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5D Mark II vs 5D Mark IV: Comparing Two Legendary Canon DSLRs

I recently wrote a review of the Canon 5D Mark IV. In it, I mentioned that before buying it, I used the 5D Mark II. The Mark II has been nothing but good to me.

I love the camera and can’t recommend it enough to anyone who is starting out. Perhaps I would say to start off with a used 5D Mark II. The full-frame sensor is better than any cropped sensor. A medium format sensor, even from 2009, generally beats anything full-frame. It’s just how the physics of sensors is. But what would happen if I was to put two 5D models side-to-side?

Interestingly, I don’t use a 5D Mark II for my work now, as I go with a 5D Mark IV. So could it be that me recommending the 5D Mark II is hypocritical and I should really ignore Mark II? I don’t think so. The reason, as I outlined in my review of the 5D Mark IV, is simply that it gives me more resolution, which is critical for crops and large prints that inevitably most fashion photographers deal with. A few more things like the improved autofocus and better sensor made the transition more necessary.

That said, could I still do a shoot on a 5D Mark II? Absolutely! But how different would it be? That’s the question I want to answer in this article.

I took a 5D Mark II and 5D Mark IV to a test shoot and tested them in two situations: beauty and fashion. To do both cameras justice, I will examine raw files that were not retouched. While retouching is where much of the magic happens, I feel it is only fair to show what the camera can do, not what a post-processing software can.

Ergonomics

Holding two cameras in the same hand for hours shows the 7 years of development between them. The Mark IV is better in this regard, it’s more stable to hold in your hand. When it comes to the Mark II, I am often worried about it slipping because the card slot cover is bare plastic that lacks grip. Otherwise, the cameras are essentially the same in terms of weight, dimensions, and size.

A big edge the Mark IV holds is its locking mode dial. I’d often accidentally switch the mode on the Mark II, and it got so bad I taped the dial at one point.

Sensor and Image Quality

Here is where the biggest difference is, but it is important to put that difference into perspective. Having had them side by side, the difference is noticeable, but not day and night.

The biggest for me is resolution. I crop to fit different print purposes often, so the extra ~10 megapixels (21MP vs 30.4MP) make a difference. That said, if you like to get everything perfect in-camera good, for you. My shooting style is quite quick, as most of the time, I am working with a strict timeline.

Model: Hadisha Sovetova @hadishasovetova Hair & Makeup: Karina Jemelyjanova @karinajemelyjanova

For ISO, I rarely used the 5D Mark II on anything beyond ISO 3200. Fashion work shot on a Mark II anything above ISO 800 isn’t usable, but it is rare to go that high. With a Mark IV, ISO 1250 is usable to some degree. As with all cameras, old or new, detail and contrast are lost.

Sometimes a high ISO is needed when the strobe doesn’t have enough power or the location dictates it. The 5D Mark IV is noticeably better in that sense too. The sensor has a better dynamic range as well as color depth. Both sensors have similar color reproduction which is second to none. Yes, both cameras tend to shift the red to orange while giving blue a more cyan shift, but that’s just how Canon’s color science works. I found the Mark IV and II to be identical in terms of color reproduction.

Model: Hadisha Sovetova @hadishasovetova Hair & Makeup: Karina Jemelyjanova @karinajemelyjanova

Features

The 5D Mark IV is packed with different features that make it a lot better than the 5D Mark II.

The Mark IV has a touchscreen that makes navigating a lot faster and more intuitive. For photographers interested in time-lapsing, the Mark IV has a built-in intervalometer that I used to make this time-lapse of some clouds:

The two game-changing features for me are the dual card slots and USB 3.0 connectivity. I shoot tethered most of the time, so the improved transfer speeds are always welcome. When I cant tether for some reason, I find myself using the dual slots all the time. It gives me peace of mind that my images are likely not going anywhere. With Mark II, that was a constant worry. When tethered, the Mark II is a solid camera with okay transfer speeds. It can certainly work and do a good job at it.

Autofocus

A Mark II has only one usable autofocus point. You can disregard the rest because they simply miss too much. The Mark IV solves that problem, which makes shooting a lot easier. I noticed that the 5D Mark IV nails the focus a lot better. Having programmed the AF-ON button to switch to continuous focus when pressed makes the Mark IV ever so much better. Sometimes images I shoot are quite dynamic, and the AI-servo really helps in that situation.

Price

Price is a key factor in any camera, regardless of its features. I am proud to say that I’ve never bought a new camera. For that reason, I will give average street prices. A 5D Mark II in good condition will be around $400-$450. A Canon 5D Mark IV will be around $1,500. These prices vary dramatically from location to location. If you’re starting out, a Mark II is a great budget-friendly investment. If I were to start again now, I’d go for the Mark II and buy a decent lens with it.

Closing Thoughts

Does the 5D Mark IV improve over the Mark II? Yes, it does, and I’d be silly to say that they’re equal. But at the same time, I can’t say that the Mark II is so bad it’s not usable anymore. For people shooting on later models, it is a great backup camera, and for ones looking to switch to full-frame from APS-C, the Mark II is a fantastic budget-friendly option.


About the author: Illya Ovchar is a fashion photographer based in Budapest, Hungary. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ovchar’s work on his website.

A High ISO Shootout: Pentax K-3 III vs. Sony a7 III

You don’t see many new SLRs announced these days when it seems that most camera enthusiasts talk about mirrorless as the future of photography, but to the surprise of those online voices that proclaim the optical viewfinder dead, Ricoh Imaging has released just that in the Pentax K-3 Mark III.

It’s a new high-end APS-C camera designed to compete not only in size but also with features and full-frame image quality.

The new PENTAX K-3 Mark III is in many ways a hybrid of a classic SLR and modern mirrorless camera. If using only live-view, there really is little difference between both platforms. Where the new flagship APS-C camera stands out is in the modern optical viewfinder which includes eye detection autofocus.

I won’t get into that as the point of this article is to focus on the high ISO image quality (perhaps I may go into other aspects of the camera in the future). From here for this piece, it’s all about noise.

Read also: Review: The Pentax K-3 III Proves That DSLR Tech is Far From Finished

While getting two people to agree on what is acceptable image quality is much like getting two people to agree on the perfect pizza topping, I think most can agree that the vast majority of photographs taken are never seen on a screen larger than 27 inches or printed above A3 size. And while I think that pineapple and pepperoni make for a fantastic pizza, I also do not mind a little grain in my photos.

Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 3200.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 3200.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 3200.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 6400.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 12800.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 12800.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 25600.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 25600.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 51200.
Shot with the Pentax K-3 III at ISO 204800.

Image quality is outstanding up to ISO 6400 and still looks clean at ISO 12800 in my opinion. Even ISO 25600 looks good enough to print up to A3 if like me you don’t mind some grain. Heck, if all you need is a small postcard print and the noise is not a bother, you can go as high as ISO 204,800 in some cases and still get an acceptable image.

So we’ve established that the new PENTAX K-3 Mark III does a fine job at high ISO, but how does it compare with a modern full-frame sensor of similar pixel count? For this comparison, I decided to go with the highly regarded Sony a7 III. Please note that is nothing more than a look at how far APS-C technology has come in that it can compete with a larger sensor. This is not a brand comparison.

Looking at ISO 100-1600, there is no visible difference between both cameras.

Shot at ISO 100 by the Pentax K-3 III (left) and Sony a7 III (right).
Shot at ISO 1600 by the Pentax K-3 III (left) and Sony a7 III (right).

Even going up to ISO 6400 and ISO 12800, I can’t see any advantage on either side.

Shot at ISO 6400 by the Pentax K-3 III (left) and Sony a7 III (right).
Shot at ISO 12800 by the Pentax K-3 III (left) and Sony a7 III (right).

ISO 25600 is where I am really surprised. The APS-C PENTAX looks slightly cleaner to me than the full-frame camera.

Shot at ISO 25600 by the Pentax K-3 III (left) and Sony a7 III (right).

Looking at the maximum ISO of the Sony at 204800, they are both pretty much the same. Neither is usable for this shot, but one is not worse than the other though the PENTAX does better on the color.

Shot at ISO 204800 by the Pentax K-3 III (left) and Sony a7 III (right).

My perception of a smaller than 135 full-frame sensor not being able to compete for high ISO is thrown out the window here. The image quality of the new PENTAX K-3 Mark III really is a big step forward in terms of what we can expect from future cameras.

While full-frame users have enjoyed outstanding image quality for a long time, I think now too fans of smaller sensors like Fujifilm and Micro Four Thirds cameras no longer need to feel high ISO envy.


If you enjoyed this video and article, be sure to subscribe to Siegel’s YouTube channel.


About the author: Albert Siegel is a Tokyo-based visual journalist who happens to be a camera geek and makes YouTube videos as a hobby. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Seigel’s videos on YouTube.

Camera comparison: Can the overpriced Sony a1 beat the Canon R5?

The Sony a1 checks about every single box I could possibly want in a camera. In this video, we compare the Sony a1 camera vs the Canon R5. Does Sony leave the Canon R5 in the dust? And what about price? Is the Sony a1 Worth It? Or would you choose the Canon R5? Who […]

The post Camera comparison: Can the overpriced Sony a1 beat the Canon R5? appeared first on DIY Photography.

Maxima 7 vs Aputure 600D Pro vs Nanlite Forza 500 specs comparison

Having been initially announced in February of last year, the Maxima 7 LED light was finally released yesterday. In the time since the Maxima 7 was first announced and now, though, the top lights in that sort of category have been the Aputure 600D Pro and the Nanlite Forza 500. So we thought we’d take […]

The post Maxima 7 vs Aputure 600D Pro vs Nanlite Forza 500 specs comparison appeared first on DIY Photography.

Sigma I-Series Lenses vs Sony G Compact Primes: No Losers Here

After my testing of the new Sony compact primes, I was able to spend some time with the competing set of primes from Sigma that were arguably the reason Sony created its lenses in the first place. Both sets are fun, compact, and extremely portable optics… but which should you buy?

Like the Sony lenses, these primes from Sigma are almost identical in design with the only real difference between them being the chosen focal lengths and maximum apertures. As such, you can treat this comparison as a performance evaluation of all three and how they compare to the Sony G lenses.

As noted in the news coverage of these lenses, the I-Series lineup from Sigma includes a 35mm f/2 ($639), 65mm f/2 ($699), 24mm f/3.5 ($549), and the 45mm f/2.8 ($549).


Editor’s note: The following evaluation is meant to be viewed against the full review of the Sony lenses found here, as most of the information below focuses on showing how the Sigma lenses perform and is written from the assumption that readers have familiarized themselves with the same assessment of the Sony lenses.


Testing the Sigma I-Series Lenses

To test these lenses I used a Sony Alpha 7 III and a Sony a6100 and shot at the minimum and maximum apertures to determine the sharpness and quality of the images.

One of the first things I noticed when taking these lenses out of the box was just how sturdy the design was and how they resembled bigger cinema lenses. Each lens in the set looks identical in design with the only difference being the physical size, and — as mentioned previously — all of which were larger than the Sony counterparts. Despite this, they were still pretty similar to the Sony lenses in the sense that the aperture rings were once again in a position where it would be very easy to accidentally shift the lens’s manual aperture setting when mounting or removing the lens.

I complained about this in my Sony compact prime lens review so it’s only fair to point it out here. So once again, be sure to double-check your settings when you use this glass to be sure it’s in the position you want.

Sigma 35mm
Sigma 45mme
Sigma 24mm
Sigma 65mm

Something I want to note right away: It is my opinion that the overall shooting experience with these lenses was even more satisfying than with the Sony lenses.

Let me explain that.

With the increased size and more stylish design, I felt more confident shooting in the streets and for my clients. They just gave off a cinematographer vibe that I really appreciated. They just look, feel, and operate really nicely in a way that is difficult to explain but is apparent once you’ve held them in hand.

Just like with Sony’s lenses, the I-Series has a satisfying “clicking” aperture ring that you can manually set for your shot, or slide into the Auto position to make changes digitally based on your preference. While I enjoyed the feel of Sony’s trio, these lenses felt more mechanical and even produced a little more tension when not in Auto mode. The aperture “clicks” were even more satisfying than on the Sony with that larger grooved ring. It is worth mentioning this though: while I never bothered to use the “de-click” switch that Sony provides on its lenses, this is a feature that is noticeably missing from the Sigma I-series.

Visually, I felt like this set of glass gave a much more professional vibe while shooting on the streets. This is, of course, entirely subjective so take from this what you will.

With the Sony lenses, it seemed people just thought I was a tourist and never really gave me much attention, whereas with the Sigma glass, people noticed, and moved out of my shots for me. It kind of felt like I was a location scout prepping scenes for an upcoming shoot. The downside to this is these lenses look expensive compared to the Sony counterparts, meaning if you are trying to be discreet they’re going to stand out a fair bit more.

As for their size, you can read the exact dimensions and weights here, but it is worth noting that while they are still very compact, they are heavier and larger than the Sony brand counterparts. Additionally, Sony made a point of keeping all three of its lenses the exact same size while Sigma has not. Additionally, stacked end to end, even the two smallest lenses in the Sigma set are larger than an iPhone X and weigh a fair bit more than the ones from Sony. The good news is they are still small enough to fit in your sweater or jacket pockets, making them easy for conveniently carrying and lens swapping while on the move.

Sigma 35mm Magnetic Cover 2
Sigma 35mm Magnetic Cover

Something else to take note of is that these lenses have a largely metal housing compared to the Sony lenses which have a lot more plastic. Because of this, Sigma was able to do something a little different by providing the option for a fancier magnetic lens cap along with the standard plastic “pinch” type. If you’re the type of shooter who never uses a lens hood because they are tedious, the metal versions are a lovely divergence from the expected. That said, while it’s a rather cool additional feature to have, it is not altogether practical if you do use the lens hoods, since it takes a bit of maneuvering to get it off once snapped in place.

Sigma I-Series Lens Mount

Finally, it is also worth pointing out that these lenses all have a nicely designed gasket seal on the mount giving you some peace of mind that little in the way of dust or water will seep its way in while you’re out shooting.

Performance

All of the lenses in this set worked consistently well with a fast and smooth performing autofocus that including face/eye detection features.

The performance feels just as fast and snappy as with the Sony trio (despite Sony touting its autofocus system as vastly superior to competitors). I was able to quickly lock on to surfers in motion on the beach without issue. The metal lens hood and aperture/focus rings feel great to work with and going full manual for focusing is very smooth.

Shifting from Auto to Manual focus was easy with the switches for that feature placement closer to the lens mount on the barrel versus the vertical switch found on the Sony set. I personally prefer the Sigma switch here, but that is again a purely subjective, personal preference as they both respond quickly and work as intended.

For an example the kind of clarity you can expect, below is a short timelapse of a moonrise that I shot with Sigma 65mm f/2 at f/6.3.

The 45mm and 65mm lenses were incredibly sharp and accurate edge to edge where the wider 24mm and 35mm lenses left a little vignetting on the edges. This is easily fixable with a lens profile adjustment but be aware of that going in.

Bokeh

All four lenses gave a great creamy bokeh for their respective apertures, with the 65mm having the most appealing of the set. Trying to recreate the Sony Bokeh tests, I feel that while the Sigma lenses — especially at f/2 — were incredibly smooth looking, only the 65mm really had something over the Sony.

The Sigma glass was consistently smooth from each of the lenses, but nothing really “wowed” me compared to how I felt with the Sony lenses. While each of them looks good, in my personal opinion, if you’re looking for glass with a more pronounced bokeh pattern, the Sony set may be the winner here.

Sigma 65mm f2
Sigma 45mm f2
Sigma 35mm f2
Sigma 24mm f3.5

Sample Images

Sigma 24mm f/3.5

Sigma 35mm f/2

Sigma 45mm f/2

Sigma 65mm f/2

Comparing Strengths and Weaknesses

Both lenses score well in the autofocus performance and overall image quality department, so you’ll have to look at other factors if you really want to nitpick on which lenses are right for you.

Sigma Strengths

  • Interesting focal lengths
  • Nice contrast in the medium apertures
  • Aperture and focus rings are super easy to use with focus pulling system
  • Looks more professional and feature higher quality materials than Sony lenses
  • Weather/Dust resistance is of higher quality than with the Sony lenses
  • The metal lens hood is very nice
  • The 24mm and 45mm are cheaper than the comparable Sony options

Sony Strengths

  • Sigma’s metal lens hood somehow feels more prone to scratches than Sony’s common plastic one
  • Sony’s compact primes are lighter and smaller
  • Sigma’s magnetic lens cap is nice, but not practical when paired with the lens hood
  • Sony has a de-clickable aperture, Sigma does not
  • Bokeh was overall more pleasant on the Sony lenses
  • The Sigma 35mm and 65mm are more expensive than the comparable Sony options

Sturdy and Professional Versus Smaller and Performant

The Sigma I-series feels like a much more professional set of lenses than the Sony trio, but with that comes the compromise of a larger size and heavier footprint. These lenses are still much smaller and lighter than the f/1.8 and f/1.4 primes you’re used to carrying around so the trade-off may be worth it along with the cost savings when you look at those wider lenses.

Even though they are larger and heavier than Sony’s similar lenses, the Sigmas are still easy to pack up and carry in your kit, saving you a lot of space and weight when compared to the Art/G-Master series lenses. I felt that the Sony lenses overall had better bokeh, with the exception of Sigma’s 65mm, but the overall image quality from all lenses was very good. Again, the only reason to not recommend any of them is if you actually truly need that extra shallow depth of field and are willing to trade off the extra cost, size, and weight to get it.

If you do more video than photo work, the Sigma lenses would be a fantastic addition to your kit since they’re already primed and ready to go for pulling kits thanks to the more pronounced grooves on the focus and aperture rings. Additionally, these Sigma lenses provide some slightly more unique focal lengths than others.

Honestly, I think both these sets can be used together, as no one is saying you have to pick one company and only use those lenses. While the professional and cinematic look of the Sigma lenses was awesome, I preferred the image quality on most of what Sony offered despite their slightly less high-end feel. If I were in the market for these focal lengths, I’d likely mix and match a few of them from both brands.

The Verdict

The Sigma I-Series is a great set of lenses with some unique focal lengths that will help you capture sharp images and video for whatever project you have in mind. Are they better or worse than the Sony lenses? Unfortunately, there is no straight-across answer.

If you want something that is incredibly small and lightweight for traveling, the Sony trio may be the better direction for you. However, if you plan on doing more video work where manual focusing is more prevalent or if you prefer a more robust, higher-end build, then the Sigma lineup makes more sense. In the end, both did a great job from an image quality standpoint and you can’t really go wrong either way there. In the end, you’ll just have to make your decisions based on personal preference.

Canon 5D Mark IV Versus EOS R6: Which is Better?

It’s really easy to get caught up in mirrorless versus DSLR argument, but between the EOS R6 and 5D Mark IV, which is actually the better image-making machine for a professional shooter? Photographer Kevin Raposo takes a deep dive and compares the two in this 17.5-minute video.

Raposo prefaces his video with an important note: this comparison is based on years of using the 5D Mark IV and a few months using the R6, and what he is evaluating is how each performs for his own personal shooting style: about 50% photography and 50% videography across a set of different disciplines. His evaluation is really based on that perspective, and his notes might not apply to every other photographer that is considering moving from the Canon DSLR to mirrorless.

What also should be noted is that there are plenty of photographers out there who are still happily using DSLRs, and looking at a comparison between the two equally-priced cameras is likely to be very useful to those who have yet to make the switch. For many professionals, the 5D Mark IV has been and will continue to be an excellent workhorse.

Raposo’s full video is extremely detailed and is broken down into chapters for those who only want to hear about certain topics. While he only touches on each subject for a short time, the combined finished video is quite long due to the sheer number of points he makes sure he covers.

While there are a few more “obvious” advancements that make the R6 seem like the obvious choice, there are some downsides that some might miss. For example, the top-facing LCD on the 5D Mark IV is really useful for many photographers and it simply doesn’t exist on the R6.

But on the other side, the R6 has an articulating screen, which the 5D Mark IV doesn’t offer.

The R6 may offer better video shooting capabilities, like improved rolling shutter performance…

…but that comes at the cost of overheating issues.

There seems to be a lot of tradeoffs in several important categories, but the R6 just overall performs better in more ways. For those who are looking to switch from Canon’s DSLR to the company’s mirrorless selection, you should probably watch Raposo’s entire video to make sure you’re making the right choices for your particular needs. That said, for Raposo, the EOS R6 was a good purchase.

“When we tally up all 20 of the categories, it looks like the R6 is the winner,” Raposo says. “So does that mean I think it’s the better camera? Overall: Yeah. It incorporates a ton of new functionality developed between 2016 and 2020, and mirrorless cameras are definitely the way of the future.”

Raposo also states that while the 5D Mark IV has served him well for years, he is going to be making the jump to the R6.

“I do miss the build quality of the 5-series but don’t get me wrong on this point, the R6 is still a sturdy and capable camera,” Raposo says. He also reiterates that his feelings and conclusion might not be the right ones for you and that the 5D Mark IV still has a lot to offer.

For more from Kevin Raposo, make sure you follow subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S Review: A Battle Against the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

Nikon has been aggressively marketing the internal diameter of the Z mount as being 17% larger than the Nikon F mount, and the larger mount allows more flexibility in the optical design of the Z lenses like their newest 58mm f/0.95 lens.

In this article, I won’t be testing on the 58mm f/0.95 as I’m not really a fan of manual focus. We’ll be taking a look into how the new Nikon 50mm f/1.2 lens holds up against the popular 3rd-party Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens.

Some basic introduction of the Sigma 50mm Art: Sigma has in recent years been developing some impressive lenses that are tack-sharp wide open. Apart from their bad reputation in the past for bad glass coating (that caused chromatic aberration) and front/back focus issue, they have been doing really well since the release of their Art series — they successfully developed lenses that could achieve tack sharp wide open at f/1.4 (although all their lens are quite heavy in weight).

The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 art has been one of my favorite workhorses for all my professional work for the past 2 years.

The Setup

1. Nikon Z6 II and Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S

2. Nikon Z6 II and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art with FTZ adapter

The goal of the test: I’ll be doing all my testing at f/1.4 aperture to be fair to the Sigma Art. The purpose of testing at wide open instead of stopping down to f/2 or f/5.6 is to determine the lens sharpness wide open. If I try an f/1.4 lens and it can’t perform well wide open, I won’t see a need to consider such a lens.

Full disclosure: Thanks to Nikon Singapore, I managed to loan both the Z6 II and 50mm f/1.2 S to do some test on them against my own Sigma 50mm Art copy.

Daytime Testing

For this test, my camera was mounted on the tripod to ensure that the setup and the shooting distance don’t change. I also tried to swap the lens quickly so that I could keep the lighting condition to be as close as possible. I stopped down the Nikon lens to f/1.4 to be fair for all the tests.

The first thing I noticed with the Nikon 50mm was the frame appeared tighter than the Sigma 50mm, I would say maybe a 5% tighter in frame although both were 50mm focal length.

In terms of focus sharpness, both lenses were equally good wide open. Zoomed in at 200%, I do notice the Nikon 50mm was a tad sharper on the lines against Sigma art. Having said that, both lenses’ performance were still pretty on par, no client will zoom in 200% to check on your images. Both lenses have what it takes to deliver your work well.

In terms of bokeh, it was quite noticeable that the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S does have better glass and renders bokeh much smoother than the Sigma 50mm.

Along the white edges of the van, I also saw some green ‘CA’ along the white line in both lenses. The Sigma Art showed stronger green fringing than the Nikon. It’s not really a big issue in general as ‘CA’ correction in Adobe Lightroom is just one click away to get rid of the fringing.

At the extreme right corner of the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S even after stopping down to f/1.4, it produced a very pleasing bokeh at the corner. The Sigma 50mm Art on the other hand has a busy-looking bokeh.

Nighttime Testing

The focus for this test isn’t just about sharpness as it will be covered in all the other tests. In my nighttime test, I would like to compare the difference in how both lenses produce their bokeh. Who doesn’t love a creamy bokeh from a 50mm?

To test the bokeh, I placed my focus onto the metal railing so that the buildings at the back will be outside the shallow depth of field. The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 produced a significantly larger and smoother bokeh circle at the center and around the mid-frame than the Sigma 50mm.

At the left lower corner of the frame, the Nikon 50mm bokeh turn close to a cat’s eye shape while the Sigma 50mm Art still maintains a nice round circle shape.

At the mid-frame, the Nikon 50mm showed a better shallow depth of effect performance together with some cat’s eye bokeh effect while the Sigma Art maintains its circle effect bokeh around the frame.

For this image, I focus on the tail light of the car so that I could get a shallow depth of field of the street lights in the background. This is a rough guide if you are doing a half-body portrait at night that’s similar to how the bokeh might turn out.

At the mid-frame, Nikon 50mm bokeh appeared slightly more blurred at the long silver street lamp pole. The bokeh on Nikon 50mm also appeared to be brighter than the Sigma 50mm.

At the top corner frame, shooting against the bright street lamp the Nikon 50mm shows a much better control towards flares than the Sigma art. This could be due to the newer coating applied to the Nikon Z lens, where both Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats are used.

How Do They Perform in an Actual Shoot?

Now time for some cute moments in which I used the 50mm lenses to do some pet photography. As the dog doesn’t stay still like humans do, I don’t get to shoot them in the same pose after switching my lens. The pose was slightly different but at the same focus distance.

During the dog photoshoot session, I didn’t notice any difference in terms of autofocus speed. The Nikon new 50mm Z mount focuses pretty quick, I don’t really notice any major difference in focus speed compared to the Sigma 50mm.

Also kudos to Nikon for doing a really good job with their FTZ adapter now, as the adapter focuses relatively well even with a 3rd-party F-mount lens, just like it does with their DSLR series. This is great for photographers who own F-mount 3rd party lenses.

Both images look really great on the dog portrait session, I didn’t notice any big difference in images. Now let’s take a look into the fine details.

At 200% magnification, around the eyes area the Nikon 50mm showed a lot more details. In the eyeball, the details in the reflection details were noticeably sharper! There were also more details in the dark brown fur between the eyes on the Nikon version. On the Sigma copy, the details of the fur were slightly softer, and I don’t really see that ‘wow’ factor in terms of details sharpness.

The Nikon 50mm produces a softer and smoother bokeh compared to the Sigma Art and yet maintained tack-sharp details on the dog face. When I first bought the Sigma Art, I was impressed with how they managed to produce such tack-sharp details at wide-open aperture on their Art lens. It was one of the workhorses ever since.

Now with the new optical design from Nikon Z mount, I really saw some breakthroughs over there. I’m impressed once again after testing out the new 50mm f/1.2. The lens produces such sharp details yet maintaining that smooth creamy bokeh.

Portraits Test

I did a lens comparison during an outdoor family photoshoot with dog owners as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the owners actually changed their position while I was changing my lens. Other than that, focus distance still remains the same for the test.

At the mid-frame, the bokeh of the tree branches of the Sigma Art seems busy and more contrasty. I definitely prefer the Nikon 50mm for smoother and more natural bokeh.

Similarly, at the corner of the frame, the Sigma 50mm maintains its characteristics of busy background bokeh of the street bushes.

Spec Comparison

In terms of weight, the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S weighs 1090g and the Sigma 50mm Art with the adapter only weighs 950g in total. When Sigma Art first came out, everyone was commenting on how big and heavy their Art series was. The Sigma Art with FTZ adapter is 130mm in term of length which is 20mm shorter than the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S (150mm).

While everyone who likes to shoot with 50mm loves an f/1.2 bokeh, this doesn’t just come with a higher price tag. It also comes together with a much bigger filter thread now at 82mm comparing to Sigma 77mm filter size. This means that you might need to invest in an 82mm filter if you need CPL or ND filter. The larger filter will also cost slightly more than the 77mm filter.

More Sample Photos

Here are more photos shot with the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S. All the photos are taken between f/1.2 and f/2 aperture.

Summary

It is quite a tough call to say Nikon is a clear winner here. In terms of specification and its performance in the real world, I’m sure it is one hell of a lens anyone would love to have. When you start to weigh in other factors like weight, dimension, and filter size, Nikon’s latest 50mm f/1.2 is not a lens for people with weak arms. I know there are people who would sacrifice bokeh and prefer a lighter f/1.8 version then this lens is definitely not for you.

To be able to produce such high quality 50mm f/1.2 lens, the price tag is also double the price of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art F-mount lens. It depends on how much you treasure image quality over weight and price as one of the factors in your decision to get this new Nikon 50mm f/1.2 S.

As for myself, it’s a yay for me as I love tack sharp lenses at wide-open aperture, and that f/1.2 bokeh is just so lovely. This is definitely the lens that will replace the 50mm Sigma Art as my workhorse.


About the author: Andy Chua is a professional photographer based in a Singapore. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Chua’s portfolio is 70% sports, and he has covered both local and overseas international meets. His sports work also won several awards in IPA over the years and has been published on different platforms. In addition to sports, he also shoots underwater photography, automotive, products, interior, etc. You can find more of Chua’s work on his website or by following him on Instagram. This article was also published here.

Does Shooting Video on Medium Format Make Any Sense?

Medium format has become far more accessible to more people than it has ever been in the past, and that includes the ability to shoot video on the giant sensors. In this 9.5-minute video, Photographer Jay P. Morgan looks to find out if shooting RAW video on medium format is something you should even do.

Once you get past issues with rolling shutter (Morgan found that it wasn’t too bad when the camera is locked off), there are some benefits to shooting with medium format that are most noticeable when compared to traditional video camcorders. For comparison purposes, Morgan and co-host Kenneth Merrill shoot the same scene in RAW on the Canon C200, the Panasonic S1H, and on the medium format Fujifilm GFX100 to see what they could notice as differences.

These three cameras were chosen because the C200 has a super-35 sized sensor, the S1H has a full-frame sensor, and the GFX is, of course, medium format.

“Right off as you look at this there are several things if you just look through them very quickly,” Morgan says. “You can see the detail becomes better when you go from Super 35 to that full frame. It looks nicer. But then when you go to that medium format it is so pretty and (there is) so much detail.”

Morgan says that for him, the most drastic visual difference is between the C200 and the S1H.

“I feel like the S1H image really pops out at you. And then you get it even more with a GFX. But for me, it’s not as noticeable. I do notice more gritty detail in the GFX. You certainly see the focus if you look at the depth of field there. If you look at each one of these next to each other it’s a much shallower depth of field at f/2.8 on that medium format compared to the Super 35,” he says.

Image quality at low ISOs is one thing, but Morgan wanted to see how each of the cameras held up at increasingly higher ISOs.

“We just wanted to start as low as we could and that’s 1250 for the GFX,” Morgan says. “So we went 1250 across the board. So the light we have on his face is pulsating. The flame is kind of flickering. And so what you see in the black deep shadows is that kind of pulse from the flame. It’s not some kind of issue with the ISO.”

“So the S1H is really clean at 1250,” he continues. “It seems cleaner than the GFX 100 to me, and that’s native for the GFX 100. The GFX 100 is already a little bit noisy.

At ISO 3200, the Canon starts to show weaknesses due to the smaller sensor

“So the Canon is not looking terribly great, but it’s not a huge step up from 1250,” He says. “If we go to the S1H, I feel like there’s a big change with the S1H. It’s not doing very well here. We see a lot of noise. And we usually see that with the S1H as you approach that dual gain of 4000. That’s when it kind of gets better again. So this isn’t that surprising.”

Morgan was surprised to see that the GFX was actually performing really badly at this ISO.

“The GFX is doing terribly the 3200,” he says. “It is honestly not what I expected. I thought it’d be much cleaner at this point. But the photo capabilities don’t always translate to the video capabilities, especially for these hybrid bodies. It is fascinating, because we have tested the GFX 100 with regards to stills and ISO and it performed extremely well. But if we’re not seeing it in this video format at all. I would not want to shoot this above its native ISO.”

In the end, Morgan admits that there wasn’t a big reason to shoot video with medium format if a full frame video camera is available.

“This step up to medium format didn’t feel like such a jump with these cameras, at least at this level. But there was a difference,” he says. “The color depth was just fabulous. I think it’s just a little early, I think we’re going to see medium format come into its own. As we’ve seen the full-frame kind of become the standard, then we’ll move up to medium format. Maybe it’ll cross a barrier where it’s just more cost and more difficult than it’s worth. I don’t know, it’s possible.”

For more from Jay P. Morgan, make sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

Can the 108mp Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra stand up against a $6,000 pro DSLR?

I said I wasn’t going to post any more of these. The “winner” in pretty much all cases is obvious. Or is it? There is no doubt that a $6,000 flagship DSLR (even if it is a generation old) is going to hammer a smartphone (of any resolution) when it comes to absolute image quality, […]

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