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YES! Sigma 14mm f1.8, Full Frame, Yes. Really.

When I first heard that Sigma were making a 14mm f1.8 Art my initial reaction was one of resentment, why are sigma creating more crop sensor ART lenses?
What about us poor sods waiting in the full frame (FF) world?. It seemed to good to be true to be a FF lens. But there was still the hope deep down, that just maybe, Sigma has been able to do something magical and bend the laws of physics and light to pull off the first 14mm f1.8 lens. After all companies are innovating in this space all the time right?, look at Canon with their fancy 11mm lens.

Then a few weeks ago the chatter started across various tog sites, rumours so wonderful they seemed to good to be true. The new 14mm was indeed going to be FF. At this point I like many others were hanging out on the edge of their seat, waiting for an official press release. Had Sigma done the impossible? Well it appeared they had when the offical word was given from Sigma. Since then specifications have been released, as well as sample pictures.

However, the story is not over. Possibly the most important piece of information is missing. How much is it going to cost? Surely bending the laws of physics and light comes at a cost? Now we wait, stuck in a holding pattern until Sigma release offical pricing. Oh course it does not stop people of speculating, so far I’ve seen people quote the lens as cheap as $800, and as much as $3000. Oh course I know a few people who are familiar with Sigma pricing, and they believe it should be around the $1500 mark (AUD).

So my name is number one of the order list (well at least here in my local town), and you can be assured that I will be testing it as soon as humanly possible. So until then, let us all keep calm and make sure your name is on a list somewhere, or you can wait for my review 🙂

Better than sliced bread, the Nikon D700, Sensor DB Update.

When the Nikon D700 was introduced nearly 9 years ago it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was the camera to have for low light. It’s colour and tone output was nothing short of outstanding. In many respects it made it’s brother, the D3 look a bit underwhelming in regards to noise, and it wasn’t until the release of the D3s where we saw the big brother take back the trophy.

Morning Light (Nikon D700)

At the time it’s main competition was the Canon 5D mark 1, and yes it was a great camera in it’s day, but there was a lot of people jumping ship when they saw what the D700 could do. The features of the D700 9 years ago were well ahead of its time, and the rivals. Even the 5D mark 2 with it’s 21MP was not enough to put it in it’s place when it was announced later the same year.

Looking back now and viewing the sensor data I have built up over time it’s clear that the D700 was the winner when compared to any of it’s rivals at the time. But it’s also important not to get too nostalgic if your considering this camera for low light work today, especially long exposure. Sure it will work and give you pretty good results, but there are much better options.

The D700 by todays standards performs about the same as a Canon 6D at 30 seconds which is no slouch, but it is 20MP. At 300 seconds it falls somewhere around the D800 or 5Ds, 36MP and 50MP respectively.

If you would like to get nostalgic, or just to know how your D700 compares to some of the new models, it has been added to the Sensor Database.

Canon 5D Mark 4 (IV) Sensor Results.

…….Drum Roll…….

And the winner is…. Well not Canon, sorry but the 5D mark 4 is still behind a few of it’s peers. The results show that it is better than the 5D mark 3, the D610 and D810 as well as the 6D. But it’s still behind not only the 1Dx models, but numerous models from other companies such as the D750, K1, D4, Df and the A7S.

Considering the MP count and the fact that the sensor is dual pixel requiring a lot more wiring it’s probably a very good result. With this in mind there are possibly only two camera models than can currently rival it*, the Nikon D750 and the Pentax K1.

You can check out the results here.

*That I have tested to date.

Canon 5D mark 4, Hurry up Adobe.

Hi All,

So I have in my hot little hands the 5D mark 4 samples for long exposure / high ISO. But I’m stuck in a holding pattern until Adobe releases the new version of Camera RAW. Once Adobe have a new version available supporting the Mark 4 I will release the results. In order to be consistent all samples need to go through he same testing procedure. Hopefully we will not be waiting to long.

The Flagship, Canon 1DX Mark II, No. 50!

The Canon 1DX Mark II results are now in the Sensor DB, and it’s our 50th camera to be added. WOW 50. It’s taken a few years, but the list is now becoming quite substantial, giving the community some good insight into the level and treatment of noise.

The results are good and there is a significant improvement at 5 mins compared with the 1Dx, which, I think is reflective of the new ISO range, allowing up to 409600 ISO. There has obviously been a sensor change from 17.9MP in the old model compared to 20.2MP in the new model, with the original 1DX slightly better with noise at 1 and 30 seconds. However the 1DXm2 gives very respectable results, and the difference could easily be attributed to the additional megapixels.

Of course the 1D series of cameras is not intended for astrophotography, and it would be hardly the camera to recommend for that task. But it’s nice to see it’s a solid performer none the less.

Again, a big thank you to Walch Optics for providing access to many of the models we test.

More Models Tested: Canon 1300D, 760D & 80D. + Olympus PEN-F

We have added 4 more models to the Sensor DB today. Including the Canon 80D and Olympus PEN-F.

Some interesting results, and worth a look if you are considering one of these models for long exposure low light work.

Pushing to +5EV, Pentax K1 & PetaPixel

I have been working hard on the Sensor DB, add new features and models. As part of the process of adding newer and better models I have re-processed all of the samples to +2.5EV and +5EV. This allows the noise to be more visible in the samples for comparison. It was getting tougher to determine visually how samples were comparing. With this problem in mind I also added some statistical data to show the RGB noise characteristics and the mean, median and standard deviation are now shown.

New models added include bodies from Fuji, Nikon, Sony, and Pentax, including the new K1, along with the Fuji XPro2. I’m also hoping to add new search features soon to allow searching by sensor size. This will make it easer to compare common models.

I’d also like to thank Michael Zhang at PetaPixel for the great review of the Sensor Database on their site. Thanks for the write up, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, and it certainly seems to have caused a lively debate.

 

Gotcha, Buying Secondhand.

I run a local buy/sell page for photography equipment here in Hobart on FaceBook, and I’m also a member of many other similar pages across Australia. Photography equipment can be expensive. So I’m as keen as the next photographer to grab a bargain.

But what is a good price?

Price is very subjective and what people are willing to pay can depend on many factors such as urgency, availability, age and condition.  So I thought I’d give a few points to consider when buying your next body. Since the specifications, age, availability and the like are all subjective I will focus mainly on condition.

Even if a body has issues, it’s not necessarily a reason to pass, but it could help you to determine if the price is right. If you are buying on the internet some of these checks many be impractical to do, but never the less, here is my check list:

  • Condition (External):
    • How does it look externally? To be honest most photographers will baby their equipment, so this is not a good factor to look at. Dust and dirt can be easily removed, but it is worth looking in the hard to get spots to get an idea on how well it has been looked after.
    • Check for obvious dings and the like, even if it still working external marks could indicate internal damage.
    • How worn do the buttons appear? Are there any wear marks, text worn off or shiny buttons?, Glue? Do they all work?
    • Does anything feel worn? (Lens mount, thumb sticks, selection wheels etc)
    • How worn does the tripod mount look, marks around the mount point?
    • How worn are the anchor points and strap?
    • Are there any screws missing? Do they appear to be tight, check lens mount particularly.
    • Are there any parts missing? (Battery cover clip, rubber weather seal boots, view finder surrounds, viewfinder cover for long exposure etc).
    • Check articulated displays have full movement, and display has no issues while moving.
    • Is there any damage to LCD screens caused by excessive sunlight / heat.
  • Condition (Internal):
    • Is the inside of the mirror housing clean?
    • Is there any dust in the viewfinder?
    • Is the sensor clean?
    • Is the battery compartment clean?
    • How worn is the USB port and jacks? Do they work?
    • Are the card slots clean, do the cards click in and out as they should?
    • Is there any corrosion or residue to indicate it’s been used around salt water a lot?
    • What is the shutter count?
  • Problems & Testing:
    • Does this body have any recalls? have they or can they be fixed? cost?
      • Classic examples here include 5D mirror falling off, 5D light leaks, D750 AF light banding issues / shutter issues, D800/D600 oil spots on sensor etc.
    • Are there known issues with this model? Google, know the body, not just the specs on paper, Test for them….
      • Classic examples not covered under recall, D800 asymmetric AF issues, 7D bent CF pins etc.

After you are happy the body and it’s condition, obviously you should test it further if you can, run it through it’s paces, and preferably review the shots before buying.

Happy hunting 🙂

Nikon D500, good for Astrophotography?

Recently I tested the Nikon D500 sensor for long exposure noise, and to be honest it performed a little worse than I expected initially, but the more I thought about it the more realistic I became about my expectations. After all it was the D500, the new D300(s).

There is no doubt that the D500 is going to do great in the reviews, you only have to look at the specs on paper and combine that with the unchanged layout to entice existing D300 owners, and you are on a winner. With 10 frames per second shooting and 153 Auto Focus points it’s going to be a sports or wedding shooters dream.

But what about the long exposure high ISO?

The D500 performed slightly better at 1 second than it’s closest rival the D7200, but performed worse at 30 and 300 seconds. But the more I thought about this, the more it made sense, after all not many general users push cameras beyond 30 seconds, and most will never be taking shots at even 1 second. For sports or wedding use it’s going to be well above 1 second. In some respects I can understand why manufacturers care little about long exposure and high ISO, it really is the 0.05% use case. For all other uses this camera is going to beat the D7200, and possibly any in it’s class*

However it is worth remembering that manufacturing tolerances do occur from body to body, and with this in mind I will be re-testing the D500 as soon as I can get another body just to confirm the outcome.

The results, can be viewed here.

*I have no idea, just speculation.

What Lens for Astrophotography & Aurora?

It seems I can’t go a day without seeing this question at least asked once on a Facebook page or in a forum, so I thought I’d create the go to ‘list’ for lenses that are best suited for shooting the night sky and Aurora’s.

Of course there are many factors to consider when purchasing a lens so I have limited the list below to common lenses used and proven in the field. I have structured the list based on the angle of view and the type of body it will be used on either a full frame or crop. I am only focusing on Canon and Nikon, however brand like Samyang are universal, and can be purchased with mounts for Sony and others.

If you are looking for a lens for your camera this list would be a good starting point.

Lenses with a ‘B’ have a bulbous front element and standard 4×6 filters will not fit.

 Full Frame BodyCrop Body
Ultra WideSamyang 14mm f2.8 B
Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 B
Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 B
Canon 16-35mm II f2.8
Canon 14mm f2.8 B
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 B
Nikon 16-35mm f4.0
Sigma 15mm f2.8 (fisheye)
Zeiss 15mm f2.8
Samyang 8mm f2.8 B
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8
WideSamyang 24mm f1.4
Canon 24mm f1.4
Samyang 14mm f2.8 B
Samyang 16mm f2.0
Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 B
Sigma 18-35mm f1.8
Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 B
Canon 16-35mm II f2.8
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 B
Nikon 16-35mm f4.0
StandardSigma 35mm f1.4
Samyang 35mm f1.4
Samyang 50mm f1.4
Canon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Nikon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Samyang 24mm f1.4
Sigma 35mm f1.4
Samyang 35mm f1.4
Telephoto*Samyang 85mm f1.4Samyang 50mm f1.4
Canon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Nikon 50mm f1.4 / f1.8
Samyang 85mm f1.4

*Normally deeper space work or stitching involved requiring motorised mounts.

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