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. You should consider doing articles on a limited basis…would love to get your take on the Sony A1, Canon R’s and Nikon Z9. Seems like you departed just prior to a new wave of Super Tech mirrorless cameras which, as predicted have made DSLR cameras obsolete.

  2. Hello Ming
    I know you said final (list of gear). Still, I can‘t believe you really did not try something new. If you did – could you please mentioned it in a couple of words? I myself have reached my personal summit, have what I need and want and more. Still, it would be interesting to hear/read something from you!
    Hope things are better for your photography and everything. Take care!

    • HI, MIng!
      I have one question about Voigtlander Apo Lanthar 180/4.
      I find a piece, described als MINT and very expensive and I am unsure whether it is okay.
      I can turn the front glass while cleaning. Is it the same with your lens?

      In addition, my D850 shows the aperture 2.8 instead of 4.0 and f22 does not exist at all, only f16.0 as the last.
      The glass is clean except for one point where the coating has gone.
      Now the question should I leave or return.

      Thanks at advance
      Best Regards


      • Hi Ming,
        I took a closer look and only the ring with the label is movable, the glass does not move. I saw that wrong.
        I don’t know if that’s okay too?

        Best Regards

  3. Hi Ming
    You are very consequent: No posts on photography. I hope your endeavours are successfull and you and your family are well. Still, I cannot believe you do not shoot anymore and miss your thoughts on photography. Really, really – nothing new? Would be nice to hear/read something 😉😀
    Best regards and wishes, Robert

  4. Hey Ming,

    How are things going? Any thoughts on the Zfc? Has Nikon lost the plot?


    • I think it’ll sell like hotcakes to a certain segment. If they get the materials and tactility right it may be a fun breath of fresh air…but doesn’t really appeal, to be honest.

      • It appears you are right. The Zfc is selling incredibly well (at least up here in Canada). It seems people really, really wanted that Fuji experience from a different manufacturer. A slight tangent: has the iPhone replaced all the smaller formats as your “uncamera”?

        • I’ve done hardly any photography beyond product work for my other company in the last four months. The current government has made photography in public illegal ostensibly under pandemic-related laws, but this seems illogical given you have to maintain some distance from whatever it is you’re shooting. It’s probably more like their usual attempts at suppressing freedom of the press. Creatively demoralising doesn’t even begin to cover it…what little creative industry and appreciation for it we had in this country is well and truly dead now.

  5. i have used multiple film cameras but Nikon f100 in the end is the final choice. Very, and also much more reliable and affordable, and hence, practical.

  6. I’m surprised to see something so mundane as the 24-200 on your list. Other than that, I just wanted to come by and say I still appreciate all your work on this site. I hope you’re enjoying yourself and your little one.

  7. Hello Ming!
    I hope you are well and going strong. Like an orphan ;-), I occasionally have a peek into your site – there is still a lot of good stuff to read. However, what surprises me is, that there should be no changes in your equipment since December 2020. A man, who was/is connected with “imaginations” in such extent as you just can’t stop it on order. That is what I believe at least. (OK, I had a stillstand once, of about 2 years in my life, but I am healed again.)
    Would you be so kind and enlighten me?
    Best regards, Robert

    • Actually, I’ve been very busy with the design side of things, and there’s very little that excites me in the current hardware offerings, so – it’s been great saving some money 🙂

      • Hardware is interesting, of course, I must admit. I am a man in the end.. 😉 What I read again and again too are your essays on imagining generally, even philosophocally. As one undergoes changes and makes new experiences, even an older essays says sometimes more to him, offers new perspective. Some time ago you were weighing the thought of making the site payable. I pay US 1 monthly to Luminous Landscape e.g. and am satisfied with the arrangement, although they publish by far not as much as you did and I do not find every essay interesting. I am ready to pay more for your site and am sure you still have something interesting to say. I never was interested in the economics of Internet, maybe I am totally wrong. But anyway, I did my duty and asked you… 😀 Stay healthy, keep well, enjoy your family and current work!

        • I appreciate the gesture, but the honest answer is it isn’t about the economics – I’ve always appreciated the intelligent discourse below the line, especially the well-reasoned disagreements – which tends to get filtered out if you put up a paywall. No, the reality is I feel I’ve said everything I have to say – unless my perspective changes dramatically (which it hasn’t yet), I’d just be rehashing the same old thing in different wrappers. That, and given our inability to leave our small immediate localities (let alone travel) for most of the last year, I’ve not really had the chance to make any meaningful new content, either.

          • Understood. 😊
            Who can say „I‘ve said everything I have to say“ before he reached really high age? 😉 We shall see, meanwhile keep well and this site open. Luckily, I have my mountains at the moment, but hope for more possibilities to travel, like you. Wish you well!

  8. Marius Socaci says:

    How is the iPhone 12 Pro Max compared to the 11 Pro?

  9. Hello Ming
    Just to say that I read your “last post” today. Enjoyed reading it, and much impressed with the versatility of your interests and thinking process. And as I read the post, I did wonder if you ever considered a career in “philosophy”.
    Separately, my amazement at your energy levels never ceased!
    Any way, all the best to you, in whatever paths and pursuits your best thoughts devise for your fulfilment.

  10. First of all, thank you so much for your contributions and blog over the years. I have been reading you for over 10 years on and off, and you’re one of the few consistently sensible, technical, meditative, accomplished and authoritative voices in the landscape in my opinion.

    I see your list and I’m not really surprised by any of it (lots of great glass) with the exception of the MS-Optics 28/2. How/why did you end up with the lens, how do you enjoy it?

    I have MS-Optics 24/2 & 35/1.4 & 73/1.5 as a kit, but these lenses don’t seem to get a lot of attention from serious users. And you still enjoy using an RF for the experience of it?

    Thanks again for the countless hours—sad to see you go, but good luck as well 🙂

  11. Wouter Langen says:

    Hi Ming , you have the 907X do you use V lenses on it or only the X lenses ?
    Are you going to write a review of the 907X ?

    • I’ve retired from writing reviews or otherwise, because of other businesses and the volume of entitled trolls on the internet.

      The 907 will use anything that can mount. I was heavily involved in its conception and designed it that way. Personally I use mostly M lenses.

      • Wouter Langen says:

        Hi Ming , thanks i have the 907 now. Do you use the iPad pro 11 when you travel? And how many GB do you recommend?
        Kind regards, Wouter

  12. Hi Ming
    My Hassy is back: They had to replace the sensor and did some small things too. I am in the mountains right now and due to snowfall cannot pickt it up this week. I do not have to pay for the repair, which is sympathetic with me :-).
    Btw: Why Last Update to this list? Believe me, even in/during retirement things can and do change 😉 Since I got the „big“ Hassy it happened very quickly at my end: some lenses, small digital Hassy with some lenses, analog Hassy and some lenses, adaptors, analog Leica R with some (lot) lenses…. Staunch Nikon user sold some Nikon lenses and kept only what he needs… It would be interesting to be able to see your way – I do not hope you stop taking images…
    Take care, and stay healthy!
    Best regards, Robert

    • That’s good news – I suspect that camera’s serial number has a flag in the system because of its previous owner 😉

      Of course there will be updates to the list, just not ‘listed’ – for my enjoyment only. Needless to say, it is all for image making 🙂

      • 1) Of course, you are right
        2) Glad to hear it, and – again – you are right!
        Have a nice time, shoot as an amateur and take care!

  13. Hi Ming
    With a slight amusement I read that you bought Hasselblad X1D “for me”. Congratulations!
    Since my H6D developed the dreaded error 1210 (according to various posts in MF fora and to my local dealer it is not seldom) I had to send it to Sweden for repair in the end.
    During the time the error developed itself (At first I could clean the contacts between the back and the body to get it go, later it became worse.) I stumbled upon a good offer, GAS got the better of me and I bought the X1D II with three lenses (Meanwhile they are four,but I swear that is all and enough!). It is really a camera “for one”: Light, relatively small, very natural and convenient to hold, intuitive to operate. Weight and size are not much more than my Z7, the whole stuff has place in a rather normal shoulder bag. And last but not least: It is a Hasselblad! Not that I would not eagerly wait for H6D, but X1D is designed and manufactured in such a beautiful way, that it is nearly a work of art… 😉 Maybe I shall bequeath it to Smithonians one day, but not yet. Keep well and stay healthy!
    Best regards, Robert

    • I got the 907X actually – but they’ve got the same innards. I worked on both the 907X and X1DII; the difference in responsiveness between that generation and the original X1D is night and day. Fingers crossed the H6D will be all well and back with you soon.

  14. Mads Pallesen says:

    Hi Ming,

    Thank you for a wonderful blog and all the effort you put into it.

    I noticed to my surprise you put the M10 Monochrom on your gearlist. I thought you were done with Leica and M in particular? Are you back with the M10 Mono and how do you like it?

    Very best,

    • Hi Ming, I am one of those who pop in and out but always did the popping in when I needed the most reliable, truthful information.
      Kudos on your circle of life choices. We will be sorry when you close the site but you’ve been satisfying all of us; your turn now. All the best.

  15. Hey Ming,

    My equipment (amongst other stuff) was lost when I moved house and I need to build a system from the ground up. In the past, I mostly shot when traveling, but lately I’ve been hiking and reconnecting with landscape film photography. I’m looking at:

    1. Nikon Z50 + two lens DX Z kit + FTZ + Tamron 10-24 Di II + Nikkor Z 24 f/1.8 S + Z 50 f/1.8 S
    2. Fuji X-Pro 2 + XF 23 f/2 WR + XF 35 f/2 WR + Viltrox 56 f/1.4 + XF 10-24 f/4 OIS + XC 50-230 f/4.5-6.7
    3. Canon EOS M6 II + Sigma 16 f/1.4 + EF-M 22/f2 + EF-M 11-22 + Sigma 30 f/1.4 + Sigma 56 f/1.4 + EF-M 18-150 + EF to EF-M Adapter

    I think the Nikon felt the best in hand with larger lenses, but the 4-way pad to adjust the AF point wasn’t the greatest interface. I appreciated how compact the EOS M6 II was and it’s definitely the cheapest way to get a fast/bright APS-C kit. It lacks a good zoom or long lenses, but there is always adapting EF lenses as an option. The extra resolution is also nice for cropping wildlife shots and for landscape. I liked the Fuji dials the most, but all the bodies I tried lacked a decent grip, so handling wasn’t great outside of using the smaller primes. I do appreciate that weather sealing is an option as we get a lot of rain and snow in Canada.

    I guess option #4 is to go with a Z6 again, but it always felt a bit too large for my tastes. Then there’s the DSLR wild card (maybe a Pentax KP + a few of their Ltd. pancakes?).



  16. Hello Ming, how is the STC Variable ND filter superior to B+W version (aside from the additional 5-10 stops)? My Tiffen and SLR Magic vari-NDs aren’t terrible, but as a filmmaker, I’m looking for the sharpest and most color-accurate. There isn’t much info on the STC.

  17. Necronrised says:

    Hi Ming,

    Wanted to know your thoughts on the Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S and generally ask if you decided to sell it as you won’t using that focal length much.

    • I can’t answer for Ming, but I think he mentioned in one of his posts that the f/2.8 zoom addresses his needs over those focal lengths.

  18. Hello Ming,
    there a two 24-70 Lenses for the Nikon Z Mount on your list; 2.8 and 4.0

    In your Blog posts I can only find Images made with the 24-70 4.0 so far. For which situations do you need the 24-70 2.8?
    -> Only more flexibility with 2.8?
    -> Is the image quality of the 2,8 version so much better?

    Best regards, Bernd.

    • Yes, image quality is that much better (probably the best normal zoom I’ve used) but I bought it for several specific scenarios I encounter on assignment:
      – Low light and dirty conditions where you don’t want to change lenses, especially with the exposed sensor
      – Flat focal plane, especially important for aerial work where where most of your subject is planar and soft corners are a no-no – not to mention requiring a bit more shutter speed
      – Better weather sealing
      – Normally paired with the 70-200/2.8 FL

      I prefer the /4 for size, but it seemed pointless having both since I also have the 16-50 for extreme compactness and the 24-200 for overall system compactness.

  19. Hi Ming,
    Your blog has always been an inspiration to me. I saw you put Nikon Z 24-200 f/4-6.3, but not Nikon Z 24-70 f/4 inside your recommended gear list. However, in your recent posts, you kept using Nikon Z 24-70 f/4 for your travel. How are the IQ and the corner sharpness of the Nikon Z 24-200 f/4-6.3, especially if it is compared with Nikon Z 24-70 f/4?

    • The 24-200 was delivered about a month ago, but given lockdowns and travel restrictions I have not had a chance to really test it. I have not left Malaysia in five months, nor are we allowed to. Everything posted is from when I could previously travel, with the 24-70/4. Posting isn’t real time 😉

      • I forgot this Nikon Z 24-200 f/4-6.3 VR has only been available since a month ago. Currently, I only own Nikon Z7 body with FTZ adapter and some Nikon DSLR lenses but don’t own a native Z lens. I feel Nikon Z 24-70 f/4 S is too short for travelling, but I have never been satisfied with the optical quality of Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6G VR, and I am worried Nikon Z 24-200 f/4-6.3 VR suffers the same issue. How is your 1-month experience with Nikon Z 24-200 f/4-6.3 VR so far?

  20. Kevin Sutton says:

    Hi Ming, I’m thinking of moving on from Olympus micro-4/3, given the recent news. I currently have an E-M1II and some PRO lenses, which you used to recommend.
    I’m mainly a wide angle to moderate telephoto shooter (no long lens wildlife etc) and don’t do sports or fast action. I am really just wanting upgrade the overall quality of my images and was looking to go to either a Nikon Z6 or Sony A73. I haven’t had a chance to try out either but the lack of a 70-200f4 S lens and the XQD card are tilting me away from the Nikon.
    I would appreciate any comments you might have.
    Cheers Kevin

  21. Hi, Ming!

    I sincerely hope your back is OK now!

    Years ago I was a Pentax fan, then Sony, but now I mainly use Nikon (CX, DX, and FX). The newest is a D7500, and a J5, both 20Mp, and real workhorses (I do use my GR, occasionally, too). Like so many others, I have had the dust issues with the GR, and getting it serviced cost a lot, so if it gets dusty a second time I’ll retire it. My FX is still a D600!

    My favorite long zoom lenses are Sigma, except I have a soft spot for the Nikon 1 70-300 CX, one of my sharpest lenses (the other are 70-200/4.0G and the Sigma 135/1.8 Art).

    But I’ve been thinking of a wide zoom, any suggestions?! I have wide primes (F Mount: 14, 20, N1 10, the latter modified to 7.9mm).

    • Hmm…the Z 14-30/4 is pretty good, but not useful for you. There’s the 10-20, but I’d rate performance as middling to good rather than excellent (but, hard to go wrong for the price). There are always of course the big guns…16-35/4 and 14-24/2.8; of the two I’d go with the 16-35 for weight, filter compatibility and overall balance on camera.

      • Thanks a lot (amazing speedy reply, as usual!)!

        Yeah, I have been holding it and considering it, that 16-35!

        If Nikon comes up with a DX with IBIS, then the game changes totally, doesn’t it?!

        I hope to see you one day, either here or in Thailand, where my grandchildren live (just a bit over 2 years old by now!).

        Yours, sincerely,

    • Addendum:
      I nowadays use my Nikon 1 cameras mainly in lieu of TCs, but the J5 and the Sigma 100-400 C works very well together! I still use the N1 70-300 CX: That lens is a tiny bit sharper (and more flare resistant) than the AF-P 70-300 VR that you used to use. So those two lenses and the Sigma 135, are my main tools!

      • I had a Sigma 100-400 at one point too, but found it to lack a bit of bite on the 47MP sensors. The AFP 70-300 FX is better than the DX, for what it’s worth.

        • The Tamron 100-400/4.5-6.3 Di VC is better than the Sigma. Sharper, better VR – holds up very well on the Z7’s sensor. I’ve found most of Tamron’s line incredibly good – the 85/1.8 VC is better than the Nikkor 85/1.8 and as sharp as the Sigma Art (though I prefer its rendering over the Sigma), plus it has VR. And I’ve never had to do any AF adjustment with them on DSLRs. I’ve had way too many issues with the outer focus points on the Sigmas.

          • The Tamron wasn’t available when I tried the Sigma (previous version, not the current one). And the 85/1.8 is better than the 85/1.8 G, but the 85/1.8 Z is in another class very close to the 85 Otus…

    • For a wide zoom on DX, I recommend the Tamron 10-24 Di II VC. I’m a huge fan of Tamron’s new lenses – the black barreled with white lettering (most have VC too, unlike the old versions).

  22. Hey Ming,

    I know you haven’t shot m4/3 in some time, but what lens would you pair with the Panasonic-Leica 10-25 f/1.7 in a two or three lens travel kit: Olympus 12-100 f/4 Pro, Panasonic-Leica 35-100 f/2.8 or Panasonic-Leica 50-200 f/2.8-4?

    I recently picked-up the PL 10-25 and I love it to death. I’m leaning on going 50-200 because it covers more focal lengths and the 25 – 50 mm space I can usually zoom with my feet.

    • That thing is enormous! If you’re always carrying it, then the tele zoom of your choice. If not, the 12-100 for versatility. I’d just do the 12-100 on its own, personally.

      • I know, it flies in the face of everything m4/3 stands for, but it’s such a satisfying lens to use. It covers so many useful focal lengths while being bright (at least by m4/3 standards) and sharp throughout. It’s also pretty amazing for video.

        I used to just carry the 12-100 and primes, but it was just too slow for motion at night and indoors.

  23. Hello Ming! Hope all are well. I may need your assistance on guiding on which path (system) you recommend. I want to take things slow – more like my walk around travel and leisure camera. I am thinking of three cameras. The Z7, X1D w/new 4/45P and Leica Q or Leica M240 w/Zeiss ZM 35/1.4. Any suggestions will be highly appreciated.

  24. Hi Ming,

    May i ask why you decided to sell the Nikon 45 mm PCE F2.8 in the end. ( Asking as was under the impression it helped provide more depth of field than than the 85mm f2.8 PC-E for product / watch photography)

  25. Ming, would you know if there is a camera store in Kuala Lumpur (as distinct from Selangor) where one might physically see Hasselblad X1D II 50c cameras and related lenses?

  26. I can comfortably say that pulling the trigger on the Nikon Z50 w/2 kit lenses was the best decision. I’ve been shooting around and playing with the RAW files. The dynamic range performance is up there with the big boys of Nikon’s FF cameras. Zero regrets with the purchase. The controls reminds me of the Z6. It’s smaller and lighter. Great companion with my iPhone 11 Pro and D4S! I am wondering if you will be testing the Z50?

    • Makes sense since it’s a new sensor and at the pixel level should be no different to say a Z7 – pitch is similar. I bought the lenses from the Z50 but not the body, as the Z7 has almost the same resolution, IBIS, and I already have one 😛 For me – no advantage to getting the Z50; it isn’t so much smaller it goes into a different packing category.

      • Fantastic! How do you like the DX lenses from the Z50 to your Z7? IQ, rendering and microcntrast?

        • I like them a lot. Best ‘kit’ lenses I’ve ever seen, and consistently good edge to edge wide open. I suspect they only don’t get the ‘S’ label for a) marketing b) plastic mounts and no weather sealing and c) slow apertures. Optically, they’re pretty amazing.

          • Love it! The 16-50 is a pancake powerhouse! The combo with the Z50 makes me forget I have a D4S. I’m hoping for Nikon to do a 20mm f/2 pancake lens. BTW, how does the IBIS work in conjunction with the VR lenses? Do you get an extra stop? Thanks!

          • My 16-50 is a great joy to use, but it is definitely weak at the tele end. Center performance is so-so, and corner is never sharp. From 16 to 35mm, it performs really great but not at 50mm. Have you seen this with yours? Or just a QC problem?

  27. Any thoughts on how the Nikkor 70-300 f4.5-5.6 E stacks up against the 70-200 f4 G VR? I know they have slightly different intended uses, but I am looking for a general purpose zoom to complement the 24-70 f4 S.

    • I think the 70-200/4 is slightly better, but you trade off a stop for most of the range. It is smaller and lighter, but not by as much as you’d think. Turns out the 70-200/4 was cheaper used than a new 70-300 (no used ones) so that was the route I took…I think you’d be pretty happy with either, to be honest.

      • Thanks. New 70-300s are $700 CAD here and used 70-200s start $900, so I’ll have to weigh my choices. It’s almost impossible to find a used 70-300 here and there are Z zooms on the horizon. Decisions, decisions…

  28. Hey Ming! Hope all are well! I may need your advice on which system (mirrorless or DSLR) I should move in to. Well, my kid started playing various kinds of sports – swimming and basketball. I currently have a Leica Q, which we both know is not the ideal tool for the job. I really love the compact size and simplicity the Q brings on the table and I’m willing to sell it for something like a Z7, 24-70/4 and the new 85/1.8 or a D850 and 24-120/4. Which one would you suggest? Man, I will miss the compactness of the Q ~sweating bullets here~ Hehe!

    • None of those lenses is really going to do it for sports – you’ll need at least a 70-200/2.8 to freeze the action at middle distances. The rest, pick your poison…actually, if you’re not printing, I’d go with a used D4 or D4S.

      • 70-200/2.8 got it! Actually the D500 is also a great contender but I’ll look in to the D4S since I doubt I’ll be printing. Thanks!

      • Update…

        I ended getting the Z6 body only and the latest 70-200/2.8. I set the AF on dynamic mode and it worked great! I wanted to get the Nikon 24/1.4G (28/1.4 too big) for my everyday photo needs. What’s your experience with the IBIS in your Z7 with non-VR F-mount lenses? How many stops did you gain?


        • 4-5 is the average.

          • Thanks! Slight update – I traded my Z6 for my friend’s D4S. It’s big but it’s awesome! It’s a swiss army camera! I love it!

            • I loved mine too when I had it. There is something about the handling and responsiveness of those single digit bodies…

              • You are absolutely correct! I went to a recent airshow and it performed as designed. I feel like it’s cheating in some way – making things happen so easily. The buttons are customizable and high ISO is godly! No more fast lens needed and I find the 24-120/4 is all I ever need even though I have the 85/1.8 G. I could care less about the bulk as long as it can get the job done.

      • Hi Ming, recently I purchased a Nikon Z7 with ftz adapter. I did some side by side comparison with my Nikon D800E and tested some lenses (Zeiss 21 2,8; Zeiss 35/2, Nikon 24-120, Otus 55…) on far distance.
        The results with the Z7 where all visible weaker in Terms of sharpness especially in the corners.
        Could this be?

        • Well, there’s more resolution so if there are limitations on your lenses – they may well be weaker in the corners. I’d expect the Otus to hold up though.

          • Yes I know, not all of these lenses can hold up to a 45 MP sensor in terms of resolution, but it looked like, there is something quite different in the architecture of the sensor maybe the micro lenses, or the thickness of the sensor stack.
            But it seems, that you didn’t notice such a problem, and I couldn’t find someone who did, so maybe my sample of the Z7 has a technical issue.
            But anyway, thank you for your answer:-)

            • Seems unlikely as you focus directly on the sensor – and the microlens stack must also play nice with existing F mount lenses as part of the design intention. I have definitely seen lenses show weakness between D800 and D850, but not between D850 and Z7 – performance between the two cameras is absolutely consistent. The only thing I can think of is a problem with your specific camera body’s IBIS that might cause non-planarity of the sensor that would show as soft corners – but it would be obviously front-back across diagonal corners of the sensor as the sensor itself remains flat; or if you focus in one corner, that corner is sharp – but everything else is OOF.

              • Hi Ming, just to tell you, the sensor was misaligned, Nikon Service fixed it at the second attempt.
                What they couldn’t fix was some issue with ibis, which gave me more or less blurry results at shutter speed at around 1/100 sec.
                (didn’t tested all shutter speeds yet, but observed the problem definitely from 1/80-1/125 s.)
                No problems with ibis turned off. First I thought it has to do with the VR of my 24-120/4 (no problems with the D800E ever) combined with ibis, but with the 85/1,8G and other lenses it was the same (couldn’t test a Z-Mount lens yet).
                Did you have any problems like these with ibis with the Z7?

                • Shot in mechanical shutter mode, silent shutter mode should be better.

                • No, both of my Z7s have been perfect, but I do know another friend had some issues that might have been a combination of sensor and lens alignment. Reality is with this many moving parts, it’s amazing it doesn’t happen more often.

  29. Is the Ricoh GR III on your radar?

    • Nope. Too expensive, poor battery life and slow AF in low light.

      • I had an inkling your reply would be of that nature, although you really dialed it nicely into a single sentence!

        : )

        • I really wanted to like it, and was willing to overlook the price. But no dice in person. Didn’t help they simplified the controls for the worse…right now I’m flip flopping between the RX0II and the Fuji XF10 (we all sometimes suffer from impulse buys…)

          • I know what you mean. I find myself frequently and impulsively researching compact cameras. The Panasonic LX 100 II and LX 10 come to mind, the GR III and the Fuji XF10 as well. But I always walk back from the ledge, haha. I tell myself my iPhone is good enough for a compact camera (I have an 8 plus). The computational photography ability of the iPhone is starting to get intriguing with the advent of multiple lenses/cameras on the phone. I may be ready to update by iPhone 12, although I also suffer from impulse buys so the iPhone 11 is in play. (And as previously discussed around here….the D3500/D5600 is a kind of sweet spot for compact and quality, can’t fit in a pocket but otherwise the usage is more to my liking, but then again I’m an old dawg Nikon guy).

          • The XF10 appears on the gear list! Looking forward to your take on it.

  30. Hey! What happened to your 10-20mm AF-P VR DX???

  31. Hi Ming,

    Do you have any thoughts on the EOS RP vs Nikon Z6 vs A7II? I’m really tempted to go full frame as I had a taste of my sister’s EF gear. In Canada, I can get the Z6 + 24-70 for $3,000, the RP + 24-105 L for $2,500 or the A7ii for ~$800 – $1,000 used and lots of third party lenses. I will still keep m4/3 for travel, but I don’t think it’s worth throwing out huge amounts of cash for the fast zooms.



  32. Hi Ming (and other brothers in arms),
    How about the prosumer DSLRs today? I need a replacement for my (drowned) D7100. I think the D7500 is a perfect match, but being out over two years now, it feels a little bit legacy… I wonder if Nikon comes with a D7600 or Z4 / Z5 anytime soon. Any info on that?

    – Z6 is the future, I could afford one, but… needs an adapter for my lenses (and some of them are only DX, some of them need AF screw), costs twice as much as D7500, has some drawbacks (no builtin flash, battery life)… cannot find the value for the cash, except for fullframe sensor.
    – Something smaller & ligher… I see a D3500 on your list, so maybe that… but I would miss some controls
    – Something even smaller… but that would mean to sell all the Nikon equipment and buy new

    Current plan is to take old D90 out of the box and wait for D7600… but I would like to hear other opinions

    PS: hobby photography, nature + family + events. Current lenses are all Nikon: 10.5mm, 35mm f1.8G DX, 50mm f1.4G, 85mm f1.8D, 18-200mm VR… and 2xSB-700 flash. I Buy something else (used) from time to time, like Sigma 70-200 f2.8…

    • You’ve answered your own question. Tech has moved on enough from the D7100 that pretty much anything you buy will be better. The D3500 has no support for screwdriver lenses, either. And with the Z6 you won’t need a flash – ISO25,600 is plenty usable. Battery life also isn’t an issue, I get 1500+ shots/charge out of the Z7 (which is more power hungry due to processing demands of larger files). For comparison – I get 2,000-2,500 shots/charge out of the D850.

      • What you say is buy a Z6 kit, it is a long-term solution?
        Z7 battery life is good news, the 310 look scary.

        Small non-important ideas:
        – built-in flash is sometimes useful even if you have high ISO capability… as a fill-in light by sunny weather, as a command flash
        – screwdriver lenses are only 10.5 and 85 from my bag. 10.5 is expendable, it is just a toy… and I have thought about selling the 85mm f1.8D anyway, the 50mm f1.4G outperforms it and the difference in focal length is not so big as it would seem

        • I think it’s a long term solution. I’m happy with it!

        • Yves Simon says:

          Typically, you want fill-in light when there is a lot of sun, and as the goal being to balance the foreground and background, you also want a large depth of field. And the maximum shutter speed is limited by the use of a flash.
          You will therefore be in low ISO and small aperture (often 8 or 11).
          The consequence is that you need a powerful flash, the one sometimes available in a camera is inadequate.
          I prefer no flash in cameras: it increases the weight, reduces the structural strength, and if used, reduces battery life.

          • Sure, a big flash with a softbox or even some studio lights… but if you dont have them, even the built-in is sometimes usable. I agree it is not so often and the results are 50:50.
            Using the built-in as a commander for my SB-700s works fine…
            Battery life is no issue with DSLR, it is not about firing hundreds of shots with the built-in flash.

          • I find that with the modern sensors, we have enough dynamic range to recover cleanly – fill isn’t as necessary as it used to be…

            • Yves Simon says:

              Well, I still use a flash sometimes, for house interiors for example, to reduce the contrast. It can be done in post processing, but I am not very good at it, and it takes time.

            • I must admit I am lazy to work with RAW… and this is probably what I should learn in the first place. Indoor lowlight – if possible, I use the big flash with reflection from the ceiling.
              Anyway, my problem solved – found a second-hand D7500 with 0 exposures for 640$… and for that price I could not say no.

  33. Hi Ming,

    What are your thoughts on the P-L 12-60 / f2.8-4 vs the Olympus 12-100 / f4 for a “do it all” lens? I have the P-L 12-60 right now and it’s great compromise of IQ, focal length, speed and weather proofing; however, I frequently find myself having to bring along something like the 14-150 II or 75-300 II or 50-200 / f2.8 – 4 to shore up the long end when I travel.

    I was contemplating dumping both the P-L 12-60 and 14-150 II and picking up a 12-100 as my main lens. I would lose Dual O.I.S. and DFD, but the 12-100 is stabilized and I have a bunch of primes for low light. I also have the 12-32 for when I want to go tiny.

    Thanks for your time,


    • Tough call – both are excellent. Depends how much you want to carry and how much you want to pay, I guess – the 12-100 is both larger and heavier. It also didn’t balance on my Pen-F.

  34. What are your thoughts on purchasing a Pentax 645z today? I primarily shoot with a Canon 5Ds and absolutely need it for my 17mm & 24mm TS lenses, but I am really wanting to enter back into the MFD world for the better dynamic range. I can find some pretty great deals for a used 645z (camera and 4 D lenses for around $4000). I have also considered the GFX 50 and getting an adapter for my TS lenses and selling the rest of my camera gear to purchase some Fuji glass to cover my other focal lengths.

    • The camera itself hasn’t changed, so my assessment of its capabilities in isolation remain. However, given Pentax’s lack of new lenses, the camera’s long flange distance and the option of other, cheaper things with a better implementation of that sensor (basically, every camera using the same sensor since) – it’s hard to recommend. A new GFX50S or a second hand X1D is probably not much more expensive, but much more flexible – and you can adapt your TSEs to both, too.

      • Thanks for the reply. I guess I was just enamored with the rwa files I was finding on the internet. I agree the GFX 50s is much more adaptable, the price point is just a little higher. If I were to buy the GFX 50s and one lens, could you recommend any of the zooms? I would adapt my 17mm and 24mm for the wide stuff still, I just have to replace a 24-70, 35, 50, and 100 that I also have in my kit if I moved that direction.

        • Sorry, can’t say I’m familiar enough with the lenses to make recommendations…they’re all modern designs specifically for this system though, so I’d be surprised if there are any real dogs in there.

  35. Hi Ming, do you have any recommendations for a M4/3 two lens kit for landscapes?.
    Do you find primes or zooms generally work better for landscape?
    It’s to go with an E-M5 MkII


  36. Hello,

    I have some questions about the Panasonic 35-100mm f4-5.6. I know that you used it and liked it, which means it’s a good lens. But when you say good, is it good for a cheap zoom lens or as good as an Olympus prime lens like the 45mm or 60mm? How did you find the microcontrast quality?


  37. Ryan K says:

    Hi Ming,

    What are your thoughts on the necessity of weather sealed bodies? I recently rented a Pen-F and I have to say, it was a blast. Walking around playing with the colour dials and black and white modes is just so enjoyable. It made me just want to go out and shoot. Having said that, I do like to go hiking and have been eyeing the EM-1 for its weather sealed body and PDAF. In a perfect world, I would own both, but I only have the budget for one.

    Would I be fine with just popping a rain sleeve on the Pen-F and pairing it with weather sealed lens if it starts to rain and I still want to shoot?

    • Depends how heavy the rain is – I’d prefer sealed to unsealed, of course, but I’ve only had serious issues with modular bodies that have a lot of interfaces or very heavy rain (read: places where water can get in). If you keep it in a bag/under a jacket and pull it out just for a few shots in a drizzle you’ll probably be fine, but a monsoon would be something else (I’d hesitate to use pretty much anything that isn’t explicitly waterproof in some of the rain we get here!)

      • Ryan K says:

        Hrmmm. You’ve given me a bit to think about. I loved handling the Pen-F, but the more I travel, the more nervous I get about weather sealing.

  38. Any thoughts on the new Leica Q2?

    • Until I’ve used one, it’d all be worthless speculation. I have no plans to do so at present.

      • Quite. Why bother with something you are not likely to use

        • Slight amendment: I’ll use it, but then like all Leicas I’ve had, it’ll break and I’ll be told service takes six months.

          • Well I do wish you better luck this time. Best scenario; it does not break. Second best scenario; in case it breaks, repairs take no more than a fortnight.

            • But is that something one is willing to risk $5,000 on? I’m not sure, especially when there are reliable options (and possibly better ones, like pairing something with the Z7)…

              • You are very right!
                (It does amaze me though that even this year there were waiting lists here and there for the Leica Q. Perhaps these will finally disappear with the coming of Leica Q2 queues. The sales person in the local Geneva store seemed very relaxed and pleased that customers will be coming in well before the cameras arrive)

  39. Ming, I see you no longer have the C/Y 100-300mm and now use the 135mm 2.8! (perhaps as it’s replacement?). How are you liking your new C/Y 135mm thus far? 🙂

    • Yves Simon says:

      Sorry to interfere, but I wanted to say that the C/Y 135/2.8 MM is an incredibly good lens. I am very sensitive to weight and minimal distance, I had an a-priori against that lens… then I used it… then I took some shots with it and with other 135mm at full aperture, with the same camera and same parameters… Waw! That lens is incredible. Colors, resolution, contrast, corner to corner! I don’t mind the weight anymore.

    • My C/Y 100-300 suffered coating failure and rear element separation (probably due to age) – I have a 70-200/4 which is superior and has AF, so no replacement (plus you don’t have to manually set the FL every time with the Z7 to get IS). The 135/2.8 is a different beast entirely – much smaller, two stops faster and optically better. Also a bargain now on ebay… 🙂

      • Yves: The shots I’ve seen from the lens are definitely incredible! The rendering of most of the C/Y’s are very pleasing to the eye, glad you hear you enjoy your 135! I have the 85 & 100 (slower versions) and am also very content with the images they help me produce.

        Ming: What is Coating Failure? I’ve seen element separation before, I mistakenly confused it with haze.
        You bring up a good point about adjusting the IS to the FL, completely forgot about that detail. Hopefully we’ll see an essay with some of it’s images in the future 🙂

  40. Seems you have given up on Hasselblad X1D too; I missed that discussion altogether in the “Benched” blog. Does that qualify as heavy gear?

  41. I have an E-M5 MkII and looking to get either the HLD-8G or ECG-2 grip as I have big hands and as the strap lug always seems to get in the way.
    I’m not interested in the battery attachment, just the larger hand grip.

    Have you used either of the grips or got any recommendations?

  42. Hmmm….what happened to the Nikkor 28mm 1.8G? I hope it did not fall out of favor for some reason!

    • Practically, replaced a long time ago by a GR in a pocket, then the Q. Much easier to have a second body than play musical lenses.

      • The GR seems a compelling option. In terms of being practical, do you miss much in terms of image quality with the GR in comparison to say the 28mm 1.8G with a D750? I’m thinking the D750 with the 58mm and the GR in the pocket might be a nice set up. Thank you for replying to my original comment so quickly! Have a great day.

  43. Hello Ming
    I note from your review that you have formed a favourable opinion of Leica Q, raising it at times to a higher plane than the M. How do you see the limitations of its one 28mm lens in context of landscape photography? (Apologies if this sounds like a silly question)

    • I generally view perspective and subject genre as independent; you could shoot anything with any focal length and probably find a composition that works – it depends on how you see. My issue with the Q is reliability and support; it was dropped from the list after IS issues and extremely slow/ poor service from Leica. It also represents a poor price/performance ratio especially now there are a lot of other mirrorless options (that even offer higher resolution and better price level quality).

  44. Heng Chong Yew says:

    Hello Ming. I saw you recommend two Olympus cameras including Pen F . Would you recommend any Fuji cameras over it , says X100F , XT20 or XT-2 ? Would like to hear your thought. Am in a process to get a small , light but good camera .Thanks in advance !

  45. Hello Ming
    Is there a list of photograph printers as well somewhere
    Many thanks

  46. Hi Ming,

    I notice that the Olympus 12-40/f2.8 is absent from your list. Did you sell yours? I was dead set on getting one to replace my 12/f2, 25/f1.8, 45/f1.7 and 12-50/f3.5 – 6.3, but now I’m waffling. It feels enormous when mated to my Pen-F. The flip side of course is I would get to avoid swapping lenses (really nice when travelling), but I also have the Olympus 14-150 II that I can use in a pinch. Thoughts?



  47. Hi Ming,

    i switched to the Pen-F from a Pana G7…I will keep the panaleica15 1,7 prefer the wider angle and it is definetely the optical better lens than the oly 17 1.8! Acctually, i have one question is it useful/recommended to switch from the Pana 42.5 1.7 to the Oly 45 1.8? Is the 45 1.8 better optically than the 42 1.7? And does the latter have some issues and you dont get dual is if it is used on the Pen F?? I herad and read that if you use Olympus glass on a Panacam it could have some bugs and you cant fully use the dual IS efficiency of Pana…is it the same if you use pana native lens on Oly bodies?? Any thoughts/experiences you made?

    You still have the Panaleica 42 1.7 rather than the 45 1.8 Oly….maybe thats already a hint I guess;)…no issues, same dual IS efficiency?

    Thanks in advance!
    Kindly regards,

    • I kept the lenses I already had – the 15 and 42.5. Not much difference optically, and dual IS on the Panasonic isn’t as good as on the Olympus anyway. I’ve found using the Panasonic lenses with OIS priority seems to work better on the Pen F than IBIS for some reason…

  48. Hello Ming,

    when mentioning my upcoming (well, June 2019) trip to Iceland to a local landscape photographer, he explicitly advised to take along a very sturdy tripod. Not being able to go deeper into the matter at the time, I took a look at your recommended gear list.

    I noticed that you switched from the GT5562LTS and GT1542, to an RRS TVC-24L and GT 2542 respectively. Having been to Iceland yourself, and knowing that to me, there’ll be no real weight or size restrictions, would you advise an upgrade to my Gitzo 1542 ? If so, what made you switch from the Gitzo 5562 to the RRS? In my parts, both are about the same price, so I would value a real use perspective …

    Thanks !

    • The 5562 is extremely heavy and not very portable. It lives in the studio now. The RRS is much lighter and just as sturdy, and taller. The 1542 isn’t strong enough for MF and will vibrate in moderate winds regardless of load. I find the 2542 does not, and is quite happy even with the H6-100.


      You could compare stiffness pegging the 1542T as a little lower than the measured 1545T. I found that the 1542T wasn’t sufficient enough for anything beyond ideal conditions with high resolution/heavy setups.

      I have the Leofoto 284C + Arca Swiss P0 as my compact tripod, and I’m comfortable with a D850/Z7 on it. I also have the RRS TVC-24 and and FLM 38.4 Berlin to go with a Cube, but short of a 645D w/ 300mm, the benefits of the FLM for the extra weight don’t really show over the TVC-24.

      • Seconded for the P0…that head is very light, but very sturdy. Just take care not to over tighten the locking collar or you’ll strip the threads on the internal planetary gear posts; once it doesn’t move, it’s locked – there’s no need to really tighten it as far as it will go. Not sure I quite agree with that table though…

        • Thanks for the info, guys! Seems like I’ll be on the lookout for a new tripod …

          And as a matter of fact, I have a Po on my GT 1542 as well …

          • You might want to look at the GT2545T – it’s much more rigid than the 1542 was, and has now become my regular travel tripod…

            • Just compared prices of the TVC-24L vs. the GT2545T, and I could get 2 of the Gitzos for the price of one RRS. So, while I rather buy an excellent (and usually, more expensive) piece of gear once and be done for a long time, and while there’ll be a reason for the price difference: if the Gitzo is happy with a MF setup, it’ll be happy with a D800E and a Milvus too.

              As always, thanks for the advice !

              • That’s true – it’s also not the same class of tripod; the 24L is much larger/ sturdier than a 2545. It’s also twice the height. So whilst you’re paying twice as much, you’re also getting twice as much tripod (literally)…

        • Hi, long time reader of your blog and creator of the above table. The stiffness data for each tripod is measured, not a result of a subjective impression. I’d be happy to discuss why you disagree with the data though.

          • Thanks for the clarification. Are the tests normalised for things like leg length, locking torque etc. ? The three obvious factors I can think of that affect things in field use would be a) larger locks = better locking torque/ more grip, thus reducing bending at the joints; b) the head; c) any other resonances, effects of wind etc. Maybe there’s something else I’ve not though of.

            • The score metric does normalize for the height of the tripod, as well as the weight, but the raw stiffness number is tested at full height, center column down. The leg angle of the tripod can also make a big difference, but each tripod is simply tested the way it comes from the factory.
              A) I haven’t seen any correlation with larger locks and performance. Actually, the reverse seems to be true, but I suspect that it is more of a correlation than causation. Once the leg lock is reasonably tight, really cranking it down does not further improve stiffness.
              B) All tests are done with a head. Heads are tested separately.
              C) So far in testing, tripod behavior is remarkably linear with only a single sharp resonance frequency. The amount that the tripod moves (and the camera is deflected) is simply proportional to the amount of force placed on it. Damping is also important, and listed in the test results for each tripod, but not in the rankings.

              • Interesting – how much does damping affect overall stability? I assume if there are constant perturbations (like wind) a poorly damped tripod may well become unusable. I also wonder to what degree maintenance (tightness of screws/joints, condition of bushes etc) and sample variation plays into things. Less than lens resolution, one would hope…

                • Oops, meant to say all tests are done without a head attached.

                  Anyways, Damping becomes most important when using large telephoto lenses with high moments of inertia. Most tripods have enough damping to easy control cameras with normal and wide angle lenses that have most of their mass directly over the center of the tripod. In these situations, stiffness is the most important thing, which is why it plays a dominant role in my rankings. I still need to fully explore under which situations stiffness or damping is more important. Its always better to have more of both, but some tripod models have more of one or the other. I think that under constant perturbation, stiffness is actually the most important factor. If you are never letting the damping decay any vibration down, your best bet is to just prevent those perturbations from moving the camera more than the lens resolution (or pixel pitch) in the first place. This is where stiffness comes in as the camera will simply move by (angular displacement) = (torque)/(stiffness).

                  Maintenance is certainly important. I find that a tripod with a loose fitting will lose a lot of stiffness, but actually gain a little bit of damping due to parts rubbing against each other. I haven’t tested multiple tripods of the same model, so can’t comment on sample variation. The stiffness tests themselves are repeatable with the same tripod though. I’ve tested the same tripod months apart, and the stiffness and damping numbers come to within 5%.

                  • Dave, glad to see you here! I use my RRS TVC-34 for both photo and visual astronomy, and really notice its damping character with the telescope. I often observe at the FF FOV equivalent of a 4000mm lens, and the telescope itself is about 11lbs, and 36 inches long with sort of a lumpy mass distribution: the lens cell at one end, and the eyepiece, focuser, prism, and finder scopes on the other end. On top of that, it’s on a 1-foot pier above the spider of the tripod, and a little off-center because it’s side-mounted (Google Stellarvue M2 mount to see what I mean). Anyway, I’ve found that hanging a 15lbs sandbag helps the tripod settle down faster, even though the sand bag is right up under the spider instead of closer to the ground. I try to keep only 1 or 2 sections extended, and usually start with the thickest sections instead of the thinnest ones as I tend to do when photographing landscapes in water.

                    Where I see damping being important is when I turn the focuser (which is very smooth), and have to wait for the scope to settle down and stop vibrating, which takes about 1-2 seconds. This is about the limit for the tripod in terms of practical usability, because it becomes frustrating to wait for the scope to settle down, and also nudge the scope to keep up with the rotation of the earth, which is very noticeable at that FOV. I suppose everything considered, the tripod is doing very well, but I’ve often thought about a Gitzo 5-series (especially after seeing your results for it!) or an RRS 4-series as a way to get a better mount. Astro guys really like their wooden Berlabach tripods as well as the big heavy steel tripods used in the more traditional astro mounts.

                  • Thanks for the insights. Another age-old question – and probably not an easily testable one due to the sheer number of variables – VR/IS/IBIS on or off on a tripod?

                    • I don’t know yet. Its one of the things on my to do list to test. But yeah, it probably depends on the conditions, the tripod, and the focal length. Each camera manufacturer has a different implementation of IS as well, and each should handle being on a tripod differently. The first step would be to see if I can detect a difference in image sharpness under ideal conditions with IS on/off.

  49. If you own the Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 for Nikon, I wonder if there is anything to be gained in image quality by replacing it with the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, especially if you typically shoot at f/8 or smaller apertures.

  50. Ming, always appreciate your reviews (and your imagery). Been a Nikon shooter since the 1970’s, but getting up there in age wants me to get lighter with the tools of the trade. Interested in mirrorless (shot a Fuji X-T2 for a few months, but want to stay with a FF sensor), especially now with the Nikon Z6/Z7 coming soon. I would seriously consider one if Zeiss was to produce their Loxia line of MF lenses. I’m familiar with the images they produce on the Sony A7R III, just don’t like the Sony bodies, ergonomics and menu structure. Any insight to what direction Zeiss may go with the Z mount ? I would think that at least M lenses would work well on the Zs and adapter companies will soon be producing adapters for the Z.

    • Sorry, no idea…my relationship with Zeiss pretty much ended once two things happened – their former head of optical design (Dr. Nasse) passed away, and I stopped shooting Sony.

  51. Yves Simon says:

    Hi Ming,
    I didn’t find any comment on your Panasonic 30/2.8 Macro. What do you think of that lens? Thanks

  52. Hi Ming, I’ve been following your site now for a number of years and would like to compliment you on the excellent reviews and opinion pieces. I’m planning on building a small collection of Zeiss ZF.2 lenses (28mm f/2 or 35mm f/2, 50mm Makro f/2 and 135mm f/2) for use with film and digital bodies. Any merit in hunting for the classic series of lenses or would I be better off going straight for the Milvus?

  53. D850…worth the update?

  54. WOW that Eizo screen, must be gorgeous! 😀

  55. any plan for trial D850 ming?

    • That would be a serious conflict of interest given my current position, wouldn’t it? 🙂

      • Not at all !
        You can still be an unbias objective highly decerning reviewer that all of us appreciate / value & still be a Hasselblad Ambassador !
        Your genius , skills & integrity is above par ! If you dont we would lose an exceptional & highly valued reviewer
        That would be a great loss to the photographic community

  56. Greetings from Singapore. Months ago we acquired the HC100mm 2.2 and after a few uses, we notice an apparent sight of CA especially on high contrast edges. We thought it’s because I tend to shoot wide open but that’s not the case, we tried stopping down a stop or two and still notice the CA, perhaps lesser but not by much. Is this a known characteristic (or flaw) of the lens?

  57. Hey Ming,

    What would be your recommendation for a compact camera (or system) to travel with?

    I’ve been shooting with the Ricoh GR for a couple years, and have had some frustrations recently (dust spots on sensor, sub-optimal high ISO performance in environments with poor light and no chance to use a tripod, etc.) Often I wish I had 1-2 more stops to work with. Additionally, I’d like to experiment with portraiture (full body) and feel that 28mm may distort things too much…

      • That was a great read, thanks. I found the thought process (behind the decision making) even more useful than the end conclusion. I think it would be hard to go from the ergonomics of the Ricoh GR to something like the GX85. I think I’ll keep the GR for a good 28mm, add a 21mm with the wide converter and pick up a basic DSLR from Canikon and pop a 50mm on it for an easy 28/85 combo. Done.

  58. Hi Ming!

    Where does the X1D fit in your workflow?

    • It’s easier to say where it doesn’t actually – for commercial I use the H6D-100c, for personal/ family stuff mostly the GX85, and the X1D is everything else. The Nikons are only when I need some special purpose high magnification macro, and the H5D-50c is the backup on commercial jobs. At least that’s the current state of play in August 2017…

  59. Jim Suojanen says:

    I loved my Nikon D700. But the kit weight became too much for these old bones. I currently use Leica M7/M9 with two or three lenses; an X-Vario if weight is a premium. As a child of the 60’s, the NASA images shot with Hasselblads still capture my imagination (I have Neil Armstrong’s autograph on an Apollo 11 pic). The V system is too big for me now, though I do have an Arcbody I just can’t let go. Some of its limitations are mitigated by using 6×6 film. But I’m not as adept at focusing as I once was and am considering a digital back. The CFV-50c is no longer made and doesn’t really work for shifts/rise-fall according to Hasselblad. Do you know of any alternative that can handle the very short register of the Arcbody, especially with the 35mm lens and permit shifts? I suppose an alternative is to trade the Arcbody, buy some Nikon tilt-shift lenses, and buy a Leica SL with adapters. Then I won’t have to worry about focusing my M9 either. Any thoughts appreciated. If the X1 had a better EVF and tilting screen, I’d learn to live without the tilt-shift.

    • Short answer – unfortunately it doesn’t exist. The good news though is the wides now are a lot wider than the wides on digital that went with the Arcbody, and resolution is much higher. What this means in practice is I often go a size wider in lens, hold the camera level, and compose knowing I’m going to lose some of the bits at the bottom or top. It works much better in practice – especially weight-wise – than carrying a full movement set, no matter how light. We have a 21mm (17mm-e or thereabouts) coming for the X1D 🙂

  60. Rom Pytel says:

    Hi Ming;
    I noticed you added the Panasonic GX85 to your photo gear, what is your opinion of the camera in regards to image quality, haptics, ease of use, quality of kit lens, pros/cons. I am looking for a travel camera that accepts different focal length lenses and this one looks like it may be a good choice at the current sale price. I cannot find this camera in any store near me to try in person so your experience and advice would be greatly appreciated. Are you going to post a full review of the GX85?
    Thanks for your help.

    Kind Regards

    • No, I don’t plan to – there’d be a conflict of interest there since I work for another camera company. It does the job for a point and shoot and family requirements, and offers decent value for the price. At no point does it feel premium or ergonomically excellent; it’s just the right side of ‘too fiddly’. Kit lens is decent but has no focusing ring. Put it this way: I don’t buy (much less recommend) anything I don’t use, and I don’t use anything that doesn’t work as a tool. 🙂

  61. Tessa Tsarong-Blomker says:

    Hi Ming,

    I’ve got a Nikon D810 and am looking to add a wider angle to my primes. I have the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4, Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4, and a Nikon 85mm 1.4G. The purposes I’d be using it for are photojournalism and architectural photography. Let’s say that money isn’t the biggest issue. Any suggestions?


    • If you need AF, then I’d go with the 28/1.8G or 28/1.4G. If Architecture > Photojournalism, then the 24 PCE.

    • Hi Ming, sure appreciate it if you could help. I put my name on the list for a D850 and the store just notified me I will get one in the first batch Sept. 7. Super excited about it!
      My question is, do you have any ideas of what software that could be used for pp of the raw images? I have PS6 (not cloud) Mac with EL Capitain 10.11.1, 8GB, dual core, new SSD. I’ve heard/read CS6 won’t work with Sierra/Hi Sierra so didn’t upgrade yet. I don’t have Lightroom. I use CameraRaw now for PP on D810 raw. I know I can cancel the order as there is already a huge demand for this camera, plus getting top $ for my trade in at this point. I have researched everywhere about this. Asked it of Nikon (not heard back yet).

  62. Hi, Ming! I went to NAB 2017…believe it or not but it’s the year of the drones!!! So many third party lenses are copying and outshining (value/performance) the other major companies, which I think is killing the industry. What’s next? Are they also going to copy MF lenses? I am wondering if patents are observed or respected offshore?

    • I’m not even sure some patents (or at least a lot of the ones in legacy fields) are relevant anymore, given the rate of change of technology. Most MF lenses are actually in a somewhat backward state of development compared to smaller formats because the volumes – and thus economic justification/ R&D budgets – simply aren’t there. In other words, wouldn’t make sense to copy.

  63. Hi there,

    How does the otus compare to Leica S lenses? Looking at either Canon 5DSR/Nikon D810 + otus versus Leica S…

    • Not all of the S lenses are apochromatic, the Otuses are. Everything else isn’t directly comparable: price of S lenses is much higher; you get AF; max apertures are slower. Otuses are faster, somewhat cheaper, but manual only. Depends on your application, I guess. Hard to justify the Leica S’ price, though – especially given the X1D, GFX, 645Z which all have better sensors, and the D810 which has a comparable one.


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