Thursday, 23 August 2018

Nikon Z6 and Z7 Revealed! Exciting Times ahead

My first trial shots with the Nikon Z
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Before diving into my initial thoughts about the Nikon Z and the official press release (thank you Nikon for going mirrorless) we do have to note something significant that happened in the market. In the US, Sony went number 1 in the full frame market with their mirrorless cameras ahead of Canon and Nikon. That is a sign. 

What it points to in my view is that mirrorless is the future and DSLRs may (at some point perhaps :) [yes i am hedging a little here] be a thing of the past. Yuh people with fetish for old tech will buy it in the future, like how i still am an analog boy and just bought another film camera... oh yeah... #ishootfilm

The Nikon Zs will only get better. Canon will also want to compete and all that will mean is, us photographers and consumers win. Better bodies and lenses will come out and at hopefully healthy price points. Sony A7III and A7RIII are the benchmarks now and it's a question of whether the Z matches up and exceeds them and what Canon will come out with soon (they have to ;) 

So i've seen the online reviews and 2 things i need to mention first: 


(1a) One card slot... one slot. memory cards can fail to a non-recoverable state. it can happen. Without a second slot it's a risk especially for any one that shoots professionally/semi-professionally/gets asked by relatives to shoot their important events or events and stuff that no one wants to do a do-over for. 

(1b) that card slot is XQD - Why XQD? Yes I know, the XQD is newer, faster card type from Sony but it's not so common and more importantly, I don't have one.

The whole world uses SD cards and I have a number of them so that when I move from different systems I have SD cards to use. slower ones, faster ones, more colorful ones, duller looking ones etc. 

So how can Nikon improve for the next iteration of the Z camera? [Constructive inputs yuh] It needs to have 2 slots and one of them has to be a SD card slot.

Update: I agree with most of what was shared on the one slot issue here LINK 
and since I posted this review i have had SD card failure and will not purchase a body with no second card slot. I have also heard of XQD card failure so folks just have to consider if they shoot things they don't mind losing

(2) FTZ (F-to-Z) adapter needs to have fast AF with their F mount lens. Note the autofocus only works for the AF-S lenses of which there are 90+ of them out there just none in my dry cabinet (I wish there was an adapter done that could deal with the screw drive lenses but yuh that's wishful thinking as there's nothing out there that deals with AF on mirrorless (phase detect AF system) for the screw drive. I wish I lived in la la land where even a Leica M mount lens could be autofocused on a mirrorless body... waitamoment!) the AF-S lenses on this adapter will gain 3 axis in-body image stabilisation. If this is fast and snappy then folks with lots of AF-S lenses will be keen on this. [B&H youtube review says it works well LINK another vid from imagingresource that talks about the adapter here LINK ]

What is cool?
New Z mount gives opportunity for faster, better lenses in future. Nikon has the opportunity to build off this release for a more interesting next iteration of this camera (with 2 card slots, one of them being SD) and with hopefully faster lenses in store [that lens roadmap can change :) f1.2s and f1.4s instead of f1.8s. f2.8s instead of f4s etc... excluding the 58mm f0.95 noct of course... now that is plenty fast, though manual focus).  


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Ok all the above was said in one breath... So with that out of the way, we get to the press release which covers all the more important points :) yes it has A LOT of GOOD things going for it. 

PRESS RELEASE (thanks to BCW and Nikon Singapore)


Nikon introduces the new Nikon Z mount system, and releases two full-frame mirrorless cameras: the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6


SINGAPORE – Nikon Singapore Pte. Ltd. is pleased to announce the release of the full-frame, Nikon FX format mirrorless cameras Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6, as well as NIKKOR Z lenses, featuring a new, larger-diameter mount.

More information regarding the NIKKOR Z lenses can also be found in its respective following press release announced today.
  
Mirrorless Reinvented through the Nikon Z mount system

The Z mount system is comprised of mirrorless cameras featuring a new, larger-diameter mount, as well as compatible NIKKOR lenses and accessories. This system has been realized through the pursuit of a new dimension in optical performance. It has inherited Nikon’s tradition of quality, superior imaging technology, great operability, and high reliability, all innovated from its digital SLR cameras.

At the heart of the new Z mount system is the new, larger-diameter mount, which unlocks further possibilities of lens design, increasing greater capabilities in optical performance. The Z mount system will offer a variety of high-performance lenses, including the fastest lens in Nikon history, with f/0.95*. Additionally, the new mount adapter will enable compatibility with NIKKOR F mount lenses, adding to the variety of choices for photographers.

The letter “Z” represents the culmination of Nikon’s relentless pursuit of ultimate optical performance, and a bridge to a new chapter. It is about redefining possibilities to provide image-makers with tools to realize greater creativity.


Nikon will expand the value of mirrorless cameras through the pursuit of a new dimension in optical performance, and by upholding Nikon’s tradition of quality while responding to the evolution of imaging technology. By providing image makers with stimulating new products, Nikon will continue to lead imaging culture.
*Within interchangeable lenses for Nikon SLR cameras and Advanced Cameras with Interchangeable Lens


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Z 7, Z 6 Product Overview

The Z 7 and Z 6 are equipped with a new backside illumination full-frame, Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor with built-in focal-plane phase-detection AF pixels, and the latest image-processing engine, EXPEED 6.

The Z 7 has 45.7 effective megapixels, and supports a standard sensitivity range of ISO 64–25600. In combination with NIKKOR Z lenses, the camera achieves an outstanding level of sharpness and detail, all the way to the edges of the image.

The Z 6 is an all-purpose FX-format camera with an effective pixel count of 24.5 megapixels, and supports the wide range of ISO 100–51200 standard sensitivities. With superior performance at high sensitivities and full-frame 4K UHD movie recording with full pixel readout, the Z 6 responds to a variety of needs, such as shooting in dimly lit environments, and movie recording.


Z 7 and Z 6 Primary Features

1. Equipped with a new backside illumination Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor with built-in focal-plane phase-detection AF pixels: A backside illumination CMOS sensor, with built-in focal-plane phase-detection AF pixels, has been adopted for both the Z 7 and the Z 6. The Z 7 has an effective pixel count of 45.7 megapixels, and supports ISO 64–25600 range of standard sensitivities (reduction to the equivalent of ISO 32 and expansion to the equivalent of ISO 102400 is also possible). The Z 6 has an effective pixel count of 24.5 megapixels, and supports a broad range of standard sensitivities, from ISO 100–51200 (additional reduction to the equivalent of ISO 50 and expansion to the equivalent of ISO 204800).



2. A hybrid AF system with focus points covering approximately 90% of the imaging area: The Z 7 has 493 focus points* and the Z 6 has 273 focus points*, enabling broad coverage of approximately 90% of the imaging area both horizontally and vertically. This hybrid AF system uses an algorithm optimized for the FX-format sensor, to automatically switch between focal-plane phase-detection AF and contrast-detect AF with focusing. The use of NIKKOR Z lenses further maximizes AF accuracy with both still images and movies.

*With FX (36×24) image area and single-point AF enabled.

3. The new EXPEED 6 image-processing engine for sharp and clear imaging, and new functions that support creative imaging expression: The Z 7 and Z 6 are equipped with the new EXPEED 6 image-processing engine. Employing the superior resolving power of NIKKOR Z and NIKKOR F mount lenses, subjects are rendered more sharply than ever before. Noise is also effectively reduced. Additionally, a mid-range sharpening option has been added to Picture Control sharpness parameters. This option, along with existing sharpening and clarity parameters, allows users to make various textures within the screen sharper or softer, for both still images and movies*. The cameras also offer 20 options of Creative Picture Control, supporting creative imaging expression. The effect level is adjustable from 0 to 100.

*Mid-range sharpness adjustment is only possible at “High quality” movie setting.

4. An electronic viewfinder that utilizes Nikon's superior optical and image-processing technologies to offer a clear and natural view: The electronic viewfinder adopted for the Z 7 and Z 6 is comfortable and easy to use, comparable to optical viewfinders. Both cameras are equipped with an electronic viewfinder for which an approximately 3690k-dot OLED panel has been adopted. The electronic viewfinder has, respectively, frame coverage and magnification of approximately 100% and 0.8×, as well as an approximately 37.0° diagonal viewing angle. It draws on Nikon's superior optical technologies and image-processing technologies, ensuring a clear and comfortable view comparable to that of optical viewfinders, with reduced aberration and minimum eyestrain, even during extended shoots. Furthermore, a fluorine coat that effectively repels dirt has been applied to the eyepiece protection window. In addition, the menu can be displayed in the electronic viewfinder, allowing users to quickly view and adjust a variety of shooting settings, including ISO sensitivity, AF-area mode, and Picture Control, all while looking through the viewfinder.

5. An ergonomic design unique to Nikon that enables intuitive operation: The Z 7 and Z 6 have inherited the superior operability that Nikon has cultivated over the years through its development of cameras. The bodies are compact, while boasting a firm grip that is easy to hold, and buttons such as the sub selector, AF-ON, ISO, and exposure compensation are all placed so that they can be operated swiftly and easily. Additionally, a display panel has been placed on the top part of the camera, where information about settings can be displayed, same as with high-end digital SLR camera models.


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6. Movie functions such as 10-bit N-Log that enables wide dynamic range, and timecoding that respond to professional needs: The Z 7 and Z 6 support recording of not only full-frame 4K UHD (3840 × 2160)/30p movies using the FX-based movie format, but also full-HD/120p movies. Sharper 4K UHD movies are made possible, using the full-pixel readout1. Additionally, Active D-Lighting, electronic vibration reduction, and focus peaking can be used with 4K UHD and Full-HD movie recording. Nikon’s original N-Log can also be used with 10-bit2 HDMI output. The cameras utilize extensive color depth and twelve-stop, 1,300% dynamic range to record a wealth of tone information from highlights and shadows for more effective color grading. Timecode support3 makes synchronizing video and sound to footage recorded across multiple devices easier. Additionally, the control ring built into NIKKOR Z lenses can be used to quietly and smoothly adjust settings such as aperture and exposure compensation.

1 DX-based movie format with the Z 7
2 Simultaneous recording of 4K UHD movies with 10-bit output to the camera's memory card is not possible
3 Not available when shooting slow-motion movies

7. Nikon's first1 in-camera vibration reduction with approx. 5.0-stop2 effectiveness: The Z 7 and Z 6 are equipped with in-camera vibration reduction (VR). The VR unit provides compensation for movement along five axes. The effects of vibration reduction are equivalent to a shutter speed increase of approximately 5.0 stops2. This function can also be used effectively with NIKKOR F lenses, including those not equipped with a VR function, with the Mount Adapter FTZ (sold separately)3.

1 Among interchangeable-lens cameras
2 Measured in accordance with CIPA standards (using the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, with zoom set at the maximum telephoto position)
3 The level of compensation achieved when a NIKKOR F mount lens is used is not as high as that of a NIKKOR Z lens


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8. Other features:
·         Same level of strength and durability, as well as dust- and drip- resistance, as the Nikon D850, offered in a compact body
·         An 8-cm/3.2-in., approximately 2100k-dot touch-sensitive LCD monitor, with a tilting mechanism
·         Silent photography eliminates shake and noise caused by shutter release
·         Peaking stack image function1 enables confirmation of focus depth after shooting using focus shift, which is convenient for focus stacking2
·         High-speed continuous shooting (extended)3 at approximately 9 fps (Z 7) and 12 fps (Z 6) captures fast motion
·         Interval timer photography that makes 8K (Z 7) time-lapse movie creation2 possible
  • An extended low-light metering range4 allows users to easily capture scenes such as the transition from sunset to starry night sky, using aperture-priority auto mode
  • Built-in Wi-Fi® for direct connection to a smart device using SnapBridge
  • Built-in Wi-Fi® makes the transfer of images and movies to a computer possible
  • Support for existing digital SLR camera accessories such as the WT-7A/B/C Wireless Transmitter (available separately) for transferring images and movies at high speed over a wired or wireless LAN, and radio-controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting, which makes flexible multi-flash photography possible
1 Can only be confirmed using the camera with which focus shift was performed.
2 Third-party software is required.
3 Continuous H (extended) in 12-bit RAW, JPEG, or TIFF format
4 With interval timer shooting or time-lapse movie recording with silent photography and exposure smoothing enabled.


Development of the MB-N10 Multi-Power Battery Pack
The MB-N10 Multi-Power Battery Pack that is currently in development will hold two EN-EL15b rechargeable Li-ion batteries, effectively increasing the number of shots possible and/or movie recording time by approximately 1.8×. It will provide the same level of dust and drip resistance as the Z 7 and Z 6, and will support USB charging using the EH-7P charging AC adapter.

Information regarding the release of this product will be announced at a later date.

Trade names (companies, products, services, etc.) are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.


Availability
For more information on the new Z 7 and Z 6, and other Nikon products, please visit www.nikon.com.sg


About Nikon

Nikon. At the Heart of the Image. Nikon is the world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology and is globally recognised for setting new standards in product design and performance for its award-winning consumer and professional photographic equipment. Nikon Singapore Pte Ltd distributes consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, NIKKOR optics, Speedlights and system accessories; Nikon COOLPIX compact digital cameras; Nikon sports optics as well as the Nikon 1 advanced cameras with interchangeable lens system in over 50 countries. For more information, visit www.nikon.com.sg. Connect with Nikon and other photographers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NikonSingapore and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/NikonSg.


Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Fuji 110mm f2 vs Zeiss Otus 85mm f1.4 on Fuji GFX50S... FIGHT!

A shot taken this past weekend with the Zeiss Otus on the GFX

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First off i would like to note that this is not a technical review with charts and a view of lpms and mtfs and such and there are other sites for that (google 'jim kasson zeiss'). This was me having 10mins at the fuji shop and having the zeiss on my gfx and saying let's do this! :) 

For all the images below, the shot with the Fuji is on the left and the shot with the otus is on the right. I shall share the comparo images first before coming to my own conclusions based on this checking of the files. I excluded others I had taken favoring these as there wasn't any misfocus or shutter shake in these. ok onto some comparisons then. 


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the shot below is a crop in of the above shot and they look very much the same

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Shot from moving back a little from the above position
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crop in of the above shot and again they look very much the same

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My thanks to the Fujifilm staff at Suntec City who was kind enough to let me take a quick portrait shot (all in the name of speedy lens tests :) 

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Do note the below is a super zoomed in crop of the above picture. and the Zeiss pic is more zoomed in than the fuji. 

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Conclusion

The Zeiss Otus becomes a nice 67.15mm f1.11 lens on medium format (in 35mm full frame terms). There isn't a lens for the GFX in this range right now as it's not a standard focal length used by most. But it is kinda like imbetween 50mm and 85mm and you have more of the scene to play with which is good and in tighter spots will be able work it better than the 110mm. 

Cropping in a little and getting rid of the vignette makes it excellent. The sharpness and overall IQ of this lens is more than enough for GFX medium format quality. 

Another negative is that the Otus is heavy... heavier than the autofocus Fuji. I would have preferred if the rubber bits on the otus weren't rubber and made out of metal or something that will last the ages but of course that would probably have made it even heavier! 

Manual focus is the other biggie. I found some inconsistencies with the Fuji AF for nailing the focus on the 110mm lens but it means you refocus and take the same shot if you have the opportunity to. When it nailed focus though, that Fuji lens produces AMAZING image quality! The Zeiss Otus lens manual focuses quite easily but some fair bit of turning is involved to go from one end to the other. 

For manual focus, I suggest focusing zoomed out to make sure the pic is getting into focus for most of the way and then punch in to ensure you get it focused right on where you want it to focus (eg. eye for portraits) and then it's rock and roll... sharp and bokehlicious Otus pix on Fuji GFX :) 

Overall, I would say that the Zeiss Otus 85mm is a great addition to both your full frame and medium format arsenal as it straddles systems like Nikon, Sony, and I'm happy to say the Fuji GFX :) May do a similar test on a hasselblad x1d someday. 

Cheers, Raph

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Nikon D850 Review ~ Top of the line Full Frame Nikon

This is not a full review with pics as I have taken too many of those. I will be posting more pix in this review soon. So this post is developing :) 
[This is not a paid review. I get nothing from Nikon for doing this and am not told to say anything and everything written on here is up to me and that's it :) i got the loaner for 3 weeks and very much enjoyed having it for that time. Thanks to Nikon and their PR agency for the loaner! :) ]


A Herculean Camera [Shot with Nikon D850 and kit lens]
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The short version: If this is within your budget (for body and lens you want to use with it) and you want to shoot with a top end full frame DSLR (and are not heavily invested in another system) then the Nikon D850 is the camera to get in my personal opinion. [The long version continues below :) ]

Product & Price (RRP in SGD)
  • D850 (Body) - $4,999
  • D850 (AF-S NIKKOR 24-120MM F/4G ED VR Kit set) - $5,949
Some notable specs 
  • 45.7-megapixel backside illumination FX-Format CMOS sensor. With a dynamic range of native ISO sensitivities, from ISO 64 to 25600
  • full-frame 4K UHD video capabilities, 4x and 5x slow-motion videos in Full HD
  • 8K time-lapse movie production using interval timer photography.
  • autofocus (AF) engine that engages the 153-point AF system and 99 cross sensor
  • high-resolution tilting 3.2 inch touch-screen with 2359k-dot LCD monitor, and button illumination that is helpful when shooting in dark situations

To note first, I did not come from use of many Canon or Nikon full frame cameras. I have used a couple (D600 and D750) for short periods of time. I have however used a fair number of different cameras including the top Sony offerings A9 and A7RII (only played a short while with A7RIII so that doesn't really count), digital medium format (MF) (my current workhorse the GFX50s and i've done some shoots with the Leica S), Leica rangfinders (M6 for film and M9, M240 for digital), my old beater Nikon D90, a number of APS-C (Sony, Fuji, Ricoh) and m4/3 (Olympus and Panasonic) cameras. 

Coming from someone who has used a number of cameras and without much Nikon full frame exposure, i can say this camera is a beast! it's big, heavy, chunky dslr and likely usable as a weapon if u need to knock them mirrorless fanboys out! ;) kidding about that yuh, I am a mirrorless lover too. What this is, I feel (and i think many others may have commented) is Nikon throwing everything it can into it's top of the line prosumer body to fight against the mirrorless assault (before it joins the fray properly in 2019?)... and that is a great thing. 

The functions list is a long one and i recommend you go check that and other specs out at other review or sales sites eg amazon, b&h etc. i am taking this on from usability and if i got the shots i had wanted from it and views on aspects that matter to me standpoint. 


Usability


1) Size weight chunkiness -  doesnt matter to me. noting my main camera is a digital medium format fuji gfx50s


2) buttons and controls are all fine. nothing to moan about and quick youtube vid on doing specific functions and you're good to go. eg I did a timelapse video with the interval mode and picked it up after a 5min vid of it. 


3) image quality and dynamic range - Excellent image quality and dynamic range. I think this sensor is a top of the line one for 35mm. In my dynamic range test with Sony A7Riii, the A7Riii loses to it (the image seemed noisier and pixelly in the shadow details i tried to recover and had some color artifacts) and it was just a bit lesser than the GFX50s. 

Details wise, it loses to the GFX. overall noise performance it loses to the GFX. 

the view, i have which is a personal one, is that the gfx is just that little better than all these mega-huge sensor 35mm cameras and if you value that little bit better for amazing IQ and willing to buy into that system than it's a great mirrorless digital medium format option. but it comes at a price. Although in the 2nd hand market you can pick it up for cheap now. makes my heart ache a little coz i paid top dollar but that's how the cookie crumbles [or that's how the 2nd hand pricing market tumbles :( ]


The Nikon D850 will be better in AF, AF lens choices and functions over the current mirrorless MF offerings and competes directly with the Sony A7RIII. This is needed to prevent more migration from Nikon to Sony.  



4) AF speed and nailing movement shots - Very good but can still miss shots of course. I shot a ballerina doing a jump to try out the AF and in the series there were blurry shots which wasn't great :( could the A9 or A7III do better? hmm 


Timelapse vid but not uploaded well as im not so good with vid uploads

Conclusion then is if you are invested in Nikon FX glass and have been using Nikon for awhile, and are thinking jumping ship to mirrorless... stop, pick this up and see if this is for you. [UPDATE 31Jul18] With the announcement of the Nikon mirrorless you might want to wait and see it's feature set and if it works for you. I believe Nikon has to come out with a very good AF adapter for most of it's legacy AF lenses so that folks invested in Nikon have a big incentive to stay with Nikon. 

For parties on the fence and considering a full frame body with loads of megapixels, I would suggest loaning or handling both the nikon D850 and the sony A7Riii and the new Nikon mirrorless (the top of the line model) and then decide which works best for you for what you shoot. End of the day, this is a great camera in the Nikon line-up and much needed imo ;) 

Hope the words work (and more pix to be uploaded soon). Cheers

Sunday, 13 May 2018

J Myers Co NATO Leather Strap Making Course At Watch Wonderland

So a couple of months back I had the opportunity to take this course at Watch Wonderland and it was a couple of hours well spent. You get to learn about different types of leather, different parts of it and processes and most anything you could actually want to know about leather, they can sort you out. very knowledgeable and cool instructors from J Myers were there to impart some strap making wisdom to us. links to their info here website Instagram facebook 

starting off with some theory
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but first off let's intro the main man... former professional photographer and now watch strap making (and most leather products) guru, Jeremiah Ang!
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showing us some different leathers
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ooh do i get to work on this?? uhm not really
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calf leather will be supplied to make your custom calf NATO leather strap... Very Nice!
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the theory was interesting
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and getting my hands on some of the tools was fun
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And at the end of it all... Voila! Cool unique NATO strap done by meself. 
totally worth the price of admission
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and final parting shot and thanks to Watch Wonderland and J Myers for this cool course offered there. There's also a strap corner in Watch Wonderland manned by Khairul from J Myers (who was also on hand to guide us during this course) who will be able to help with all strap related queries or purchases, so do drop by if you need a strap fix (literal and the itching to buy kind;)
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and that's it. this course is highly recommended for watch and strap aficionados and if keen do reach out to watch wonderland to enquire on timings and reserve your slot now :) Ciao for now, raph

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Fujifilm GFX50S Dynamic Range ~ Details and Recovery for under and over shots

So this is not a technical site. For that you can check dxomark and such. But noting results the medium format sensor used in the Hasselblad X1D, Pentax 645z and the GFX is a very good sensor for recovering details in shadows and highlights. Overblown highlights being the tougher of the 2.

It is advisable therefore to shoot to the left. It is geek speak for shoot underexposed a little, to the left just means the histogram peak(s) are on the left side of the histogram graph instead of the right side which means more overexposed with possibility of blown highlights if it's very much to the right at high peaks. You can see this in the top right side of the Lightroom screen grabs below for the blown and severely underexposed picture. 

So this was shooting in a studio and the flash didn't fire so I got a shot that was almost all black in RAW. too toooo much to the left

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but this is no ordinary RAW... this is a (crop) medium format sensor :) though not a full sized proper medium format sensor this sensor is significantly bigger when compared to 35mm and captures more info and produces better Image Quality (IQ)... and so it can recover the below from close to black pic. 
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and with a few more tweaks...

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and zooming in for detail which the gfx50s has a LOT of... not too bad i must say
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so i swopped lens and was going from a slower aperture to a faster aperture and a few stops more light causes this. again look at the histogram at the right end of the graph
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and recovered ot to this... not the best pic but it is definitely usable if I wanted to use it. nose may be a little too hot though
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