The recommended gear list

In the interests of even further simplifying the question of ‘what should I buy’ – and answering many emails and requests simultaneously – I’ve created this guide to gear, complete with purchasing links and links to reviews (where applicable). For full disclosure, every purchase through one of these links does give me a small commission that helps keep the site going (we run through something like 10 TB of bandwidth a month) but won’t cost you any extra. Thanks for the support! MT

You can also find a complete list of my equipment here at B&H.

Last updated 21 December 2020 with post-retirement coda

Current recommendations (not exhaustive, but what I’m using most at present)

Cheap, cheerful and/or portable
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max** – Amazon
Nikon Z 16-50/3.5-6.3 DX** – B&H Amazon

For me
Hasselblad 907X 50C** – B&H
Hasselblad XDC 4/45P** – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 1.9/80** – B&H
Hasselblad 503CX**
Hasselblad Zeiss C 4/50 T* chrome**
Hasselblad Zeiss C 2.8/85 T* chrome**
Hasselblad Zeiss C 4/150 T* chrome**
Leica M10 Monochrom** – B&H Amazon
Leica 28/1.4 Summilux M ASPH** – B&H Amazon
Leica 35/2 Summicron M ASPH Titanium LE** – (non titanium) B&H Amazon
Leica 50/2.8 Elmarit-M collapsible**
Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH Titanium LE** – (non titanium) B&H Amazon
Leica 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH** – B&H Amazon
Leica 28-35-50/4 Tri-Elmar-M ASPH**
Leica 90/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH Titanium LE** – (non titanium) B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZM 4/85 Tele-Tessar** – B&H
MS Optical 2/28**
Voigtlander VM 75/1.5** – B&H Amazon

For work
Nikon Z7** – review long-term custom-profiles B&H Amazon
Nikon Z 20/1.8 S** – B&H Amazon
Nikon Z 24-200/4-6.3** – B&H Amazon
Nikon Z 24-70/2.8 S** – Amazon B&H
Nikon Z 85/1.8 S** – B&H Amazon
Nikon FTZ adaptor** – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 70-200/2.8 FL ED VR E** – Amazon B&H
Nikon AFS 300/2.8 VR N** – B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 19/4 E** – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/28 Otus APO-Distagon** – review B&H
Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/55 Otus APO-Distagon** – review B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar** review B&H
Zeiss ZF.2 2/135 APO-Sonnar** – B&H Amazon
Techart Sony E to Nikon Z adaptor (full electronic compatibility)** – B&H Amazon
Techart Canon EF to Nikon Z adaptor (full electronic compatibility)** – B&H Amazon
Canon EF 135/4 L TS-E Macro** – B&H Amazon
Voigtlander 110/2.5 APO-Lanthar Macro (Sony E)** – B&H Amazon
Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar** – review
Godox V1** (available for multiple systems) – Amazon
Godox XPro** (available for multiple systems) – B&H  Amazon
Godox AD400** (system independent but gains TTL with the Xpro remote) – B&H  Amazon
Peak Design Everyday Sling 6L** – Amazon  B&H
Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L** – B&H Amazon
Think Tank Airport Roller Derby** – B&H Amazon
Arca-Swiss P0 Monoball ball head** – B&H Amazon
Arca-Swiss C1 Cube geared head** – B&H
Gitzo GT2545T Series 2 Carbon Exact Traveller** – B&H Amazon
DJI Mavic 2 Pro** – review B&H Amazon

Apple iPad Pro 11″** – B&H Amazon
Apple magic keyboard for iPad Pro** – B&H Amazon
Apple Mac Pro 2019** – B&H (I have the 16 core/ Radeon Vega 32GB/ 2TB SSD model, with RAM upgraded to 224GB with an OWC kit).
Wacom Cintiq Pro 32″** – B&H Amazon

Previously enjoyed, now rationalised
Nikon D850* – custom-profiles B&H Amazon
Nikon D3500* – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 24-120/4 VR** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon Z 50/1.8 S* – B&H Amazon
Nikon Z 50-250/4.5-6.3 DX* – B&H Amazon

Full disclosure: anything purchased from the links gives me a small referral fee; it doesn’t cost you any more, but it does help me keep the site running. Thanks for the support! MT


Visit our Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including Photoshop Workflow DVDs and customized Email School of Photography. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. Cannon 100d out, latest Olympus EM1 in? Does the Olympus serve the same purpose as the Cannon, or something more (considering the price) e.g., video

    • Two reasons – a cousin needed a camera for his media studies university course, and my production partners and I decided to go the EM1.2 route for video – I’m personally killing two birds with one stone.

  2. Hi Ming! I am about to purchase a Milvus 85/1.4 for my 5DSR. I do a lot of portraits of people and cars. I have the Contax Zeiss 85/2.8 but sometimes I want to use f/1.4 for creative “3D pop” look and some creamy bokeh. But before I click “place order”, should I consider the magnificent Otus? Thanks!

    • For portraits, the Milvus is a little more flattering as transitions are smoother (and longitudinal CA usually isn’t a concern). It also doesn’t have odd texture in the bokeh because there are no aspherical elements in the design. I was told this was designed as a ‘portrait version’ of the Otus (the formulas are nearly identical, except for the aforementioned aspherical pair) and I personally find it has a great rendering quality. Enjoy! 🙂

  3. Hi Ming, long time since you had the Zeiss 135 into your set, where it remains. Any chance you will review it, either or give us your feelings about the lens? Many thanks in advance! Fabrizio

    • It’s one of those lenses at an odd focal length I don’t need very often, but is irreplaceable when I do.

      From the Camerapedia page:

      Zeiss ZF.2 2/135 APO-Sonnar** (Feb 2014, 10/10) – Perhaps the closest thing you can get to the Otus that isn’t an Otus; not surprising as it’s still a Zeiss. It has 99% of the bite and sparkle and everything else the Otus has, but it does exhibit some trace LoCA occasionally with high contrast out of focus objects. It’s a monster of a lens – enormous, heavy and full of glass – and doesn’t quite handle as well – but the results are worth it.

  4. Hi Ming. What camera would you recommend the Batis lenses?

    • Ah, tough question. Frankly, I can’t recommend any of the Sony A7 cameras, but if you have to have one, I guess it’s the A7R2.

      • Geoffrey Margo says:

        I am interested in your comment about not being able to recommend a A7 series camera. Please explain why. I have an A7ll which produces perfectly fine images, so I am not a Sony foe. But I have not warmed up it, so I am not a fan either. Thanks for the site and I am curious about your answer. If you have discussed this before and I missed it, please send a link rather than you having to spell it out again.

        • I’ve owned most of the A7 cameras (A7, A7R, A7II, A7RII) and honestly found them both unreliable and rather fiddly and uninspiring to shoot. They’re technically competent when they work, but nothing special, and I just disliked the experience. Not to mention having to put up with extremely poor battery life (8 batteries to complete a day), unpredictable lockups and lag and stupid errors like ‘battery not recognised’ even though it was the one that came with the camera! They are cameras I really wanted to like, but in the end landed up wasting a lot of money on. They just don’t feel like photographic tools or even professional grade products, for that matter.

          Reviews: A7R, A7II, A7RII

          • Bernie Ess says:

            Well, while I like your way to explain photography and your photographic style, I find this statement (like your review) very subjective, in quite a negative/ judging way. It is one thing to say that one dislikes the user interface (most habit driven aspect of cameras), but other things (in that statement I have talked to a pro shooter who does reportage around the globe in partly quite harsh conditions, he says the a7rII is the camera that most “dissappears” for him and lets him most immerse into the shooting, with stellar IQ at that. I feel like that too, except that I virtually never shoot in very harsh conditions.

            I also bever had any freezes or batteries not being recognized – typical battery load is about 350 shots. Which is what almost every mirrorless is giving. Yes, no 2300 shots per battery, no instant operations (like with 100% magnifying), but what mirrorless camera with FF and high rez does that?
            It aint no high end DSLR. However if you switch on Liveview via LCD in a DSLR, that sucks batteries out much quicker too. And how many shots does the X1d give? Probably quite close to the Sony …
            “Technically competent, but nothing special”? In the end it is about the file quality, right? Which is up there with the very best in 35mm, probably a bit better than even the d810. Add a Loxia 21, 50 or even 85, and it is a fantastic camera. Just not cheap.

            • Yes, it’s negative, and yes it’s a condemnation based on the terrible experience and missed images I had with the camera, and the arrogance and lack of support from Sony: if the camera unpredictably gives you ‘Unsupported Battery’ error messages with original batteries, that’s unreliable. If it takes sometimes 2s to turn on, sometimes 12s, and you have no idea whether you’re going to miss the shot because of it, it’s frustrating and yes, not particularly confidence inspiring. Maybe I had a lemon, but having seen students’ cameras randomly corrupt cards in the middle of a shoot – I’m inclined to think not.

              There’s no reason why operations can’t be instant. Almost all DSLRs magnify to 100% nearly instantly. The X1D magnifies nearly instantly with even larger files, so does the H6. My 2012-vintage H5 is nearly as fast. How many shots? Depends on how fast you shoot; it could be one if you’re doing astrophotography or a thousand if you’re in CH mode. I look at runtime instead: the Sony gives you 1-1.5h runtime per battery, maximum. I get 3-4 hours out of the X1D, which is not even close.

              I have no reason to report anything other than what I find. Remember I paid for the entire Sony system at full retail – if it’s great, then I bought a solid tool. If it isn’t, then I wasted a huge chunk of money. It turned out to be the latter. Why would I say otherwise, and why would I encourage a company with this kind of mediocre product? Why would anybody want to, when you have to hand them a lot of your (presumably) hard-earned income?

  5. Ming, first off, thank you for taking the time to share so much wonderful information with your fellow photographers. I notice you are using a HD6 series as well as testing the new X1D Hasselblad. Any comments regarding advantages or opinions of one over the other (assuming both use the 50 sensor)? I currently have an older H4 and I’m thinking of upgrading, just not sure to which one. Any thoughts would be most appreciated. (PS: I do a fair amount of studio work with controlled lighting).

    • The sensor is identical in all of the -50C models (H5, H6, X1, CFV). The X1 I find to be slightly sharper, but that may be because it has the newest lenses.

      I actually find the X1D to be a very good studio camera because it’s in LV by default, and that’s the way I usually work in studio – not to mention the higher flash sync and Nikon compatibility…

  6. It’s crazy how I also scooped-up a SL1 (100D) and the 24mm STM lens for my recent trip with my family. I only brought my GR, 100D and DP3 quattro. I felt SO sufficient throughout my trip. I also heard great things about the 55-200mm STM. Good stuff, Ming!!!

  7. Colin Fry says:

    Looks like you and the Leica Q have parted company? Just wondered why or what you are using instead.

    • I just haven’t used it since switching to MF, and it’s an expensive bit of gear to have around not generating any return on investment. (Photography still has to run as a sustainable business for me; camera collecting is antithetical to that.)

      For friends/family/casual stuff I have a Canon 100D and the 24 pancake I picked up second hand for a couple hundred dollars. For work, I use the 28 or 50mm on my second H body, and I suspect the mothership will be sending me an X1D ‘company car’ soon.

  8. Hi Ming. Following your great work for a long time! Seems I am using the same “compact”, the Canon 100D. Bought one new just this spring. Nice and clean touchscreen and great and light lenses. I dropped my fuji, olympus and Nikon for this. All for various reason’s they could not satisfy me as the 100D does 😉 The 18-135 nano usm completes my compact do it all set. The svelte nissin i40 does work great with it too. Even wireless is excellent. Please keep your blogs coming!

    • I think because the camera is bare-bones, tiny, and somehow…oddly satisfying. I paid about $250 second hand including the kit lens, and have since acquired the excellent 24 STM pancake and 50 STM.

  9. Hi Mr. Thein!

    Two lenses that my eyes are glued on your list…Contax Zeiss 2.8/85 and 100-300/4.5-5.6. I saw the market value of these lenses and I think it’s a great buy. My question now is which DSLR body (Nikon or Canon) will make these lenses shine? I didn’t picked-up the D810 because I prefer the latter model. I was considering the Pentax K-1 but I think it’s best to grab these lenses before they are gone. Lol! Are there bad copies of these lenses or are they all consistently great.



    P.S. I am also looking for a good copy of a Kodak Aero Ektar 178/2.5 or a Leitz 150/2.5 and get an adapter for a DSLR. Good stuff!

    • You can’t mount the 100-300 to the Nikon because of the back mount diameter, so I think you have no choice but Canon anyway.

      I don’t think there are bad copies as the designs are relatively simple and QC was much better back then…at least I have not encountered any.

    • Robert, I have purchased two of the C-Z 100-300mm zooms; and despite inquiring carefully and explicitly before bidding at auction, I received two lenses plainly infected with fungus. I hope you can afford to put at risk circa $700 or more: these sellers are highly motivated to dump their now useless lenses [useless to me, anyway] for that kind of money and don’t much care about the morality factor. This includes a Japanese camera brokerage, BTW, who were particularly nasty and slanderous in their response. I am in Ohio. I think I may have given up on this chase of more than 2-1/2 years. I would have ‘Leitaxed’ the lens for Pentax, having a K-1 very probably in my future.

      • I think the same caveats apply to all old lenses bought remotely (if anything, probably more so for those with leaf shutters, like Hasselblad V lenses) – I don’t see any reason why the CY 100-300 should be more prone to fungus than any other lens…

        • Hi, Ming. I am agnostic on the susceptibility of the older Contax lenses to this problem. I have numerous examples, including the 35-70mm f.3.4 Vario-Sonnar. But I do think the economic motive in the case of this relatively price-y lens with a mostly “specialized” demand now tends to bring out the worst in some in some folks; i.e., a little too much temptation in comparison to holding a problematical vintage lens worth 1/3 the price. I do see many of these lenses advertised as having some hazing of the elements, more so than in the case of older Nikkors, for example.

          I can testify pretty definitively that the manual focus MC & MD Minolta lenses employ coatings very much more to the liking of fungus than is the case for other lenses. This is not a secret. My experience attempting to pick up some choice, lightweight examples for mirrorless use was an across the board, almost unmitigated disaster. I succeeded only with a last optical iteration MD Rokker-X 35mm f.2.8, a featherweight MD 50mm f.2.0, and compact AF 35-105mm (16-“lenser”) & 100-200mm zooms for Sony A7 and A5000.

          • Agreed; it’s a lot of work to find a good sample (and few value the effort).

            A lot of the earlier lenses that used organic-derived cement contained bacteria to begin with: not stored properly, fungus naturally ensues. Later lenses use synthetic cements and are far less susceptible.

  10. Thanks for the reply. I was thinking of waiting for the new MacBook Pro 15″ to come out hopefully next month and supplement that with a Benq monitor. I’m assuming it’s the processing speed that you’re unhappy with for the laptop? Since I travel a lot I know I need a laptop… or maybe a tablet and and iMac is the way to go. I’ve got a little over $2,000 to spend, just trying to figure out the right set up for the money. I appreciate the input!

    • You’ll probably want to avoid the MacBook then. The latest generation air with an external monitor will be much more powerful, but is up for replacement soon and has a very bad built in monitor. Honestly, as far as bang for the buck goes and if you’re not tied to platform-specific software – I’d look at a PC.

  11. You have a wonderful site, thank you for all knowledge you’ve imparted here.

    I’m wondering about computer/laptop gear. What do you currently use? Thank you!

  12. I think you mentioned a simple string like camera strap a long time ago. I am unfortunately not able to find it by searching your page, Do you recall the name of that strap?

  13. Fabrizio says:

    Hi Ming: several weeks ago you started adding to your gear Hasselblad stuff. Now the firm has preannounced a game changer for Tomorrow. Are you preparing for us a breakthrough reviews of something new in the next several days?? 😉 All the best

    • There will be reviews but only once I’ve had a chance to properly assess the new gear, not the kind of reactionary thing you get after five minutes at a press conference…of course assuming said new gear fits my own personal needs 😉

  14. Hi Mr. Thein,

    I recently bought my husband the new Nikon D500 as a surprised for Father’s day. I don’t have any lens for it yet. But thanks for your review about the D5500 and your Xmas 2015 article, I have an idea which lens to get but please advice if you also agree or recommend something otherwise. I was thinking of Nikon’s 35mm f/1.8 G and the 55-200mm f/4-5.6 VR II.

    Thank you.


    • Not knowing what he already has, the two lenses you suggest should work fine though I’d substitute the 35 with the Sigma 18-35/1.8, and if budget permits, the 55-200 with the Sigma 50-100/1.8.

      • Thank you for your quick reply. I will highly consider your suggestion. Have great day!

        • Don’t forget to use my B&H or Amazon links (in the sidebar) if you do 🙂

          • Okay 🙂 Will do. I forgot to mention that he has the Leica Q, which is his only camera. He was mentioning a while back about a Tamron prime that has image stabilization and how it’s such a game changer. So now I’m confused. Get the 50-100mm 1.8 first or get Tamron’s 35mm or 45mm? As always, I embrace your assistance with this matter. Thank you!

  15. Pete in Korea says:

    Hi Ming. Always appreciative of your knowledgeable articles, great source of information, especially now, with so many choices. I recently went to the Contax shopping spree and got 25.8, 28.8, 50.4, 35.4, 60.8 Macro and 85.4 Love them all, well made, great sharpness and colors. I had a chance to compare Loxia 50 with Contax 50/1.4 and while Loxia was better outside the center, Contax was sharper in the center, so I decide to keep it. I have a chance to get Sony Distagon FE 35/1.4 and I worry, that my Contax may also be better…Did you have a chance to compare those two: Contax 35/1.4 with Sony FE 35/1.4? If not, what’s your opinion of each?
    Thanks a lot for your site, one can learn a lot from your experience.

  16. So here I am, camera less. I have zero camera and lens. M9 is gone. I almost got the D810 but I feel a little bit selfish. See, I have a 6 year old who started to love to play basketball. Lately, the Nikon D500 looks like the wiser choice but the D810 still loud in my conscience. I went to a local show recently (Photocon LA) and I tried the D500. I was blown in many ways…maybe because I’m comparing it to my M9…hehe. Right across of Nikon’s booth was Sigma. Suddenly it came to me two lenses they have for the DX body – 18-35mm f/1.8 and 50-100mm f/1.8. Thinking about it carefully, a D500 with those lenses are more than capable to do anything. I may consider adding Nikon’s 200-500mm f/5.6, which completes my formidable kit. What do you think? Thanks!

    • Sounds like a pretty good lineup to me, assuming the D500 covers all the bases – I haven’t handled one yet, much less shot with it. But I have been hearing good things, and the f1.8 Sigma zooms are pretty interesting.

      • Thanks, Ming! I am sure the D500 will make you smile.

      • Hi Ming! A little update. I just picked-up another GR and I think I will use it as my wide angle/travel camera. The D500 is out of stock. So I’m picking a pre-owned D810 instead and three primes…Tamron’s 45/1.8 and 85/1.8 VC. I am saving for Nikon’s 200mm f/2 (ouch). I think that’s a good spread. Anyhow, thanks for recommending the Tamron!

  17. Hi Ming, Attended your mini workshop yesterday in Surabaya and really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us, I wish the workshop had been longer. Anyways, straight to the question. At the moment I feel like I’m at a crossroads with my photographic gear. I currently own Sony A7S (Mark 1), Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8, Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8, and Voigtlaender 35mm f1.2 nokton adapted to my a7s with voigtlaender close focus adapter. I’ve been quite happy with all the lenses that I own, except the camera itself. I share some of your concerns about a7 series cameras like the shutter lack, overall lagginess in almost every action , horrible autofocus even in slightly dimmed lit situations and not to mention the huge price plummet within a short period of time. Hate missing the shots with this camera but love the results when I don’t miss. Despite liking the results along with it’s size factor and some lenses that are available to it (those that I own and the 21mm Loxia), I’m considering whether it’s worth investing more to this system, like an upgrade to A7R II (but afraid to fall into the same hole again) or jump ship and just move on to a better system. Can you enlighten me with some suggestions on why I should keep (or upgrade) my sony gear or switch system altogether and to which one. Btw I plan to add Leica Q as a second camera. What would you do in my situation?

    Thanks – Andrew

    • Short answer: what you don’t like about the A7s isn’t fixed with the A7RII. There are only two options: wait indefinitely and hope that maybe Sony fixes things, or buy something to shoot *now*.

  18. Edwin Lopez says:

    Hi Ming,

    Love your website. I go to it every day. I purchased a Leica SL, partially beast on your review about its positives and negatives. I just wanted to tell you that now with Firmware 2.0, almost all the negatives, but for the lack of available lenses, have been cured. If you could get your hands on the camera again, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised.

    Best & Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks Edwin. I’ve actually got one here with FW 2.0, but it hasn’t cured the focus shift problem…and buying/reviewing something on the hope that it might get fixed in firmware can be risky – these things should really have been gotten right to begin with (especially since some were pretty simple/obvious – like direct exposure compensation). Can’t help but wonder why they’re not listening to their test photogs…

      • Edwin Lopez says:

        Hi Ming,

        I so appreciate the quick reply. I have not noticed the focus shift problem and have tried to replicate it on my lens. Thus, it is probably a lens by lens problem, i.e., quality control? Don’t know and not making excuses as the quality control on a $5000 lens should be exceptional.

        I do think that most of the other problems have been corrected. Now, if only they produced a couple of small promise to go with the behemoth zoom, I think their sales would increase dramatically.

        Best and the again!

        • Edwin Lopez says:

          small lenses to go with the behemoth zoom.

          Sorry about the typo

        • Shoot something at 90mm wide open. Then at f11. It should be at least as sharp, if not better. You won’t have hit diffraction limits yet. However, the focus plane shifts forewords so much that foreground elements will increase in sharpness but NOT the focal plane. I’ve tried four lenses from different batches and purchased from different points or supplied by Leica, all with the same problem. Lloyd Chambers sees the same thing. And samples from others confirm it. I agree: at 5k, it’s frankly disgraceful. Leica demanded I retest- and when I found the same results, have gone strangely unresponsive.

          • Edwin Lopez says:

            Thanks Ming!

            I’ve not found the same; i don’t shoot at 90mm often though.

            I have on final question. I am going on a hiking trip in the Dolomites this summer and as you know the 24-90 is very heavy. I am wondering whether you would recommend using the Leica T lens 18-56 OR buying another lighter camera like the Leica D-Lux 109 for the trip. Either choice would be about the same cost. Or, do you recommend a totally different camera for the trip altogether?

            Thx again for all your help and thoughtfulness.

  19. Steven M Waldstein says:

    I recently bought a few Nikkor AI-s lenses and a film body to use them with. I think for me it was a mistake to pick up F4 though. Its much bigger than I thought (bought it off of eBay from a very nice Japanese dealer). I saw you have a Nikon F2 Titan. I had been considering an FM3a. Would this make a suitable choice.

    • Yes, and it has metering, too (the F2s without meter prisms do not).

    • I’d consider the F3 instead: they’re cheap, easy to find, tough, and most importantly have a 100% view coverage with either of the common finders. They’re also much smaller than the F4. Since you were using an F4, I’m guessing that non-battery operation is not important for you.

    • Steve, I was a Nikon ‘corporate pro’ (salaried, not “semi-pro” — sic) in the 1980’s and early ’90’s. I have here what I call the “Nikon Museum”; and of all the film camera options, I settled on keeping a near mint F Photomic… a clean, black F2as*… a trio of very inexpensive Nikkormats (FT-2, FT-3, and EL)… an FE2* (and maybe my own first DSLR, an FE*)… an FA-20*… and an F-75/N-80 combo*. The go-to options are marked. I really like the F2as, and have an eye level prism and 6x magnifying viewfinder. Each camera has a particular, best “horses for courses” purpose… if I ever use ’em that much.The FE is notably nicer looking, feeling, and operating than an FE2, BTW; but the latter offers the fast flash sync speed. See Ken Rockwell’s FE review — it’s quite on the money. Just forget the rest of Mr. R.’s schtick.

  20. I need a solid (and not too expensive) studio stand for product photography.
    In Europe, unfortunately, can not be obtained Arkay. Maybe Manfrotto (190)? Thanks in advance.

  21. For what it’s worth to other readers, I think I finally solved the “compact normal” dilemma for myself with Sony A6300 and FE 35mm/2.8. At low ISOs the files are pretty much indistinguishable from D750 with a good Nikkor, and while the lens is not the fastest around (Touit 32mm is the obvious alternative), it’s very compact and sharp from wide open. There seems to be a little bit of Zeiss magic in the 3d-pop, too.

    I didn’t have high expectations for the camera because I’ve briefly handled A6000 before; frankly it feels like a bad toy version of A6300, so check out the latter if you’re looking for decent-sized body with a good EVF and a very good sensor. Biggest issue: the combined cost is very high, but I think discounts on the body will arrive before end of the year.

    • Thanks for the tip. Given what Sony charge for the latest and greatest, and how much and how quickly they slash prices in short order, I think I’ll pass… 🙂

      Did they include full uncompressed 14bit raw this time at least?

      • Nope, uncompressed option is not there, so it’s not ideal for a primary camera (for those looking for optimal image quality). For carry-anywhere and family documentary tool – IMO very good. I would probably have waited for discounts but the shooting season (when there’s any light at all in these latitudes) is here now, and the little one grows very fast…

  22. Hi Ming! So I ditched my M9 so I can jump on the D810. I can no longer stand Leica’s service turn around time and I finally admit that I hate the feeling of not able to shoot when light is slowly dissipating. For what I need (70% family and 30% work), I do not think I am going to wait for the newer version because I believe the D810 can do MORE than my M9 can do. I want to build my kit slowly but surely and I am considering the above recommended lenses. I’ll start with the 24-120 f/4 then Sigma’s 24mm f/1.4, Nikon’s 60mm f/2.8 macro and 85mm f/1.8. Again, this would be my only camera system next to my iPhone. I’m wishing for a full frame GR! haha!

    • I think you can pretty much cover everything with that setup. I’ve heard good things about the Tamron 85/1.8 too, so you might want to consider that instead of the Nikon version (which can be flare prone, and is somewhat lacking in personality – it’s a workmanlike lens, but nothing exceptional).

      • Thanks Ming! Tamron…it’s funny that you mentioned it. I actually tried the 35/1.8 and the 85/1.8 yesterday…BOTH have image stabilization!!! The shooting envelope just became bigger and wider. Sharpness was impressive even at wide open! I am really excited!!!! The built quality is up there too! Their 15-30 is quite lovely too…I see almost no barrel distortion and at 30mm it’s all straight. Tamron came a long way and I think the future is bright for them.

  23. Hi Ming;
    I saw you use the Fstop Kenti backpack, do you still like it and would you buy it again if looking for a pack now?

    Thank you
    Kind regards

    • It does the job, but it can be awkward to work out of because the pack is divided left/right and there’s really one way to arrange the contents which isn’t always the best way to utilise all available volume. I’d probably go with something that opens entirely from one side, and perhaps slightly larger to better accommodate my bigger MF lenses.

  24. Hi Ming

    would yo still prefer the GRII over the Fuji X70 which has a tilting touchscreen, much better af speed and better raw buffer (less blackout display) when shooting streets/moving people?


  25. Ming, thank you for the most well written and informative photography site on the web. I’ll be ordering a couple of classes shortly.
    Like you, I recently started a young family (1.5 year old boy), and am learning how photography fits in with family life. I’d be very interested in reading an article by you on the topic, you know, in your free time… Even since marriage my kit has evolved into a compact, yet high performance collection (GR, RX1, DP3M) and Linhof Technika outfit (I used to do architecture work). What I’m missing is a short telephoto/long normal–while I love the DP3m, it is far too slow for a toddler. The Linhof has only seen a few sheets in the past 2 years or so, but it’s tough to let go.

    1) If someone released a long normal 55/60mm or short tele compact matched to the sensor, I would buy it in a heartbeat (Please Ricoh). Is this something you would be interested in, or am I alone in this? At least for me, 2 matched sensor compacts could cover 97% of my shooting needs.

    2) I noticed you have the Contax 85mm. How does this perform with the newer, high res sensors? I’m torn between this and the Nikon 85mm f1.8g. F2.8 is fine for my purposes. Historically, I really like Sonnar rendering, and while I have limited exposure (just the RX1 and and old Contax 35-70 f3.4), I’ve really grown fond of the Zeiss look. I would probably have to pick up an A99 or 6D (interchangeable screens) to use the Contax. Nikon doesn’t seem to have a good MF solution–live view being impractical for personal use sans tripod.

    • Well, it’s my day job too, so priorities may be a little different 🙂

      The older 2.8/85 does just fine. It more than holds its own on the 5DSR and 7R2 – even wide open. Slower lenses are much easier to design for high performance than faster ones.

      As for MF on the Nikons – either LCDVF or stop down a little. Not too hard to focus accurately and consistently by f4. 🙂

  26. hi Ming, how about film scanner?
    do you use any?

  27. Hi Ming, I’ve only recently discovered your site and find it very informative – thank you. I’m going through a gas phase at the moment after I sampled an old Leica digilux 2 in a shop( never handled a Leica before).
    I absolutely loved the build quality and controls and it was very different to my RX1R and A6000. Since then I have been on a quest to change my equipment to keep the magic of the rx1r and versatility of the a6000 & zeiss16-70. I’m finding it hard to justify getting the Leica Q just because it will have to be my sole camera due to price so I am looking at keeping the rx1r and am selling A6000 and have just bought a Leica X Vario (for the Leica experience) and a Olympus omd-em1 with 12-40 f2.8 pro lens.
    What are your thoughts to these 2 choices in the modern day as they were released a couple of years ago? Any better suggestion?
    Many thanks

  28. Bruce Leeds says:

    Why did you remove the venerable Panasonic 20mm?!! 😦

    • I don’t use it and haven’t for some time?

      • Bruce Leeds says:

        Thank you for answering my trivial question about the Panasonic 20 mm. Yesterday I went out and bought one and when I saw that it wasn’t on your list I thought there may be something wrong with it. Thanks again for your time.

        • Nothing wrong with it – time doesn’t change the performance of a lens or camera as that’s fixed, but I do try to keep the list streamlined otherwise it kinda defeats the point of having it at all 😛

  29. Pentax K-1…needs to be test driven by you, Ming!

  30. Thanks for the informative reviews. Any thoughts yet on the Sony 6300 as a small second camera? And you don’s seem to write anything about Fujifilm cameras. Any reason why?

    • None available to review here, sorry.

      Fuji will only lend me a camera to review if they can veto the outcome. I could buy one, but that seems like a waste of money given it wouldn’t really serve any purpose for me.

  31. paulsterio69 says:

    Hi Ming, how do you find the CFV-50C compared to the Pentax 645Z? I’m thinking of getting one for studio portraiture. For the price of the CFV-50C alone (no body, no lenses), I could get the 645Z + 55/2.8 + 90/2.8 (i.e. basically an entire kit). What are your thoughts?

    • The CFV solution has far superior color and 1/500s sync, but the Pentax is a far more integrated solution (and operates much more like a conventional DSLR). It depends how you work, I guess. I prefer the CFV, personally.

      • paulsterio69 says:

        Thanks for your thoughts.

        That’s what I was thinking as well. The Pentax is more integrated and does have other benefits as well, e.g. autofocus, which I would probably find quite useful. I keep forgetting that the Pentax isn’t a leaf shutter, but in studio with powerful strobes, it’s no big deal for me.

        The point you mention about colour might be worth me further reading on though. Cheers!

  32. I’m surprised you sold the D5500, found a better solution to the 50mm compact conondrum? While we’re on the subject, do you think the EM5 Mk II with 25mm 1.8 compares well with the D5500 and 35mm 1.8 G? I know the Nikon has an undeniably better sensor but if you factor in 5-axis…

    • No, I just wasn’t using it enough to justify keeping it (and I have other projects that need investment at the moment).

      Even if you’re comparing the EM5II at ISO 200 to the D5500 at ISO 1600, it’s a wash. And a lot of the time, it’s going to be EM5II ISO 200 against D5500 ISO 200 – in which case, the D5500 has significantly better dynamic range.

  33. Do you recommend Nikons 20 and 24 1.8 G Fullframe budget lenses? The Sigma 20 1,4 is optically superior for sure but i dont wanna have this enormous size/weight and it doesnt have a filter thread either…..The last 1.8 the 24 seems to be the best of the whole 1.8g series according to several test/review sites though….

  34. ShinjKeis says:

    Tamron 45mm 1.8 is probably the best 45-55mm for Nikon at the moment. It has got very positive reviews from numerous websites. With VC, close focusing distance of 29cm and 0.29x maximum magnification, similar sharpness to Sigma Art, unique drawing, the sample images are somehow similar to Zeiss Batis. Some reviews,

    • If you need AF and VR, yes. But optically the couple of samples I tried are not quite up to the Art – let alone the 55 Otus…

      • Definitely, IQ wise, the Zeiss options are better, probably not for many people when taking into account the size. I mean it is an excellent and better lens than Nikon ones for different kinds of shooting.

  35. Ming – thank you for sharing your work and perspectives on various equipment. I’ve been using the GH2 for both video and stills, and I’m looking for a wide angle lens. At this point in time, would you recommend the panny 14/2.5 or the oly 12/2?



    • The 12/2 is better.

      • Thanks for your quick response. I have one more question. So, I have the opportunity to get a used D600 for a good price (there’s a bunch of them locally on Craigslist in the states). I can sell some of my m4/3 gear to get it. My question is what would you recommend between the GH2 and 12/2 (as mentioned in the earlier post) or D600 and 24/1.8 for personal use (not professional)? As you can tell, I really like the focal length of 24-28mm, and the price difference in the states between the Nikon 24/1.8 and Olympus 12/2 isn’t a huge difference. This would be my main setup as I mostly do street photog, travel, and environmental portraits for friends/family (not paid work). I don’t mind the weight of a DSLR. I originally got the GH2 for video capabilities, but I’m more interested in stills right now. At the same time, I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble of selling my gear to get a full-frame sensor that may be incrementally better for my needs.
        Thanks, Artie.

  36. Pixelgreat says:

    Hi, finding your blog very informative, thank you. I’m a beginner photographer learning on a Canon 550D ( UK parlance) and have upgraded to 2 better lenses than the kit lens that came with it- but am wondering when the camera body gives up the ghost whether to change to Micro Four-Thirds? SLR’s are so cumbersome, it would be great to have a smaller system to carry about. Would you recommend or should I stick to Canon as I learn the ropes? Many thanks.

    • I’d figure out what you need that’s missing before changing hardware – then find the best solution for your specific needs. Too hit and miss and potentially disappointing too…

  37. Been away a while, I notice you have now removed all m43 from your main arsenal – any reason why? I recall you being a big fan of the OMD line.

  38. Hello Ming,

    Lately, I catch myself shooting more low light scenarios. It seems my M9 (w/50 planar) is struggling in that area. Should I get a second body like Sony’s A7S with an adapter or should I just get a brighter lens like a 35mm 1.4?


    • You’re only going to gain a ~1.5-2 stops at most – if you think doubling or quadrupling your shutter speed is going to solve the problem – and you are okay with the Voigt 50/1.1’s rendering, or the 50/0.95’s price – then get the lens; if not, it’s time to look at other options. The good news is the M9 is not exactly a high ISO king, so pretty much anything you buy now is going to give you more usable shooting envelope – even M4/3…

      • Thanks Ming! I think I would leave the M9 for daytime but I am interested on the Voigt 50/1.1. I’ll be honest, I have not read a review of that particular lens. For $1K…I might give it a shot. You’re right. A newer body that could shoot comfortably at higher ISO levels (6400+) helps me get MORE in that “shooting envelope”.

        • D5500!!!

          I think I found the partner for my M9! Thanks for your review! I see it like the Manny Pacquiao of cameras. Haha!



  39. Ming
    I’ve been looking at the Nikon 45 ais-p, black version. I owned the zeiss 45 c/y and used it on the a7r. It was really sharp! I’m back with Nikon for various reasons. What is your take on the Nikon 45 ais-p I’m landscape guy so looking for sharp as it can be photos. Always stopped down to f8. Depth of focus is my thing.

    Can the 45 ai-p resolve 36, 42, or higher megapixels. Any experience with the Voightlander 40. If either of these two lenses can’t make the resolution cut I’ll go for a smaller 50.

    Thanks and Happy New Year.

    Claude Fiddler

    • Not used the CY45, but the Nikon 45P is fine on the D810 if stopped down a little. The 7R2 is probably the limit of its resolving power; it isn’t really critically sharp on the higher density D5500. I’d suggest looking at the Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 or 50 Makro Planar.

  40. Hello Ming,
    Did you like the Carl Zeiss zm distagon 35mm 1.4?
    It’s much cheaper than the Leica summilux one but bulkier.
    May be the older summilux on used market is better option?
    Thanks for your great works.

    • I did, which is why it’s on the list; better than the 35/1.4 ASPH FLE, and yes, it’s cheaper.

    • The 35mm/1.4 Distagon ZM is excellent on my Leica M9-P and M-P Typ 240 cameras. I don’t have a Summilux 35mm anymore to compare to the Zeiss lens, but I’ve read that even the newer FLE version has some remaining focus shift and wavy field curvature, which can be a pain to deal with. Focusing in live view would help with focus shift, but isn’t a cure for the field curvature of the Summiluxes on the current Typ 240 series Leica cameras, because they can only magnify the middle of the image.

      The Zeiss 35mm/1.4 ZM is a long lens, and takes 49mm filters, so it’s a design that’s trading a modest size increase size for higher image quality (not uncommon these days, looking at the recent Nikkor and Sigma primes). Nevertheless, I love mine, and I kinda hope that Zeiss designs a similar 28mm/2 for the M-mount, but I’m not holding my breath, as they seem quite busy with new lenses for the larger SLR and Sony mirrorless markets.

  41. Hey Ming, do you miss the 645z?


    • Yes 😦

      • Ah Ha!! I still have mine which I bought through sweat and your review….loving it! I’m a general photography person so it’s bulky but I enjoy the joy of medium format and utility of DSLR. I get much better pictures than my old Ax canon series that I’d been staying and buying as they’re released (standard lenses) with 2nd hand Pentax and Hassie lenses; once in a while I get a picture that just blows my mind!

        Thanks for your continuing awesome tutorship Ming!

  42. Winn Halverhout says:

    Ming, I’m about ready to pop for the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube, but I’m confused about the various offerings on releases. There’s the Arca Classic Quick Release, the Flip Lock Quick Release, and the Arca-Type Flip Lock Quick Release. Reviewers are passionate about their likes and dislikes of each. Which style of release do you use and which one do you recommend? Also, do I need to buy a dedicated Arca-Swiss plate or can I continue to use my Kirk L-bracket for my Canon 5DSR? Many thanks for your thoughts.

    • I’d actually go with one without any release, buy a regular Arca screw clamp, and use any plate you like (the Arca flip locks can be picky about the precise thickness of the plate). That’s what I’ve done at any rate…

  43. Sean Quigley says:

    Looks like the switch on and some issues have been addressed with software update 3.0 for the A7r2

  44. Lee Schleining says:

    I was noticing that Canon products are missing from your lists. Is there a reason ? Or maybe I just overlooked.

  45. Hi Ming,
    I have seen a small typo in your list:
    “Arca-Swiss Po Monoball ball head”.
    The correct name is P0, with zero, not Po.


  46. I just picked up a used Ricoh GR Digital II since it was very cheap and I wanted to try the ergonomics/haptics/BW conversions. This is the 10.1MP. I shot with it for a few days and I just find it interesting that my iPhone 6 has significantly better image quality even though it has a much smaller sensor and doubles as a computer/phone/gaming machine. The noise at ISO80 requires NR on the Ricoh. A 2008 dedicated camera can’t compare to a 2015 phone… amazing! It does feel great in my hand and leaves me pondering a newer APS-C version. The Ricoh GR will be my 7 year old’s first camera!

  47. Hello Ming. I am quite tempted by the D750 after reading your review. You also own and recommend the 35, 50 and 85 all at 1.8, which is great because the faster one will never be in my budget. But they are all made in China, and seem quite plasticky. Isn’t the build quality a bit low? I guess as long as the glass is good, but I am wondering. For the same price or so the X-T1 and similar lenses seem studier but I know you are not into the X-Trans files due to workflow issues. Thank you!

    • The glass is good, though the 50 is the weakest of the lot, and I’d replace the 35 with the 20, 24 or 28 personally. Yes, they’re plastic, but they’re solid/tight enough, light, weather sealed, and bounce if you drop them. 😛

      • Well, I never though it might actually and truly be an advantage to have a plastic based contraction lens. Indeed, it they fall, the shock waves might disperse better than in a metal lens – as in with less damage to the optics…

        • Plastic is only perceived as a bad thing because of marketing. There are a lot of good engineering reasons to use it, and with the new composites like Nikon is using in the D750/D5500 – the ‘cheap’ and ‘hollow’ feeling is much improved, too…

  48. Hi Ming,

    did the Ricoh GR have a 3:2 or 4:3 display (ratio)?? Didnt find any display measures (only 3 inch/76mm diagonal) or statements on the web (via google, official product page etc. pp.) and i am looking for a ggs glas screen protector for protection and anti relfection/glare! Thanks!

    Kind regards

  49. Hello Ming. Why don’t you recommend the Nikon AFS 50/1.8 above F4 (i.e. F5.6 and so on, right?). Thank you!

    • I think you’re reading that wrong. I don’t recommend it between f1.8-f4.

      • Right, my sentence came up the other way :-). But what is wrong with that lens between 1.4 and 4? And is it the same with the 50/1.4? Thanks a lot!

        • The 1.8 suffers from CA, low contrast, and is just generally soft. The 50/1.4 is worse, and suffers from a lot of coma too. I’ve tried many samples of both and never really found one I’ve been happy with. Inexplicably, there are no really, really good 50mm-e lenses except the Otus and perhaps Sigma Art – I don’t understand why, since there are many wider lenses (which are more difficult to build) that have a higher average quality level than the mainstream 50mm products…

          • Thanks a lot fir your answer. Very much appreciated!

          • Ming, small note: in fact you also wrote below F4 which also could be confounding. I am curious you do not mention in the game the Milvus 50 F1.4 (while you suggested the 85 F1.4 for bokeh in another post): do you have any perspective on that lens already? Thanks as usual for your inspiring and valuable inputs!

            • The problem with the Milvus is it’s large enough and heavy enough that I might as well go the whole hog to the Otus 55. It’s a different situation if you don’t already own one, I suppose. Personally, it’s the same case with the 85: I’ll still use the Otus, because personally I find it suits my subjects and style (and I rarely shoot compositons with that much bokeh to begin with.)

  50. Sean Quigley says:

    Ming said

    I think something is wrong with mine. I measure anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5 seconds before it fires. I wonder if using the grip and having two batteries in makes a difference. I know it takes even longer to start if you just swapped fresh batteries in – something which others have reported as well; has to do with the camera reading state of charge information from the batteries.

    Sigh. No point in sending it in to Sony here, it’ll be stuck for a month and come back with ‘we couldn’t find anything’.

    Your probably right and it may be within tolerance, maybe a call to some of your connections, may enable you to secure a replacement ;-)) good luck.

    • I have no connections at Sony. The only time the principals in this part of the world spoke to me was when they wanted me to blog about how great the A6000 was, host three workshops and post twenty watermarked ‘shot with A6000’ photos per week for three months in return for the loan of a camera and kit lens. That’s Sony Malaysia.

  51. How would you rate Nikon 20/1.8g for landscape photography? Any critical weaknesses in the lens? Somehow I’m suspicious about this one, but wide is the missing piece in my puzzle and it’s on a good discount at a local retailer just now. The (lack of) weight is very attractive…

  52. Sean Quigley says:

    Ming I have been looking through your Faces album and I found some stunning rendered shots of the style I am looking for they were taken with the Nikon D700 and 85mm f1.4 G do you have a current equivilent that renders like that combo that would work with the A7r2?

  53. Hi Ming,

    which lens is optically better from your point of you? Batis 25 2 or the new Loxia 21 2.8?? Which one would you recommend and to whom (kind of photographer)? Thanks a bunch in advance!

    Kind regards!

    • Use the Batis if you need AF. Use the Loxia if you need wider. I think that’s fairly simple, no? Personally, I think the Loxia has slightly better optics.

      • THX! Maybe the Loxia is also more for landscape photographers and esp. aimed at videographers! And the 28 f2 is a no go option, did you have your hand on it?? Mediocre or can it keep up very well against the two more expensive “brothers”? I hope a 18 or 20mm Batis is coming in the near future…would be the best wider and af imo!

        • The 28 is a design from the early 90s. It’s not a fair comparison, and even so has a rendering style neither can touch.

          • Fabrizio Zerbini says:

            Hi Ming. I have gone through your review of the ZF.2 28/2 Distagon. And the one on the Otus. Otus is out of scope for several reason, to me. The question is if you would recommend the former for any application, or if the lens is really aged in comparison to the several available nowadays (just to mention one the Nikkor 28 F1.8). Autofocus is not an issue, but manual focusing ability might be (several older zeiss manifest this issue if I got it right), so is rendering, acuity, and coma. Application shall be both landscape (knowing the lens has field curvature) and street/environmental portraiture. Thank you for your valuable input

            • Not good for landscape, but brilliant for portraiture because of the way it renders. If you want an all-round solution, the Nikon 1.8G might be a better compromise.

              • The 28mm/1.8g AFS Nikkor is quite good for landscape use, better in my opinion than the Zeiss 28mm/2 Distagon ZF.2 for most landscapes. The Nikon 28mm/1.8 has field curvature toward the camera at edges and corners, while the Zeiss 28mm/2 has the opposite curvature, shifting focus of the edges backward toward infinity. The practical upshot of this is that the Nikon 28mm brings foreground corners into better focus, at the expense of distant object sharpness on the upper corners and less so at the sides. This can work well if you are interested in classic deep focus landscapes with near foreground plus distant subjects near the mid frame being in depth of field. Particularly when shooting vertical frames, I find this helpful. Using the Zeiss for similar subjects leads to slightly softer foregrounds, even at f/11, not bad but noticeable. I think the Zeiss is better suited to environmental portraiture at mid apertures, with it’s field curvature giving objects in the corners and edges, behind a central person or group of people, slightly more texture and detail than the Nikkor or a flatter field lens would. I have both lenses still, but use the Nikkor more.

                I do have to say the manual focus mechanism on the Nikkor G wide angle lenses is annoying to try to use. The focus throw is far to short, about 90˚ rotation from infinity to MFD, even with the downgraring to the focusng mechanism inside. I just use AF most of the time with these lenses (20mm/1.8, 24mm/1.8, and 28mm/1.8) because the manual focus sucks so bad, but AF is adequate for most uses (astrophotography being the exception). I’m looking forward to trying astrophotography with the 20mm and 24mm Nikkors in a couple weeks. The 28mm/1.8 isn’t so great for that application (coma and field curvature in the periphery is pretty noticeable at f/1.8-2.8 with mine). I found the 25mm/2 Distagon much better for wide field astro work, but it also has some coma in the corners. Cropping the 25mm images to approximate the field of view of the 28mm produced good results though.

                • Pardon spelling “downgearing” as “downgraring.” Must go to sleep! 😉

                • Agreed re. differences in field curvature. The 24 PCE has similar forward curvature that can help with ‘classical’ arrangements, though one has to be careful as the focus bowl shifts with aperture too…

                  AF and LV are the way to go with the G lenses. Something about the manual focusing is just imprecise and a little ‘gritty’, for want of a better word.

                • Fabrizio Zerbini says:

                  Thank you Steven this is indeed helpful. I am seriously considering the Zeiss for environmental portraiture now. Still it is hard to predict how difficult can be manual focusing on that type of photography. I was used to that in the past but lost the habit, and the OVF of current dslr are far away from the nikkormat I was then using. And I do not see myself very much going around with a zacuto for that type of photography.

                  • Yes, too bad camera companies no longer feel the need to put finders that actually help manual focusing anymore. I suppose they think the green focus confirmation dot is good enough, and it usually is if you are not shooting wide open. I’d love if Nikon had a real pro DSLR camera with interchangeable finders and screens like on the F3 and F4. The way design of these things is trending I think a high-res EVF body is more likely, or a camera that has a combination of eye-level EVF and OVF.

                    • Steven (and attention, Fabrizio), I myself will be picking up the Pentax K-1 whenever a reasonable economic incentive appears. The camera is still in short supply in some markets. I already have the Zacuto Pro LCD viewfinder awaiting the arrival of that purchase. I think that combo must be THE manual focus, DSLR-based solution at present for “late middle age” guys… and I emphasize Pentax’s particular and unique implementation of the articulating LV screen, the true rationale for which is still almost universally uncomprehended. Look that up at in an interview with a Ricoh rep around the time of the camera’s release, if you’re curious at alL.As Lloyd Chambers has said on multiple occasions, “Old guys need EVF’s”. I think this is the closest alternative approach available in a high end DSLR, with the 5-axis in-body stabilization making this hybrid tactic broadly hand-holdable with a wide variety of MF lens types attached. FYI.

                    • The question is if DSLR in the upcoming years will be the right standard for manual focus I think. No doubts the setting you are building suits the purpose. For my habits, I still regret the viewfinder of my well respected nikkormat, which is as ancient as I have been. I have been told the Df is good in this respect, but am still convinced manual focus will go more and more with mirrorless

                    • Live view will always be more accurate for MF – between showing real DOF, magnification/peaking/other aids and focus on the sensor plane. The DF’s finder is no better than any other modern Nikon, sadly. That said, I suspect there are nuances with optical finders that EVFs will never be able to replicate; not to mention not destroying your night vision under low light conditions. I wonder how many people now have actually looked through a ‘good’ optical finder and not those consumer drinking straws we get now…

  54. Hi ming,
    I will lose my mind while deciding between A7R II vs GH4 + Nikon D750 . Currently as a GH4 owner i am not happy with stills and want have more DOF, more dynamic range, better IQ and low noise on low light. I am also in videography. Loved downsampled video quality of 4k which is taken with GH4.

    Should i sell my GH4 and buy A7R II or just use GH4 only for video and own an extra D750 for stills ?.

    • I assume you mean less/shallower DOF; more DOF is more in focus and requires a smaller sensor – which would have the opposite effect to the other desired characteristics.

      I’d actually go the separate camera route simply because it’s a pain to switch settings between video and stills, and you can work faster/ separate out your thought process to focus on one or the other.

      • bilencekic says:

        thank you very much! yes i wanted to mean less DOF :).
        then it means, just have video lenses for GH4 an sell all 7-14mm f4, 25mm f1.4, 45mm f1.8. maybe just leave 12-35 as multipurpose and go for samyang video lenses or voigtlander f 0.95 series.

  55. What do you use for sensor cleaning?

    I have only used manual air blowers before as the dust removal systems seem to work well on most cameras but the A7II seems like a dust magnet.

  56. Sean Quigley says:

    Sony A7r2 is better in ergonomics and most operations already

    • Better than what? None of the firmware updates fix slow operation or ergonomics…

      • Sean Quigley says:

        Hi Ming
        It seems my post above is looking out of context and was originally posted in response to someone claiming that their Canon dslr was so much better than the Sony in ergonomics and operation, to which I disagreed.
        I had literally just compared my Canon 5DIII against the A7rII and in both of the above it is far superior, having said that this is personal to each user and each user’s requirements can be very different.

        • This is highly, highly subjective. I disagree that the ergonomics and operation are better. All of the current DSLRs are almost instant in even menu response – the Sony is laggy in simple things like setting exposure. How is that better?

          • Sean Quigley says:

            Hmm, we must be talking a couple of milliseconds, I find mine to be very fast and responsive, it does take awhile to fine tune the buttons, My only problem area is buffer fill up on continuos drive, more so with uncompressed raw. It has actually cost me some spectaclar shots, so far the only downside over my DSLR’s. But nothing is perfect.

            • No, we’re not. You turn the dials and watch the bar slowly scroll to catch up. That doesn’t happen on a Nikon or Canon.

              Try using a faster card. I switched to Lexar 1000x UHSIIs and it helped (even from Sandisk 95mb/s extreme pros, and though the 7R2 does not support UHSII)

              And power up time is the worst aspect: I’ve timed mine at a consistent five seconds from power switch to shoot! That’s slower than the Hassy digital back from 2006 I used to use.

              • Sean Quigley says:

                Ok, firstly I have used the Lexar card you mention from day 1 with the A7r2, I have retested my Camera and it’s all instant.
                I think you must have something wrong with yours, my switch on is 1 second no more to shooting, menu’s instant all as fast as my canons and as fast as I can press buttons. No wonder we seem at loggerheads over this camera.

                • Have you actually timed it?

                  Between Lloyd and I and the Zeiss demo units a couple of months back, we had six cameras. All took just as long to power on.

                  I have no reason to want a slow camera any more than the next guy…why would I, after paying Sony’s prices?

                  • Sean Quigley says:

                    I have tested it twice just now, max time to firing shutter with 55mm f1.8 FE lens is 1.9 secs inc focusing and 1 second to be ready to fire max, I was sitting in the dark focusing on my monitor. I am using 2.0 software and Lexar 128gb 1000x U3 card formatted in camera with 1000+ shots on the card, battery at 35%, everything is instant.
                    I just got my partner’s camera out with 24mm F2 FE lens, sandisk 16gb extreme pro card, battery at 57% in all parameters the timings are identical. Camera is 2 weeks old.
                    I hope this helps resolve these operational speed etc problems that we have not experianced, my Camera was from first batch in UK.

                    • I think something is wrong with mine. I measure anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5 seconds before it fires. I wonder if using the grip and having two batteries in makes a difference. I know it takes even longer to start if you just swapped fresh batteries in – something which others have reported as well; has to do with the camera reading state of charge information from the batteries.

                      Sigh. No point in sending it in to Sony here, it’ll be stuck for a month and come back with ‘we couldn’t find anything’.

                    • Some cameras (Leica M 240 series) seem to startup and run much faster with SD cards that have exFAT disk format (typically the standard on 64GB and 128GB cards) than on FAT32 format used on 32GB and below size cards. The 32GB cards can be formatted in computer as exFAT. I’ve noticed a big improvement on my Leica M-P with 32GB Lexar 2000X card by going to exFAT. Leica seems to fully support exFAT for 32GB cards, even with in-camera reformatting it stays exFAT. However, I noticed my Nikon D800E changes the format back to FAT32 on cards smaller than 64GB, keeping it exFAT only for my 64GB Lexar 2000X. You might want to experiment with a larger card that’s exFAT by default, or reformatting to exFAT on smaller cards for the Sony, if you have the time to test it.

                    • I actually tested this on the Sony – I’m using 128GB cards – it appears to make no difference to write speed; the bottleneck is the camera’s internal bus (USB 2.0, as reported by others).

                    • Oh, well the format isn’t the bottleneck on your Sony then. It’s weird that Sony would use USB2 not USB3 or USBC for a high res camera.It might save Sony a few dollars (or less) per camera, but it makes the end product less satisfactory. I know a former Kodak engineer who once advocated for a higher definition lens on an Instamatic model they were developing. The cost of the better lens was pennies more, but Kodak management nixed the idea because they anticipated selling several millions of the camera, and the costlier lens would have added up to almost a million in lost profits, and they didn’t think consumers would notice the difference a better lens would make. However, that Instamatic was a low end camera, not a high end one like the A7 series is. I’s say Sony goofed.

                    • Maybe not, since there are plenty who’ll buy the inevitable Mark III…

              • Have you turned the Exposure Guide Off? Without it there is no delay on my camera when changing aperture and shutter at least.

                • Yes, it’s off.

                  • Sean Quigley says:

                    This is all very strange, as it seems quite a few are stating that their A7r2’s are laggy and with slow startupand AF, I have 2 here no such problems, it;s only the buffer filling after 10 shots now with UC raw that is a problem.
                    Hopefully, Sony will sort out a lossless compression algo for these camera’s.

  57. Hi Ming. One Question. If you’re only allowed one camera to keep from the list above. Which one would you choose? Thanks!

  58. Geof Margo says:

    Thanks for your helpful website. I use LightRoom, I have not ventured into Photoshop but your video teaching series makes me wonder if I should.

    I have 2 cameras that have made it onto your gear list, and I have a quick question about each.
    I have the X-T1; the one thing that I have not figured out how to deal with though is the LightRoom handling of the RAW files. I can see better results from Iridient but going between LR to Iridient and back (to use the LR database and printing module) and the huge size of the TIF files from Iridient are dampening my enthusiasm. I have not tried Capture One which I believe also gives good results. How did you deal with this when you had the X-T1?
    I love the Ricoh GR but miss a viewfinder; I prefer to frame at eye level with the camera to my face. Any suggestion for this issue?

    • No problem. I just used the LR conversion. I don’t have the time to use multiple bits of software…

      GR: try an external optical finder. That said, I much prefer the Leica Q for the viewfinder reason (amongst other things).

  59. Sean Quigley says:

    Hi Ming
    Could you sum up apart from aperture, the image quality differences for the 135 f2 Zeiss to the 100-300 contax at 135mm, basically is there a big difference in resolution/rendering?

    • The 2/135 APO has almost zero longitudinal CA and much better microcontrast. Resolving power at the edges is also higher and there’s no coma. You can’t really compare the two, one is a highly corrected fast apochromatic prime lens and the other is a variable aperture zoom. The 2/135 at f2 is already better than the 100-300 at f5 (approximate maximum at 135mm) and if you stop down the 2/135 to match, it’s a completely unfair comparison.

      • Sean Quigley says:

        Thanks for such a fast response, I have the 100-300 and it is fantastic, just curious to see if the 135 is worth the extra cost Vs the loss of zoom, I don’t use the 300mm end and the isolation of f2 would be useful.
        The reason I ask you, is we have so much equipment in common and I only found your site recently, that makes your opinion very valid. Thanks

      • How about the Vario Sonnar compared to the Canon 70-300, on a 5DSR?

  60. Hi Ming,
    I have GH4 with several lenses for both photo/video. I am comparing image quality with my X100s and not happy with GH4 image quality. Should i go for omd em-5M II or should i go for FF from A7 series or Canon 6D/mark3/5dsr ? Really confused. Thank you.

    • It’s impossible to answer this question without knowing what you want to shoot exactly. Another M4/3 camera is not going to beat the X100s; they all use pretty much the same sensor. FF will be better but comes with other compromises like depth of field and higher shot discipline requirements, larger lenses etc.

      • bilen cekic says:

        thank you very much Ming! i am taking pics during travel only so it is more to ultra-wide,fisheye and maybe pics of local ppl (orang asli). I never took my camera in KL and take some pics while waking. yesterday i couldn’t sleep bcoz of thinking what to buy. I read your D750, 5DSR and A7II am sure now i will go FF after you said no m4/3 will satisfy comparing to X100S. From your review, i can see D750 JPEG’s are very sharp comparing to A7II, is it correct ?
        Between D750,A7II and 6D which one you would preferrer ? (5DSR is around RM 13K, so expensive ).(last question 🙂 ).
        Thank you very much!

        • For what it’s worth, I also had a micro-43 system, got an X100t to complement it, and wasn’t happy with the smaller sensor anymore. After long consideration I bought a D750, and despite some suspicion about DSLRs I’ve been very happy with it. I’m sure that mirrorless will become a better option for most purposes within 5 years, but meanwhile why not use something that works much better when it comes to ergonomics and operation. Unless weight or stealth is the most important factor, but then you should probably stick to m43.

  61. Hi Ming,

    have you ever tested Canon’s M3 with 22 F2 Pancake Prime lens?? It might be a good or even better alternative to Ricoh’s GR having some advantages (touchscreen, 24MP, larger aperture etc.)…?? Your opinion…..
    Keep going and take care of course!

  62. On the current list… the Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon is listed twice… is it so good you need two? 😛

    Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon** – B&H Amazon
    Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/55 Otus APO-Distagon** – review B&H Amazon
    Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar** review B&H
    Zeiss ZF.2 2/135 APO-Sonnar** – B&H Amazon
    Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon** – B&H Amazon

    (feel free to delete this comment upon correction)

  63. Ming, It was nice seeing you in Hong Kong during your exhibition. Seeing your photos in prints is a totally different experience! One question I have about the gear list above is how you use the Contax Zeiss 100-300/4.5-5.6 Vario-Sonnar MMJ on Nikon body, when the lens’ flange distance is shorter than Nikon’s F-mount? Are you using an adaptor or modified the lens to F-mount?

    • Thanks! I’m using the Contax Zeisses on the 5DSR and now the A7RII.

      • Thank you for your quick reply! I guess then you don’t use it on Nikon D810… I am looking for a relatively light telephoto lens for D810 and was thinking about buying new Nikon 300mm F/4 PF VR, but then the VR issue made me hesitate. After the firmware update, do you still see the vibration?

        • No, it’s not physically possible – as you point out, flange distance is impossible. Have not tried the 300/4 VR after update; it isn’t a focal length I need often.

          I’d suggest looking at the Voigtlander 180/4 APO if you don’t mind manual focus and a little legwork.

          • Thanks, Ming! I have been look for Voigtlander 180/4 APO after reading your review, but I was already late. Even JCH could not find a clean copy. I am patiently waiting, though…

          • Hello, Ming & Sokho: Flange distance is not impossible — quite the contrary — on a Pentax K-1, In my lens collection, Contax-Zeiss, R-Leica, Olympus OM, Nikkor, and, of course, M42 are all nicely useable for the kind of work I mostly favor, without image degrading (glassless) intermediary adapters. The use of Leitax bayonets is optimal, naturally.

  64. Will you be writing about why you traded the 5DSR for the Sony system?

  65. Hey Ming

    I am doing a lot of product photography these days, and I have been mainly using the zeiss 100 on a d800e. I have been thinking of adding the 85mm pc. I wanted to know if you think there are any major differences between the PC and PC-E versions? I can get the PC edition for an excellent price.

    • Not really, actually. The PC version will also work on older bodies or film bodies (or gasp, a non-Nikon) because it has a mechanical aperture instead of an electronic one.

  66. Mitchell says:

    Hi Ming,

    do you think the OMD EM10 with its 3 axis IS can fully compensate the bigger sensor of an Ricoh GR in terms of shooting in higher ISO territory???

    Thinking of getting a pocketable camera the omd em 10 with the pana 15 or 20 1.7II would be a bit bigger but has some great advantages for street….touchsceen, 3 axis IS (also for video) at least, evf, tiltable screen….this makes it a tough decision for me to go for the ricoh despite I love their ergonomics, design and bigger sensor in a smaller package…..

    • No, because I have an EM5II and the files from a given situation aren’t better.

      • Mitchell says:

        Thanks for your quick reply! Then the Ricoh GR II is the chosen one! Gonna buy it when I am in the states (via your links of course!) it is over 100 Euro cheaper there than in Europe (699 us bucks vs 799 euro!) sadly/unfairly….nevertheless thx a lot!

        • Save yourself the hassle and buy the original GR. The differences are negligible and not worth the extra price difference.

          • No Ming for me the best solution is to wait, if he can he should wait…i think/predict only a tiny few/fraction of Ricoh GR V users will upgrade and a lot of potential new buyers (discount on the former model) will buy the old one or last coolpix as’…..
            So Ricoh has to lower the price very quick and maybe heavily of the new model after some months because it wont sell well due to the fact of “micro/nano” improvements wifi/flash support/burst rate and less demand and a lot of other cams in this price category or even less have the same “old” features, sensor etc. fuji xt 10, omd em 10, coming omd em 10 mark II, coolpix A…

            So we might see a firesale in a few months if sales/demand are down and a new gr III sooner than later maybe next year / july already after ricoh/pentax has released its fullframe dslr in november having more time, capacities etc. pp. on developing a real “new” GR (III/VII)….
            Touchscreen, tiltable screen, body IS, pixel shift mode, star tracker mode, 24 mp sensor, new processor, slightly larger aperture lens 2.0 or anything else….

  67. Paul Mersky says:

    Read your pieces on both the Nikon 85/1.4G and the 85/1.8G. Any insight as to how the 1.4 does on a D750, whether more like a D800 or D700. Other things being equal, would like to avoid the flare and loss of contrast of the 1.8.

  68. Hi Ming,

    Ricoh GR II vs. Sony RX100 IV….which one would you pick and which has the better overall IQ/High Iso capabilities if you would not have already the GR I (V)?? (bigger sensor fixed lens vs. smaller sensor with zoom lens but stacked and stabilized)?
    I think both only have 12 bit files so no disadvantage for sony (compressed raw file issues)….


    Kind regards,

  69. Ming,

    I’m curious as to why you replaced your Zeiss ZF.2 2.8/21 Distagon with a Nikon AFS 20/1.8 G.


    • The situations under which I usually need something that wide tend to be a) dark and b) fast moving documentary, so I need both AF and all the light I can get. Something has to give since I’m running a business, not collecting lenses… 🙂

  70. Hi Ming, do you use UV filters on your lenses? Only recently did I realize there are built-in UV filters in the cameras leaving UV filters only for protection. I was wondering if you thought they detract from image detail or what your thoughts on them were. Thank you!

    • No, I don’t. In general they add another piece of glass to the optical system that was never intended to be there. I’ll only use them in extremely harsh environments. The front elements are much tougher than you think, and hoods can add another layer of impact protection.

  71. Ming-

    Thank you so much for the excellent and informative articles and videos. With your experiences with cameras could you help provide feedback? I’m undecided between the X2 (used for 1400), Fuji X100T, Sony RX100 IV, or Hasselblad Stellar (or RX100). Budget is 1-2k US. Will be primarily used for street/portraits and scenics. Open to other suggestions. Thanks!

  72. Bryan Gonzalvo says:

    I noticed you tried but dropped the Perception Tablet. I was curious if you could share what your experience was like and why you dropped it. I’m a serious amateur and always carry a camera with me. My Lowepro backpack has been my daily work backpack for some time but looks dated and is beat from travel. I use a 15″ laptop and my daily camera is an e-m1 with a 12-40 and two primes. I occasionally swap it out for my D700. I’ve been eyeing the Perception 15. Appreciate your thoughts! Thank you.

    • Simple answer – my mum borrowed it and liked it so much I never saw it again…

      From a practical standpoint, I needed something a bit larger anyway – I’m finding the F-stop Kenti is fantastic in both carrying capacity and load distribution. Not sure it’ll fit a 15″ though; my 13″ is a tight fit.

      • Bryan Gonzalvo says:

        Were the camera/lens pockets a decent system from an access and storage perspective? I looked at the F-Stop bag but it’s more camera bag than a daily “office” bag and weighs more too. Thanks.

        • Agreed. The inner pocket is hung at an odd height – I find it too low for mirrorless but too high for a DSLR. The lower section isn’t easy to get things out of, either. But I think the 15″ may be better simply because it’s a bit larger. For an office bag I’d probably use a Billingham just because it looks a bit more formal.

  73. Norastic says:

    Hey Ming, I’m thinking of making the jump from Canon to Nikon(already sold a few lenses), I’m mainly a landscape photographer with some macro/bird work(I’m using 7DII with 100mm so I’m not worrying there), I’m thinking about getting the Nikon 16-34F4 and the 70-200mmF4 to start, but I can’t decide whether to buy the D810 or D750, I know the D750 have advantage in the ISO and DR but the pro-body features and the lack of OLPF in the D810 are a good plus, It will be my first Nikon so I kinda want to get the best and the price difference isn’t really that big can you give some advice in which to get and why? Thank you.

    • The D810 actually has better DR than the D750. High ISO is not important for landscapes and you can use optimum apertures, plus 16MP DX is an advantage for wildlife so I’d go with the 810.

    • Hi, Norastic. In the hearsay department, my old college roommate has been using Nikon DSLRs all through the digital era; and having the means to buy whatever he wants, he was recently seduced enough by the action capturing + low light capabilities of the D500 to test and buy one to complement his D810. However, he now reports to me that he retains a clear preference for his D810 in most any situation. I trust his judgement on this, and he does employ his gear in a voluntary “professional” capacity to cover and promote Yale University swimming. So, FWIW, maybe this information can be of some help to you in making your decision. I know I’d go for the D810 (see below), as Ming recommends.

      Personally, I prefer the use of the more compact prime lenses, or nominally-APS-C super wide zooms which have practical utility employed at, or NEAR, full frame in order to achieve low weight and bulk in my kit. I’ve checked this out and feel that the practical utility of being able to employ tiny APS-C lenses such as the Pentax HD DA Limited 35mm macro, 40mm pancake, and 70mm stopped down a bit or at crop factors from about 1.15x (up to 1.34x for other lenses) to be a real benefit to having a 36+ mp FF sensor on board a DSLR. Effectively, I see little compelling reason to own an APS-C DSLR any more for just that reason. I should be able to keep my pixel count in the range of 20.2 to about 28 mps on a Pentax K-1, with a larger pixel pitch than is available from an APS-C DSLR. Thus, I will probably be toting one or two mirrorless APS-C bodies instead for “reach” in near macro applications, and with under 30-ounce telephoto prime lenses. I don’t need a DSLR myself for gaining an ‘equivalent’ 320mm to 448mm FOV from my Pentax 67 200mm f.4.0 + effectively ‘dedicated’ 1.4x Pentax 67 (correcting!) teleconverter (with my 24.2 mp Canon M3, e.g.). Just something more for you to consider, if applicable to your requirements.

  74. Richard says:

    Mr Thein, I’m wondering how much the Coolpix A would improve on the GX-7 w/ 9-18 for landscapes? -many thanks

    • Can’t say as I haven’t used the 9-18 or the GX7, but the A is a cut above anything I’ve seen out of M4/3 acuity and dynamic-range wise. However, that difference isn’t so big that it could be wiped out shaky hands or bad postprocessing. I suppose the answer you’re looking for is – if it’s cheap enough, go for it…

  75. Notice the OMD EM5 II and a few ZD lenses back in your collection, are you gonna revisit M43s for your normal shooting?

    • No. Just video.

      • Do you think you’ll ever return to mirrorless or gonna stick w/ DSLRs?

        • Impossible to say since we don’t know what the future holds for either…

          • Okay last question…for today, I’ve been trying to get used to the 35mm focal length after purchasing the X100S, do you find the 35mm focal length to either be not tight enough and/or not quite wide enough when composing as in you would rather go with 28mm or 50mm instead of the 35mm.

      • If it’s just for video, why not one of the Panasonic bodies or even Blackmagic? Seems like the II is better than previous Oly bodies but not good enough to be a dedicated video rig.

        • No stabiliser on either of those. If you add a steadicam or gimbal rig, then the whole thing becomes enormous and I might as well use my D810/Otii – that’d be cheaper too, since I don’t have to buy a new camera and lenses. The EM5II is an 80/20 compromise: you know you’re giving up 20% in image quality to save 80% of the weight and hassle.

  76. David Beaton says:

    Ming. I notice that the Fuji X100T seems to have been dropped from the Serious amateur/pro compact list – or am I imagining it was once there? I just bought one thinking it had your stamp of approval but maybe I was wrong.. Anyway thanks for your tireless efforts to inform and advise – much appreciated.

    • It was there but I’m rethinking the logic of this page a bit. No point in recommending something I’d never use (35mm FOV is not my thing).

      • David Beaton says:

        Understood but I thought these were recommendations for others, some of whom like 35mm FOV (such as me). Thanks anyway.

        • Objectively, I’d be no better than the other crop of ‘reviewers’ who don’t use what they recommend – that’s more than a little lacking in integrity, I think. So whilst it drops off the list or isn’t there, it doesn’t mean it’s bad – just not for me or I can’t make an objectively experiential comment.

  77. After using Nikon 28mm 1.8G for several months, i realized that this lens is problematic for landscape/scenery shot. The sharpness at far distance can be abysmal sometimes, the accuracy is inconsistent, whereas it excels spectacularly in documentary or portrait work. 0.7m, which is why..would avoid buying those G lens where the focus distance becomes infinite easily in less than 2m.

  78. Nikolov says:

    Hi Ming,

    one question how much better is the Fuji XT1/XT-10 X100t all have the same sensor/processor vs. the Ricoh GR? How much stops you gonna loose if choosing/using the Ricoh GR??? Both usable up to 6400?? Fuji even ISO 12800??

    THX in advance!

    Take care

    Kind regards!


    • GR to 1600/3200. Fujis to 3200/6400 with a similar noise level.

    • Luke Johnston says:

      If you’re intersested, the Fuji X cams really only shoot up to ISO1600(ish). After that the RAW file simply contains instructions it is to be pushed to the higher sensitivity selected (so +1 1/3 ev if ISO4000 or whatever). This may seem academic but I began to think it was better to push a 3200 file from my X-e2 a stop in Lightroom than shoot at 6400. Later, I found a reasonably academic article on the net showing RAW data that shows this all to be the case. If you Google Isoless sensor you should find it. It’s really led to me getting better files to work with in lowlight.

  79. Fabrizio Zerbini says:

    Hi Ming,
    I wonder if you can share a bit of your experience with the Zeiss 135 F2 which appears in your kit. I have been reading the APO setting facilitates a lot focusing even on D8XX series, if the subject is still. Any use outside a tripod set? Many thanks in advance for your feedback!

    • Not sure where you’ve been reading that, because it makes no difference to focusing. Apochromatic correction is not a ‘setting’, it is part of the optical design. Such correction increases resolution by ensuring all light focuses at the same point. This might theoretically make it easier to judge if something is in focus or not, but practically the focusing screens in today’s cameras are so poor that it makes no difference at all. Most of the time I shoot handheld even with manual focus lenses. Live view and a LCD magnifier is much easier than using the optical finder, even with a modified focusing screen.

      • Fabrizio Zerbini says:

        It was reported by Lloyd Chamber while comparing with the 100 Makro: “The 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar is much easier to focus at ƒ/2 in magnified Live View: higher overall contrast and micro contrast, and especially the reduction of the haze of longitudinal chromatic aberration (LOCA), e.g. the “violet halo” that one sees with the 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar. These benefits accrue both for focusing by eye and with Live View. Stopping the 100/2 Makro-Planar down to ƒ/2.8 during Live View can be helpful.” Apparently the issue persists with the 100 even with live view, but not with the 135. Fair for the word ‘setting’, sure it is a design element. Thank you for your feedback!

        • Under those circumstances, yes, he’s right. You would see the difference in magnified live view, and you are right in stating that’s only useful on a tripod because of stability issues – however, in practice you would not see the difference in the finder or not magnified.

  80. Luke Johnston says:

    Hi Ming. The Touit 50M has slipped onto this list. Does that mean you have had a chance to play with one? Because I would be very interested to read your thoughts.

    • Briefly, and briefly enough that I was impressed. Not extensive enough to review though.

      • Luke Johnston says:

        That’s fine. May I ask what impressed you during that brief time? I would really like to try one because the sun stars made by the 32 really impressed me (the fuji lenses I have tried make horrible ones). However, I am worried about resolution at infinity (I understand this can be a problem with macro lenses???), the lense is exorbitantly expensive in Australia and I cannot try one is person without jumping on a plane.

  81. Hi Ming,

    Do you know if there is a strong sample variation with the Nikkor 85 1.8 AFS? Have you tested several ones before your made your decission to choose yours???

    I wanna buy one on my US Trip and dont know if the 85 1.8 lens doesnt have as much sample variation issues as other Nikkor lenses in general or specifically the 1.8 lens series??

    Thansk a bunch!

    Kind regards!

    • Not that I can tell. I only tested one sample and it appeared to be fine, so I stopped there. I know of another reader who had slight decentering, but it isn’t anywhere near as bad as the fast wides or zooms. The simpler the optical design (size, number and positioning of elements) the less likely you are to have sample variation because there are simply fewer places for tolerances to be off.

  82. Noting your equipment rationalization and while there was a lot I was not surprised to see you dropped, I was really, really surprised not to see the 28/1.8 and 50/1.8 Nikkors still on the list. Did the Ricoh GR just completely take over for that kind of photography? My second question is how many Nikon digital bodies do you keep on hand? I’d think it would be nerve-wracking to only have two for commercial work, knowing how much I’ve dealt with their repair over the years even after I left journalism. My third is whether the shadow bias of the D800E and highlight bias of the D810 make for any difficulties with workflow and output when using them together.

    • The 50/1.8 is still on the list, but it isn’t recommended because frankly, the optics are poor. The GR is covering my 28mm needs for now – there really isn’t anything better for the moment.

      I’ve got two Nikon bodies. I do know it’s easy enough for me to pick up a third if necessary – why tie up capital? D800E/D810: yes, took a bit of time to get used to it. And I’ll switch between one and the other as primary depending on whether I’m shooting in low light or bright light, but either will do fine if on a tripod.

      • Interesting. People rave about that 50 and yet I’ve had nothing but frustration with it, including now two failed repairs at Nikon to deal with obviously poor sharpness left of center in the inner field; as it is, it doesn’t get to where you can muddle through symmetrically until about f2.8, or where you don’t have to think about it until f3.5. If it performed wide open on the left as it does on the right, I’d be OK. But at f3.5 I may as well just use the zoom. I like the focal length but not having to deal with a lemon. In any case, I’m glad it’s not just me having trouble with this lens! The Zeiss Otus is out as a solution on account of cost, but I would consider the new Sigma 1.4 or even the Nikkor 1.2 as a possibility.

        I use a pair of D800 bodies, and probably shoot more architecture than anything else. With regard to the low light/good light distinction, or perhaps it should be low-key/high-key, I find Nikon’s current direction with metering and sensor response intriguing because of pas experience with the Fujifilm S5. In any case, I get the sense the D810, for example, is trying to emulate the tone curve of that S5’s HDR mode just a little.

        • The Sigma Art is a decent compromise, but massive – doesn’t solve the size problem at all. I guess we just have to stop down and live with it (or use the 45P). As for D810 vs S5pro – can’t comment as I haven’t used the latter, but it would explain why it got such rave reviews at the time. The DR100/200/400 modes were just confusing though.

  83. Hi Ming,

    one question is the Nikkor 20 1.8 optically better than the Nikkor 28 1.8 used on D810??? Sadly we havent heard anything from you yet about your experiences with the 20 1.8 AFS so far….hope a few lines/short notes about this lens is coming soon….;) I think highly wanted from your reader base…


    Kind regards

    • About the same. I honestly cannot say I like it much.

      • So it seems you would recommend it only for the D750 and 24 MP sensors in general like you did with the 28 1.8 Nikkor lens (nearly same dxo mark numbers as the 28 – would confirm this somehow) and you will probably sell it soon….tell us everything ;)…..maybe sigma 24 1.4 Art…but 20 vs 24 is a huge difference and the newest Art doesnt get as good reviews as the 35 and 50 got…wide angle lenses are difficult to produce…at least if you wanna have a really good one….no really good wide angles lens avaiable for D810….big bummer and gap….

        Nevertheless thank you for your continous effort and time to answer our questions (sadly most referred to GAS syndrome;)) and esp. to educate to see things different!

        Keep it up always a pleasure and i don t say this easily….

        Kind regards from Milano

      • I agree with you Ming! I dont like it either….its only slightly or even not sharper than my AFS 18-35 lens (@20mm, f4,5.6 and 8) which has nearly the same weight so no advantage for the 20 1.8 here but of course its light gathering capabilities and better controls of yielding shallower DoF are the only two reasons why I sold my 18-35, waiting on the 24 Art then i will test it and probably sell my 20 1.8 like you ….
        So if you wanna use the lens only for landscapes shooting more stopped down f8-… the 18-35 might be the better choice even 2mm wider, more flexible 18-35 range and cheaper…..

        So maybe the mentioned 24 Art is the best & affordable wide angle lens for the D810…but 24 vs 20 or even vs. 18 is a completely different perspective…..but statistically most landscape shots are made between 24-28mm (normal-moderate wide angle lens) anyway i guess so in the end the 24mm art could be sufficient having even 1.4 but heavier of course, price is really competitive…

        My 2 cents!

  84. Ming,
    Notice you posted some new shots of the RX100 M3, have you decided to purchase it? Also any thoughts on the Canon G7X, I see it as a more with it going from 24-105mm and being 1.8-2.8.

  85. Nikon 20 1.8 vs Sigma 24 1,4 Art ??

    Which one would you pick ?? I hope a brief review of the Nikon 20 1.8 is still coming…

    Thanks in advance !

    Kind regards

    • Impossible to say since I’ve never used the Sigma. Don’t think you can go too far wrong with either, I’d pick based on focal length rather than which is ‘absolutely’ better – 20 vs 24mm is a very noticeable difference in perspective.

  86. Hey, Ming. I was wondering, do you not have the Zeiss 21, 28, and 100 anymore? If not, why did you get rid of them? Especially the 100.

    • 21: I need perspective correction on something that wide.
      28: Using the 24 PCE almost exclusively for wide since I shoot very little cinematic these days, and the GR is smaller/faster for documentary work.
      100: huge amounts of longitudinal CA which is impossible to clean up from product. Plus…DOF control issues again requiring tilt.

      • Thank you for the information. I have used the 100 for plenty of products and don’t see the same amount of loca you claim. But I also don’t shoot products at f2 or f4 since I usually want a little more dof. Yet, cleanup usually isn’t too difficult; yet I can sympathize if you shoot lots of shiny stuff. Right now I have the 800e with the 100, a 50mm 1.8g (cheap but necessary sometimes at events), and the 85mm 1.4d. The 85mm is okay, but can suffer the same loca issue and focus can be rough. Really finding it difficult to lockdown what I want for a wider lens. Would you strongly back the 24 PCE if I was to use it for tripod work with interiors, landscapes, and architecture? Is there any downside to having the 21mm zeiss and just fixing the distortion with Lightroom? I mean it seems easy enough to fix. Is there a downside to using the distortion lens profile corrections?

        • It’s the reflective/polished objects at very close range (i.e. watches, which are the majority of my product work) that trigger LOCA.

          ‘Stretching’ a wide in post will produce very obvious reduction in quality at the point of stretching. This may not matter if your output is small or your clients can’t tell though. The 24 PCE is a tricky lens to use because of focus shift and field curvature – the focal plane is never quite where you expect it to be, so even on a tripod quite a bit of care is required.

          • caewsar13 says:

            Thank you for the information. While I know you are not a wide angle guy really, would you recommend the 16-35 f4 for interior and landscape? Moreover, What do you like about those Voigtlander lenses?

            • Oh and out of curiosity, did you sell your Leica stuff to fund the two Otus lenses? I want those soo bad haha. Could the 85mm Otus be used for products or does it lack the close focusing capabilities?

              • No, I sold it because it was unreliable, delivered quality far below the cost expectation, and frankly, not suitable for professional work. 85 Otus won’t focus close enough but performs well with extension tubes if you are so inclined.

            • Sure, if you don’t need tilt/shift movements. Voigtlanders – read my reviews.

  87. You don’t mention a focussing rail for macro work (the sort that moves the camera … not extending bellows) in your gear list. Does that mean that you don’t use one, or just that there is none you would especially recommend?

  88. Hey Ming, I just realized that the 645Z only has one “*”. You sold your 645Z? My guess is that the Otus/D810/D800E combination, the shift/tilt lenses, and possibly the stitch work you have been doing, made the size/weight of the 645Z unnecessary and a less flexible system even if it’s 50mp.

  89. Hi Ming, I wold like to ask you if there is full compatibility with the nikkor 24 PCE /3.5 and the D810 body. I have read in some sites that the shifting or tilting movements are limited by the form factor of soma cameras like D800/e D810.

    Thankyou in advance for your reply.

    Best Regards


  90. Why do you not recommend the Sigma Art series 24,35 and 50 1.4 lenses (even you consider buying them if Otusses wont existing…)???

  91. Hi Ming,

    what lens is better for shooting portraiture Nikon 58 1.4 (dreamy bokeh, 3d pop up effect) or Sigma Art 50 1.4 slightly shorter focal length heavier but it seems better optics,much sharper less creamy bokeh so but better corrected as well (coma, fringing)??
    Which one would you pick for this purpose or in general?
    Still interested in what mystery camera this one is…..hopefully we will get an answer soon ;)!
    Regards Gabriel

    • Depends on your preference. There is no real ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for portraiture – either can produce great results in the right hands. I haven’t used either because I prefer the 55 Otus in this range.

  92. Hi Ming,

    quick one Nikon 20 vs. 28 1.8 ? Which one to pick? As someone stated you could if you need a 28mm crop later/reframe the image if it is necessary afterwards…..would you agree and only buy the 20 1.8 ??? Or even wait on the release of the 24 1.4 Sigma Art instead of 20 1.8 but 4mm less is a huge difference in WA territory every mm counts having a huge imapct on the perspective…..

    Thank you so much!
    Have a nice weekend by the way;)!

    Kind regards Doug!

    • I don’t crop, so I’d buy the FL I wanted to begin with. 20 and 28 are different enough that I’d probably have both (and you could, for the price of the Sigma).

  93. leica is outdated, its price is still ridiculous..i look for its pictures and it does no better than an entry level camera..don’t see the point for it here. manual focus, metal body, pure photography? why bother when other cameras can do the job much better and faster, with D4 i can grasp the joy of modern evolutionary photography, not gripping along the muddy road.

  94. Nikon 60mm 2.8G is a terrific lens, much better than 50s in terms of rendering, contrast, sharpness, f/2.8 is sufficient.
    found this nice set taken by this lens,

  95. Hi Ming,

    Is a standard focal length (50-60 mm) still be essential??? the 50 is often described as boring perpective…… so would it enough and better to pair a 24-28 mm lens with a 85 for a two lens combo rahter than having three lenses as the middle is named to be boring………???




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