Monday, August 18, 2014

Nikon D810 with SIGMA 50mm Art & Zeiss Otus 55mm Review Coming Soon

I’ve been very quiet this month as things have been very busy at my day job, but I’m still around. I am pleased that I have one of the best camera and lens combos on the market in my hands for testing! I hope to bring you a review soon, so please check back for updates!

Nikon D810 DSLR Camera
Nikon D810 DSLR Camera

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon F
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon F

Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* Lens for Nikon F Mount
Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* Lens for Nikon F Mount

Conclusion

Both the of the lenses in this article have been previously tested with my Canon 1D X and I loved them both. Now I’m getting a chance to put them on one of the highest resolution cameras on the market!

Stay tuned to see what I think – I think you are going to love the results!

Where to order

Click on the images or links above to learn more or order your copy today!

Other articles you may enjoy

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

15% Off All onOne Software Store Products until August 31, 2014

Thanks for attending my onOne Software webinar today!

Click here and enter the coupon code ronmart15 to save 15% off all products in the store including presets and eBooks, so load up your cart!

Here’s an example of how to use the code:

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Conclusion

The video for the webinar will be here soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, download a free trial to play around with the software or purchase using the links above today!

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COMPARISON: Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS vs 16-35mm f/2.8L II


Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens gives users a sharp lens optimized for digital and image stabilization, so that might be enough for some to upgrade. I’d certainly do that if I had a 17-40mm f/4L, but would this new 16-35mm make me want to sell my 16-35mm f/2.8?

I’ve owned the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens for quite some time and I’ve always loved it. Not only was I pleased with the wide angle reach, I was always impressed with the in-camera color/contrast I got from this lens over any of my other lenses. While it wasn’t the sharpest lens I ever owned, it was plenty sharp enough and never let me down. However, all of Canon’s new L lenses that they’ve released since the 200mm f/2L was released have been razor sharp, so I had very high expectations about the quality of this lens.

Hands On Observations

Physically the biggest differences between the the newer f/4 and older 2.8 are the smaller filter size (77mm instead of 82mm for the 2.8) and a slightly less bulge at the end of the lens. Beyond that they are physically very similar.

The addition of IS on the f/4 is nice, but wide angle lenses rarely suffer from camera shake so unless you are dropping below 1/35 sec at 35mm or 1/16 sec at 16mm this isn’t going to be a super important feature. As a result, the addition of IS seems to be more motivated by marketing than necessity, but it’s nice to have there for slower handheld exposures. In my testing it worked fine both handheld and on at tripod for long exposures, so all is well. However, I can’t recall ever having a single shot with my old 2.8 that was blurry due to camera shake.

I did notice that the magical warm bias that was prevalent in the f/2.8 is gone from the f/4, so I’d describe this newer model as having a more neutral to cool color bias. RAW only shooters aren’t going to be impacted by this much, but those pros who count on getting things right in camera will have to spend a little time setting their white balance to match the warm magic of the old f/2.8.

Sharpness-wise, there’s no doubt that the new f/4 is super sharp when you pixel peep with test charts. In real world testing the sharpness at the edges of the frame when wide open on the older f/2.8 lens seems sharper at 16mm and softer at 35mm. Ironically, the inverse is the case for the f/4 which seems to be sharper in the center of the frame but softer at the edges at 16mm than the f/2.8, yet much better than the f/2.8 lens at 35mm. At f/11 both felt pretty evenly matched at the center, so my conclusion is that YES the new f/4 is sharper but not significantly enough to make it super obvious in real world usage.

Unedited Sample Snapshots

The following snapshots were taken during a casual walk with my family of 5 where I had a few seconds to snap some shots with this lens before I had to go back to being dad. What’s shown here are completely unedited in-camera JPEG’s (without in-camera peripheral illumination and distortion correction). These were all taken with a Canon 5D Mark III using the 16-35mm f/4L IS USM only.


f/5.6 @ 35 mm, 1/400, ISO 500, No Flash


f/5.6 @ 18 mm, 1/200, ISO 6400, No Flash

This was one of many cases where I shot into the sun and was pleased to see that the flare was under control. While some may prefer the flare highlights that were more common to the 16-35mm f/2.8L II, I prefer the flare to be contained as I saw here with the side of my lens getting a lot of direct sunlight.


f/22 @ 20 mm, 2s, ISO 100, No Flash

f/22 is totally usable on this lens. Yes you’ll get some diffraction issues from the camera, but people walking into your shot will more likely bother you than the results you get out of camera from this lens.


f/8 @ 35 mm, 1/200, ISO 100, No Flash

If you get up high as I did here (in a tour bus) you can avoid massive distortion by just keeping your camera parallel to the objects that you want to appear straight up and down.


f/7.1 @ 16 mm, 1/200, ISO 100, No Flash

Of course keeping parallel is often hard to do, so you’ll get some whacked out edges if you shoot at an angle. This is true of all wide angles, but full frame sensors definitely emphasize this problem.


f/8 @ 35 mm, 0.8s, ISO 100, No Flash

This was a shot taken with a manual focus on the building in the background. This was taken from a rooftop pool filled with kids where a longer lens was obviously needed, but I forced myself to only use the 16-35mm f/4 on this trip. I couldn’t resist taking a shot of such a cool with a crescent moon next to it.
f/9 @ 35 mm, 10s, ISO 100, No Flash

f/9 is still plenty sharp and 35mm gets rid of most of the distortion


f/9 @ 24 mm, 13s, ISO 100, No Flash

Like its predecessor, 24mm is the sweet spot in the zoom range from what I saw in my testing


f/10 @ 35 mm, 1/100, ISO 8000, No Flash

This is a sharp lens so even when the image starts to soften at higher ISO’s, there’s tons of detail left because this lens is so sharp


f/4 @ 35 mm, 1/200, ISO 1600, No Flash

You won’t get the same low depth of field shots with the f/4 like you will with the f/2.8, but I didn’t really find myself missing f/2.8 for this focal range.


f/11 @ 16 mm, 1/400, ISO 100, No Flash

The great thing about 16mm on a full frame is that you can get lot in the shot.
I was also pleased here that we didn’t get any flare.


f/11 @ 24 mm, 1/500, ISO 1000, No Flash

Wide angles are fun for portraits to get the subject and environment in the same shot. This lens really shines when photographing people. Notice the detail in the hair and shirt.

Visit http://photos.ronmartblog.com/lens/canon/16-35mmf4l for more sample photos.

Bookshelf

When placed on a tripod with mirror lockup and a timer release some of the real world observations I’ve previously made are more apparent. You can see a full gallery of bookshelf images to compare at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/lens/canon/16-35mm28vs4. However, I’ve pulled a couple aside here to discuss. Click the images to see the full-size unedited in-camera JPEG. The lenses were so close in size that I didn’t have to move the camera when switching lenses.


16-35mm f/4L IS at f/5.6 @ 16 mm, 8s, ISO 100, No Flash

Click the image above to see the full size version of the f/4 shown on the left below.

f/4 (left) is no doubt sharper than the f/2.8 (right)
100% crop of the two bookshelf shots in this section
f/4 (left) is no doubt sharper than the f/2.8 (right),
but notice how the f/2.8 has a more natural warm tone in-camera

Click the image below to see the full size version of the f/2.8 shown on the right above.


16-35mm f/2.8L at f/5.6 @ 16 mm, 8s, ISO 100, No Flash

Feel free to download all of the bookshelf comparison images at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/lens/canon/16-35mm28vs4 for your pixel peeping pleasure, but please delete them when you are done viewing.

Conclusion

If I was a 17-40mm f/4L owner I’d probably upgrade to this lens because I’ve always preferred the 16-35mm range over the 17-40mm range. More importantly though, the 17-40 is a great lens, but it’s not a razor sharp lens like the new 16-35mm f/4L IS, so it’s certainly going to be a compelling option. In this article I focused more on the 16-35mm f/2.8L II vs the new f/4 because that’s the audience that will have a harder time deciding if they give up f/2.8 for a sharper f/4 version with IS. For me the answer will be no, simply because I prefer the color I get from the 2.8 and the sharpness difference isn’t enough to warrant a change. If I were buying my first wide angle zoom then I’d definitely go for the new 16-35mm f/4L IS over the more expensive yet softer 16-35mm f/2.8L.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens on the B&H web site. Click here to learn more or order the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens.

Other articles you may enjoy

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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.

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

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

$50 Off KelbyOne & $100 Off Photoshop World Discounts (Updated: July 31, 2014)

Yes, after a 6 month delay, my discount offer for KelbyOne is finally here! See the bottom of this article for a special offer for ronmartblog.com readers that gives you the best training on the web for 10% off anything at KelbyOne.com (including monthly and annual memberships).

Behind the Scenes Video/Review of KelbyOne

Were you ever curious what is behind the scenes for KelbyOne? I once did too, so I recorded this walk through of what you can expect after you sign up for your membership:


Click here to see a video walkthrough of what you can expect after you get a membership.

As you can see there’s tons of great videos on photography composition/techniques, photo editing, advanced techniques and more. I’d go blind if I tried to watch it all, but I wish I could as there’s some great content up there right now.

Special Offer – Save 10% off any order at KelbyOne (or $50 off annual memberships until July 31st)

$50 Off Special until July 31st ONLY

Get $50 off an annual membership when you CLICK THIS LINK and use the coupon code RMKO50. KelbyOne.com assures me that this is the best cash offer on the web, so you can use this deal with confidence that you are getting the best deal available. This is a limited time offer that expires after July 31, 2014.

Regular ronmartblog.com 10% off offer

Get 10% off KelbyOne.com when you CLICK THIS LINK (required) and use the coupon code RMKO14. This is a special offer for ronmartblog.com readers with no expiration date.

THIS CODE AND OFFER MAY CHANGE in the future, so be sure to check my Discount Coupon Code page for the latest code and offer details details, or contact me if you have any problems.

Here’s a visual walkthrough of how to use the promo/redemption code:

Click either Sign Up Now option

You start by clicking here and choosing one of the Sign Up Now options at the bottom of the page as shown above (exact appearance may change over time). When you get to the cart as shown below, be sure to check the “I have a Promo/Redemption code” checkbox to see the place where you enter your code. Enter your code and BE SURE TO CLICK the  APPLY button. If you did it right, you’ll see your discount as shown below

Be sure to click the checkbox, enter the code and click APPLY

If this code does not work, please contact me.

Special Offer – Save $100 off Photoshop World

$100 Off Special until July 31st ONLY

CLICK HERE and use the coupon code RMPSW to save $100 off Photoshop World. This is a limited time offer that expires after July 31, 2014.

Regular ronmartblog.com $50 off offer

After July 31st, my normal deal will be as follows.

CLICK HERE and use the coupon code RMPSW414 to save $50 off Photoshop World:

Be sure to click the checkbox, enter the code and click APPLY
This offer is not limited to only the 2014 Las Vegas show, so try it out!
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Other Articles You Might Enjoy

Disclosure

I was provided a free membership to KelbyOne.com to evaluate the service for this article. I may also get a commission if you sign up using my special offers or use my links, so thanks for supporting this blog by using my special offers and links!

Master your HDR Skills with StuckInCustoms Video Tutorials

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sony RX100 III - The Best Quality Point and Shoot I’ve Ever Tested (Review Part II of II)

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III Digital Camera - Selfie Mode
Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III Digital Camera - Selfie Mode

This is my third time reviewing a Sony RX100 series camera and I’ve reviewed quite a few Sony’s over the years. I always fall in love with the size and sexiness of the RX100’s, yet I always find myself at the end of the review feeling a bit underwhelmed thinking – is that it?

Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent camera, but I immediately ask myself “for nearly $800 price tag (at the time this was originally written), is this really the best bang for the buck?” With that in mind, I did a search on B&H on July 21, 2014 to see what else is out there for the $800 – $900 USD range:

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens Deluxe Kit
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens Deluxe Kit

Probably a better video camera, but bulky and only native ISO 6400

Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens
Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens

Good camera with great features, but it’s bulky and this is definitely no Zeiss lens

Nikon 1 J4 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10-30mm and 30-110mm Lenses
Nikon 1 J4 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10-30mm and 30-110mm Lenses

While these always underwhelm me too, at least you get decent interchangeable lenses

Nikon 1 V2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Kit
Nikon 1 V2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Kit

Definitely more my style than he J4, but bulky and last gen technology

Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lenses
Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lenses
This is a pretty good camera with great video performance, but alas still bulky

Leica D-Lux 6 Edition 100 Digital Camera
Leica D-Lux 6 Edition 100 Digital Camera

Sexy, small and a Leica – hum, do we have a contender?

Fujifilm X-E2 Mirrorless Camera Body Only
Fujifilm X-E2 Mirrorless Camera Body Only

Definitely better than the Sony, but you still need lenses and they aren’t cheap!

In this search, I definitely felt that only the Leica 100 stood a chance at really comparing well against all the things that make the Sony RX100’s great – including size. I haven’t reviewed that one yet, so I could be wrong, but it’s clear that this Sony is Leica priced!

The answer is that if you start comparing size and features, there’s a lot of great choices that are significantly less than the RX100 III. This begs the question that when you ignore price, what else is really a viable alternative to the Sony RX100 III, and funny enough one of the best answer is the previous generation Sony RX100 series which are now much more affordable!

RX100 ($498 on July 21, 2014)
RX100 ($498 on July 21, 2014)

See my RX100 Review

RX100 II ($649 on July 21, 2014)
RX100 II ($649 on July 21, 2014)

See my RX100 II Review

There’s also other great cameras like the Fujifilm X20, Canon G16, Canon s120, and so much more in the sub $800 price range. So this begs the question – is the Sony RX100 III really worth nearly $800 when even it’s own predecessors are so similar and cheaper?

Image Quality

Now that I’ve beaten the price issue to death, let’s talk about the RX100 III vs its predecessors and the competition when it comes to image quality.

The image quality of this sensor is excellent for its size, but like its predecessors the in-camera noise reduction is pretty aggressive. At higher ISO’s it does a much better job than previous versions but I still I felt compelled to disable it for most (not all) of my bookshelf tests so you can see detail captured by the sensor.

The gallery contains a sample of images with and without noise reduction so you can better assess the image quality. For me, I prefer to do my own noise reduction with a product like Noiseware and then sharpen the images myself afterwards. Naturally, if you only process the RAW images you’ll do something similar too (even if it is just Lightroom/ACR only noise reduction).

With that said, here’s a close up of an image with noise reduction at ISO 125 that shows that this is a pretty decent point and shoot:

image
Click here for the full-size original

That’s pretty darn good for a camera that can easily fit in a top pocket or purse, so the next question becomes – how about high ISO performance? Well here’s what you get with noise reduction turned on at ISO 6400 (12,800 is pretty gnarly):

 f/2.8 @ 8.8 mm, 1/15, ISO 6400, Noise Reduction On - Click for full size original
 f/2.8 @ 8.8 mm, 1/15, ISO 6400, Noise Reduction On - Click for full size original

f/2.8 @ 8.8 mm, 1/15, ISO 6400, Noise Reduction OFF - Click for full size original
f/2.8 @ 8.8 mm, 1/15, ISO 6400, Noise Reduction OFF - Click for full size original


At web sites like 580x387 above or click to see 800x533,
you'll certainly be pleased with the results
ISO 6400 f/2.8 @8.8 mm, 1/15, ISO 640, Noise Reduction ON

However, pixel peepers will probably feel like ISO 3200 is as high as they want to go. That’s pretty good for a point and shoot, so I feel confident that most will be pleased with the image quality of this camera. The Zeiss lens is good too, so if that’s important to you then perhaps it’s worth the price.

To see more real world images, please be sure to see the first part of this review here.

Compared to the RX100 II and RX100

In my pixel peeping of all of my files on these three cameras I’ve noticed that the RX100 III has a much brighter and sharper lens which results in shorter exposure times and much more crisp images. This becomes significantly noticeable at full zoomed in, so the RX100 III is without question the sharpness king of the three.

I definitely think that the RX100 III is the best “all things considered” version of the RX100’s yet. Sony keeps taking a great formula and refining it with customer feedback to make it even better. Improvements like the full tilt display that allows selfies and a battery saving electronic viewfinder are sure to please to RX100 fans, and the image quality is definitely impressive for its size.

Conclusion

While I do struggle with the price, you are getting best of class performance for the premium price. If you just can’t get yourself to spend that much money, but love the compact size then consider now more affordable previous generation Sony RX100’s. They were great cameras that were overpriced at the time that I reviewed them, but now they are much more inline with the competition. In real world usage scenarios (i.e., small prints and mostly web size usage) I think some will have rather saved the extra $200 – $400, but for the pixel peepers the RX100 III will be your best bet. 

I will say that the image quality is certainly significantly better than my x20, the LF1, XQ1 or G16. If you are trying to decide between those then know that the RX100 III is the hands down image quality winner. It’s also much SIGNIFICANTLY better than the competition at video too. It’s no DSLR or mirrorless camera killer, but it is very good.

For those who also can stomach a larger form factor, I think you’ll be much happier with a mirrorless or fixed lens big sensor camera when you do image overall quality comparisons.

In the end Sony has created something that is outstanding for the size – if you can afford it. As a result, I have to recommend it as the best compact camera I’ve reviewed at the time this article was written.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order on the B&H web site. You can also save some money by ordering the cheaper Sony RX100 or RX100 II and still get a great camera.

Other articles you may enjoy

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

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.

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

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.