ProfHankD: It's good to see there are now a few fast 50s (this, Otus, and the Zeiss Sony FE) that, at least by some metrics (especially MTF50), do better than the best of the old manual-focus fast 50s. However, they don't win on every metric against some of the old fast 50s that I've bought for under $50. Fast 50s were bundled with nearly every manual-focus SLR, and their well-tuned designs are simple enough to work well without aspherics and modern coatings.
In sum, it is good to see optical design of fast 50s finally advancing, and I'm sure these new lenses will sell well, but personally I spend money on new lenses only when there aren't much cheaper old competitors. For example, I bought a Sigma 8-16mm new a few years ago.... Yes, I'm one of those focus-peaking mirrorless camera users. :-)
Adding further to your point, am always wondering what the utility is of perfect corner sharpness at the widest apertures. When can never come up with a scene in ordinary photography that is both super flat and needs to be photographed at super wide apertures. But can come up with tons of situations where one "overweight" lens overall reduces the capability of a given kit.
Also the lighter the lens, the more effective a given tripod is at stabiliizing it. Have found that the lightest lenses tend to be the sharpest at F/8, when am taking a picture by poking the shutter button on a camera on tripod.
Super fun to see these superb new lens designs, can't really imagine most of us paying for 'em in terms of weight, size, cost per functionality.
Can't see the weight of this new lens anywhere.
jaygeephoto: Some here get it, most do not. It's clearly an understanding of the history and aesthetics of photography and an appreciation of the techniques and methods. This comes through educating one's self. The derisive and boorish comments are clearly from those who seek pleasure at criticizing the efforts of others.
Not sure what there is to "get" here, especially since there is little difference between what one can do with this ridiculously limited (static subject only) panorama technique, and scanning the output of a fantastically more useful 8x10 or 11x14 view camera setup with great lens. Where you could, what an innovation, actually take the 11x14 view camera photo at a single point in time.
The main technical inspiration for this photographer's project seems to be that the photographer knows little about photography equipment.
Next project: this photographer will figure out a way pioneer into the history and aesthetics of photography, and take photos by artificial light--brilliantly using the illumination from 900 iPhones.
ProfHankD: The only catch is that 900MP isn't much of a trick anymore. There are gigapixel cameras using arrays and I'm working on a 500MP sensor (which is 4x5 format).
Incidentally, a robot arm is overkill for this. Higher accuracy at a much lower cost could have been had using either a simple 2-axis motion control mounted vertically (for perpendicular stitching, which appears to be what was done here) or a pan/tilt mount (I've used cheap Meade telescope mounts for single point of view stitches).
That said, I am impressed at the relative lack of stitch artifacts. I would have thought there would be more from subject motion (especially given that he seems to have used a raster scan order), but I guess skin texture and out-of-focus areas hide minor stitch errors pretty well....
Thanks for your comments, ProfHankD. To which would add that free software like Microsoft ICE can put together images panned by hand quite nicely. Have tested stitching at least 80 16 megapixel 24-bit .TIFF images on a computer with 8 gig of RAM, it worked fine. So one could easily stitch together 25 images that were themselves each a 25-image stitch, and there's your 625-image stitch. With an entirely hand-manipulated, inaccurately/inconsistently panned camera.
dialstatic: I don't understand the negative tone of many of the comments. In my view, the photographer used interesting techniques to produce something that we didn't have before. I don't think the resulting portraits are particularly appealing, but that doesn't seem to have been the point. I also see it as an exploration of the future: what if our camphones can eventually do this?
1. Pretty much every photo everyone ever takes produces "something we didn't have before".2. Are techniques that nobody else is ever going to use really so interesting? Are stitched panoramas resulting in a photo that is to most viewers indistinguishable from an unpleasantly flash-lit 36 megapixel passport photo interesting?3. It's a stretch to say that someone playing with equipment to produce photos that no good photographer would ever find appealing, is an exploration of the future. It feels more like an exploration of an alley that most skilled photographers have walked past, because they can see it has a dead end. Next DPreview headline: someone has made a tiny collection of TEN THOUSAND megapixel amateurishly-lit, unpleasant head shots...
Wonderfully uninteresting images. What will this photographer not think of, next?
Further validation of some of the concepts used by Eric Fossum's Quantum Image Sensor approach. In the QIS case, you read the sensor so often that perhaps each pixel-well only needs to hold a super small number of electrons (i.e. need only record accurately the perception of a super small number of photons).
Once you start thinking about it, who wouldn't want all our cameras to work by storing a zillion small subexposures and then stacking however many you want as needed for a given rendition--if there were no prohibitive costs.
Too clever by half, and (perhaps the unkindest cut of all) a lopsided point of view.
Lots of yen but no yang. The examples are not well-rounded, lack focus, and would shed little light on the subject were they twice the size.
The text is plagued with semi-circular reasoning throughout. Something's missing here, I'm of two minds. Side-splitting nonetheless.
ericwestpheling: so they didn't fix any of the ergonomic issues, added no evf, and they abandoned the main draw of full-color sampling for each pixel...go team Sigma! You will make a great wikipedia footnote about bad product design.
Scottelly can share your enthusiasm and appreciation of promising improvements to the DPx series cameras, but will also point out that "yellow flowers" is not a good example of scene elements with a lot of blue in them.
E_Nielsen: As a DP2 Merrill owner, I am intrigued by the new Quattro technology and the promise that file sizes and processing times will be reduced. (Well done, Sigma!) However, I didn't see any mention of the feature I miss the most: image stabilization.
As much as I love the DP2 Merrill, I have been disappointed a number of times when I discovered that some very promising photos, which looked sharp in the LCD, were actually slightly shaken. In most cases, I realized that I should have used a tripod, but that was not always an option at the time. And doesn't carrying a tripod everywhere defeat the purpose of having a compact camera? I hope the Quattros will address this shortcoming.
Actually light, compact cameras (where for example the optical center of the lens is nicely physically close to the tripod mount, and there is not a lot of weight hanging out away from the tripod mount) make it PRACTICAL to take a light weight tripod with you everywhere.
photo_rb: Thanks for doing up this review, I have been very interested in this camera. But I wish you had done two separate reviews and included one for professionals who would never set the camera to record in JPEG mode. It is frustrating reading this review and seeing all the references to image quality issues.
Agreed that if you want a not-super-fast-in-every-way camera like this, and you also want more potential image quality than aps-c cameras, the odds of you not knowing how to handle raw files, and also being happy with COMPLETELY UNEDITED JPEGS are slim to none. Thus the folks who "need" such a camera have to simply ignore all the JPEG talk. But the folks wiho "need" or would at least notice this camera's relative image quality are also plenty smart and knowledgeable enough, to have no trouble ignoring the JPEG comments in this review. So do not agree that it is worth anyone's time and trouble to have 2 separate reviews for any one camera, and am glad that DPreview did not bother generating 2 different reviews.
SonyA7r: Great to see that majority of the A7 owners are in agreement that the DP review is off the rails. As far as I know and all the reviews I read, the JPEG engine of this camera is way way better than other Sony cameras!
Why bother spending/investing time reading a review if you're not going to trust the reviewer's judgement? A little like paying a doctor for advice, with a plan to only be happy with the doctor if they confirm something you already think. Better to spend ones time(money etc) elsewhere.
Congratulations on a pretty extensive piece of work, in a fairly mundane and thankless area.
One could argue pros and cons for any choice of what level of ball head to review, and of how many to include, but can see the point of choosing to compare just the top-of-the-line gear. Because those are the no-excuses products from each manufacturer. If these biggest ballheads are not smooth, or shift a bunch as you stop them down, or are hard to control, or are missing controls, the smaller ones from the same manufacturer are certainly not going to be any better.
Anyone can complain about what ball heads are missing. Would offer a slightly more creative suggestion, that you do a similarly exacting and well-written review of a bunch of different clamping and plate systems. For example some Arca-Swiss clamps of varying degrees of safety and convenience, some wonderfully small KPS and Velbon QB3 clamp/plates, some real quick and convenient Manfrotto clamps, etc.
How wonderful to illuminate that lower-vignetting lenses can effectively increase your dynamic range. Because you don't need to brighten (i.e. increase noise in) their corners.
Thus using over-designed-for-full-frame lenses on an APS-C camera, and/or simply taking-wider-then-cropping photos, can end up giving you the same or improved dynamic range--compared to tightly framing a full-frame 35mm shot with a high-vignetting lens.
By analogy, low-distortion lenses, and using lenses in a way that does not call for perspective correction, can effectively increase their resolution. Because you don't have stretch and smear their pixels in software.
RussellInCincinnati: Also what is the compelling need for Ricoh to innovate in this camera class at this moment? The GR is all of, what, 6 months old? Is there another camera with quite this low weight/size, and quite this lens quality that also has an APS-C or larger sensor?
Could see making fun of Ricoh's "lack of innovation" as evidenced by this cosmetic announcement, if the Ricoh GR was years old and way behind the times, say. Which would be true if you could buy an APS-C camera now with a noticeably sharper lens, or significantly less weight, or one that produces noticeably less noisy raw files. What would that much more modern camera be?
So all accurate descriptions of some of Ricoh's accomplishments, that do not happen to include descriptions of their Ricoh's mis-steps, are by definition mindless? Doubt you would talk this way to a person standing in front of you.
Also what is the compelling need for Ricoh to innovate in this camera class at this moment? The GR is all of, what, 6 months old? Is there another camera with quite this low weight/size, and quite this lens quality that also has an APS-C or larger sensor?
Not a bad deal at all if you planned on buying the name-brand hood and adapter anyway. You pay all of about $15 dollars more for this kit with hood and adapter, and you get some trim that somebody might even like.
This is a brilliant idea if the lens is super. Awfully fun to see it compared (or just as well, comparably tested so that we can make up our comparison), as others mention, with the new Zeiss 55/1.8, the Otus Zeiss 50/1.4, the best Leica 50's, the venerable Canon 50/1.4 and the Nikon 50/1.4 G, the Zeiss 50/2 macro and the old Zeiss 50/1.4, Sigma 50/1.4, Sony or Minolta AF 50/1.4, even the new Fuji 56/1.2 APS lens etc.
Long lenses especially favor a single-element or single-group design. Because you save money on having a lot of big elements. Can imagine a reasonably-priced 200mm F/4 for APS-C for example, perhaps with push-pull focusing.
Downside of single-element designs include saying good-bye to internal focusing, oh well.
Great article, suggests many avenues of improvement of simple (not necessarily one single spherical element) lens. How about what could be done with a single ASPHERICAL element? Or with a single cemented group of two (possibly aspherical surface) elements?
Also makes one think about the many aspects of photography that could be IMPROVED by computational enhancement of super-simple lenses, instead of just "focusing" on the limitations...
For example, let's think of how simple and predictable (i.e. so easily correctable) geometric distortion would be as the output of a single-element or better yet single-group lens.
Consider how low-flare/glare-resistant super simple lenses can be, and/or how inexpensive it is to shield or baffle such lenses.
When you've only got one or two lens elements in a single group, heck you can afford to use super expensive glass all of a sudden.
And how is easy it would be to mass-produce a "perfectly" CENTERED lens, a challenge with all consumer lenses.