I blamed that on my eyes being overly sensitive to the best lens/camera combo I had ever tested.

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/4 @ 32mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 400
I was very happy with this one in the field so I had convinced myself the problem wasn't that I was getting soft images, it was that the LCD wasn't showing me the full resolution of the high quality images that I was capturing.

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
f/5.6 @ 30mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 500
Again, something felt off with this shot but I had also just taken it with the Sigma 85mm Art and the Canon 1DX Mark II as previously mentioned, so again I convinced myself I was being hyper critical.

In isolation, only looking at these shots, I was quite pleased. By many standards, the colors were vibrant and the images were bursting with tons of detail and out of focus areas were consistent with other APS-C cameras I've tested. All in all, it was a good day so I was excited to do more testing.

See Part II for more shots and a summary of my findings.

Video Tests

I hate editing video so I almost never bother testing the video features of cameras. However, I loved the environment I was in so much during this hike I decided to do a little video at various speeds to see what this camera could do. Sadly YouTube doesn't allow me to show it to you in its full fidelity, but given those limitations the results were pretty good in my opinion (if you are like me and normally only used to cell phone video):


4k UHD Video recorded at 30p 60M


4k UHD Video recorded at 30p 100M


1080p HD Video recorded at 120p 100M

Above video slowed down to 20%

I was happy with the results, so I was thinking at this point the video was great and the photos were great, so yes the a6500 is going to be another slam dunk camera like its predecessors.

Conclusion

CLICK HERE to read my conclusion.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

NEWS: Epson SureColor P5000 replaces the 4900

Epson SureColor P5000 Standard Edition 17" Wide-Format Inkjet Printer at B&H
Epson SureColor P5000 17" Roll Printer

Ron's Take

This past October I sat down with Epson in New York to get an early preview of the new P5000 in a room filled with amazing images that were made with this printer. My 4900 created some of the best prints I had ever seen up until recently, so I was happy to see that its replacement satisfied my extremely high quality bar.

Instead of spending a lot of time fawning over the printer body, I elected to have a deep technical discussion about the print head, inks and what I could really expect from this new printer.

Head Clogging Problem Solved?

The print quality of the Epson StylusPro 4900 was regarded to be one of the best Epson printers, but it also had a reputation as a printer whose heads clogged easily. The head clogging problem ultimately sent my 4900 to its grave after about 4 years of limited use so I've been a rather harsh critic of the 4900 because of this.

The first question on my mind during my preview of the new P5000 wasn't about print quality - it was about <censored> head problem. During this discussion I was asked not to quote specific figures, but after a lengthy discussion on the topic I felt convinced that Epson definitely understood the problem and had made significant improvements to hopefully eliminate it. Time will tell and it will be something I pay attention to when I get my review unit, but my expectations have been set that this is a problem of the past.

What's in a name?

The release of this printer marks the end of the StylusPro series of printers that many print masters knew and loved.The SureColor printers represent Epson's latest and greatest printing technology for photographers, but the number of digits is actually relevant.

Three digit devices like the P600 and P800 that I tested and loved are geared for desktop users. Most of  my readers fall into this camp and won't need a professional production class printer denoted by four digits as is the case with the P5000, P7000 and P9000 HDX ink based printers.

In the previous generation 3880 users who wanted roll support had to move up to the 4900 or greater, but Epson addressed this problem by offering roll support (albeit without a built-in cutter) with the P800. This is relevant because the P5000, just like its predecessor the 4900, is still a huge and heavy printer (albeit about 30 pounds lighter) that is designed for higher volume use. This means it won't go on your desktop and it's going to work best when used frequently versus the occasional print here and there. 

New Ink Set

The new ink set is supposed to offer improved blacks that yeild a higher DMax, bronzing has been reduced, and with the new violet ink you can accurately reproduce 99% of Pantone colors.

Click here to learn more about the new HDX ink set on the Epson Europe web site and click here to see what Epson US says.

Q&A

Here’s a few questions I had about this printer that Epson provided for me:

  • Is WiFi supported? No, an Ethernet network cable or USB 2.0 is still required which Epson claims was done for performance/reliability reasons.  
  • Is the annoying printable area issue improved to be more user friendly? Epson claims the Maximize feature I mention in my article has been made more discoverable, but I haven’t seen this UI change yet.
  • Is it any faster? No, it performs about like the 4900. 8" x 10" prints from 0:59 to 2:26  (normal is 1:28) and 11" x 14" prints from 1:42 to 4:04 (normal is 2:31)
  • Are letter size borderless prints possible? No, here’s the response I got from Epson:

When printing sheet media, the SureColor P5000 requires 3mm margins on all sides. The SureColor P5000’s setting are programed to print borderless on very common, specific photo sizes, including 8x10. However, [it] cannot print 8.5x11 borderless. With roll media, the SureColor P5000 can support borderless widths of 8”, 10”, 11”, 13”, 14”, 16”, 16.5”, and 17” print. Like the Stylus Pro 4900, the  SureColor P5000 does not support Borderless on Sheet media (SC-P800 best choice if that is the primary need), you can make  borderless 8" x 10 " prints by using a 10" wide roll of media and selecting one of the borderless trim modes for the cutter.

Press Release

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Jan. 11, 2017 – Epson is once again setting the benchmark for professional imaging excellence with the introduction of the new 17-Inch Epson® SureColor® P5000. Incorporating the latest imaging technologies, the SureColor P5000 resets the standard for the desktop photography, fine art, graphic design, and proofing markets. Leveraging the advanced Epson PrecisionCore® TFP® printhead and UltraChome HDX® 10-color pigment ink set, the SureColor P5000 delivers outstanding output with an increased color gamut, higher-density blacks and twice the print permanence than the previous generation1. A refined printer design includes improved dust and static control for reduced maintenance and increased durability and reliability.

“The SureColor P5000 is a replacement to the last Epson Stylus® Pro model still available – the renowned Epson Stylus Pro 4900. The Epson Stylus Pro brand was iconic, and it helped Epson build a pronounced reputation within the photography industry. We have since announced the SureColor product line, which is bringing Epson’s photographic technology to the next level,” said Larry Kaufman, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “The SureColor P5000 brings all of the SureColor printing technology into a 17-inch desktop model, providing photographers and graphic designers with the best imaging technology has to offer.”

The SureColor P5000 leverages 200 mL UltraChrome HDX 10-color ink cartridges2 utilizing newly developed core pigments, including new Orange and Green inks, as well as Black inks that are 1.5 times denser than the previous generation, delivering a wider contrast ratio and improved resin encapsulation technology for superior gloss uniformity and optically clearer, sharper images. Touting a refined design, the SureColor P5000 supports a 10-channel PrecisionCore TFP printhead that includes a new ink-repellant surface coating, along with improved dust and static control for reduced nozzle clogging and maintenance, and supports printless nozzle checks for time, production and resource efficiency.

The SureColor P5000 can support two different ink configurations. The SureColor P5000 Standard and Designer editions leverage Light Light Black ink for twice the overall print permanence, smooth and neutral tonal transitions and support of the Epson Advanced Black and White print mode, ideal for photography, fine art and graphic design applications. The Commercial Edition includes Violet ink, in place of Light Light Black, for an expanded color gamut, to deliver an industry-best 99 percent PANTONE® PLUS FORMULA GUIDE solid-coated color matching3, ideal for commercial and flexographic proofing applications.

The SureColor P5000 offers versatile media handling capabilities with auto-switching between the high-capacity front paper cassette and roll media feeder. It includes a power-driven roll media spindle, ideal for producing panoramas and roll printing up to 100-feet, and an internal high-speed single pass rotary cutter. The high-capacity cassette can hold up to 100 sheets of premium paper for high productivity printing on sheets from 8”x10” up to 17”x22”. In addition, the SureColor P5000 features a front feed straight path for delicate fine art sheet media, including poster board, up to 1.5mm thick. Auto-switching between roll and cassette sheet feeding allow both sources to be loaded at the same time.

Additional Epson SureColor P5000 Features:

  • Exceptional Print Permanence – Offers next-generation pigment ink technology for up to twice the overall print permanence than previous generation1
  • Remarkable Detail – Epson PrecisionCore TFP printhead delivers high print speeds with 360 nozzles per color channel, with variable-size ink droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters
  • Epson Precision Dot Screening Algorithm – Ensures incredibly accurate control of the sizing and mixing of ink droplets for beautiful prints
  • Borderless Printing – Four-sided BorderFree® printing is available at common widths, including 8”, 10”, 11”, 13”, 14”, 16”, 16.5”, and 17”
  • Optional SpectroProofer® UVS Developed jointly with X-Rite, the in-line spectrophotometer provides automated color management and verification-related tasks for a range of proofing applications. It supports all current illumination standards for UV and UV-Cut measurement and is UV selectable between M0, M1 and M2.
  • LCD Control Panel – Full-color 2.7-inch LCD panel allows for easy setup, control and maintenance of the printer

Conclusion

I’ll have more info after I have a chance to review this printer, but in the meantime if you have questions that I haven't covered here or in the press release below then let me know and I'll see what I can find out.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or order a Epson SureColor P5000 Standard Edition 17" Wide-Format Inkjet Printer at B&H today.

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art - More Pics, Cool 4k Video & Dock Info

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens at B&H
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

When I did my review of the SIGMA 85mm Art series lens I thought I was done, but I couldn't bring myself to return this lens to my friends at B&H because it was just so darn good. I ended up keeping it for a few days longer and took a few more photos that just further reinforce how impressed I am with this lens.

Simply put, this lens is too good for just one review!

Close up video of a frozen creek

Unedited Frame Grab from Canon EOS-1D X Mark II 4k 60fps Video - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Unedited Frame Grab from 4k Video

I wasn't prepared for doing video when I was on this hike, but I had to see what the SIGMA 85mm Art series could do with these awesome frozen branches in the creek, so I switched my Canon 1DX Mark II into 4k mode and did a quick video using its auto focus feature.

All images and video in this article are Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

My apologizes for the shaky cam, but if you appreciate sharp lenses then you'll enjoy this:


View at full-screen to fully appreciate

Another Unedited Frame Grab from Canon EOS-1D X Mark II 4k 60fps Video - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Another Unedited Frame Grab from Canon EOS-1D X Mark II 4k 60fps Video

More Real World Shots

Here's some more real world shots that were all taken hand-held except the long exposure shots and all are unedited in-camera JPEG's. See part I of my review for details about how these are taken with my Canon 1DX Mark II).

All images and video in this article are Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


f/2.8 @ 85mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 640
As expected, this lens is the king of subject isolation


f/2 @ 85mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 200
The bokeh is simply awesome


f/16 @ 85mm for 1.3 sec at ISO 100
Yet even at f/16 it's incredible too!


f/9 @ 85mm for 0.5 sec at ISO 100
The detail on the rocks are amazing at full view


f/9 @ 85mm for 0.5 sec at ISO 100
Even more impressive than the 4k video screen grabs are the details in the photos


f/9 @ 85mm for 0.5 sec at ISO 100
For fun I tried different focus points and the detail in the hanging icicle here was more than I imagined - wow!


f/7.1 @ 85mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 6400
This lens takes any scene and makes it look cool


f/8 @ 85mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 5000
f/8 is great on most lenses, but this lens is great from f/1.8 to f/16!


f/2.5 @ 85mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 320
While I wouldn't consider this a good lens for shooting flowers due to its minimum focus distance, if you step back you'll likely be satisfied with the results


f/4 @ 85mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 800
Nailing the focus handheld at the the minimum focus distance with this lens did prove challenging, but worth it if you are patient (or you bring out the tripod)


f/1.8 @ 85mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 640
f/1.8 gives you the creative freedom to create multiple shots from one scene as shown below  where the only difference was the focus point


f/1.8 @ 85mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 800
Compare to above where only the focus point differs
(which did result in a different ISO for a correct exposure)

For a full gallery of images see http://photos.ronmartblog.com/lens/sigma/85mmArt . You may view the photos while your browser is open on this article, but you may not edit, save, share, link or otherwise use any images in this gallery or article without my ink on paper written consent. All images copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Using with SIGMA Optimization Pro & USB Dock

SIGMA USB Dock at B&H
SIGMA USB Dock

For those who are interested, I connected this lens up to my SIGMA USB Dock and took some screen shots of what settings are available from the latest version of SIGMA Optimization Pro:

Product information - click for a larger view
Product Information

Customization Menu - click for a larger view
Customization Menu

Focus Setting - click for a larger view
Focus Setting

Full-time MF Setting - click for a larger view
Full-time MF Setting

Conclusion

Please read my original SIGMA 85mm Art Series review for my final thoughts.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

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If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity