From F to Z: Upgrading Nikkor 105mm micro



What are the best photo-stacking settings?

For my old Nikkor AF 105mm micro I had tested the best photo stacking settings based on my DoF measurement and calculation by FocusFinder app below.

The old: Nikkor 105 mm 1:2.8G AF-S VR Micro IF-ED

fmeasured DoF at 1:1 [µm]calculated DoF at 1:1 [µm]

„My picture feeling“ picked f=5.6 with the best compromise of DoF and sharpness, which resulted in the following save overlapping settings for my two working methods

  • Nikon Z7 „focus step width“ = 7 (German „Schrittweite der Fokusverlagerung“)
  • NiSi rail with 125µm steps

But what about the new Nikkor Z 105mm? Though the old and new 105mm look very similar there are some differences. Aperture is f4.0 vs f4.5 at minimum distance of 314mm vs 290mm.

The new: NIKKOR Z MC 105 mm 1:2.8 VR S

The new 105mm is much much sharper. The old 105mm has quite some color fringing, not visible in the new one. Therefore, the DoF is not really comparable. Now we only need to know the DoF for each f-stop and than we know how to set things up. Hence, as Nikon does not publish DoF data for the lens – which is a shame by the way – I did my own test.

Getting a grip on Depth-of-Field (DoF): f8

fmeasured DoF at 1:1 [mm]calculated DoF at 1:1 [mm]

The calculated DoF expects shallower DoF with the new 105mm but in practice the difference is not that big. Defraction starts slightly with f11 and is quite big with f16. Therefore, I will pick f8 at my future foto stacking option.

Next comes the focus steps value for focus stacking via autofocus.

The 100 steps test

Using the „focus shift shooting“ functions of the Nikon Z7 starting from minimum distance of 0.29cm with 100 pictures & steps (1/200 F8 ISO100) I measure the distance on the display after the 100 shots:

focus step widthdistance on displaydistance [mm]average distance per step [µm]

As the stacking distance is not even distributed over the covered range, we cannot conclude too much regarding minimum distance coverage.

Testing 10 stacked pictures with mm-ruler

Here I simply stacked 10 pictures with Helicon Focus (B, 8, 4) and checked the final picture for sharpness. Best results are:

Scenarioffocus step width
more DoF85
min DoF4.54

Could not resist the Laowa macro 2.5-5.0

… the final conclusion in my last macro article „finally, I will wait for the arrival of the Nikkor Z 105mm Micro S in 2021“. Hence, Nikon did not release any new Z lens the last 7 months! Even though the lens line-up is way behind Sony and Canon mirrorless – what a „§#*+“

Since the (very last) photokina 2019 show in Köln I was aware of Laowa’s exotic lens collection. At their booth I had a look but did not test any lens as I did not have the FTZ for my Nikon Z7 with me. But as there a great videos and articles about macro out there

29 stacked pictures with Laowa 25mm m=4.5 1/200 f2.8 ISO100

You can order your Laowa at their venus optics shop in Hong-Kong or as I did here in Germany via the distributor Brenner and tested the Laowa 100mm macro and this Laowa 25mm in the Photo Universal shop under corona rules. Now, let’s start…

Could not resist the Laowa macro 2.5-5.0 weiterlesen

HDD Booting with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for Home Assistant

…But then my SD-card SanDisk 16GB (Type 10 A1) crashed and I looked into the alternative for running Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (RaPi3B)

For me it is clear that the heavy file access of Home Assistant in my context will not work long term with any SD card. Therefore, I was looking for a simple HDD solution. There are many complicated solutions described in the web, but I found a very simple and straight forward approach which is written in German. Therefore, I translate the essentials for you into English.

First, you need to take care of the right power supply as this is the main hurdle for Rasperry Pis working with HDD. The RaPi3B needs 330 mA for running and offers up to 600 mA for USB and other external peripherals. This adds up from HDMI 50 mA, Ethernet 50 mA, or Mouse 50 mA. You can increase the peripheral limit to 1’200 mA but overall, you can not get more out of the RaPi3B than 2’500 mA at 4.75 – 5.2V or 11 – 13W. But of course your USB power supply must be able to deliver! And therefore, you better use the official Raspberry Pi 3 Model B which delivers 2500 mA at 5.1V and not an USB charger! But even this might not be enough to run a HDD drive. Therefore, I picked the simple solutions: an external HDD with Y-cable: two USB plugs, one for DATA and one for POWER.

Intenso Memory House 320GB external HDD with Y-USB cable and Hitachi HTS545032B9A300 inside
HDD Booting with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for Home Assistant weiterlesen

„One to rule them all“

What a great experience with Home Assistant! Just after 1h I had a couple of integrations working „out of the box“ just by configuring user names, API-keys, or passwords:

„One to rule them all“ weiterlesen

Scanning HP LaserJet Pro PDFs to your Mac

Installing the HP Software on a Mac is a nightmare. The simplest and probably the best solution is to stick to MacOS software only for printing, scanning, and faxing. But as I wanted to configure more things from my Mac and wanted to scan PDF directly to a folder on my Mac I figured it out the hard way.

Scanning HP LaserJet Pro PDFs to your Mac weiterlesen

Mirrorless Macro with Nikon Z7 & Nikon PB-6 Bellows

Nikon Z7 with Nikkor 85mm on PB-6, PS foto stacked

Already last year I digged up into macro photography with magnification of 1.0 and higher dedusting the solid build mechanical beauty macro bellows Nikon PB-6. After some test shots with my new mirrorless Nikon Z7 I was not really sure that this old technology is still useful with mega-pixel chips and cropping in lightroom. Therefore, I decided to check this a bit more systematically. It is an odd couple, the Nikon PB-6 was introduced 1983 and discontinued whereas the Nikon Z7 hit the market 25 years later in 2018. Hence, the Nikon FTZ adapter makes it fit.

Mirrorless Macro with Nikon Z7 & Nikon PB-6 Bellows weiterlesen

Original Nikon Coolscan Software on Intel Mac

Need to buy software for your new Mac

If you have one of the old but still excellent Nikon Coolscan like the 5000 ED you cannot run the original scanner software build for PowerPC G3 or G4 on your new Intel Mac. One solution is to buy up-to-date software like

But there is a simple way to make the Windows-Version of the Nikon scanner run on your new Mac: Use a windows virtual machine and up-to-date drivers for the scanner.

or installing a virtual machine on your Mac

This is what I did:

  1. Install a virtual machine that supports USB2.0 running Windows. I used VirtualBox 5.1.14 and Windows 10:
    1. Install VirtualBox:
      1. VirtualBox platform packages for OS X host
      2. VirtualBox Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack
    2. Get and install a Windows 7, 8, 10 license, CD or Image in the Virtual Box
  2. Configure a folder on your MacOS for usage in the virtual box for windows. Here you will later store your scanned images. I run MacOS 10.11.6 (15G1217) on a MacMini with 1 TB SSD and 4 TB HDD.   [I will add some screenshots later.]
  3. Configure the Device and USB 2.0 connection of your Nikon scanner for exclusiveusage in Virtual Box. [I will add some screenshots later.]
  4. Install the Windows version of VueScan (Demo is enough) on your virtual Windows. This will install the most current driver for the Nikon scanner. Test with VueScan if your scanner is available and do a test scan. I used VueScan 9.5.70.
  5. Install the Windows version of original Nikon Scan software on your virtual Windows. I used Nikon Scan 4.0.3.

and getting great usability

as the virtual box behaves like a screen you can switch between Windows and MacOS very naturally. The Nikon Scan software runs just fine: quick and now problems with clock-rate or driver settings.

What is Nikon’s business future?

What is Nikon’s business future? Today, I surfed around and collected some (weak) signals and came to a clear conclusion „not that bright“.

Sales in cameras are shrinking since 2010 due to more smart phone used as cameras or camcorders. Here is a nice graph by statista

Infographic: Are Smartphones Killing Digital Cameras? | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

even if the drop is not as „planned“ in 2016 in this chart. If you look at the updated data from 2016 in the original cipa source it is still or just  24.2m shipments.

The problem for Nikon is that it is weak in the „mirrorless“ and „GoPro“ camera „left over market“ where Fuji, Olympus, and Sony take market share while Canon is still the standard   DSLR competitor. The Nikon D5 and D500 are well received in the market which makes the management motivated to stay on due course. BUT Nikon’s turnover and profit relays heavily on its „Imaging Products“ as you can see in the latest business report. Like a frog or lobster in hot water getting cooked here, we have shrinking turnover with still OK profits. BUT the official business plan for „Imaging Products“ has higher turnover for 2017 and 2018 on page #12. How can Nikon grow in two years with 10% in a market that is shrinking between -10% maybe up to -30% per year? Where is the secret product that can do that?

The MID-TERM business change program from 2006 which targeted at more diversity with three existing and three new business areas failed after 10 years and is now replaced with a restructure plan. 

All the new real hot topics like cameras for robots, drones, cars, smart phones; Internet (of Things); biotech; machine Learning, … are not even on the agenda. Just have a look at page #7 listing excellent technology competencies of the 19th and 20th century. But none of the 21st. With Nikon’s 8% R&D budget there is a lot of room to make Nikon’s future iff Nikon puts it on the right topics. There is no acquisition in the „mirror less“ camera game, nor photo sharing on internet, video processing or machine learning! What about integrating the camera smoothly in the business process of professionals in the news, sports, or portrait business? Or target the semi-pro wedding photographers with an experience for the whole attending family members?

2017 will be a critical year for Nikon with its 100th anniversary. This will give Nikon a lot of air time. Hence, we are waiting for very cool camera models that take a bigger market share in the shrinking marked window between smart phones, mirrorless on one side and Leica et. al. at the other side. The painful retirement plan for more than 1,000 employees is    not the news you which for a big party.

Here are some ideas


[After I wrote this blog post on Sunday some more news came out].

I think it is right to cancel the DL line as announced and my above concerns were enforced by Nikon’s loss statement and Nikon’s new financial figures (be aware that Nikon’s fiscal year ends March 2017).

Time to sell my Nikon equipment 🙁

What do you think?

Sony RX100 final race: III vs. IV

Just one year after the release of the Sony DSC-RX100 III the next version was announced this month: Sony DCS-RX100 IV. As the body and the lenses are the same, I asked myself if it is worth to buy the new IV or get a decently prices III in August 2015.

Sony’s press release, some first reviews at the new camera and dpreview, a side-by-side feature comparison and picture quality comparison are already out. The difference in image quality is probably not there. I would like to add a complete list of differences in the following tables based on the specification RX100 III and RX100 IV at Sony. The first part of the table depicts major advantages of the IV vs III:

RX100 IV


Major Improvements
Movie Recording Resolution

4k Video:

XAVC S 4K: 30p 100M
3’840 x 2’160

HD Video:

XAVC S: 30p 50M

1’920 x 1’080

Video High Frame Rate (HFR)
“slow motion”

1’000 fps for 2″

30 fps for ?“

60 fps for 30″

30 fps for ?“

Shutter speed

1 / 2’000 s

1 / 2’000 s

Shutter speed electronic

1 / 32’000 s

Automatic expose

30″ – 1 / 32’000 s

2″ – 1 / 2’000 s

Shooting speed:speed priority / continuous

16 fps /

5.5 fps

10 fps /

2.9 fps

Viewfinder OLED

2’359’296 dots

1’440’000 dots

Minor Improvements
Autofocus speed

AF system used in α7 series

Movie file size max battery life

4 GByte

2 GByte

Shooting functions (additional)

Timecode (TC) / User Bit (UB) / Photographer
Name & Copyright / ISO Auto Minimum Shutter Speed / PC Remote

Minor Impairments



Power consumption
LCD / viewfinder

1.9 W /

2.3 W

1.7 W /

2.3 W

Battery life: images
time imagestime video

280 images

140 Min

45 Min

320 images

160 Min

50 Min

Difference not clear to me
Picture Profile

Off/PP1-PP7 (Black Level, Gamma (Movie, Still,
Cine1-2, ITU709, ITU709 [800%], S-Log2), Black Gamma, Knee, Color
Mode, Color Level, Color Phase, Color Depth, Detail, Copy, Reset)


Self-Time addtionally

5s start delay,
5s and 2s inter shoot delay

USB power supply

“Playback requires Sony charger AC-UD10”,
but would any USB charger or computer work, too?

Focus Area

“Expanded Flexible Spot”, what is this for?

Exmor RS
“stacked CMOS sensor“

Speed improvements are clear but is low light
performance at high ISO also better?

Smartphone connectivity, Smart Remote Embedded, Wi-Fi, NFC

Any improvements?

Market introduction




List price at market



Street price 07/2015



The heavy price tag of additional € 470 is worth if you are

  • using video: the 4k video and slow motion of 40x is something special in the market and especially for a camera of this small size and weight;
  • high speed shutters: the 32’000 is an incredible shutter speed allowing 1.8 aperture at bright light if you want to control depth of field or to get high speed sharp

The better viewfinder, hopefully faster and more accurate autofocus, and the hopefully better performance at higher ISO, longer automatic expose times probably do not justify the price difference. Anyway, I will spend the extra money as I have finally found my
“point-and-shoot” camera.

Still, there are a few things that I will miss with the RX100 IV:

  • GPS function build in the camera, optionally available to turn & off for each shoot
  • USB 3.0 support
  • Better protection of the Zeiss lens, while it is closed

Even Sony figured out that additional items can be sold with such a small camera. Picking the right accessors is the next part of the hobby. Sony has a nice web page for this:

  1. Additional battery NP-BX1 or the ACC-TRDCX charging Kit
  2. Memory card, fast, and big 😉 64GByte 280 MB/s e.g. SanDisk
  3. Maybe, the extra grip AG-R2
  4. Camera bag like LCS-RXG

Update: There is a comparison also done now by dpreview here.

Do you have some more insights on this? Any experience yet? Just share it…

FX, DX or MFT?

Combining the very small pocket camera like Lumix GM5 with an additional semi-professional body like Olympus OM-D is a strong argument for Micro-Four-Thirds compared to the big Nikon D750.

Yesterdays visit at our local camera store and a very helpful consultancy finished this option for me. As I like taking low-light pictures with fast lenses and without flash the small CCD sensors have major disadvantages according to measurement made by DxOLab:

  • ISO 495: 1″ The Sony RX100 III
  • ISO 896: MFT best Low-Light ISO rating is given to the excellent Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
  • ISO 1347: APS size like Sony A6000 and I assume also for Fuji X-T1 which I used to do nice shorts up to ISO 1600 with visible loss of quality.
  • ISO 2956: Nikon FX family or even remarkable ISO 3279 for Nikon Df

The benefit of MFT vs. 1″ of one stop is compensated by the Sony with the bright lens of 1.8 vs. 3.5 at the Lumix.

There is one stop differences between MFT vs. APS and even more compared to FX. Why is this? It is simply the size of the sensor pixel which make the differences.

So overall, MFT is not small enough for a real pocket camera and not good enough for the semi-pro cameras. That’s why I will choose the Sony RX 100 for the pocket and either Fuji or Nikon for APS or even FX camera body.