In Contention


Exactly which lenses/camera bodies comprise the ‘perfect’ kit?


In an effort to keep costs down, and to reduce the number of items to only those that matter, I’m trying to work out what exactly I need.


So, I have the two D800 bodies, and the two Tamron zooms. All good.


But what, if anything else, might I need?


I reckon I can safely say that a Macro is not necesary, as I’ve teased various lenses for their  near macro abilities, and in terms of ring shots etc, the 70-200mm does a good job at the long end, with the 36mpx of the D800 giving room to crop.


But, what about primes? Zooms have a max aperture of F2.8, which isn’t bad, but might make all the difference in dimly lit spaces. And I swear that anything indoors, outside of british summertime (all three weeks of it), is low light!


I question how much use apertures between F1.4 and F2.8 get during weddings etc. For portrait yes, but for the majority of the day, no.


So whether I may need a 50mm F1.4 or an 85mm F1.8 (or both) is something that will occur to me as the year goes on. I mentioned to a friend just today that the difference in quality between a Fuji 35mm F1.4 on an XE2 and a Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART on a D800 would be vast, and her interesting reply was along the lines of….’noticeable to who, and by how much at ordinary viewing sizes?


Very good point.




I Think I’ve Said It Before

I love Tamron. Well, for zooms at least. 


I really tried to NOT buy a 70-200mm F2.8 zoom, but I kept reading how versatile they are, and how brilliant the IQ from current models is.


I haven’t been happy with my tele prime. The IQ is stunning, but it lacks VR, which basically means that given the FL, indoors it needs quite fast shutter speeds (easily more than 1/FL for me personally)  and high ISO, which degrades said image quality. 


So I jumped in (of course I did) and I’m disappointingly impressed. 


 I kinda wanted the lenses I own to be as good, or better? But they pale in comparison. So, off to The Bay they go, whilst the the Tamron will stay alongside it’s sibling, the 24-70mm F2.8. Also annoyingly brilliant.


Maybe next the Tammy 90mm Macro….Or the Nikon 85mm F1.8G, or maybe even the Sigma 50mm ART! Choices, choices Lol. 



Small Packages

Don’t necessarily contain the best things.


On many levels my D800s’ would be hard to beat, and as yet I don’t think there is an MILC system that can beat it.


Yes, The Sony A7R matches it for resolution, and yes the A7s tops it in low light performance, and  M43 certainly has a great selection of lenses, but they all fall short in one area or another.


Now, onto Fuji. Lovely analogue looks in the XE2, optically revered lenses, so whats missing (apart from a flash system)?


Well, quite simply its not the XPro 1 is it?


I loved that camera, and with the 35mm F1.4 it was really impressive. The focus may not be a DSLR beater, but it was accurate (try that Nikon!). Files rendered beautifully at any ISO, whether Jpeg or RAW, and the low light performance was mind boggling.


The XE2 doesn’t do the same thing. I find the focus off quite frequently, and whilst the metering and DR are excellent the strange things that happen at ISO 800 and above are, well, strange.

chanel -1

I really did want a small camera that fits in a small bag and can go everywhere. And without going backward and buying an XPro or a NEX 7 – when the more current iterations of these cameras seem to have gone backward – I don’t think what I want is available to me right now.


As they say on Dragon’s Den ‘I’m Out’.



Simply Does It


Lately, considering a small MILC body for personal use I’ve been drawn back toward Fuji. Well, it was only ever between Fuji & Sony really. One of the things that Fuji does/did really well is monochrome.


Its a hard to emulate in post what I see Fuji do in camera with jpeg rendering. That old film thing that makes images appealing in a wistful, lonely kinda way.

beach huts-1

I often thing a bad image can be made half decent with processing, in colour. But black and white will show you up. It either works or it doesn’t.


Yet, those new to photography quite often favour monochrome. Not because they are brilliant, but because they are initially more powerful.


Over time that changes. I process in black and white much less often than I used to, but looking back at old Fuji files made me hanker for that simplicity.


When I find it I’ll let you know 😉 



In photolithography, off-axis illumination is an optical system setup in which the incoming light strikes the photomask at an oblique angle rather than perpendicularly to it, that is to say, the incident light is not parallel to the axis of the optical system.


Ok then, now we’ve got that cleared up we can move along!


Things are a changing. Somehow over the last few months my photography has gone off axis, and thats no bad thing. On axis is good, safe, even and……dull?


Its a huge learning curve, and the safety net of photographing my kids, in my little world has been removed. But, progress is progress, and I see no other way to get there other than repetition and continued effort.


There are expectations now, demands even, and as much as I like to rise to the challenge I like to be adequately prepared.


Once you enter into the realm of the (quasi) professional you have to go where it takes you. What the client wants, the clients expects to be delivered.


So I practise a lot, read even more (and spend even more than that!) because, asI said to Mr. H,’I want to be good at this, and then I want to be really good at this’. max-1-12

It’s that simple really.



Keeping An Eye On The Needle


Having jumped from Sony Alpha to Nikon in the last few months has seen a bit of a learning curve. Probably one I would’ve been better off making earlier.


Sony offer a fantastic set of features on the A99 that I owned, one of them being the EVF. Most all MILC options sport this, and if its where you start it can lead to good images, but with basic ignorance regarding the exposure triangle.


See, every change you make shown in the EVF or on the LCD BEFORE you take the shot. So you can twiddle a knob here, press a button there and when you like what you see, press the button. Job done.


Until you switch.


In honesty, i have a pretty good grasp of what I’m doing, but i’ve been reading a lot about exposure compensation recently, and having always been a manual shooter I thought it was time to have a go.


Er….maybe I should try again ( and read a bit more) as I made a pretty stupid mistake today when at the seaside. I had the camera in manual mode, ISO auto, forgetting that exp comp would change the ISO and not the shutter speed, which I had left at 1/2000.



DSC_1407-Edit Chris's effort

I know I need a high shutter speed to freeze action, but 1/2000 is probably overkill for anything less than a full on sporting match. (Ruggers next week).


So, the outcome. A few nice shots. Lots of noisy shots. Bummer.



Into The Light

_DSC7403 lights

So, I’ve adopted the black foamie thing as my on camera flash modifier of choice, all good stuff. Works great.


But, with more calls for portrait sessions I kinda had to open my eyes to off camera flash.

_DSC7412 lights-3

There is a huge difference between taking photos of your own kids whilst they get about the business of growing up, but when folk starting paying for pictures of their kids it’s time to up the ante.


I figured I would start at the beginning, although I love the idea of Bowens/Elinchrom moonlights and modifiers, I can’t yet justify the cost. So I bought a basic light stand, wireless triggers and a black/white umbrella to go with my el cheap Yongnuo flash.

_DSC7392 lights

It is, at this stage, really trial and error. Despite reading loads on Neil Van Niekerk’s site and watching almost all of Mark Wallace’s Webinar’s, it still ain”t easy.


Practise, practise practise.Luckily I have enough kids that I can usually rope one of them in for 5 minutes at a time. DSC_0205