Category Archives: Photo Gear

Photo gear – cameras, lenses, lighting and accessories.

Color issue: Leaf Capture vs. Capture One Pro

I am testing some RAW files from Leaf digital backs and especially the Aptus-22 since I plan to purchase a medium format system – better detail, better dynamic range and true 16-bit color.

It is not easy to find RAW files from MF digital backs on the Internet. Fortunately, there are some on the Leaf website. I downloaded almost all files and registered to be able to download the Leaf RAW developing software – Leaf Capture.

I do own PhaseOne’s Capture One PRO, and since Leaf is owned by Phase, as you can guess, Capture One Pro opens all Leaf RAW files. The two programs are quite different, but they share exactly the same color profiles and curves presets. As the two companies belong to one family, I was thinking their processing algorithms are the same. So, it is normal that they produce the same color, if I use the same color profiles and curve presets. But, as you’ll see, not exactly…

Bellow is a sample from a RAW file I downloaded from Leaf’s website and processed with both Leaf Capture and Capture One PRO with the same presets: color profiles and curves, all other settings at default. The big picture is the whole frame, bellow it are two 100% crops from a shadow area. At first look, images from LC and C1 look the same (excluding sharpness), but after I examined the shadow areas, I noticed a very strange (and not expected) behavior of Capture One: shadow areas have increased reds.

Leaf Digital Back test image

Click to enlarge (opens a new window)

This is not the first time I notice increased reds in Capture One PRO… I shoot with a Nikon and I develop NEF files with C1 Pro. To obtain correct color in dark images, I have to cut the left side of the red channel by 1 or 2 levels. Yes this is not too much and it is not something to worry about, but it is present and I see it. With images containing less dark areas it is not a issue, but with dark images it could be, especially if you work some color-critical project.

Finally: The Leaf RAW files files, processed in Leaf Capture look absolutely flawless, with superb dynamic range, correct natural colors and great detail. I have to say that I’m really impressed with the image quality from all Leaf back, even the quite old Aptus 22. I will probably buy one in the near future.

The file I used for this “test” is shot with the Aptus-II 6 on a Mamiya AFD system (© Alex Amengual) and is publicly accessible as a RAW file from the Leaf website HERE

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Nikkor 14-24/2.8 AF-S and Nikon D3x – full size samples

Just want to share two (very regular) full-size photos taken with Nikon D3x body and Nikkor 14-24/2.8 lens.

The Nikkor 14-24/2.8 lens is the sharpest zoom lens I’ve ever shot with. The only “problem” with this lens is that it does not accept filters, except the new LEE filter system, that was especially designed for this lens, but I find it too big and too heavy to be useful.

Both photos taken at aperture of f6.3 – the optimal for this lens and the sensor of the D3x. No filters and other stuff used.

The photos were shot as RAW (NEF) files and processed with Capture One PRO v. 5.2

The sharpening is set to 0 (zero), only the Exposure, the Contrast and the White balance were corrected.

The chromatic aberrations are unaltered to let you see how low they are.

Click a photo to open it at full size in a new window. Photos © 2011 Nikolay Dimitrov ;-)

@14 mm f6.3

Click to open the full-size photo in a new window!

@24mm f6.3

Click to open the full-size photo in a new window!


Finally got that Nikon D3x

Well, I’ve sold all my Canon gear and switched to Nikon.

My Canon 1Ds mk2 was a great camera, it served me well for 2 years, but the Nikon D3x is a superior camera in any aspect.

Many fellows asked me: Why?! Well, it’s complex, but the main reason is the greater dynamic range of the Nikon. Also, I find the Nikon to be much more comfortable to work with – I have all main controls on buttons and I don’t have anymore to rummage through all these functions in the camera menu.

And the lenses… I have had many replacements of wide angle Canon lenses and they were always the same – awful wide-open and bad to acceptable stopped down to f8 or even f11 and above. But never perfect. The Nikkor 14-24/2.8 lens is amazingly sharp even wide open, and once you stop down to f5.6 it turns just stellar. And it’s a zoom.

Well, I somehow miss one Canon lens – the EF135/2L USM. This was a perfect lens for portrait and landscape work, and I regret it is absent in the Nikon lens range. There is of coarse the Nikkor 135/2, but it’s an old optical design and does not work as well as the Canon.

Here is an example with the PC Micro Nikkor 85/2.8, an old lens that works fine even with the demanding sensor of the D3x.

Nikon D3x sample

More to come soon. I am shooting now and will share my impressions in a couple of days. I’ll upload some full-resolutions samples as soon as I have the time to do it.

Nikon D3 and D3s dynamic range

DxO Labs has tested the new Nikon D3s. Surprisingly the old one (D3) showed better dynamic range. It’s not too much to worth thinking about, but it’s a fact.

In exchange of the lower dynamic range, Nikon D3s offers much better high ISO performance.

d3-d3s dynamic range comparison

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Interesting new lenses from Sigma

Sigma has announced 5 new and renewed lenses. In this set, my attention was attracted by two full-frame EX DG lenses. EX is the professional series from Sigma and the DG designation means that the lens is a dedicated full-frame one.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
This a very important addition to the Sigma lenses multitude. It will be a direct competitor to the Nikon’s 85/1.4 and the Canon’s 85/1.2. I suppose it will be sharper than the Nikkor wide-open and faster focusing than the Canon because of the HSM focusing motor. I can’t wait for the first samples to appear on Internet. I predict this will be a great portrait instrument.

Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM
This is a new OS version of the well-known Sigma 70-200EX lens, but not only an OS system has been added. The lens features a brand new optical design with two FLD elements and three SLD elemnts, plus a 9-blade diaphragm for smoother bokeh. While it has an HSM motor, full-time focus override is present. The Optical Stabilization (OS) system provides up to 4 f-stops benefit, which is among the best on the market.

The new lenses will be available in Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax bayonets.

The other additions in this set are: 17-50mm EX DC OS HSM, 50-500mm OS and 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM. The last one is an interesting lens, but while it is an APS-C (DC) lens, I’m not interested.