31 December, 2017

Happy New Year

Raffles, Singapore - Sigma 24-105mm, f/4 Art

First of all, my thanks to my wife and family for their support over this year; and particularly for sharing the trip to Winton in Northwest Queensland.

And, thanks to all those who posed for me in 2017. It was a privilege to work with you. And, many thanks to my assistant, Keeley McPherson, who braved distance and weather to make many shoots either possible or easier. 

This isn't a resolution, but I will try to do more posts in 2018.

20 December, 2017

Out of gamut colours

Keeley in Brisbane's West End - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art and MC-11 Mount Converter

In printing I don't find serious gamut problems often. But when I do....

The model above is the wonderful Keeley, and her red hair is much brighter than is shown here. Most colour monitors and most colour printers can't reproduce the actual colour of her red hair. It's said, then, that the colour of her red hair falls outside of the gamut of the monitor or printer.

The gamut (colour space) problem usually manifests itself in two different places in the processing of images:

  1. With the usually mundane task of fitting the colours of the image I'm working on in Lightroom or Photoshop (ProPhoto RGB colour space), into the smaller sRGB colour space (that all the web uses); and/or
  2. squeezing the colours of the image into the smaller colour space of a target printing paper and ink set.

Keeley's hair proved an intractable problem. It was partly a question of moving between the colour spaces, as the Lightroom colour space (ProPhoto RGB) addresses more reds than my monitors or printers.

But also, my widest gamut printing paper, Canson Baryta Photographique, provided no appreciable benefit over my usual Canson Platine Fibre Rag. That original red was was well outside either papers' ability to resolve it.

And, printer rendering intents (perceptual or relative — a discussion for another day) showed no difference between final prints.

In the end, my only "solution" for getting to acceptable sRGB images and colour prints, was to significantly reduce the saturation of the red, and decrease the luminance to keep the hair an acceptably dark colour. 

This meant that Keeley is shown with attractive, dark, red hair, but without the brightness of the her real hair. It's not a perfect world.

13 December, 2017

Printing to cut-sheet size in Lightroom

Brolgas, Northwest Queensland - Sigma 24-105mm 

For most images, the aspect ratio and the resulting crop are dictated by the elements in the image. But there are times when it's useful to print to a particular sheet and the aspect ratio for that sheet; for example, when an image needs to fit into a particular frame, or for editorial work when the size and ratio may be set by an editor.

Let's take an example. I want the image to fit onto an A4 cut-sheet. An A4 sheet is 210mm x 297mm. But, in this example, because I want a 25mm border all around, the image area will be 160mm x 247mm – 50mm off the height (25mm off the top and bottom) and 50mm of the width (25mm off the left and right).

So here's the brilliant part (Lightroom's, not mine): In Lightroom's crop tool, next to the picture of a small lock is the aspect ratio setting for the image. If you click on that ratio you can select "Enter Custom..." When you do, a pop-up box will appear and you can enter the image ratio – in this example 160 x 247 (that Lightroom will adjust to 1.60 x 2.47). 

When you finally bring that image to Lightroom's print module and set to print on an A4 cut-sheet with a 25mm border all around, your image will fit perfectly (well, within a fraction of a mil).

22 November, 2017


Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 - Anastasia, Fish Lane in Brisbane

I'd like to think that there's a Sony A7Riii in my future, but they're going to be seriously expensive here, and the A7Rii is doing a fine job. I'm sure the prices will come down once there's an A9S or A7Siii to lure away the video buyers.

Only time will tell what will happen when the initial rush of buyers subsides. Also, I wouldn't mind seeing some reviews on using the Sigma MC-11 Mount Converter on the new Sony.

The blue background in the image above comes from using a Colour Temperature Orange (CTO) gel on a speed light in a softbox and then normalising the colour temperature in Lightroom.

15 November, 2017

A confessed Sigma "Art" shooter

Susanne at the Shornecliffe Pier - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4

I think it's fair to say that for portraits, I'm a Sigma "Art" shooter. To begin with, I'm a pushover for fast primes. And the Sigma Art series has some of the best, fast primes in the world — in my opinion equal to or better than the best Canon, Nikon, or Zeiss lenses.  The last time I looked, the highest rated lens in the DXO lens database was the Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art.

A while ago, I was shooting in a market and I had to carry the lenses that I expected to need over an hour or so. I picked the 135, 85 and 24mm Sigmas.  This meant that I could keep the MC-11 on my Sony body and switch between these Canon-Mount Sigmas. And, as icing on the cake, Sony's 5-axis stabilisation gave the Sigmas better hand-held performance than possible with either Canon or Nikon bodies. 

Would I prefer Sony glass? Sure, but only if Sony had the primes I want with prices I could afford.

Sony doesn't have an FE mount 135mm, f/1.8, or a 24mm, f/1.4 — yet. The 85 G-Master is great, but the Sigma 85mm has equivalent or better optical qualities.

As I've mentioned before, it seems to me that Sony gouges it's Australian customers. For example, in the US (using B&H prices), the Sony 85mm G-Master costs 50% more than the Sigma 85mm. Here in Australia (using CameraPro prices), the Sony is 99% more expensive than the Sigma.

The Sigmas aren't perfect on Sony bodies: I have to use the MC-11 mount converter, so the already big and heavy Sigmas are even bigger and heavier, the weather sealing isn't there, and the Sigmas aren't as fast focusing as the Sonys. 

If I really need to brave the weather or need faster focusing, however, I have some Sony natives that are wickedly sharp, sealed, and fast focusing (albeit with slower apertures).

If the day comes when I can afford the A7Riii, I expect it will speed the autofocus and eye-focus on the Sigmas, as it does for the Sony lenses.

And, you never know, perhaps the rumoured Canon mirrorless DSLR may do a better job with the Sigmas than Sony does now. Only time will tell.

31 October, 2017

Silver Efex Pro – saved by DXO

Vex in Brisbane's West End - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4

It appears that Silver Efex Pro and the rest of the Nik Collection of programs have dodged the bullet. DXO has taken over the collection and says they will, "continue to develop the Collection for the benefit of the photographer community." Thanks, DXO.

It was a cliff hanger — I, certainly, predicted the Nik Collection's doom.

While I like several of the other programs in the suite, it's Silver Efex Pro that I was really going to miss.

For many users the killer features were control points, presets and film emulations. I rarely used presets or emulations, and I think that the latest colour and luminance range masking features in Lightroom provide useful alternatives to (the still great) control points. For me, the structure and fine structure implementations were standouts.

We're just going to have to wait and see where DXO takes it.

26 October, 2017

Lightroom Classic

Susanne at the Shornecliffe Pier - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4

Adobe is dropping its stand-alone version of Lightroom. Both of the Lightroom incarnations (the desktop and the mobile) will be subscription only, and that's upsetting some users. Some are even threatening to jump ship; seemingly based on a view that there's more "security" in a stand-alone version than in a subscription.

I don't see it.

Some users seem to feel this is a money grab by Adobe — well, of course. And, I hope that means that Adobe will remain committed to keeping the circus tent up. The time to worry is when there's little or no money in it — I'm thinking of Nik Software here.

Stand-alone or subscription, in this digital age we RAW shooters are at the mercy of the software houses to address new cameras and sensors, new lenses, new operating systems, bug fixes, hacking vulnerabilities, and (not least) to provide new features. 

I've been on an Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop/Portfolio subscription plan for some time, and it's working just fine.

The Church of the Dignity of All Men and Women

About this time in 2010, I posted about gay and lesbian marriage. It was my tenth post on this blog. I think it's time to repeat the post:

      They said, "No church approves of 
gay or lesbian marriage."
      I said, "Mine does."

      They asked, "What church is that?"
      And I said, "The Church of the Dignity of all Men and Women."

      No incense.
      No funny hats.
      No sermons (save for this one).

      I agreed that I need a creed—
      but all I could think of was,
      "Live and Let Live."

      There are, unfortunately, a few empty pews.

01 October, 2017

Amazing Gaze

Anne along Queens Wharf Road, Brisbane - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.*
In life, when you first notice someone and they're already smiling, the one thing you know is that they are not smiling at you: Heard a joke, happy person, birthday. Could be anything, but it's nothing to do with you.

When you catch someone's gaze, however, you hold that gaze awaiting the outcome: A nod, a wave, a turn away, a frown, or a smile.

So in portraiture, when the subject is gazing directly into the camera lens (our eyes), we lock on to that — awaiting an outcome that never arrives.

* From the lyrics to "Amazing Grace,"  author unknown, ca 1779

29 September, 2017

Low light

Anne along Queens Wharf Road, Brisbane - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art 

I never  cease to be amazed by our new (I still find it new) ability to shoot in low light. Of course this is mostly due to the new sensors, but also to the image stabilisation that's in some camera bodies and lenses. Even with some of my own light added, the above image, for example, was shot at ISO 6400.

I used to be impressed by pushing Tri-X from ASA 400 to an even grainier 1600.

Am I nostalgic for the old days of film? Not in the slightest.

23 September, 2017

Happy belated birthday

Singapore Night Festival - Sigma 24-105mm, f/4 Art, w/MC-11 Mount Converter

Last Wednesday slipped by unnoticed as the 7th birthday of the blog. This is getting to be a bad habit, as I missed it last year as well.

So, no cake, no party; just this post. Maybe something more significant at the 10-year mark.

17 September, 2017

YES, to Marriage Equality

This is about equality. Nothing more.

There are those who want to say this is about polygamy or freedom of speech, etc, etc. It's not. It's only about extending the right to marry (a right that most Australians enjoy) to same-sex couples.

Freedom: It's already illegal in Queensland to discriminate against someone (in employment, housing and most commerce) on the basis of their sexual orientation. Those laws promote an open and fair Australia. That's not going to change.

Religious practice: Churches who find marriage equality repugnant will be able to go about their business. That's because government doesn't intrude on the religious beliefs of its citizens. But, conversely, there should be a recognition that a church should not be able to impose its religious views on the rest of society.

I think we've lost our way on that issue.

When I was boy I was raised as a Catholic. So, we didn't eat meat on Fridays for religious reasons — although I'm still not clear what those reasons were. Anyway, my Mother was a devout Catholic, but she would never have entertained the idea of imposing her Friday dietary views on others — unless, of course, you were coming to our house for a Friday feed. 

I know what you're thinking: Do I still like tuna casserole? YES, I do.

[For those of you outside of Australia: The Australian government is currently running a survey in regard to marriage equity. Without a positive survey result they won't let the question go to a vote in the parliament. But, by the way, the survey results are not binding.]

Props - I (mostly) hate props

Alisha - Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 Art

In editorial photography a prop can be the easiest path to attaching the person to the editorial topic. If the article is about a violinist, then you shoot the budding Heifetz with his or her instrument. And, of course, if you're selling violins, then you'll want your musician to be holding the object of the exercise. Portraits, however....

If you Google the images of "Picasso," for example, and look at the photos of the man himself, unless he's actually working, most images don't show him holding a brush or palette.

Environment is another thing; it's, literally, in the background: Context, not a contest. 

With any image, the question I ask is, Where will the viewer look first?

14 September, 2017

Portraiture vs Fashion

Anastasia Snow - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I was mentioning, elsewhere, that I'm a portrait photographer and not a fashion photographer. It got me to thinking about what that means.

The fashion photographer's goal is to emphasise a look. The fashion is the star (or at least the co-star). For a portrait photographer, the model is the star. The outfit is like the environment — important, but not the object of the exercise. 

In fashion, the model is in service to the clothes (or jewellery, etc); in portraiture the environment and the outfit are in service to the model.

Happily, Art can be hiding in either.

13 September, 2017

Rotolight Neo

Vex at West End - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I've been using the Rotolight Neos for some time and I'm a fan. The image of Vex, above, for example, shows the ability of the Neos to provide soft, balancing light. (BTW - Vex has her own site at www.vexdarling.com)

We've come a long way from the unadjustable, Rotolight RL48B.

A Neo II, however, is coming out shortly with more power, a flash mode, zero recycling time, high speed sync, and a built-in receiver for off-camera flash. Quite a list, but I think that I'll hold out for the larger Rotolight Aeos. 

What I don't get is why the Aeos doesn't come with a built-in receiver, equivalent to the one in the Neo II. Soon?

12 September, 2017

Lilford Station

Shearing shed on Lilford Station - Sigma 24-105mm, f/4.0

My Bride grew up on Lilford Station about 85k's north of Winton, in Northwest Queensland — 1,196.66 km (743.57 miles) northwest of Brisbane, as the crow flies (1435 k's if you drive).

In the intervening 40+ years Lilford has been aggregated with other properties and the homestead has fallen into disuse. Lilford was sheep property, but it's cattle now. It was the last opportunity for the family to visit.

It's dry now in Winton. They're hoping for rain before the end of the year. Decisions about stock will need to be made.

It was an important trip. I'm glad I saw it and I'm glad our daughter saw it.

"Gravel Road - Drive to Prevailing Road Conditions"

02 September, 2017

No Beauty Without Truth

Anastasia Snow - Logical Unsanity Books and Miscellaneous Phantasmagoria, Bardon
Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I like the photographer Peter Lindbergh — and not just because he's one of the few photographers who's older than I am. When he was doing the 2017 Pirelli Calendar, he said, 
“There is no beauty without truth. All this fake making up of a person into something that is not them cannot be beautiful. It is just ridiculous.” 
I have a similar view: I see a spectrum with "Authentic" on the one end, and "Contrived" on the other. I think it's clear, however, that as soon as a photographer brings subjects to locations new to them and poses them, it's contrived.

So it seems to me that "beauty" in portrait photography relates to the appearance of truth and the appearance of authenticity. And, from that, the two obvious questions for me are: 
  1. Do the subjects actually bring their real selves to the shoot?
  2. And, if so, through my choices (of environment, lighting, perspective, clothes and poses) do I hide or reveal them?

18 August, 2017

Sigma 85mm

Anastasia Snow - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I continue to be impressed by the Sigma 85mm with the MC-11 Mount  Converter. But it's not perfect. 

Occasionally, when using eye-autofocus, the 85 can lock up when hunting. It's fixed by putting it into normal-focus mode and then back. 

I use back button focusing, so this is quick enough for me doing portraits, but it would be more than annoying for a wedding photographer.

08 August, 2017

Hannnah-Jean, Mt Coot-tha and the Sigma 85mm

Hannah-Jean - Mt Coot-tha - Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art (with the MC-11 Mount Converter)

I'm not a morning person, but I was up at Mt Coot-tha for a shoot with Hannah-Jean. It was clear and cool. It was good to see the sun come up.

03 August, 2017

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art meets Vex

Vex - Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art
The Sigma 85mm with the MC-11 on the Sony A7Rii, with a vertical grip, two batteries and a strap weighs in at over 2.3kg (5lbs). After a few hours I notice the weight. Is it worth it? For portrait work I think it is.

Previously I had the Zeiss 85mm, f/1.8 Batis. It's a great lens and less than half the weight, but the Sigma is my choice.

It's rarely the case that I take the Sigma off f/1.4. It's in that extra two-thirds of a stop where the Sigma shines. It's sharp wide open, even out to the corners.

31 July, 2017

Vex in Brisbane's West End

"Vex" in Brisbane's West End - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art, with the MC-11 Mount Converter

All other things being equal, I'd usually choose the 135mm over the 85mm for portraits. But on the footpath, it's just too tight and there's too much traffic for a 135.

In the case above (as a duotone), it's the Sigma 85mm, f/1.4. Sony's high ISO performance and in-body stabilisation makes the unstabilised Sigma an outstanding option.

26 July, 2017

The Rocks in Sydney

"The Rocks," Sydney - Zeiss Loxia 50mm

In Sydney, "The Rocks" is an historic area starting beneath the city side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and extending south.

23 July, 2017

Visited Sydney

Girl and the Central Station Clock Tower - Sydney
Zeiss Loxia 50mm

We visited Sydney over the weekend. I am always impressed by the number of buildings with a bit of history. Too many cities have turned into giant shopping malls.

19 July, 2017

The Sony A9 is great, but it's not for me

Alisha D - Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 Art w/MC-11 Mount Converter

Of course I've been watching the A9 reports and I'm impressed, but it's not the camera for me. It doesn't seem to me that the feature set would work better for me than the A7Rii. If there's an A9R in the future, then ask me again.

I have done the latest firmware update for the MC-11 (skipping an incarnation). Everything seems to be working well.

If you're not shameless by the time you're 45,
then you haven't been paying attention.
 —Yllib Ybnad (b. 1948–)

06 July, 2017

Sigma 135mm with the MC-11

Alisha D - Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 Art

The Sigma 135mm is the low-price, dark-horse. It's quite a lens, but it's slow and steady with the MC-11. I've avoided the latest firmware update, because of warnings from Canon lens users who ignored Sigma's warnings that the MC-11 was not designed for them. When I get a little time I'll do it.

I had to be close for eye autofocus. I'm not sure a firmware update will remedy that.

05 July, 2017


This photo was taken on one of the rare occasions when my mother's side of the family were (almost – my aunt Mary couldn't be there) all together. They had gathered in October of 1954 in northern Wisconsin for the funeral of my uncle Pete (the youngest of the siblings) who had died in a car crash earlier that month.

My grandparents are, of course, front and center. My grandmother, Hermina, emigrated to the US from Slovakia in 1907 when she was 15 years old; and my grandfather, Steve, in 1905, when he was 20. Neither spoke English when they arrived. Slovak was spoken in the family house all through their lives. My grandmother became quite proficient in English, but my grandfather was never comfortable with it.

All the kids started out bi-lingual — Slovak and fluent English. My mother, Margaret (front row, far right), for example, became a court stenographer for the Illinois Appellate Court. My aunt Agnes (Sister Benedict) taught school as a Dominican Sister. There were sons in all the services during the Second World War. 

My grandparents didn't come to America to see the Grand Canyon, enjoy the Florida sun, or sample Cajun cooking in New Orleans. They came for work and for opportunities to make new lives, for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

My family's story is just like those of immigrant Poles, Irish, Chinese, Italians, Swedes, Greeks, Germans (you get the idea). What astounds me is that so many Americans can think that the aspirations of immigrant Mexican, Iraqi, or Syrian families are any different.

I emigrated to Australia 27 years ago. (I can't speak Australian, but I understand most of what I hear.)
Top row (l to r) Steve, Frank, John, Philip, Rudolph, Tony, Carl, and Joe
Front row (l to r) Helen, Agnes, Hermina, Steve, Ann, and Margaret
(Only Helen and Frank are still alive today.)

27 June, 2017

Mt Coot-tha Lookout

Mt Coot-tha - Sigma 24-105mm Art

On Friday I was up at the Mt Coot-tha lookout. Most people go there to look out over Brisbane. I go to look a the people looking out at the city. It's near to where I live.

It was, however, quite busy as there was wedding party up there — there's also a restaurant, so that's quite common. It was crowded and I don't like to do anything that might intrude, so I was lucky to get the picture above.

I have no idea whether the family in the picture were a part of the wedding.

02 June, 2017

Nik Silver Efex Pro headed for oblivion

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Departure from Brisbane

It was just a matter of time before Google announced that it's cutting the Nik Software Suite loose. The writing was on the wall when they made it free.

I don't blame Google. It looks like the Nik Suite wasn't paying its way. (And, certainly not once they made it free.) If there aren't enough users; well, then, there aren't enough users.

I'm sure that Nik users all have their own favourite programs; mine is Silver Efex Pro — the program for working in black and white. 

Silver Efex isn't perfect. (I wrote about using it in 2015.) And, yes, I can get the job done in Lightroom, but I'm really going to miss the Silver Efex control points.

22 May, 2017


On the water in Virginia, USA - Zeiss Loxia 50mm

I've started using Tumblr. I'm not a fan of Instagram, but Tumblr seems okay. (It's free, and they seem to respect copyright.)
I'm using Tumblr just as a place to show images — mostly portraits. Unlike in this blog, there won't be editorialising. 

You'll probably be surprised by this, but not everyone is interested in the technical aspects of digital images and printing. Hard to believe.

11 May, 2017

All reasonable efforts

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Book signing (Alison Rushby, "The Turnkey")

Recently, Epson Australia sent me an automated message about their truly outstanding, but long out-of-stock, Hot Press Natural matte paper:
Thank you for your interest in the Epson Fine Art Paper Signature Worthy Hot Press Natural A4 Sheet Media (C13S042318) This product is now in-stock, and was available on Shop Online from 05/05/2017 at 6:29 PM. 
Good news you might think; but there was a further note:
We make all reasonable efforts to ensure stock availability, however due to the popularity of this item, it may be sold out by the time you visit the website. 
"All reasonable efforts," indeed.

Epson keeps printer ink in stock — they have to.

Paper? Not so much.

18 April, 2017

Lynn Goldsmith v Andy Warhol Estate

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - The Inside of the City Hall Clock Tower, Brisbane

In my opinion the intellectual property of photographer Lynn Goldsmith was infringed by Andy Warhol. I urge you to have a look at the relevant images.

If the courts decide that every pop artist with a crayon has a license to use the photographs of others as colouring-in books – and sell them as their own art – then we're all in trouble.

Photographers are entitled to the integrity of their art, and fame is not a licence to steal. So, I think that this is an issue worth following.

There's more information at:

14 April, 2017

Sigma 24-105mm Art with the MC-11?

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Book signing (Alison Rushby, "The Turnkey")

The Zeiss Loxia 50mm is my walking-around lens, and I love it. There are times, however, when wider or longer would be very useful.

I've thought about a bridge camera like Sony's RX10 models. The Mark III (24-600mm equivalent) has more reach than I need, but the (still available) Mark II (24-200mm equivalent) is just about right. And they use the same batteries as the A7 series cameras. But, most of that expense would be for the camera elements, and I already have a camera.

I'm wondering if a new lens might be a better choice.

The Sony/Zeiss 24-70, at f/4.0, seems overpriced to me (albeit, compact and weatherproof), and the 24-70mm, f/2.8 G-Master seems ridiculously expensive here in Australia. And, in any case, 70mm is a little short if replacing a 50mm lens.

As you've probably noticed from some posts, I've been flirting with Sigma "Art" lenses (using Sigma's MC-11 Mount Converter). The Sigmas are much less expensive and the image quality is outstanding, but there's little or no weather sealing. Sigma has been adding some mount protection to some recent models, but as the MC-11 has none, that doesn't help me.

So, let's cut to the chase:

The Sigma 24-105mm, f/4.) Art is still reasonably compact, but has the extra reach to provide more subject isolation in portraits. Its depth-of-field on a full frame (at f/4.0) would be the equal of f/1.2 on a 1" sensor camera. And, with a bit of cropping (the image above, for example, was pretty heavily cropped), I think it might serve as a reasonable alternative to a 24-200mm RX10.  The low-light performance and dynamic range of the A7 series would also be better.

And, no new camera to learn.

Much to think about.

01 April, 2017

Very wet weather

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Almost total darkness in the Anthony McCall
installation - Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane

The remnants of Cyclone Debbie dumped a load of rain on Brisbane, causing some flash flooding. But, thankfully, Brisbane dodged the bullet – missing both the actual cyclone and the worst of the remaining rain. The ground, however, remains wet.

All this has limited my opportunities to get out and shoot. I hope to remedy that in the coming weeks.

22 March, 2017

Sigma MC-11 — better and better

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Looking at art (Ron Mueck's "In Bed"), looking — 
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

After reading reports that some lenses close down, focus, re-open and then take the shot (sometimes causing a mis-focus), I decided to check out the Sigma 24mm and 85mm Arts while attached to the Sigma's MC-11 Mount Converter.

One of the assumed benefits of mirrorless cameras was that they were exempt from the front and back focusing errors to which DSLRs can be prone. So, it seemed a useful question.

I'm pleased to report that from what I could see in my tests, neither the 24 nor the 85mm Sigmas close down on focus, on either the A7RII or A7II.

I'm presuming that this will apply equally to the upcoming Sigma 135mm, f/1.8. I'm also guessing the 135 is due soon as there is a firmware update for the MC-11 to accomodate it.

And a final note: I'm not sure many people "get" the MC-11 Mount Converter. It's not just a tube making a generic connection between Sony E-Mount bodies and applicable Sigma EF Mount (or Sigma SA Mount) lenses. The MC-11 applies E-Mount firmware to Sigma lenses that have been designed to be able to directly accept that information. That's why, for example, the MC-11, provides Sony's eye auto-focus that other adaptors do not.

It's true that the MC-11 will work with some Canon glass. But it's sad to read reviews marking the MC-11 down because it doesn't do those non-Sigma lenses as well as it does the Sigmas. That it works with any other lenses at all is a bonus, icing on the cake, an Easter Egg.

Here's the short version: I believe that the Sigma 85mm Art with the MC-11, on an A7RII, is the best lens on the best body. I think the combination uses every bit of Sony's 42.4 megapixel sensor, provides (reasonably) fast auto-focus, eye focus, and throws in the 5-axis stabilisation that Canon and Nikon users can only dream about — usually for less money than comparable Sony or Canon lenses. 

Good times.

10 February, 2017

Go figure

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Hats on the Santa Monica Pier

With all the recent news and discussion surrounding the Sigma 85mm Art, I've had a look at the relative prices between the United States and Australia.

So, for example, in the United States (at B&H) the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art (for the Canon Mount) and the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 Batis are the same price, and the Sony 85mm GM is 50% more than each of those.

In Australia (at CameraPro) the Zeiss 85mm is 49% more than the Sigma, and the Sony is 107% more than the Sigma.

Yes, 107% — in Australia the Sony is more than twice as much as the Sigma. 

But there's a little more to the tale: The price of the Sigma just went up in Australia (at least at CameraPro), seemingly on the recent news of its DXOMark score and the DPReview report. Before the last few days, the Sony was 137% more than the Sigma 85mm Art.

14 January, 2017


Jasmine, 2003-2017    [Click image to enlarge]

These aren't New Year's Resolutions, mind you. These are resolutions that just happen to have been made near the beginning of the year.*

I'm going to print more. Not just images that others want (or might want), but images that are mine and I want. Prints are "real" in a way that electronic images can never be. This resolution led me, of course, to the issue of print size. A4 is great for the desktop, or for a collection, or for what we might call "snaps;" but I think an archived image needs A3 (or A3+). I added the A3+ because Epson papers (such as Hot Press Natural) don't come in A3 — but if I'm going to be focusing on the Canson papers, that shouldn't be a problem.

I'm going to cull my images in Lightroom more carefully. I just opened a new Lightroom catalog, so it seemed like a good idea. I organise my Lightroom catalogs into calendar years and I noticed (not for the first time) the unnecessary size of past catalogs and their backups. So, why is it hard to throw images away? I think I'm afraid of admitting the low number of keepers amongst the dross.

I'm going to make more personal images; not to be confused with making my images more personal. This means getting off my... couch, and taking more pictures. Once you have the gear this is the least expensive stage of image making.


*So, because these aren't "New Year's Resolutions," I can add or subtract as I see fit. That seems fair to me.

06 January, 2017

Epson Hot Press Natural - We hardly knew ya

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Yorktown Historical Park [Click image to enlarge]

I love Epson's Hot Press Natural. It's been my "go-to" matte paper for years. I know exactly how a particular image is going to print on a HPN. And that's a good thing because Lightroom's soft proofing of matte inks and papers isn't nearly as strong as it is for photo black ink on glossy.

HPN is one of Epson's "Signature Worthy" papers. So it's surprising (and disappointing) that Epson has let this paper go out of stock here in Australia — and not for days, but for weeks. And, this isn't the first time.

To add insult to injury, at this writing, Epson's "Legacy" Papers still aren't available here in Australia. We just don't seem to be on Epson's radar.

But, as the song goes, "If you can't be with the one you love...."

So, what now?

I'm going to try out two possible replacements: Canson's Infinity Rag Photographique (310gsm), and the popular Hahnemühle Photo RagThe Hahnemühle  has some limited optical brightening agents (OBAs), but its longevity stats are very good anyway. I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

I'll try each of these with the "canned" paper profiles for my Epson 3880. If I choose one of these two, then I'll get a custom profile.

Crane's Museo Portfolio Rag is reported to be a beautiful matte paper (and OBA free), but it's longevity estimates with the Epson K3 inks I use, aren't impressive. I'll try out the other two first.

Wish me luck.

02 January, 2017

RAW images are flat

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Santa Monica Beach [Click image to enlarge]

When I import my RAW files into Adobe Lightroom, Adobe has decided that any decisions about what my images should look like will be up to me — thanks, Adobe.

So, in order to leave the processing decisions to me, Adobe delivers the RAW images as raw as possible. This is particularly apparent by the absence of contrast or sharpening adjustments and without the white or black points having been set.

Lightroom's RAW images appear flat because RAW images ARE flat.

Some other image processing programs apply adjustments on your behalf on import. So those tweaked images look... well... less "raw." And that's fine it you want the program to make some of the initial decisions for you. 

So far, so good. What disappoints me, however, is that some software "reviewers" seem to presume that because auto-adjusted images look more like JPEGs than Lightroom's unadjusted ("flat") files, it's an indication of the inherent superiority of the auto-adjusting programs.


Is this important for everyone? Clearly not.

Is this important for anyone? If we're unwilling to leave image quality on the table, then I believe that we need to understand what makes digital images tick and learn how our respective image processing programs address the range of digital elements.

Is control a lot of work? Absolutely, yes.