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Issue 40 16 Jan – 9 Feb

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All the latest launches from CES Photography is big news these days at the global tech fair, with news on what will be big in 2017 coming from a selection of the leading imaging brands Every imaging year kicks off with the enormous CES (Consumer Electronics Show) over in Las Vegas. A few years ago, you wouldn’t have seen many photographic brands at the event but now that has all changed and the show is a major launch platform for key products to look out for in 2017. This year, though, it was all pretty low key with no truly headlinegrabbing products. The Panasonic Lumix GH5 we already knew about but now it has been revealed that it will be available from this March at £1699 body only. Canon announced its latest premium compact, the PowerShot G9 X Mark II, a 1.0 sensor 20.1-megapixel camera that offers 8.2fps continuous shooting even in Raw and a 28-84mm (35mm format equivalent) optical zoom lens. And Fujifilm unveiled graphite versions of the X-Pro2 and X-T2. The X-T2’s finish is actually called Graphite Silver and the same as the X-T1 version but the X-Pro2 is a new colour simply called Graphite. It’s a classy metallic finish and is

Camera Club of the Year 2016-17 offered with the XF23mm f/2 R WR and lens hood in matching colours. The X-Pro2 kit is priced at £2149 with the X-T2 Graphite Silver body priced at £1649. Sidestepping the CES bunfight and launched just before Christmas was Sigma’s latest Foveon sensor camera. The sd Quattro H is to sell at £1499.99 and will be in the

shops this January. The newly developed APS-H format sensor measures 26.7x17.9mm and gives an equivalent resolution of around 51 megapixels. It accepts Sigma SA mount lenses and offers DNG Raw format shooting so image files are widely compatible. Continue reading on page 3...

Sponsored by Fujifilm, this year’s contest is underway. The results of Round 1 are now in and Round 2 is launched in this issue. Winning a round qualifies your club for a very special final shoot-out See page 14 for full entry details and Round 1 results


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News

Panasonic expands its portfolio Panasonic released the full spec for the LUMIX GH5, which was first introduced at Photokina last year. The latest LUMIX G CSC features a new Digital LIVE MOS sensor, which offers 20.3 megapixels, 4K 60/50p video and 6K photo. It will be available from March, body only for £1699, or with the 12-60mm lens (M Kit) for £1899 or with the Leica 1260mm lens (L kit) for £2199. Panasonic has also announced the LUMIX GX800, which boasts 4K video and 4K photo as well as a 16-megapixel sensor and the ability to capture selfies thanks to its 180° tiltable screen. Available from March, the LUMIX GX800 comes in four colours – silver, black, tan or orange – with a price of £499.99. In addition to this is the FZ82 compact camera, which features an 18.1-megapixel sensor,

4K video and photo, as well as a 20mm wide-angle lens with a 60x optical zoom. The LUMIX FZ82 will be out in March for £329.99. Not forgetting lenses, Panasonic has announced the Leica DG VARIO-ELMARIT 1260mm f/2.8-4 lens and will be renewing the 12-35mm f/2.8 II ASPH Power OIS, 35-100mm f/2.8 II Power OIS, 45-200mm f/4-5.6 II Power OIS and 100300mm f/4-5.6 II Power OIS. Also released is firmware Ver 1.1 which will be available from February for the Leica DG VARIO-ELMAR 100-400mm f/4-6.3 ASPH Power OIS lens, which makes it compatible with 5-Axis Dual IS 2.

Premium PowerShot Adding to its PowerShot G-series, Canon has launched the PowerShot G9 X Mark II compact. Small in size, the G9 X Mark II has a 1.0in 20.1-megapixel sensor, Canon’s DIGIC 7 processor and shooting speeds of up to 8.2fps. Its 3x optical zoom gives a range of 2884mm (in the 35mm format).

The G9 X Mark II also offers Full HD video recording and has Wi-Fi connectivity, Dynamic NFC and an LCD touchscreen, which offers full control and access to settings. Available from February, the PowerShot G9 X Mark II has a price of £449.99. canon.co.uk

panasonic.co.uk

Sigma sd Quattro H Sigma announced a new addition to its Quattro range of cameras. The Sigma sd Quattro H features the newly developed APS-H size Foveon X3 direct image sensor, offering 51-megapixel equivalent resolution. With the Sigma SA mount, the sd Quattro H is compatible with Sigma’s lenses in the Contemporary, Art and Sports lines. It is also the first Sigma Foveon camera to offer DNG Raws files allowing you to develop images in a wide choice of softwares. The sd Quattro H also offers a 2.36-megapixel electronic viewfinder and dual monitors, which include a three-inch TFT LCD main monitor and a sub-monitor on the rear of the camera, displaying settings and the remaining shots available. The sd Quattro H is on sale now for £1499.99. sigma-imaging-uk.com

Going graphite Fujifilm has unveiled Graphite Silver and Graphite editions of its flagship interchangeable lens cameras, the X-T2 and X-Pro2. Both cameras are available to pre-order now. The X-Pro2 Graphite Special Edition is priced at £2149 and comes with the XF 23mm f/2 R WR and lens hood in the same colour, while the X-T2 Graphite Silver is priced at £1649. If preordered before 23 January you can take advantage of Fujifilm’s pre-order offers allowing you to receive a free X-Pro2 Globetrotter Strap or pay half price on a Vertical Battery Grip when you buy it with the X-T2 Graphite Silver. Fujifilm has also released Firmware v1.10 for the Fujifilm X-T2, which offers tethered shooting capabilities with the Tethered Shooting Plug-in Pro application. fujifilm.co.uk


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News

New Cullmann Slik tripods The Slik Lite Travel Series tripods are the first tripods to feature a removable LED torch in the centre column, giving you a handy light source when shooting in the dark. The range consists of five models, three aluminium and two made from lightweight eight-layer carbonfibr. All of the models allow you to detach the centre column, which can be converted to a shorter column – ideal for low-angle shots. The aluminium tripods have four-section level-locking legs, while the carbon-fibre CF-422 model has four-section twist-locking legs and the CF-522 has five-section twistlocking legs. Available now and prices start at £121.99.

Starting the new year in style, Cullmann has launched a whole range of new products. First is the introduction of two lines of tripods; the Mundo and the Neomax. The Mundo features an integrated monopod making it ideal for landscape and also sports or action photographers, while the Neomax range offers mini travel tripods. Available in three sizes the Neomax tripods have an aluminium

ball head, quick-release system and robust feet. Prices start at £59.99. Also new is the Cullmann Stockholm bag range which includes a daypack and four shoulder bags. Prices start from £49.99 and all of the bags are made from water-repellent and abrasionresistant polyester material. Adding some light into the mix there is also a new Cullmann flashgun, the CUlight FR 60, which

offers TTL functions for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras and also works from 100m away thanks to its integrated radio remote control. For video shooters there is also the addition of five different sizes of CUlight LED video lights, which offer users three daylight and two bicolour options. Prices for the lights begin at £49.99. intro2020.co.uk

intro2020.co.uk

Metz mecablitz M400 Lume for mirrorless models Cube lights the way

Offering up to 1500 lumens, the Lume Cube is a compact little cube with a powerful LED light which can operate as an external flash for photos or as a continuous light for video. With a brightness that can be adjusted and 6000K colour temperature output the Lume Cube is very flexible. Its battery gives 20 minutes of light at full brightness or two hours at 50% brightness. The Lume Cube can be attached to tripods or camera accessories and extra accessory mounts are available separately. While it can act as a slave for your DSLR to allow you to use multiple cubes, it can also be used with smartphones thanks to the Lume Cube App. Prices start from £89.99 for a single pack, and twin and quad packs are also available.

Metz has announced a new compact system flash for mirrorless cameras. The mecablitz M400 is available in Canon, Nikon, Micro Four Thirds, Pentax, Sony and Fujifilm models and is powered by four AAA batteries. Wireless TTL is offered for limited models and it also features master and slave modes. Other features include an adjustable LED video/

modelling light, bounce card and integrated wide-angle diffuser and a zoom-swivel head offering a vertical tilt of 90° and full 360° horizontal movement as well as a motorised zoom of 24-105mm. The M400 features a USB interface, allowing you to receive the latest firmware updates. intro2020.co.uk

New kit from Kenro Kenro has announced the release of its KNSC101 Film Scanner, which features a 2.4in TFT LCD preview screen and accepts both colour and black & white negatives or mounted and unmounted slides. While white-balance is automatic, you can adjust exposure by up to +/-2EV or use the automatic exposure system. The scanner can be plugged into your computer via a USB cable or used as a stand-alone scanner by scanning the images directly to an SD card. The KNSC101 Film Scanner is available for £99.99. Also from Kenro is the addition of the Standard Video Carbon Fibre Tripod Kit (KENVT102C). Made with eight layers of carbon-fibre, it weighs just 2.8kg and has aluminium alloy castings. Its maximum height is 170cm and it can hold a weight of up to 6kg. The kit also comes with the Kenro VH01B smooth action, two-way, pan fluid head. An aluminium version (KENVT102) and twin-tube version (KENVT103) are also available.

intro2020.co.uk kenro.co.uk


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News

Nikon-NOOR Academy Nikon has announced its 2017 Nikon-NOOR Academy programme of masterclasses for aspiring photojournalists. Each of the masterclasses will take place over four days in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany or France. Each workshop has space for 15 selected participants; to be considered, apply via the website. The UK workshop takes place in Manchester, from 30 March to 2 April and will be guided by NOOR member photographers Asim Rafiqui, Tanya Habjouqa and Robin Hammond. To be eligible to apply for the UK workshop you need to be a photographer living and/or working in the UK, aged between 18 and 35. The application process requires you to complete a form detailing your photographic background, interests and motivation and provide © Nikon Europe a CV. You also need to submit a portfolio containing a photo story and single images. Registration is free, as is the workshop. The deadline is 29 January. noorimages.com

Before

After

© Tanya Habjouqa | NOOR

Kodak EKTACHROME is back At CES 2017 in January Kodak announced that it will be reintroducing the Kodak Professional Ektachrome colour reversal film. The iconic film will be available in late 2017 and will support 13536x camera formats. kodak.com

Above A young man enjoys a cigarette in his car as traffic finally clears on the last evening of Ramadan. He is bringing home a sheep for the upcoming Eid celebration. This image was taken by Tanya Habjouqa, one of the NOOR member photographers who’ll be running the Manchester masterclass. Left Nikon-NOOR Masterclass 2016 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

After

Save on Landscape Pro

After

We have a special offer for all PN readers of 10% off Landscape Pro, the world’s first intelligent landscape editing software. We did a full test in issue 36 and found it useful, easy to use and feature-packed. Adaptive, landscapespecific controls allow you to get dramatic results quickly and easily. Key features include: • Sky controls: replace sky, change clouds and colour, cast cloud shadows. •L  ighting: change light source, temperature, time of day, go from dawn to sunset. •A  utomatic area selection: tag areas as sky, trees, buildings, grass, sand, rocks, water. • Targeted editing: specially designed controls for different areas. • Distance controls: highlight objects, add fog. • One click presets: wet sand, stormy water, red sunset, lush trees. •A  nd more... A free trial is downloadable from the website and to get your PN discount when you buy it, enter the code PNA40. Landscapepro.pics

Get up close to win crystals. Free your imagination and get creative. Upload images to flickr.com/ groups/3085147@N24/. There is no fee to enter but you will have to join flickr.com, which is free. Only one photograph per person can submitted and the entrant must also be UK-based. Images should be 1500 pixels across and we will contact you if we need you to provide higher resolution files that we can judge or publish. The editor’s decision in this contest is final and for full terms and conditions please see absolutephoto.com. The closing date for entries is 6 February 2017 and the winner announced in PN issue 41 which is out the week beginning 13 February 2017. The winner of last month’s Low Light contest was Jake Cook for his image Bridge to Nowhere, so congratulations to him.

© Will Cheung

PN has teamed up with expert photographic printer LumeJet to bring you the chance to win £200 to spend on the LumeJet website. LumeJet is passionate about printing great photographs and uses its own S200 printer for highend photographic and commercial print use. This high resolution printer features the LumeJet RGB Digital Print Head and Fujifilm professional-grade Crystal Archive materials to achieve a unique, ultrahigh quality with extraordinary colour fidelity. Close-up is the theme this month, so it’s time to explore the minimum focus of your lenses. We’ll be accepting a wide interpretation of the theme, so it could be a close-up portrait of a pet, person or insect, a macro shot of a flower or group of coins or it could even be a closer close-up shot of sand grains or ice

News in brief

Leica firmware update Leica has released a firmware update 2.2 for the Leica SL camera system offering improved support for Leica Image Shuttle 3.5 as well as support for the new Microsoft Windows version. The firmware update can be downloaded from the Leica owners’ area on the Leica website or users can visit Leica stores or Leica customer care. uk.leica-camera.com A1 Performance from SanDisk SanDisk has launched the world’s first microSDTM card that meets A1 requirements. The 256GB Ultra microSDXC UHS-I card, Premium Edition, offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s and can hold up to 24 hours of Full HD video. Also new from Sandisk is the 256GB SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive. The microSDTM card is £166.99 and the Solid State Flash Drive is £125.99. sandisk.com Siros firmware update The latest firmware update from Broncolor allows you to use the new version of the BronControl app as well as the Broncolor HS for the Siros L, Siros 800 and Siros 800 S. The BronControl app is free to download from the Apple App Store or on Google Play and the firmware update can be downloaded from the Broncolor website. bron.ch YI Technology YI Technology has launched a new action camera, the YI 4K+ Action Camera, which will be available from February and captures 4K videos at 60 frames-per-second. yitechnology.com


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News © Dusan Beno

News in brief Fotospeed Academy 2017 The Fotospeed Academy has announced new dates and tutors for 2017. They include a Printing and Colour Management Masterclass with Doug Chinnery: Interpreting Your Image – a Printing Masterclass with Joe Cornish: Mobile Phone Photography – Skill Development with Jo Bradford: Preparing your Distinction Panel – Skill Development with Margaret Salisbury; and a Street Photography Day – Skill Development with Gagan Sadana. For more information and to book, visit the website. fotospeed.com

Trierenberg Super Circuit 2017 The world’s largest photo art contest opens for entries on 20 January. The Trierenberg Super Circuit attracts thousands of entries from around the world, and prizes include cash money awards, medals and the Victoria statue for the overall winner. There are 30 themes, such as Portrait, Phototravel, Sunrise and Sunset, Music & Dance and Macro Photography Entries can be uploaded to the website or submitted by post and must be received before the closing date of 20 March 2017. supercircuit.at © Flóra Borsi

Olympus university Olympus and the Art Bermondsey Project Space are supporting the next generation of photographers from the University of the Arts London students. The students were given the theme of Site/In Situ and three categories to submit to – print, projection and multimedia – with the winner of each category receiving a camera from Olympus, as well as there being a viewer’s choice award. 30 finalists were chosen and their work is on show at the Art Bermondsey Project Space in London, 17‑28 January.

© Brian McCready

project-space.london

© Abdulkhalek Bakir

Shapes from the street Olympus Ambassador Cleveland Aaron’s (aka One Man and his PEN) Shapes from the Streets series will be exhibited at the Art Bermondsey Image Space in London from 31 January until 4 February. Cleveland’s collection of images show light, shapes and space focusing on architecture and the city and were all shot using the Olympus PEN-F. project-space.london © Cleveland Aaron

Through the Lens winners The Millennium Hotels and Resorts Through the Lens competition winners have been announced. 12 finalists were chosen from more than 3500 entries, but it was Brian McCready who was named as the overall winner of the competition and received the top prize of £5000 worth of photography equipment. His winning shot is of the summit of Slieve Corragh in Northern Ireland. A public vote was also taken to choose a runner-up from those who didn’t make the final 12; Chris Ibbotson was voted winner with his image of Portrush beach. © Glenn Michael Harper

whatson.millenniumhotels.co.uk/through-the-lens


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Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

Clubs

Tell us your club’s latest news, email: clubnews@photography-news.co.uk

Camera club news If your club has any news that you want to share with the rest of the world, this is the page for it. Your story might be about your club’s success in a contest, or a member’s personal achievements; it could be about a group outing you had recently or when the annual exhibition is on show. Any news is eligible for inclusion, so club publicity officers please take note of the submission guidelines and get your stories in

We need words and pictures by 30 January 2017 for the next issue of Photography News, which will be available from 13 February 2017. Write your story in a Word document (400 words max). Please include contact details of the club, exhibition or event: website, meeting times, opening times, whatever is relevant. Images should be JPEGs, 2000 pixels on the longest dimension, any colour space, and image credits should be included. If the story is an exhibition or event, please send a picture from the exhibition (not the publicity poster) or one from the event. If it includes people, please identify them. Attach the Word document and JPEGs to an email and send to clubnews@photography-news.co.uk

Second year success for Smethwick “Smethwick Photographic Society was delighted to win the FIAP World Cup for the second year in a row,” says Roger Parry ARPS, secretary of Smethwick Photography Society. “As winners last year we had the job of running the selection for this year’s competition and in April we host the Awards Ceremony. With 197 clubs taking part from all over the world it was a tough competition and although I was present at the judging, there was no way of seeing how well we were doing as all the images are

totally scrambled. So it was a great surprise when we asked the computer for the final scores and to our delight found we had won again.” It’s a brilliant achievement so well done to Smethwick from Photography News. smethwickps.co.uk Below The Begging Bowl by Peter Gennard from Smethwick PS won the FIAP Silver Medal in the club’s World Cup entry. © Peter Gennard

For the second year running, Bromsgrove Photographic Society have won the Midland Bank Trophy. The annual photographic competition between the Redditch, Studley and Bromsgrove Societies is hotly contested with each club entering its own selection of prints and digital images. These are appraised by an external judge who allots points to each of the images. With Bromsgrove leading by 14 points at the end of the contest, it was an outstanding performance by its members. Roger Lewis, chairman of Bromsgrove PS commented “This is a great result on which to end 2016. Our new season in September started with an amazing enrolment of over 30 new members. With the total membership now nearing 90, we are looking forward to seeing more great images in our monthly competitions.”

Deadline for the next issue: 30 January 2017

© Fred Barrington

Bromsgrove PS are champions again!

How to submit

bromsgroveps.co.uk

Beckenham PS exhibition Beckenham Photographic Society hold their annual exhibition from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 February at Beckenham Public Hall, Bromley Road, Beckenham BR3 5JE. Open to the public from 10am to 8pm (10am to 5pm on Saturday). Entrance is free and all visitors are very welcome. The society holds meetings on Wednesdays at 7.45pm for 8pm between September and May at St. John’s Church Hall in Beckenham. New members and visitors are always welcome – there’s a friendly atmosphere and it’s a great opportunity to meet others who are keen to enjoy and improve their photography. beckenhamphotosoc.org.uk

© Colin Edwards

The Vale of Evesham Camera Club’s National Digital Exhibition Photo2017 will be the 19th National exhibition and the 28th Annual Exhibition that the club has organised. Last year the event attracted 4896 entries from which 1114 images gained acceptance into the exhibition. Entry for Photo2017 will open on 1 January, closing on 28 February. Every entrant receives an A4-sized colour illustrated printed catalogue. There are four different categories to enter: Colour, Natural History, Monochrome and Experimental/Creative.

© Peter Nixon

Evesham CC Photo2017

Clacton CC event Clacton Camera Club are holding an evening with photographer Colin Edwards on Friday 3 March at 8.30pm. Colin’s talk is entitled Wildlife on our Shores, and he will be showcasing some of his excellent images. The event takes place in McGrigor Hall, Fourth Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea CO13 9EB. Contact Jean Pain at photopains@talktalk. net to buy tickets; they’re £8 each, including refreshments.

photo2017.net clactoncameraclub.co.uk

A great year for Bungay CC Bungay CC celebrated another successful year with their Annuals competition and presentation. The Hare and the Harvest Moon by Peter Nixon was Highly Commended in the Colour Print section and Joshua Finch,

the club’s youngest member at age 11, won a trophy for ‘Endeavour and Enthusiasm’. The club meet at 7pm on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. bungaycameraclub.co.uk


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Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Profile Before the judge

David Steel

Join us for our monthly chat with an experienced photographic judge. This time, it is the turn of David Steel, a judge and lecturer of the East Anglian Federation

David Steel David’s first camera was his father’s Voigtlander Bessa 120 rollfilm folding camera. It was also the camera he used to enter his firstever photographic competition almost 45 years ago. Years in photography 45 years. I started as a teenager after buying a contact printing frame in a jumble sale. Home club I’ve been a member of Cambridge Camera Club for 23 years. Favourite camera My current one; an Olympus OM-D E-M1. It gives me the image quality I want in a compact body that suits street and travel photography. Favorite lens The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro. Favourite photo accessory A Billingham canvas bag to carry my camera and lenses. I have four! Favourite photographer I like Robert Doisneau’s photojournalistic style and the humour he puts into photos. I also have a penchant for Sebastião Salgado and Elliott Erwitt. What is your own favourite photographic subject or technique? Photojournalism and travel photography are my favourites. Photojournalism captures a ‘slice of life’ in much the same way as Picture Post used to many years ago. It’s something we don’t see too much of on the camera club circuit perhaps because what we see today is deemed as ‘ordinary’, but by not taking or keeping these images we are denying future generations a glimpse of today. Today’s photographers should be recording tomorrow’s history.

What do you think? Have you seen a photographic judge at work who you’d like to see profiled in Photography News? If so please drop us a line to opinion@photography-news. co.uk with the judge’s name and, if possible, their contact details.

don’t mind seeing the same subject matter but I would like to see a different interpretation; replicating somebody else’s award-winning work doesn’t cut it for me. I want to see originality and innovation. Sometimes I am lost for words and have to ask myself ‘what am I looking at?’. This usually applies to an image that is abstract in nature, and sometimes the title doesn’t help at all. It is like the close-up of a household object – when the penny drops, all becomes obvious. Part of judging an image is assessing how well the author has interpreted the subject matter. If the subject is nonobvious this goes out the window. As my mentor, Peter Rice, used to say, ‘don’t confuse the judge!’. Speaking of judges, of course there are good judges and there are not-so-good judges in the same way there are good and not-sogood photographers. Some judges © David Steel

What awards/distinctions/ medals have you won? My greatest success is a FIAP silver medal for an image that was rejected at the next exhibition it was entered in!

© David Steel

Biography

I became a judge because I like looking at photographs and deciding what works and what doesn’t. I also like working with people. It wasn’t long after joining Cambridge Camera Club that the then president and established judge, Peter Rice, suggested that I give judging a try. He mentored me by inviting me to his judging events where I noted his scores and compared them to mine. I learnt a lot from Peter. I’m now a Panel A judge for the East Anglian Federation (EAF) and much of my judging is internal or inter-club battles. I also select for club exhibitions and occasionally get invites to select at some of the major national open exhibitions. Judging is very rewarding. It’s a two-way thing – I impart my knowledge and discover new things in return. I like helping others with their photography and it keeps my mind sharp when critiquing my own work. The standard of photography has changed enormously over the years. Not just the quality of the work being produced but the creativity as well. Modern digital cameras, computers and printers have made it easier to produce quality images compared with the film days. However, the bar is being edged higher year after year particularly for some genres – natural history and photo art, for example. There was a dip in standards a few years ago when digital cameras became more affordable and many people joined camera clubs to learn about photography but those people are generally now well-up on the learning curve and are producing excellent work. If there is any issue, for me it is overprocessing, particularly with HDR. As in the art world, it is knowing when an image has been worked enough. It’s too easy to go beyond the point of improvement and into overcomplication or image degradation. The other thing, of course, is originality. I

miss things when put on the spot, some have a limited vocabulary and some don’t develop a rapport with the audience. It’s like learning to drive; you become good with practice and experience. Judges give up their time to judge and select for exhibitions and some travel great distances to do it. It’s only too easy to sit in the audience and criticise. I’m sure all federations would love more quality judges on the circuit but people need to put their names forward and give it a try. Many never go beyond a workshop because they realise it’s harder than they thought. Variability of judging is what makes it so interesting. Only once have I had a serious disagreement on a judging panel. A really great image was in line for an award but one of the panel objected to the subject matter. I didn’t care myself for the cruel sport being depicted but I appreciated how the emotion of the moment was captured and handled. It showed great skill and understanding from the photographer. This applies equally to war photography; war and suffering are terrible but I have great respect for photographers who capture images that show an otherwise ignorant world what is happening. After discussion, the image was given an award. I never consciously mark down a subject matter because it is something I have seen before or doesn’t appeal to me. I ask myself, ‘is this a good image of its type?’. If it is, it gets a good mark. Sometimes images are so well executed that it’s difficult to critique them. This

is where I have fun by maintaining a poker face and not showing any enthusiasm, knowing inside that it’s likely my top image in that event. I like keeping an element of suspense until the final moment. There are no rules in photography, only guidelines. Guidelines make it easy for the novice to create a visually acceptable image. Even images from the top photographers will often follow some formulae whether that be the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, triangulation, etc. Sometimes it’s possible to deliberately go against these guidelines and create tension in an image. These tend to be highrisk images that move from general appeal into a more subjective zone that is personal to each viewer. I dislike the idea of promoting imaging trends as the way to get acceptances. The amateur photography scene is quite inwardlooking and needs new and refreshing ideas. Don’t be a trendfollower, be a trendsetter. However, if somebody needs to know what is currently gaining acceptances, the best way is to see exhibitions or at least try to procure exhibition catalogues to see what the standard is like. My final bit of advice is don’t give up. Getting to the top in anything needs determination and perseverance. Don’t be put off by what judges say. Seek opinions from others and follow your own path. Don’t produce work just to please the judge because you will never please all the judges all the time. minds-eye.org.uk


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

14

Camera Club of the Year

in association with

Camera Club of the Year contest 2016-17 This year’s competition is in full swing and the results for Round 1 are in. There are still chances for your club to qualify for a very special photo event where the overall winner will be decided The search for the Photography News Camera Club of the Year 2016-17 starts here. To be victorious, your club has to overcome two challenges. The first is to qualify for the final by coming top of the pile in one of the five monthly rounds. Then the final itself is going to be a very special day’s photoshoot, the details of which will be released simultaneously to the five finalists. However, what we can reveal now is that the final will be a unique event that will offer a tremendous creative challenge and a never-to-be-forgotten experience for the finalists. The overall winner will thoroughly deserve the prestige of being our Camera Club of the Year 2016-17. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here so let’s start from the beginning. For this year’s contest we have teamed up with long-established imaging brand Fujifilm

and over this and the next four issues we’ll be announcing a theme and inviting five pictures from each club. Your club’s competition secretary (or whoever is going to enter each month) must sign up on absolutephoto.com. Terms and conditions are also available on the website. Any club or group is eligible to enter so long as there are at least five members. Online groups, internal company clubs and those clubs not affiliated to the PAGB can still enter. Once you’ve signed up, go the Members Area on the top menu bar, click on that and you will see Camera Club of the Year 201617 in the drop-down menu. Select that, then register your camera club and follow the upload instructions. JPEG files should be at least 1500 pixels on the longest dimension and, preferably, in the sRGB colour space.

About Fujifilm Fujifilm has had a very busy 12 months, in that time launching two flagship X-series cameras and announcing the development of a medium-format camera system that is due for launch later this year. And if that lot wasn’t enough it also added several optics including the XF100-400mm f/45.6, the XF35mm f/2 and a 2x teleconverter to its expanding system. The X-system has found a serious following in a very short period – the X-Pro1 and three prime lenses were announced only six years ago. The lens system now has 23 products including high-spec zooms and superfast fixed focal length lenses including the amazing XF56mm f/1.2. At the heart of X-system cameras is Fujifilm’s X-Trans CMOS APS-C sized sensor and its unique filter array design. Working on a grid of 6x6 pixels to give a random pattern rather than the regular 2x2 of the Beyer array, that means Fujifilm managed to do away with the need for an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) because the risk of moiré was minimised. This in turn eliminated the risk of artefacting and false colours from using an OLPF and maximised image quality because there was no extra filter in front of the sensor, giving excellent quality pictures comparable to those from full-frame sensors. The dual flagship line-up of the X-T2 and X-Pro2 both use the X-Trans CMOS III sensor with a resolution of 24.3 megapixels and a native ISO

range of 200-12,800 with the option of expansion to ISO 100, 25,600 and 51,200 – all available in Raw as well as JPEG. The sensor works in combination with Fujifilm’s latest X-Processor Pro for very fast start-up and minimal shutter lag, as well as superfast file processing and highly responsive autofocusing. While the X-Pro2 and X-T2 share a similar feature set, they do offer different approaches to image capture and handling to suit different users. The X-Pro2 provides a rangefinder experience with the optical/EVF finder offset to the left of the body while the X-T2 is more DSLR-like with its central located eyepiece that is EVF only. The X-T2 also has an adjustable monitor including a flip-out upright option and a bolder control design. It also offers 4K video capture while the X-Pro2 is Full HD. X-series cameras are supported by an everexpanding XF lens system, now comprising 12 primes, nine zooms and two teleconverters – and there’s more on the way. Until 31 January 2017 there’s a promotion on 19 optical products with up to £125 available as cashback. Four X-series cameras including the X-Pro2 are also part of the scheme. See fuji-promotions.com/gb/en/pages/ cb-1016/home for details of qualifying products, For a more detailed breakdown on the X-Pro2, X-T2 and XF lenses please see the Fujifilm website.

fujifilm.eu/uk

A club can only enter one set of five images from five different members each round, while failure to enter five shots will mean the missing shot/s scores zero points; so it’s crucial to enter the full number of images. After the closing date each picture will be scored out of 20 points and the highest scoring club each month will qualify for the final. In the event of tied scores, we will ignore the highest and lowest scores and average out the three remaining scores. The highest score wins. If scores are still tied, all five scores will be averaged out. When the issue with that month’s result is published, the scores for every picture entered will be published on the website so you can see how you’ve done. There’s no monthly prize apart from qualifying for the final shoot-out and once a

club has qualified for the final it need not enter again. Of course it can do it for the challenge and pictures will still be scored, but there’s no reward for winning in this instance. In effect, because each monthly contest is self-contained, ie. it’s not a league system over the period of the contest, you do not have to enter every month – perhaps it’s a theme the club is less strong at or the club’s contest secretary has gone on holiday. Clearly it makes sense to give yourself as many chances to win as possible, however. So, good luck everyone. Read the entry details again, check out the theme on the opposite page and start gathering your entry. Qualify for the final and your club could be joining us for a very special photography event with the title of Camera Club of the Year to be won.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

Camera Club of the Year

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in association with

Top left Eye contact is the secret to making a connection between the viewer and a subject and holding the viewer’s attention. Left Using exposure technique to remove unwanted background “clutter” gives greater emphasis to the subject and focuses on the story you want to tell. Below left One of my aims is to involve the viewer in the moment. Shooting from unusual angles creates a more intense and energetic photograph. Above Before pressing the shutter, I ask myself, “How would I caption this image?” When I have an emotive answer I make the image. Right Careful attention to the subjects’ eyes and what they are ‘saying’ enables the photographer to set the mood.

© Embryonic by Simon Raynor

New City Photographic Society are the first qualifiers for our final, which is taking place later this spring. But it was a very, very close thing, with New City winning the round from three rivals, Dorchester CC, Exeter CC and Nuneaton PS, by just a single point. Norwich & District PS were just a point further back. During this first round of the contest the competition could not have been any closer, so well done to the members of New City Photographic Society and commiserations to the runner-ups that made the contest so excitingly close. The overall scores are shown here and the individual scores can be seen on the CCOTY gallery on absolutephoto.com.

© Empress of Graham Street by David Manning

Round 1: Portrait results

© Chris Weston

Midnight 5 February 2017

© Chris Weston

Closing date

© Chris Weston

Chris Weston is a professional wildlife photographer and his work has been widely published in the national press. We asked for advice on how to capture great animal images. “I believe wildlife photography is about communication. When I make an image what I’m doing is telling the viewer, ‘This is what I feel about the subject. This is the way I see the world.’ So, before I press the shutter release, I ask myself, how will I caption this image? If the only answer is the species name, I won’t make the image. Only when I have an interesting, relevant or provocative answer do I make the image. It’s a useful technique that has kept my hit rate high and my trash count low.” “Effective communication has to be unambiguous, so I’m mindful of what’s in the image space. One of the main reasons photographs fail is because there’s too much conflicting and competing information. “I also believe that gaining a sense of what it was like to be ‘in the moment’ is far more powerful than revealing an action. I don’t like to be a voyeur; I like to take part and I put this energy into my images by allowing wildlife to come close or shooting from direct angles. “The best way to make a connection is through eye contact. Human beings are visual creatures and communicate visually. To connect the viewer with my subjects I take great care in how I compose the face. Keeping eyes sharp is essential and paying heed to what the eyes are saying is part of the story.”

© Chris Weston

© Chris Weston

Theme 2: Wildlife

For more on Chris Weston Chris Weston runs photography workshops and overseas safaris. chrisweston.photography

Scores New City Photographic Society

89

Nuneaton Photographic Society

88

Exeter Camera Club

88

Dorchester Camera Club

88

Norwich and District Photographic Society 87 Colchester Photographic Society

86

Seaford Photographic Society

85

Preston Photographic Society

85

Earl Shilton Camera Club

85

Park Street Camera Club

84

Harlow Photographic Society

84

Tonbridge Camera Club

83

© Phoenix Rising by Mark Jones

© The Ratcatcher by Colin Mill © Poppy Girl by Tracy Simpson

City of London and Cripplegate PS

83

Wokingham and East Berkshire CC

82

Harpenden Photographic Society

82

Halstead & District Photographic Society

82

Great Notley Photography Club

82

Gloucester Camera Club

82

First Monday

82

West Wickham Photographic Society

81

Peterborough Photographic Society

81

Maidenhead Camera Club

81

F8

80

Dronfield Camera Club

80

Blandford Forum Camera Club

79

Ayr Photographic Society

79

Wisbech and District Photographic Society 78 Consett & District Photographic Society

77

Beckenham Photographic Society

77

Alba Photographic Society

77

Dunholme Camera Club

76

Birlingham Photography Club

74


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Technique

Going for cold Winter landscapes can offer some amazing views, even if you’re not blessed with snow and ice, but in terms of technique, it’s more about adapting to the conditions and staying safe and comfortable, than altering the way you shoot... Words by Kingsley Singleton

Pictures by Various

© John Gravett

making the observer’s shadow appear hugely magnified as it’s cast against mist below your position. With the sun at your back to cause the shadow, diffraction adds mesmerising rainbows around the shape. It’s a rare, beautiful event that needs just the right conditions to appear; but most importantly, it needs you to be there – no one has ever seen a Brocken spectre while putting their alarm clock on snooze. In fact, this is true of any great winter landscape; blanketed in white or glittering with frost, it takes a genuine effort to get out into it. But do it – actually take charge of your photography – and the rewards are sure to pay off ten-fold. John, who has been teaching landscape photography workshops for almost 20 years via Lakeland Photographic Holidays has also written multiple books and articles on the subject, so he’s perfectly placed to offer insights on the subject of winter shooting. His Lake District home is also surrounded by some

of the UK’s most compelling winter scenery (well, to be fair, that’s true in any season). According to John, the reasons for making that extra effort go on and on, from the dynamic winter weather to the solitude that those conditions can allow. “I’ve been stood at the top of Skiddaw in a 70mph wind, being buffeted yet getting wonderful, dramatic images of the clouds, or up Grisedale Pike, where the clouds and the snow merged into one in the middle distance. Seeing a snowcovered dry stone wall disappearing into the murk encapsulated the feeling of total solitude. Equally wonderful is to stand next to a lake, with ice patterns at its margins, and enjoy the wonderfully clear light.” John adds that winter walking is actually a big part of the enjoyment, too; “there is far more effort to the trekking, especially when you’re going high. Carrying crampons, an ice axe, clothing and your camera gear... At the end of any day in the winter, it can leave you feeling worn out – but totally exhilarated.”

© John Gravett

You inch open your front door a crack and freezing air rushes into the house. It’s like a slap in the face; like the winter weather is actually trying to push you back indoors and back to your warm and cosy bed. It’s pitch-black out there, and the dawn is still hours away. It takes five minutes just to scrape the ice off your car and climbing in is as comforting as sitting in a fridge. So why do it? Why are winter mornings so beloved by landscape photographers? “The first time I climbed Helvellyn in the winter,” says John Gravett, a professional landscape photographer and photographic tutor, “I set off in the dark, and as I climbed, I was walking through thick cloud. Sunrise was just a non-event; but then the clouds cleared, leaving me with a wonderful view across a cloud inversion and a very rare Brocken spectre. I think that was the time I fell in love with shooting in the winter.” A Brocken spectre is a trick of the light and cloud, which affects depth perception,

Above Make the effort to rise early in winter and, thanks to the later sunrise, you can witness and shoot some amazing things. John Gravett, of Lakeland Photographic Holidays, recalls mornings of stunning cloud inversions on the high fells, and seeing his own shadow as a ‘Brocken spectre’.


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Technique © John Gravett

The season to be chilly Above Winter landscapes aren’t just about snow. In the UK, you’ll often need to travel to higher ground just to see some of the proper white stuff, so it’s well worth investigating other seasonal subjects, like bare trees, mist, fog and icy details. In John Gravett’s shot above, taken in early March, you can see the texture of the broken ice on the surface of the water, which leads into a bright, beautiful reflection. There’s not a flake of snow in sight, but it still says ‘winter’. Left Shooting in the mist can create amazing recessions and let a subject stand out with perfect clarity, like the walker on the edge of the water, here. Just make sure you watch your exposure settings, as it’s easy to underexpose in such conditions, with the camera overreacting to the brightness of the scene. Below left Cloudy skies don’t have to mean the whole landscape is in shadow. If you’re prepared to wait it out, winter is the time for striking sun rays, which will illuminate sections of the scenery, perfect for capturing with your telephoto lenses. Below right When the colours are lacking and you have a strong, simple subject, a monochrome treatment is the perfect finishing touch.

© John Gravett

© John Gravett

© John Gravett


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Technique How to kit up for winter conditions © Ross Hoddinott © Ross Hoddinott

Staying warm and dry in winter conditions is paramount. It’s not just about safety in the cold; if you’re not comfortable, you won’t be able to enjoy all the winter goodness and may cut your shooting short. So it’s a good idea to invest in respected brands like Páramo, which offer highly engineered, lightweight kit, that, treated properly, will last decades. For instance, Páramo waterproofs use a combination of two fabrics, which insulate and keep you dry from the inside, so it doesn’t matter if you’re exerting energy while hiking, or stood still waiting for the light. With conventional waterproofs, the garment gets clammy as water can’t escape and you end up clammy, then chilled, but with Páramo’s Nikwax Analogy fabrics water is pushed away from your body. This is evident on jackets like the Enduro (£370) and Halcon (£330), which has fleece-lined pockets, while the Torres Alturo (£150) is designed to be worn over waterproofs, even when they’re wet; its synthetic filling being ideal for times when you’re stationary. Twin this with comfortable, winter trousers like the Cascada IIs (£135) and you’ll be able to wear them next to your skin, eliminating the hassle of putting waterproofs on when it rains. To get more info on dressing correctly for winter shooting we caught up with specialist outdoor photographer Ross Hoddinott, an ambassador for Páramo, as well as Manfrotto and Nikon UK.

© Ross Hoddinott

When was your last winter shoot, Ross? Only recently, actually; it was a week in the Highlands just before Christmas. I was shooting at Glencoe where conditions are often harsh in the winter months, so decent outdoor kit is absolutely essential. Let’s face it, if you’re cold, wet and miserable, you’re unable to operate properly or efficiently. Your priorities switch from wanting to take photos, to just needing to get somewhere warm. For that reason, outdoor kit is as essential an investment as your lens or camera.

paramo-clothing.com

Right The Páramo Enduro Jacket is perfect for long periods of outdoor shooting in a variety of conditions. Its efficient Nikwax Analogy fabric controls moisture and temperature and it stretch panels allow unrestricted movement. © Ross Hoddinott

Are there any occasions in particular when you’ve been glad of being kitted out with proper outdoor gear? An early morning visit to the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye springs to mind. I walked up in the dark to reach my viewpoint for sunrise. It was freezing, with a dusting of snow on the ground – lovely conditions – and the temperature wasn’t a problem as I was dressed appropriately. The brutal wind chill was more of a concern though. Therefore, it’s important to wear garments that are not only water repellent, but wind proof. It’s situations like this where you reap the rewards for investing in top-quality garments and thanks to my kit, I was able to make the most of the beautiful light.

(£145) as a mid layer, with either my Halcon (if rain is likely) or Torres Alturo (in colder conditions) over the top. On my bottom half, I’ll often combine Grid Long Johns with Cascada II trousers. All items have great ventilation and moisture control, so it’s easy to regulate your temperature and keep dry. This is important for photographers, as you often walk for a distance to reach a viewpoint, but then stop and remain static for (potentially) hours as we wait for the right conditions.

Are there specific items in the Páramo range that stand out for you? I’ve been wearing Páramo for around ten years; the first garment I bought was a Halcon Jacket, and it remains one of my favourites. It’s hard-wearing, lightweight, comfortable and keeps me dry. Its oversized pockets are perfect for holding kit, particularly filters. And when I run workshops, half the group will be wearing Halcons – we must look like clones! Can you pick us an ideal winter outfit then? It really depends on the conditions and temperature. In wintry weather, I tend to wear a Grid Technic Baselayer (£55) for insulation, an Enduro fleece

Simply scene Winter weather can also simplify a scene in ways that nothing else can, as John points out: “the weather always changes the way you look for pictures, from one season, one day, or even one hour to the next. Coverings of snow or mist, not only simplify your scenes, in terms of highlighting certain details, but also do it in terms of tonally.” The tonality of winter is worth exploring further, because as you take in a reduced colour palette and often lower contrast if you’re shooting in misty conditions, scenes

look less busy and become more relaxing. This means that, even where there’s no snow around, don’t neglect shooting in the gloomy weather that we often face in the UK – it’s really just an opportunity to see a location in a different way. “I always say there’s really no such thing as bad weather,” explains John, “there are only different types of lighting, which create different atmospheres and moods. Rain and fog can create a fabulous feeling of recession and depth in a landscape, allowing foreground elements to stand out from a high-key, pastelcoloured background.” In this way, the changing weather reveals new opportunities in places you’ve shot before, so try to always keep a log of spots that might work well, in an app like Google Maps, or by doing it the old fashioned way. “There are some places I know, perhaps with isolated trees or dry stone walls,” says John “that work superbly when covered in snow or by mist. “Also, remember it’s not all about the bigger views in winter; I’m always on the lookout for ice patterns and details, which you can find in something as simple as a frozen puddle. Those patterns can be just as interesting as a panoramic view, as can a few delicate blades of grass poking from the snow.” Mist and frost can be idyllic, but not always for your camera, and when you’re shooting in those conditions, or snow-covered ground, remember that your metering system can be

© John Gravett

Benefits of the weather Of course, winter needn’t be so hard on your sleep, as the simplest benefit of the season is in the shortened hours of daylight; there’s so much more good light at accessible times of the day. The sun stays lower, giving the warm glancing light that landscapers love, and on cold, dry days views are often at their clearest. “Sunrise in the Lake District at this time of year is almost 8.30am,” says John “and by the time mist is forming over lakes, it can be anything from 9-10.30am, so it’s hardly early. But climbing higher and longer, and when daylight is so short (sunset can be as early as 3.30pm), you still need to get out early to make the most of it. It’s never a chore though; to see the sunrise over clouds from halfway up a mountain is so much better than sitting on the morning commuter train into King’s Cross.”

Above In this shot of John Gravett’s, the heavy frost hanging from the trees is side lit by the low sun, giving an excellent seasonal flavour. Extra interest is added to the scene by the subtle colour of the trees which lifts the highlights away from the monochromatic shadows.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Technique © John Gravett

Lakeland learning Owned and operated by John Gravett, Lakeland Photographic Holidays (LPH) has been offering residential photo courses since 1999. Based in Braithwaite, near Keswick, LPH’s courses you’ll find yourself right in the middle of one of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes. Lakeland provides full board, licensed accommodation in comfortable en-suite rooms, and while many excursions are within the Lake District national park itself, also included are trips to the nearby Solway coast. Overseas trips are also available, with some exciting winter-flavoured excursions planned including shooting the Northern Lights in Iceland. Workshops are varied in style, so there’s plenty to suit a range of interests, including dedicated black & white courses and Photoshop and Lightroom training. Excursions are also tailored to the amount of walking you want to undertake, so you can stick to the shorelines or investigate the Fells if you prefer. When it comes to capturing those quintessential snow-covered views, according to John, “the best snow in the Lake District is usually late January through to March or even later in the year (we had snow on 28 April last year).” So if you want a taste of the white stuff, get booking now.

Proper clothing and equipment is vital, and really should take priority over any photographic gear

lakelandphotohols.com © John Gravett

Above Safety is paramount in winter conditions, and especially so when climbing to reach fresh snow. Make room in your bag for extra clothing, food, torch, warm drink and survival blanket even if it’s at the expense of some of your photo gear.

fooled into underexposing the scene; use a little positive exposure compensation or shoot in manual mode for better control and always assess the image histogram in playback to make sure your exposure is good – it’s better to check than regret it. If you’re ever in doubt, make sure you shoot in Raw mode. Winter gear Beyond making sure you’re warm and safe in the potentially dangerous winter environment, winter landscapes don’t see a great change in the actual kit required to shoot them, from any other time of the year. Sure, you might need to think ahead in terms of the rain, with an emergency cover at the ready (even a clean bin liner can do the job at a push), but in terms of lenses and filters, there’s not much difference between packing a winter bag and your normal gear. Weight can be a concern though, and according to John;,“if I’m climbing high into the Fells, I will cut my lenses down to a minimum, thanks to the extra clothing and food I need to carry. I’ll also take a mapping GPS and a head torch with me. And I always make space in my pack for a hot drink – a Thermos of hot tea is a godsend after a few hours in the cold!” “Often I go out with just my Nikon D800 and one lens; sometimes I take my Nikon 1635mm, and sometimes my favourite ‘travel’ lens, the Nikon 28-300mm.” Such all-in-one options can certainly offer everything you need for a successful day’s shooting, and concentrating on the telephoto end can be especially effective in winter, allowing you to isolate misty details in the landscape, or backlit areas where the sun is broken and only lighting small parts of a hillside or valley. “I’ll always have a set of Lee filters along with the Universal bellows hood with me, including grads, a polariser and often a selection of Stoppers (Little, Big or Super) although the latter doesn’t come up to the high Fells with me too often.” For the same reasons of weight, he switches between a Gitzo Systematic tripod around the Lakes, “or a smaller, lighter one that fits in my rucksack for the higher Fells.” These will be carbon-fibre models which are much warmer to the touch than aluminium, but gloves are still vital. Try wearing a thin liner inside a warmer glove for the best mix of protection and operability. It’s also well worth leaving your camera in cooler room than the rest of the house before you head out, to prevent condensation problems, and doing the same when you return to the warm. “One of the most important parts of winter shooting is spare batteries,” says John “they tend to run flat faster in the cold. I usually carry two or three spares (though I’ve never needed more than one) and I don’t use live view as much, as that drains them faster. I keep the spares inside my outer clothing, where body heat prevents them running down.” Be careful out there As a parting tip, John is quick to offer some realism about facing winter conditions, “I always stress that maintaining body warmth is vital, through layering of clothing, as standing around taking photographs is very different from going on a 12 mile hike. If there’s lots of snow or ice, I also recommend some form of walking aid, like Kahtoola Microspikes or overstuds. Proper clothing and equipment is vital, and really should take priority over any photographic gear. I’d certainly leave a couple of lenses behind and pack a set of crampons if I was climbing high as personal safety is most important.” It’s always tempting, he says, to stay out a little longer than you intended, but “getting a photographic masterpiece can happen another day, so never put yourself in danger for a photograph!”


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


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Photography News Issue 40 absolutephoto.com

Awards Gear of the year

Photography News Awards 2016 It’s time to recognise brilliant products, innovation and outstanding service in our prestigious annual Awards. The categories cover all key product areas, including everything from cameras and lenses to monitors, filters and memory cards. Voting is free and only takes a few minutes, so check out our nominations and get voting...

The experts at Photography News have made voting easier by shortlisting products in all the hardware categories while in the service categories you are completely free to choose the company that you think deserves the recognition of a PN Award. Voting is open now and will close on 28 February 2017, so you have plenty of

time to consider what you vote for. Go to absolutephoto.com and follow the Awards 2016 link to vote. We have kept the voting process as simple as possible and you don’t have to register or log in. You can vote in as few or as many categories as you want – it’s entirely up to you. But everyone who votes will be entered into a prize

draw after voting closes, and the first name picked out at random will win a 12-bottle case of wine. If you prefer to vote by post, nominate your products by ticking the appropriate box and send the completed form to Bright Publishing, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambs CB22 3HJ.


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Photography News Issue 40 absolutephoto.com

Awards

CONSUMER DSLR Canon EOS 80D Canon EOS 1300D Nikon D3400 Nikon D7200 Pentax K-3 II Sony A77 II

ADVANCED DSLR Canon EOS 7D Mark ll Nikon Df Nikon D500
 Nikon D810 Pentax K-1

PROFESSIONAL DSLR Canon EOS 5DS/5DS R Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Nikon D5 Sony A99 II

CONSUMER CSC Fujifilm X-E2S Fujifilm X-T10 Olympus PEN E-PL8 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 Sigma sd Quattro

WIDE-ANGLE ZOOM Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
 Pentax-D HD FA 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art
 Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

PRIME: TELEPHOTO Fujifilm XF90mm f/2 R LM WR Laowa 105mm f/2 STF Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4

STANDARD ZOOM Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Fujifilm XF16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR 
 Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

MACRO Fujifilm XF60mm f/2.4 R Macro
 Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro Samyang 100mm f/2.8 ED UMC Macro 
 Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro

ADVANCED CSC Canon EOS M5 Fujifilm X-T2 Leica T Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Olympus PEN-F Sony A6300

PROFESSIONAL CSC Fujifilm X-Pro2 Leica SL Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Sony A7R II Sony A6500

COMPACT Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Fujifilm X70 Leica Q Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15 Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark V Sony Cyber-shot RX1R Mark II

VIDEO LENS Samyang 21mm T1.5 ED AS UMC CS Samyang 50mm T1.3 ED AS UMC CS XEEN 50mm T1.5 XEEN 85mm T1.5 Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2

TELEPHOTO ZOOM Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Fujifilm XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD G2

SUPERZOOM Fujifilm XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
 Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD TRIPOD: TRAVEL Benro FTA18CC Travel Angel Gitzo GT1555T Kenro Karoo Standard Travel Tripod 104C Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Nest Traveller NT-6264CK Vanguard VEO 265AB

MEDIUM-FORMAT Hasselblad H6D-100c Hasselblad X1D Leica S Pentax 645Z
 Phase One XF 100MP

PRIME: WIDE-ANGLE Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.8G ED
 Samyang 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC CS Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
 Voigtlander 10.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 E Touit

TRIPOD: ALUMINIUM Benro COM37AL Manfrotto 290 Dual Aluminium 3-section Nest NT-6294AK Slik Pro 700 DX Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Velbon SUB-65

PRIME: STANDARD Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Fujifilm XF35mm f/2 R WR Olympus M.Zuiko ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
 Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
 Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton II

TRIPOD: CARBON-FIBRE Benro Mach3 TMA28C
 Gitzo Systematic 3
 Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel Tripod 401C Manfrotto 055 3-section Nest Systematic NT-5303CK Novo Explora T10


25

Photography News Issue 40 absolutephoto.com

Awards

ON-CAMERA FLASH Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Kenro Speedflash KFL101 Metz 64 AF-1 Digital
 
 Phottix Mitros+ Pixapro Li-ION580 ETTL Sigma EF-630

EXTERNAL STORAGE DEVICE Drobo 5C G-Technology G-Drive with Thunderbolt LaCie Porsche Design Desktop Drive Samsung Portable SSD T3 Seagate Innov8 Western Digital My Book (new version)

INKJET MEDIA: FINE ART FINISH Canson Infinity Rag Photographique 310gsm Epson Hot Press Bright 330gsm
 Fotospeed Smooth Cotton 300 Signature Hahnemühle William Turner 310gsm Innova Fabriano Artistico Watercolour Rag 310gsm PermaJet Museum Heritage 310

SHOULDER/SLING BAG Crumpler Proper Roady Photo 7500 Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW Nest Hiker 30 Tamrac Corona 14 Tenba Cooper 15 Vanguard VEO 37

COLOUR MANAGEMENT DEVICE Color Confidence GrafiLite DataColor Spyder5PRO DataColor Spyder5CAPTURE PRO X-Rite ColorMunki Display
 X-Rite ColorMunki Smile X-Rite i1Display Pro

PORTABLE FLASH Bowens XMT500 Broncolor Siros 400 L Elinchrom ELB 400 with Quadra HS head Phottix Indra360 TTL Pixapro CITI 600 TTL Profoto B2

MONITOR BenQ PV270 Pro 27in IPS Eizo ColorEdge CG277 27in
 NEC Multisync PA322UHD 32in Samsung 32in UD970 UHD ViewSonic VP2468 INNOVATION Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Dual Pixel Raw Fujifilm GFX mirrorless medium-format system Hasselblad X1D mirrorless medium-format system Nikon D5 – ISO up to 3,280,000 Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II superfast continuous shooting Profoto D2 and Pro-10 super-short flash duration

MONOBLOC FLASH Bowens XMS500
 Broncolor Siros 400 S Elinchrom ELC Pro HD Lencarta SuperFast 600 Profoto D2 Westcott Strobelite Plus MAINS FLASH: POWER PACK Broncolor Scoro S 1600 RFS Elinchrom Digital 1200 RX Profoto Pro-10 CONTINUOUS LIGHT Bowens Mosaic2 Bi-Colour LED panel F&V Z400S Soft Bi-color Ice Light 2 Kenro NanGuang CN-900CSA
 Litepanels Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-color
 Westcott Flex Bi-Color mat

PHOTO BACKPACK Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW Lowepro Pro Runner BP 350 AW II 
 Manfrotto Pro Advanced Rear Access Nest Diverse 20 Modular backpack Paxis Mt Pickett 20 Tamrac Anvil Slim 15


BEST INSURANCE PROVIDER If you insure your photo outfit with a specialist photographic policy, or you do the odd photography job so need public indemnity insurance, has your provider gone the extra mile?

PROCESSING LAB Which processing lab do you trust with your photos, albums or stationery? If they offer highquality and utterly reliable service at competitive prices, are they worthy of a PN award?

BEST BOOK SERVICE Creating your own high-quality photographic book has never been easier, but there are so many online services. In your experience, which book service offers the best choice of papers and finishes, ease of use and quality product?

MOVIE CAMERA OF THE YEAR Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon XC15 Fujifilm X-T2
 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Sony A7S II ROLLER/HARD CASE Lowepro PhotoStream RL 150 Manfrotto Professional Roller Bag 50 Nest Odyssey 10
 
 Panzer Conqueror 31 Peli iM2450 Storm Case Tenba Roadie II Hybrid INKJET PRINTER Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Canon PIXMA PRO-100S Canon PIXMA TS9050 Epson SureColor SC-P400 Epson SureColor SC-P600 Epson SureColor SC-P800

MEMORY CARD Delkin Devices Cinema SDXC UHS-II V90
 Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC/SDXC UHS-II PNY Elite Performance SDXC UHS-I/U3 Samsung SDXC Pro Plus UHS-I
 SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Toshiba Exceria Pro UHS-II

BEST HIRE CENTRE Perhaps you’ve hired an expensive, exotic telephoto for an air show or lighting kit for a location shoot, whichever, nominate the hire company that has fulfilled your wishes, with a wide product range, punctuality and good customer service.

PHOTO WEBSITE PROVIDER For gallery websites or full-service ’sites with clientproofing and a blog, which provider offers the best range of templates and customisation options together with top-notch customer service?

STUDIO/LIGHTING ACCESSORY CamRanger Elinchrom EL-Skyport Plus HS Lastolite Urban backgrounds Manfrotto Digital Director Phottix Odin II Rogue Flashbender 2 XL PRO FILTER Cokin Nuances


 Hoya Fusion Antistatic filters Hoya ProND family Lee Filters Big Stopper
 Lee Filters Landscape Polariser Marumi DHG Super Circular Polariser

LAUNCH Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

 Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm X-Pro2
 Hasselblad X1D Nikon D5

BEST RETAILER Whether you shop for your photo kit online or in store, nominate the photo retailer that has you going back time and time again.

INKJET MEDIA: PHOTOGRAPHIC FINISH DaVinci Fibre Gloss Silk 310gsm
 Fotospeed Photo Smooth Pearl 290 Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta 310 Ilford Galerie Prestige Gold Fibre Silk 310 Innova Exhibition Cotton Gloss 335gsm PermaJet FB Gold Silk 315gsm

MOVIE ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR Atomos Ninja Flame G-Technology G Drive ev RaW Micromuff family Saramonic SR-AX107 Audio Adapter
 Shape Monitor Cages Syrp Slingshot 360° CAMERA OF THE YEAR 360fly 4K Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K Nikon KeyMission 360 Ricoh Theta S Samsung Gear 360

TRAINING PROVIDER From basic photo knowledge through particular tips and techniques to camera-specific training, in the classroom, studio or out on location, which provider offers the best learning experience, in your opinion?

The details How to vote Go to absolutephoto.com or fill in and post these pages to Bright Publishing, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ. Closing date is 28 February 2017. The results We’ll announce the results in issue 42 of Photography News and present the awards to their deserving recipients at The Photography Show, at Brimingham’s NEC, 18-21 March 2016.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

26

Reviews

Buy the book In an Internet-driven world, where images and information are overwhelmingly present (and mostly free), do photography books still have a place on your shelf? Damn right they do, and here are some of our favourite technique and inspiration books from the last few months… Words by Kingsley Singleton

Photographs from the Edge Art Wolfe, Amphoto Books, 288 pages £22.99

© Steve McCurry

Photographs from the Edge charts the career of nature and travel photographer, Art Wolfe, spanning 40 years of work, from his earliest forays as a professional wildlife photographer in the eighties to his latest studies. The book is co-written by Rob Sheppard, an author of over 40 photography books and formerly editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, and his journalistic influence shows, giving the book an enjoyably accessible quality. With the book broadly broken into decades, each image is accompanied first and foremost by Art’s description of how and why it was taken, but also by small, insightful panels exploring the technique behind each shot and giving facts about the subject of the image, be it wildlife, landscape or anthropological. The former of these, called ‘pro tips’, covers information on composition, exposure and approach, and together these elements make the book very easy to dip into wherever you’d like and allow you to dive in at any page and still enjoy it. Aside from being visually arresting (as you’d expect from a photographic master), Photographs from the Edge also illustrates the changes in technology during Art’s career, and how advances in digital cameras helped him refine his style. It’s certainly a book that rewards on many levels. crownpublishing.com © Art Wolfe

Photo books come with varying amounts of description in terms of the works they show, and Steve McCurry: On Reading falls into the classic ‘visual essay’ camp. Essentially it’s 62 of Steve’s beautiful travel photos, pleasingly presented across 144 pages, and the pictures are frames without description, bar a title. Now, don’t take that the wrong way; sure, you’re missing out on a lengthy read, but the lack of words gives you headspace to decipher each of the pictures in turn. And if you are missing some words, as a primer, there’s an introductory essay by Paul Theroux (who also appears in one of the pictures). An homage to the visionary Hungarian photo essayist, André Kertész’s own book of the same title, the theme of reading is explored across the continents, and depicts the consumption of novels, newspapers, comics and prayer books in glorious detail. McCurry’s shots, hand-picked from his

vast catalogue of travel images, can simply be appreciated for their technical and compositional excellence. However, like all good travel photography, many have a political subtext, exploring not only the joy, but the human right to literacy. Pricey, but a nice one for the collection. uk.phaidon.com

Below Images of a weddell seal and Cape Agulhas, which are both featured in Photographs from the Edge. © Art Wolfe

Steve McCurry: On Reading Steve McCurry, Phaidon, 144 pages £39.95

These elements make the book very easy to dip into wherever you’d like and allow you to dive in at any page and still enjoy it


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Reviews Lighting People Rossella Vanon, Ilex, 224 pages £24.99

The Anti-HDR Photography Book Robert Fisher, Focal Press, 244 pages £24.99

If you’re an aspiring portrait photographer or you’re lucky enough to have been given a studio flash kit for Christmas, Rossella Vanon’s Lighting People is well worth a look. The book combines a good measure of inspiration studio shots along with very solid technical advice. There’s also a useful resource in the back, showing the effects of different lighting modifiers, with hundreds of identically posed pictures, illustrating how minor changes in light shaper and angle can affect the modelling on your sitter. Rossella, a fashion photographer, teaches photography workshops, and that comes through clearly in her tutorial style. The book starts with lots of vital info about lighting types, flash gear and camera settings; then once you’re comfortable with the basics, it begins to layer on the creative advice, showing cornerstone lighting techniques, like high and low key, butterfly and clamshell. To finish off, things get really creative with an emphasis on more complex techniques, including working motion into studio shots, using gels for colour effects, intentional flare and projection effects. There’s also some very solid advice on communicating with models and clients, plus how to read their faces to get the most appropriate lighting set-ups.

© Robert Fisher

If ever a technique needed some policing, it’s high dynamic range (HDR) photography; a method of imaging that’s been responsible for some truly retinascraping pictures in recent times. Not that the technique itself is responsible; used with restraint, it’s as valid as any other and is simply a method of controlling contrast, rather than making the world look like a big bucket of oh-my-god has been thrown all over it. Robert Fisher’s book is a great antidote to the bad side of HDR, extolling the virtues of the technique when used in a photo-realistic fashion, and giving lots of ‘what not to do’ examples. Like most HDR books it has lots of info about the kit you need and the basics of shooting bracketed exposures, but then it’s on to the nitty-gritty of exposure blending. This is tackled using both Photomatix and SNS-HDR Pro software, and also Photoshop, with manual blending via simple masks and a good explanation of how to use luminance masks. It’s a little wordy in places, but Fisher writes in an engaging, pally way, and all the information is given in a techno-babble-free fashion, so there’s plenty here for beginners, as well as some excellent insights for those already au fait with the subject.

© Robert Fisher

octopusbooks.co.uk routledge.com

© Brian Lloyd Duckett © Brian Lloyd Duckett © Rossella Vanon

Street photography is one of the hardest styles to succeed at, requiring a fine mix of observancy, patience, technical skill and confidence. So if candid and documentary photography is your thing here’s a book that’s right up your… no, we’re better than that. Part of Ammonite’s excellent ‘Mastering…’ series, Mastering Street Photography is written by Brian Lloyd Duckett who has distilled a lifetime of urban photography experience into its 178 pages. For many years, Brian was a press photographer, so he knows plenty about shooting in urban environments, as well as getting shots with impact. After a concise chapter on picking the right kind of cameras and lenses for street shooting

(there’s an emphasis on using smaller, more anonymous cameras), there are sections on adapting your exposure and focusing skills to street shooting, how to behave on location, how to develop your observational skills and also how to get inspired by developing your own projects. Legal and ethical issues, including copyright and cultural perspectives, are also covered in detail. What really stood out for me though was that each section has a couple of assignments to try out, something that added a real sense of engagement with the subject matter, rather than it feeling like too passive an exercise. ammonitepress.com

© Brian Lloyd Duckett

Mastering Street Photography Brian Lloyd Duckett, Ammonite Press, 178 pages £19.99


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Reviews © James Ewing

Follow the Sun James Ewing, Focal Press, 188 pages £29.99

© James Ewing

Architectural photography is a subject that is often overlooked with photographers veering towards landscapes, portraits, still life, action or other subjects. And therefore, books on the subject are few and far between. But if you want to capture the amazing variety of buildings that are out there to capture, telling as they do, the story of human achievement (and folly), a crash course on the subject is most useful. Ewing, an award-winning professional architectural photographer and tutor, certainly knows his stuff, and conveys it in an easily understandable way, and there’s plenty for newbies and more experienced shooters to pick up. As well as the expected run-through on what type of photo kit is of most benefit (geared heads and tilt-shift lenses are given plenty of coverage), there are nicely constructed sections on how different viewpoints can change the way we read a structure, and how contacting sites for access (even as an amateur) can pay off in getting a better angle. As the title suggests there’s also lots of good information on using and adapting to natural light, as well as approaches to shooting interiors where you need to balance ambient light with artificial illumination. At nearly £30, it’s a little expensive compared with some technique books, but it certainly doesn’t lack interest. routledge.com

Evolution of an Image Rick Sammon, Focal Press, 312 pages £21.99

routledge.com

It illustrates the difference between random snapping and considered picture-taking

© Rick Sammon

Photographic tutor, workshop leader and author of more than 30 books, Rick Sammon is something of a photographic force of nature, and all that experience (both shooting and teaching) is nicely encompassed in Evolution of an Image. The book is all about the thought processes that go into making a successful photo, and illustrates the difference between random snapping and considered picture-taking. After a useful introduction defining the ingredients of successful images, such as filling the frame and how important patience can be, the book is split into subject-based sections, including portraits, wildlife, landscapes and so on. This means it’s more applicable to generalists (of which Rick is one), than specialists, but there’s definitely something for everyone and it’s good to learn from other disciplines. Each entry is organised in a consistent fashion, setting out the motivation for the shot, as well logistical information about the subject, location and lighting. Then it explains how the latter were dealt with and any problems overcome, giving lots of detail about exposure and tweaks to composition, via before and after pictures. Each entry finishes with processing advice and screens showing how Rick improves his images in Lightroom, so the book has a very complete feel.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

Advertisement feature

Photojournalist Gali Tibbon took the new EOS M5 on an adventure documenting life in Serbia. We find out what she thinks of Canon’s newest mirrorless camera Inspired by black & white grainy images from the 50s thanks to a special edition of Life magazine from her grandfather’s library, Gali Tibbon first picked up a camera at the age of 14. Purchasing a second-hand Canon AE-1 she began basic photography classes. Fast-forward to now and she’s spent the last 20 years working as a photojournalist documenting historical news events in Jerusalem and travelling the world shooting both documentary and travel photography. Gali’s images have been published in a variety of international newspapers and leading magazines and she has won numerous awards. Throughout her travels Gali has always been a Canon user, switching from model to model as her photography evolved. In 2000 she got her first Canon DSLR and her kitbag today includes the EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 5D Mark IV and the EOS M5. Recently Gali took the EOS M5 on assignment to Serbia. “It looked like someone had shrunk my DSLR in the washing machine. It looked the same as my 5D but much smaller, which meant that all the dials and buttons were in the places where I’m used to having them; so I knew that the transformation between the two platforms would be easy.

“My favourite features of the EOS M5 are the touch focus and the tilt screen. The touch focus allows you to drag the focus point with your finger on the touchscreen, while the tilt screen allows you to take pictures from different angles. Often in news events there are so many people and photographers meaning you are unable to get close to what is happening, so many photographers hold their cameras up high and use a wide lens; sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. With the EOS M5 you can actually open the screen so you can be parallel to whatever you are shooting. Together with the touch focus feature, I was able to hold up my camera, see my image, compose and actually put the focus exactly where I wanted it.” “So far the EOS M5 has been with me to Serbia, Germany, France, Spain and the UK. It has been with me in the Dead Sea in Israel and inside the Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem when researchers opened it for the first time in centuries. Soon I’m travelling to Ethiopia. “This image (overleaf) was taken in Serbia, at a funfair during the summer. I saw the little girl inside the bubble, she was more bold and wild than the boys. It was the first time

Gali Tibbon is a photojournalist based in Jerusalem who has more than a decade of experience documenting the Middle East and has won various awards for her work. Her images have been published in various international print publications and exhibited in galleries across the world. When covering historical events Gali feels like she has a front row seat in history, witnessing the events and creating images to be shown to people worldwide. Gali also loves documentary and travel photography where she can get to know people and their stories better. galitibbon.com

The touch focus allows you to drag the focus point with your finger I had used the EOS M5 at night with artificial lights, and it was great. I set the camera to ISO 1250 and selected AV (aperture-priority at f/2.8) so I would get a high-speed exposure. I needed to shoot fast, one frame after the other in order to capture the image because the bubble was moving, the water splashing and so many things happening very fast. For this reason I used a high ISO to allow me to freeze the moment and it was also very important to be able to focus quickly in the dark. The EOS M5 allowed me to do all of these things and the fact I was able to work with my 2470mm f/2.8 lens on it with the adapter made the shoot fun. The quality of the files was great and I really liked the dynamic range of the camera. The image didn’t need any postprocessing as it looked great anyway.” © Gali Tibbon

About the photographer

The Kit The Camera Canon EOS M5 Canon’s flagship EOS M5 offers DSLR quality with a 24.2-megapixel sensor, 7fps shooting and Full HD 60p video.

The Lens EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM Ideal for a wide variety of subjects from landscapes, portraits, travel or documentary, the 24-70mm offers a constant aperture of f/2.8 for stunning bokeh and easier shooting in low light.

Left Swimmers from around the world plunge into the salty waters of the Dead Sea in a bid to draw attention to its environmental degradation. Wearing protective masks and snorkels, the 25 swimmers paddled for seven hours through the salty, soupy waters of the Dead Sea to attempt the ten-mile swim from Jordan to Israel. This picture was taken with the Canon EOS M5 and EF-M 11-22mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. Shot at ISO 100 with a shutter speed of 1/2000sec at f/5.6.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

Advertisement feature


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

Advertisement feature Š Gali Tibbon


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

Advertisement feature Gear options

Travelling light Canon’s range of mirrorless cameras is the perfect solution to carrying less without having to sacrifice image quality. We take a look at what’s on offer… If you’re heading on an adventure, short or long, you’ll want to pack light so you can enjoy your experience, but of course you’ll want a camera as your companion so you can document all the things you see and do. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or planning to head out on your first trip Canon’s EOS M cameras are the perfect option – and there are currently three models available, the M10, M3 and M5.

The EOS M range combines DSLR quality and functionality with the portability of a compact, giving you a lightweight option that allows you to achieve superb image quality. As well as three camera models the range also boasts seven EF-M lenses giving you a wide choice of options from super wide lenses like the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM, standard zooms such as the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, telezoom

options including the EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM and even a 28mm f/3.5 IS STM macro prime lens. If that wasn’t enough, the Mount Adapter EF-EOS M allows you to attach any Canon EF lens to your EOS M camera so you shoot an endless amount of different subjects thanks to an even broader range of lenses available. canon.co.uk

EOS M5

EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM For breathtaking scenery and wide shots, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens is the perfect option. Offering a focal length of 11-22mm you can fill your frame with beautiful landscapes and city scenes, or fit in all the family for a group shot you can treasure. Canon’s three-stop image stabilizer means the effects of camera shake are reduced when shooting handheld or even in low light to allow you to capture superb images. For videos it offers a smooth, quiet STM and features Dynamic Image Stabilization to help reduce motion blur even when shooting footage while walking. The lens’s minimum focusing distance of 15cm means that it’s not just wide you can shoot with this lens, you can also focus on close subjects, making it great for portraits, still life and general photography. Thanks to two aspherical lenses and one UD lens, plus Super Spectra coatings you can capture high-quality images with this lens and achieve accurate colour balance and high contrast, plus minimal flare and ghosting in your shots. The EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is a compact lens with a retractable design that’s ready to explore the world with you. It’s ideal for travelling light and its versatility means you can photograph a variety of subjects with this one lens.

The Canon EOS M5 is compact and lightweight, weighing just 427g, but don’t be fooled by size; it packs an APS-C sized 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor for high-quality images and an ISO range of 100-25,600. Boasting a continuous shooting rate of 7fps you can capture fast-moving subjects and focus quickly and accurately thanks to Dual Pixel CMOS AF and 49 AF points covering a wide area. A 3.2in 1040K-dot LCD screen makes it easy to compose and review your images, while thanks to its touch capability you can focus and shoot with a single tap. With Creative Assist you can even control the camera settings via the touchscreen and preview adjustments in real time. What’s more, the screen can tilt 180° down and 85° up, making this camera great for shooting at low or awkward angles. Advanced photographers can take full control in manual and adjust settings such as exposure compensation thanks to the easy-to-reach top dial, or you can take advantage of the Scene Intelligent Auto mode to allow the camera to optimise settings. With builtin Wi-Fi and NFC you can also send your photos to your smartphone ready to upload to social media, as well as having the option to shoot remotely or upload images to the Cloud with Image Sync. For moviemakers, there’s the option to record Full HD movies at 60p, and with touch AF you can achieve smooth focus effects. If you’re looking to carry less but still shoot professional quality images and videos the EOS M5 is just what you need and with a variety of lenses available, you can shoot a variety of subjects.

EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Canon’s EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM lens is the world’s first autofocus lens to feature a built-in macro lite. With two LEDs on the front of the lens you can toggle between left and right illumination at the touch of a button, giving you the option to shoot with both LEDs on or either the right or left side illuminated. The design of the lens helps reduce shadows thanks to its converging lens barrel, and at 130g it’s compact and lightweight. Dedicated to macro shooting it boasts a true magnification ratio of 1:1. In Super Macro mode it produces a magnification of 1.2x, so you can get as close as 13mm to capture intricate details. This lens isn’t just for macro though; it’s also great for travel or portrait photography. With a bright f/3.5 aperture you can shoot with ease in low light or create stunning portraits. Thanks to a Hybrid Image Stabilizer both angular and shift camera shake are reduced to help you get pin-sharp images even when shooting without a tripod, and for movies the near-silent STM offers steady and quiet continuous focusing so you can shoot free of noise.

Mount Adapter EF-EOS M Expand your creativity and open a world of opportunities with the mount adapter for the EOS M system. Simply attach it to your camera and you’ll be able to use any EF or EF-S lens from the range, giving you a broad variety of lenses to choose from to use with your EOS M, including specialist lenses such

as macro and fisheye options. It comes with a removable tripod mount so if you’re shooting with larger telephoto lenses you can support them with a tripod to ensure you capture blur-free images. Weighing only 110g the mount adapter can be stored in your kitbag ready to use whenever needed.

For photographers who are already using Canon’s DSLR systems and have several lenses in their collections this is a great way to make even more use of them. Plus, for those purchasing their first EOS M camera, it means you’re not limited in your choice of lenses.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

36

Interview Pro focus

© Crash Taylor

Stranger things Words by Roger Payne

With his Canon EOS 5D Mark III in hand, Crash Taylor shoots portraits of complete strangers, and it’s provided a boost both to him and to his business

Images Instead of shooting candids, Crash Taylor approaches his subjects and asks if he can take their portrait for his Strangers of Nottingham project. The resulting images show a relationship between photographer and subject that’s rare for street shots. without incident and goes a long way to restoring my faith in humankind. Some people are tentative at first, others are flattered, while more simply find the whole process amusing, but it’s an inspiring way to spend an hour. “As a photographer you need to be working on personal projects,” confirms Crash. “I have lots of them

on the go: one with my son, one with mannequins, I’m always thinking about personal projects, I just shoot what’s interesting to me.” You can read more about Crash’s project in the latest issue of Professional Photo, and check out his portfolio at crashtaylor.com; instagram.com/ strangersofnottingham

© Crash Taylor

do, I wanted to meet people, go up to them and interact.” And interact he most certainly does. Drinks consumed, we head into the city and over the course of the next hour approach 15 people, ten of whom say yes to having their portrait taken. Although things don’t get off to the best of starts. We’re approached by a gentleman clutching two cans of cider and clearly a little worse for wear. At 11am. He asks if we can spare any change and while most of us would normally avoid eye contact and walk past, Crash seizes the opportunity and offers him some change in return for a photograph. As he starts to shoot we’re approached by a second man who clearly doesn’t like what we’re up to, asserting that we’re taking advantage of poor people and that we should ‘watch our shit’. It’s unnerving, but Crash handles the situation with aplomb. “That situation would put some people off street photography for life,” he admits as we walk away. “But you have to get over it and concentrate on what you want to achieve. That guy was a little aggressive, but he backed off as soon as I explained what we were doing and that his preconceptions were wrong.” Clearly, undertaking a project that involves walking up to all manner of people is going to carry some degree of risk, but the rest of our morning passes

© Crash Taylor

Last October, Crash Taylor started walking up to people he’d never met before on the streets of Nottingham and asking them this simple question: “Excuse me, can I stop you for one second? I’m a street photographer, my name is Crash, I have an Instagram feed called Strangers of Nottingham, it’s a project I’m doing on people I find visually interesting, you look cool, do you mind if I take a quick portrait?” It heralded the start of a personal project that has already produced over 150 street portraits and will continue until the end of 2017, when he intends to have an exhibition, will use the images to help complete his MA and produce a fine art book showcasing his favourite shots with all proceeds going to Save The Children. We meet less than two months since it began, but he’s already learning a huge amount about himself, his photography and his fellow Nottinghamians. “The drive for the project is simple. Everyone is on a device these days, nobody talks. There’s no interaction, we live in a virtual world and you don’t meet anybody,” Crash tells me as we sit having a pre-shoot coffee. “You’re on your device, you go to work, speak to a few friends, you go home and that’s it. When I was kid, you were meeting and talking to so many different people. So I decided to get out on the street and not shoot candids like a lot of people

Photo Professional This article first appeared in issue 128 of Professional Photo, on sale now. It’s packed with inspiring images and tips for aspiring pros and those already making a living. absolutephoto.com

You’ll find more insight in the latest Professional Photo – the UK’s best magazine for full-time and aspiring pro photographers


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

38

Interview

Industrial Scars

There is more than meets the eye in environmentalist and photographer J Henry Fair’s mesmerising abstract aerial images Interview by Jemma Dodd

At a first glance you might be fooled into thinking some of these shots are pieces of fine art, but they’re actually the result of human impact on the environment. Photographer and environmentalist J Henry Fair shows these tragic effects in his latest book Industrial Scars: The Hidden Cost of Consumption. We find out more… Can you tell us about your background? I was born in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, to middle-class parents, in time to witness the race riots. Photography was always an interest and I liberated an old Kodak Retina from my father which served as my first camera. My first job was working at a camera store, which allowed me to own and use a variety of cameras. What came first, your interest in photography or the environment? My first interest was in photography, which I started while in high school. I have always had a deep concern for the environment and our heedless abuse of these systems that provide us with free air and water. That and my fascination with the beauty of machines (as a pinnacle of human achievement) led me to try to create images that would provoke thought about the impact our consumer society is having.

How much research did you have to carry out into each location? At first I found the locations by going to an industrial area, chartering a plane, and then flying around looking for things. However, as the project matured I started to follow particular industries or issues. The process begins with a lot of research: the nature of the industry, environmental impact of their practices, different companies and their locations. Then I start asking questions of people that have insights, whether it’s environmentalists, people in that industry or people in the area. What sort of preparation is needed for these shoots? Some locations look quite dangerous. Most of the preparation for one of my aerial shoots is drudgery. Once I have identified the location, the

© J Henry Fair

What do you hope to achieve with your images and the Industrial Scars book? Did you always intend to create a book? I want people to look at my photographs and realise that we

Your shots vary from landscapes to abstracts within them, do you have a preference? The abstract images are easy to love, and very effective at transmitting the message of this series. But there is a real beauty in these giant machines that extract our mineral resources. They are, ironically, the pinnacle of our abilities as humans. Also, the combination of these two themes illustrates the production processes that produce the things we buy every day.

© J Henry Fair

When and how did you shoot your first aerial view environment shot? Can you tell us a bit about the experience? After seeing a coal power plant shrouded in fog on a cross-country flight, it really struck me that the aerial view provided access to what was hidden behind fences, but also allowed a unique viewpoint that was inherently fascinating. The area of the Mississippi River known as Cancer Alley seemed like the logical starting place, so I went to New Orleans and chartered a small plane and pilot. The resulting pictures were fascinating, but demanded the back story, which prompted an immersion into research of the issues and locations.

are all part of the problem – and can so easily be part of the solution. The project is about exposing the consequences of our consumer economy on the earth that supports us and will hopefully support our grandchildren. Many people with knowledge of the environment and understanding of the problems sink into despair, but I take a different view. The answers are there and they’re not as complicated as they are often presented: buy one brand of toilet paper, old growth forest is cut down; a different brand, forest saved and so much waste removed from the waste stream. My hope is that people walk away from my pieces, go home and turn off the lights or walk to the store next time. Better for them; better for the planet. The Industrial Scars book is a wonderful medium, and something analogue and contemplative in our digital speedy world.

Above Terrell, North Carolina, USA. This is one of the plants on the EPA list of sites that could cause death and damage if the ash waste pond retaining dykes were to fail. Left Shippingport, Pennysylvania, USA. This coal ash dump on the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border is the largest in the USA. It is a ‘high hazard’ coal ash impoundment. Top right Oil-Fort McMurray, Canada. The top of a petroleum tank, which stores 400,000 to 500,000 barrels of the world’s dirtiest oil. Right Burns Harbor, Indiana USA. The iron ore, coke fuel and limestone flux at the upper left are processed and blended in the buildings connected by conveyor belt housings in the foreground.


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Interview © J Henry Fair

first question is how to get to the area; then I must find a small plane for charter there. Often I have been assured of a plane, made my schedule and booked my travel to the area only to have the charter then say they are unable to fly. Pilots are quite well trained and safety-conscious by nature, so there is really no danger. Our idea of danger in the modern world is misplaced. Just how difficult is it to shoot from the air? What challenges did you have to overcome? Shooting from the air is exhausting, mentally and physically. One sits for many hours in a cramped jostling seat, twisted in an uncomfortable position. One of the greatest challenges is dehydration, due to the limited intake of fluids because there’s no bathroom. How long I shoot depends on how much there is to shoot and how far we must go from our launch spot to get there. I can spend a lot of time circling over the location to get the right shot, especially if it is windy. Is any specialist gear required? Do you choose a certain time of day to shoot at? For these pictures I used a variety of Canon, Leica, and Sony cameras with lenses by Canon and Leica. Most of the abstracts involve using a telephoto lens between 100mm and 400mm. Image stabilisation becomes a problem; some cameras have it built in and other times I have a gyroscopic stabiliser. Each location has an optimal time of day, but it’s not always possible to get a plane for that time. We hear your activities have sparked curiosity from authorities – gave you ever got yourself into serious trouble? I have been harassed by the police several times in the places where they are owned by the oil companies (like Louisiana). In these cases they usually demanded that I hand over the film and I always have a dummy roll handy for this purpose. Also, I have been interviewed several times by the FBI; once they even came to my hotel early in the morning after

a pilot had reported a suspicious ‘Arabiclooking man’ had chartered him to fly over industrial sites. In both cases they were polite, professional and seemed to take me at my word in explaining my activities. How important do you feel photography is in terms of raising awareness of these industrial scars? The world has been talking about the same environmental issues for years without any

progress. People are concerned, but unsure what to do, and very concerned about jobs and food. Politicians speak the same empty promises they have spoken for years, and the people making money on contamination continue to buy the government what they want. However, the people profiting from pollution actually respond quickly to the desires of the consumer. If people stop buying toilet paper made from old growth trees, paper companies would stop making it and

we would save a forest. Art is a way to inspire people to question and act; to look for the connections between themselves and the world around them. If I can make art that stops people and stimulates them to question the status quo, and the part they play in the big pollution picture, maybe the consumer becomes a citizen and starts to vote with their purchase decisions.

© J Henry Fair

What else have you been up to? The first exhibit of my new series, On The Edge: America’s Coastline opened at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina. My multimedia project Das Lied von der Erde, a HD video projection of my images with orchestra playing the piece of the same name by Gustav Mahler, was performed in Berlin. Most exciting is my new book Industrial Scars: The Hidden Costs of Consumption, which premiered at the Frankfurt Book Fair back in October last year. I will continue to photograph the coasts of the USA in the future and actually just did Maine. Another project on my mind is slavery and racism.

Buy the book Industrial Scars: The Hidden Costs of Consumption, published by Papadakis is available to buy now for £30 from thegmcgroup.com


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Technique

Spot on lighting Lighting Academy

Start your journey into the exciting world of creative lighting effects with PN ’s Lighting Academy. This is the place to find out all about how flash and continuous lighting works and how it can be used to improve your shots. This month, how restricting the light can make for stylish portrait effects... Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton Before photographers start out with studiostyle flash, they’re often racked with fear and mistrust. There’s an assumption that studio flash is technically difficult; that firing and correctly powering the lights will take a lot of getting used to. In fact, with modern kits, the technical aspects of flash are very simple and take just minutes to learn. The part of lighting that does take longer to master is controlling and shaping the illumination to your will; the ability to direct, restrict or spread light out is key in developing your lighting techniques, and this month we’ll be doing all three to get the looks we want. When it comes to triggering, take a typical enthusiast flash kit like Elinchrom’s D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go for example; firing both RX 4 flash heads is simple because they have a built-in Skyport receiver. So, all you need is to fit the included EL-Skyport Plus transmitter to your camera’s hotshoe, set the channel and group of both heads to the same as the transmitter, and you can trigger up to 200m away (you can even use your iPhone or iPad to control the lights using the EL-Skyport App). Freedom of lighting And with the freedom to position and fire your lights wherever you like, you can think about how their position will affect the lighting of the subject. No longer do you need them to be close to the camera, and this opens up lots of possibilities, such as aiming the light from the subject’s rear, for a hair or backlight effect. Using a hair light presents some challenges, such as how powerful the light needs to be, how to position it accurately so it strikes the subject where you want it and how to avoid it ending up in the picture and causing flare. The last of these requires modifiers that restrict the light, and there are many that do this, some generating a smaller circle of light than others. As you’ll see in this technique, they can be used from the front of the subject, too, creating more dramatic spotlighting effects. Adding a hair light I started off this month’s technique by setting up one D-Lite RX 4 head on a clip lock stand at around 2m in height, at the foot of the stairs – where Emma was to be seated – and one RX 4 head behind her. This second head was placed on a small landing up the stairs and directed downwards using the angle control. But with a 21cm Standard Reflector’s 50° angle of light, it was obvious that the light would be too broadly spread for good hair lighting alone, and would overpower the background. So, to restrict the light further I fitted an Elinchrom Snoot, first channelling the light into a much smaller 15° circle and then fitting the included honeycomb grid, which narrows the spread further (both come in a set at around £50). This did the trick and with a little modification of the light’s angle it picked up Emma’s hair nicely. To help aim, I switched on

Feathered softbox with hair light

Above Sometimes all you need to restrict the light is to angle a softbox, but for very fine control, like the hair light here, modifiers like snoots and grids are required.

Unfeathered softbox

No hair light

Right Using a hair light, here provided by a D-Lite RX 4 head fitted with a snoot, gives sparkle and separation from darker backgrounds. But while you may need to power the light up to get enough kick, too much will burn out the hair and look clumsy.

Too much hair light


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Technique Spill-kill with 12º grid

Above If you want to shoot wider, you may need to move the hair light to stop it appearing in shot; here it was set back-left adding an accent to Emma’s face and hair. Right For a proper spotlighting effect, the key light was fitted with a spill-kill reflector and 12° grid.

the RX 4’s modelling light, but this shouldn’t be left on continuously with a snoot, as the modifier will get very hot. Working out the power To Emma’s front, we fitted a Rotolux Deep Octagonal 70cm softbox, aiming it squarely at Emma to start with. The power of both lights was then metered, with the camera in manual (M) exposure mode and with settings of 1/125sec at f/5.6, ISO 100. The rear light metered spot on at a power of 2.0, while the more diffused light from the flash to Emma’s front needed a higher 4.3 setting. Taking a test shot first to double check the power of the hair light, it seemed a little dim to me, so I increased the power by a stop to 3.0. When using a light directed towards the camera, it’s a good idea to use a lens hood, which will lessen the risk of flare. If it’s possible in your location, placing the hair light at a higher (as with the landing at our location) or lower level than the subject is a good way to cut the risk of flare even further. Using the light at the top of a stand is one way to do this, but if you need to move it further off to one side, you can always increase the power to compensate – the further away it is, the more power will be need. And make sure you zoom in so that it’s cropped out of the picture. Feathering the light The front light threw up a different challenge, as despite the fairly directed look of the 70cm

Octa softbox, the light was still spreading too widely. One way of dealing with this is angling the softbox away from the subject a little (a process called feathering) rather than fitting a grid to tighten the throw of light. As the RX 4 has a large handle on its rear, it’s easy to swing the light up and down. Raising it about 45° reduced the spill of light at the bottom of the frame and gave a more centred look to the lighting. Re-metering the light after feathering, the Octa box now gave me a reading of f/5, so needed it needed to be increased to about 4.7 to compensate (with the metered strength of the light reduced by 1/3 of a stop (f/5.6 to f/5), the power of the flash is increased by the same). Using grids to narrow the light But feathering with a softbox can only go so far and we wanted to push the look a little further, creating a more obvious spotlight look. So, after fitting a 21cm reflector to the RX 4 head at Emma’s front, a 20° honeycomb was added. Once again, the power of the light needs to be metered as the amount of light hitting the subject will be affected by changing the modifier. The undiffused light needs less power to create the same brightness, so metered at f/5.6 with a power setting of 2.0, much less than with the feathered softbox. Again, the light was feathered upwards a little to produce an obvious vignette at the foot of the frame and re-metered before shooting. With the Elinchrom RX 4 (and other heads in the range), it’s also easy to fit one of the

range’s unique deflectors (which come in a set of four), for a softened but still directed light. The deflector dish attaches to a rod that connects to the head using the umbrella port, and using the 21cm Standard Reflector, a grid can then be placed on top. The attaching system means they can be used with any reflector and most other modifiers in the Elinchrom range, providing an almost limitless variety of lighting styles.

Diffusing modifiers For creative looks like low-key effects or hair and spotlight styles, modifiers other than softboxes and umbrellas are important. Principal among these are the modifiers that restrict light; chiefly grids and snoots. Grids (aka honeycombs), fit into basic spill-kill reflectors in most lighting kits to reduce the spread of light. The spread of light is measured in degrees, so fitting a 12° grid would give a smaller circle of light than a 20° grid. The differing sizes allow you to get the spread of light right without moving the flash head towards or away from the subject. You’ll see the differing spreads of light created using Elinchrom’s 21cm Honeycomb Grid set, which comes with a 21cm reflector, and 8°, 12°, 20° and 30° grids. You can also fit a snoot, like the Elinchrom Snoot and Grid set (£49), which gives a 15° spread of light, and can be further narrowed with its included grid.

When using a light directed towards the camera, it’s a good idea to use a lens hood, which will lessen the risk of flare

Thanks to: This month’s model was the wonderful Emma Davis, and we shot on location at the beautiful William Cecil Hotel, Stamford, Lincolnshire.


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Advertisement feature © Steve Brown

New Bowens XMT500: freezing time – even when it’s freezing motion

Pro action photographer Steve Brown has to deal with all sorts of challenging assignments, including shooting in the freezing cold, miles from a mains supply. That’s why on this job he packed a pair of the brand-new Bowens XMT500 battery-powered flash heads

It was 6am on a lonely Suffolk beach and it was very cold indeed – especially if you’re running up and down on unforgiving sand and wearing nothing but a big smile, a pair of short shorts and a vest top, trying to please a top action photographer and a Bowens production team. London-based photographer Steve Brown explains: “We were carrying out a day’s test shoot using the new Bowens Generation X XMT500 flash heads. The video production team and I were well wrapped up against the freezing cold and still shivering – but endurance runner Susie Chan just wore her normal gear as we asked her to sprint up and down the beach over and over again – and still she remained cheerful and friendly – she’s a real star.” Steve’s shooting brief from Bowens was to capture and freeze action with the XMT500 all-in-one battery flash system, complete with its TTL technology, high-speed sync and nine stops of flash power. So Steve decided he wanted to use a real athlete for the shoots on the beach and later in nearby woods – and athletes don’t come more real than Susie Chan. She’s an acclaimed ultra-runner which means that she tackles any distance over a 26-mile marathon – perhaps even 100 miles. In January 2016 she set a world record for treadmill running when she clocked up almost 70 miles in 12 hours (though she no longer holds this record). Says Steve, “I didn’t want to photograph a model who can maybe run 20 yards a couple of times. I wanted a visual story about a real runner – a leader in the field. I found Susie on Instagram and she agreed to work with us on this XMT project.” At 5.30am, close to Lowestoft, the duo made its way down a winding country lane to the beach. Adds Steve: “We meandered past some fields and a pig farm – and that journey

in itself was a great illustration of why having the Bowens backpack containing two XMT500 heads is fantastic; it’s just so easy to carry. Photographers don’t want to have to lug a huge and heavy bag of kit down some muddy trails.” They located the beach, met up with the video team and then set the lights up – all in freezing temperatures and a very strong, unhelpful breeze. “I briefed Susie that I needed to capture the purist sensation of running – the body movement,” he notes. “The challenge was that it needed to be right at the focus point we had set up to take the picture. We literally drew a line in the sand so Susie could then take a nice long stride just as she hit that point – and make sure she looked good with her arms and legs all in the right position. “Position is important because there are a couple of points in a stride, as you run, that look superb – and a couple of points that look awful. We needed her to hit the right point in her stride and the right point on the beach, additionally, we needed a good pose. Facial expression isn’t something you think about if you are running but this makes a big difference when you need great photographs of someone running.” On the beach Steve used his Canon EOS 5D Mark II along with two XMT500s fitted with 60x80cm softboxes. The camera was fitted with the new XMTR radio trigger, available for Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs, which is used for TTL and manual flash shooting and enables wireless triggering from up to 80m. Despite the questionable weather Steve had a successful shoot. “We did have a brief interlude when the sun popped out between the clouds,” smiles Steve. “We were shooting from the other direction at that point so we had to quickly spin the lights around to take advantage of the natural light – but I didn’t

mind that because having the XMTR trigger on the camera meant I could quickly adjust the power output for light suddenly coming through the cloud.” He adds: “The only real challenge on the beach was that as we started shooting the tide began to roll in and one of the lights ended up standing resplendent in a few inches of water – but hey, they are Bowens lights, they can take it.” On the move In the afternoon (before a Hollywood moviestyle rain shower brought the session to a premature halt) the team embarked on an entirely different shoot dynamic. Steve explains: “This part was quite unusual because we had to clamp the XMT500 heads to the production crew’s Range Rover. I was lying in the back of the vehicle with the lights clipped onto the roof and we drove along with me photographing out of the back of the vehicle while Susie was running along behind. This was a brilliant example of why it’s so cool to have lights with no trailing wires – this means it’s simple to adjust from inside the car when they are outside the car.”

With the Bowens XMT500 partnered with the XMTR trigger it means you can control ambient light with shutter speeds up to 1/8000sec

Images For this shoot, Steve Brown had endurance runner Susie Chan running in the woods behind a car and on the beach. He used the Bowens XMT500 flash system to freeze the action and capture motion.


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Advertisement feature Steve embraced the XMT500’s TTL functionality. “I don’t always use TTL but on this occasion it worked well and gave us the results that we needed. You simply set it up if you perhaps want things to be a little brighter or darker; all you have to do is adjust the output using the XMTR and it just does it. You don’t have to think about it.” For even more lighting control on location the XMTR enables high-speed sync, which allows correct flash sync at shutter speeds up to 1/8000sec and is compatible with Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. Enthuses Steve, “This is a very big deal for me. Previously I have struggled with a flash sync shutter speed of 1/125sec and that’s difficult if it’s a sunny day. If you can only control the ambient light with shutter speed up to 1/125sec that means you need a small lens aperture like f/11 or f/16. That in turn means you need much more flash power to get enough output to match that aperture. But with the Bowens XMT500 partnered with the XMTR trigger it means you can control ambient light with shutter speeds up to 1/8000sec. I was shooting here at 1/3000sec to underexpose the ambient light and using a lens aperture of f/3.5. You don’t need as much flash power to give a stylised, flash-lit look.” The XMTR trigger operates on the worldwide 2.4GHz frequency, this system enables all the main features and functions of the XMT500 flash head, including flash modes, power output and modelling, to be set from the camera position. Says Steve, “This is a real benefit for location photographers. If, like me on this shoot, you’re lying on a beach early in the morning and you’ve got right down in position – stretched out full-length in the sand – the last thing you want to be doing is jumping up and down to change settings on the flash. It is inconvenient and slows the whole shoot down. On this shoot, I just checked the image previews and adjusted

accordingly as Susie ran by. 20 seconds later when she jogged by again I could already be set up with different lighting.” An easy-swap battery offers up to 500 full-power flashes from a single charge. Steve reports, “I love how easy they are to switch. The indicator on the top means that you can quickly assess what battery is left. We shot most of the day and our XMT batteries weren’t even half-empty when we finished. Additionally, it’s important to note that other lights have batteries that clip onto the outside and that

would make me quite nervous when handling or transporting the lights. Now everything is within this single unit and you can just forget about that problem.” “The XMT system gives me total freedom to focus on the most important thing – my photography. I haven’t got to worry about something falling off or about tripping over a cable. It’s about being able to set up, forget about it and get on with being creative.”

Bowens Generation X

stevebrowncreative.com © Steve Brown

The highly featured Bowens XMT500 head is packed with features considered essential by modern photographers. There’s nine stops of flash power, from full through to 1/256, which in output terms is 500Ws to 2Ws. As Steve Brown explains, “That power range is very useful – I have also used the XMT500 inside, and having the facility of very low power is really handy for wide aperture shooting.” When used with the XMTR trigger, photographers can use high-speed sync up to shutter speeds of 1/8000sec to perfectly expose a subject while underexposing in bright sunshine. Ultra-fast recycling times of 0.01 to 2secs is also a key benefit of the XMT500. For photographers like Steve, keeping up with fast action is vital. “On this shoot, when Susie was running behind us in the woods I was able to shoot as many pictures as I liked. I have done so many shoots in the past where I was forever waiting for the lights to recycle – and it was truly painful. The XMT500 has exiled that demon.” The XMT500’s high-capacity battery allows up to 500 full-power flash bursts, which is ample even for productive photographers and of course you get a great many more flashes at the lower power settings. Add a controllable output LED modelling lamp, power output adjustments in 0.3EV steps, strobe flash mode and adjustable flash sync delay, and the Bowens XMT system offers photographers a new creative dimension. bowens.co.uk


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Accessories test Buyers’ guide

Winter wonders

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Want to shoot better winter landscapes? Then you need the kind of kit that’ll help you adapt to snowy and icy conditions. That’s why this month we’ve outlined a host of cold-weather essentials, protecting your camera and lenses, making the most of the frozen scenery and allowing you to work faster and more easily, so you can concentrate on getting creative

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II compact system camera £1849

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Winter shooting puts strain on your body and your kit, so smaller, lighter cameras designed for tough conditions can be a huge help. The 20.4-megapixel Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is not only a cuttingedge camera (with exciting features like 5-axis image stabilization, 50-megapixel High Res Shot mode and a 60fps burst mode), but also very well suited to winter shooting thanks to its light weight, full weather sealing and lowtemperature functionality. As well as being dust and splash-proof, it’s freeze proof down to -10ºC, so you can shoot in some pretty harsh conditions when other types of camera would fail to function. At 574g (with battery and card fitted) it’s also light enough not to weigh you down on your hikes through winter landscapes. olympus.co.uk

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Samsung 64GB PRO+ SDXC card £40

The cold weather doesn’t just play havoc with your camera battery’s life, freezing conditions can also affect the performance of memory cards. Look carefully at the specifications of your memory card and you might see it’s only rated down to 0ºC, so if you want to shoot in chillier climes, you’ll need something a lot tougher. Fortunately, Samsung’s impressive PRO+ 64GB SDXC UHS-I memory card (which has a Class 10, Grade 1 U3 maximum read/write transfer speed of 95/90MBs) is uniquely specified for the rigours of winter shooting. Not only is it waterproof, it’s also designed to function at temperatures as low as an incredible -25°C. The PRO+ SDXC card is available in 32GB size too. samsung.com/uk

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Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art wide-angle zoom lens £699

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All landscapers know the value of a fast wide-angle zoom lens, and this lens from Sigma is quickly achieving legendary status. With its fast f/2 maximum aperture, it’s a great low-light performer and provides excellent sharpness across its versatile focal lengths. Essentially you get the quality of three fast prime lenses in a single unit, but unlike many zooms, there’s no loss of image quality. As one of Sigma’s Art lenses, the 24‑35mm makes no compromises in terms of design and uses premium FLD glass, and no less than seven Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements in its construction, of which two are aspherical lenses, while a multilayer coating controls flare and prevents ghosting for ultra-clear details.

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Lee Filters Seven5 Out of Town Neutral Density filter set £159

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A fresh fall of snow might have you sprinting for a favourite location, but don’t forget your filters! Lee Filters has been helping improve landscape photographers’ work for generations (it’s the company’s 50th anniversary this year), and its latest sets of handmade, high-quality filters are specially designed for the smaller lenses and sensors of CSCs. To help you pick the right ones, Lee’s produced subject-specific packs, so for CSC landscapers, the Out of Town Set packs in a 0.6 (2 stop) ND soft grad, a 0.9 (3 stop) ND hard grad and Big Stopper for very slow shutter effects like silky smooth water. The soft and hard grads, meanwhile, make it easy to darken skies at different types of location. leefilters.com

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Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro lens £579

Winter shooting isn’t just about broad snowy vistas, it’s also about delicate frost patterns and intricate frozen details. To make the most of those you need a dedicated macro lens, which will let you focus very closely, and they don’t come much better than Tamron’s SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro. An update of its previous (and excellent) 90mm macro, the new lens is moisture resistant, making it a great winter partner, and it focuses as close as 30cm. This in turn provides a true macro 1:1 reproduction ratio giving bags of detail. The lens also has an upgraded Vibration Compensation (VC) system, making it easier to shoot handheld, or in low light, and there’s a three-stage focus limiter (Full, 0.5m to infinity and 0.3-0.5m) to speed up AF, too. tamron.eu/uk

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BRNO dri+Caps for lenses and camera bodies £17.50

Winter shoots mean running into lots of water, and not just the frozen variety: snow, rain, spray, mist and fog can all pose problems if they come into contact with your gear. But that’s not all; taking cold cameras and lenses into a warm environment like your car or home will cause condensation that can fog up the elements, in some cases allowing mould to grow. You can guard against this with a BRNO dri+Cap. Used in place of a regular cap, it maintains humidity at an optimal level via a silica gel sachet and O-ring that sits between the cap and mount. Available in Canon or Nikon fit, a BRNO dri+Cap lens cap is £17.50, and you can get one in a kit with a DSLR body cap for £27.95. Replacement sachets cost £5.95 for eight. cameraclean.co.uk

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Hähnel ProCube charger and batteries from £45

Cold saps battery life and if you add in power-hungry landscape techniques like long exposures, you could find your winter excursions cut short. To cover yourself, invest in a spare cell, but instead of expensive first-party batteries, try one of Hähnel’s range. For an Extreme HLX-E6N that’ll fit bodies like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, III and IV, 7D and 6D, you’ll pay around £45, while Canon’s LP-E6N Battery Pack is £65. An Extreme HLX-EL15HP (equivalent of the EN-EL15 for models like the D600 and D810) is also around £45. Twin your new battery with a Hähnel ProCube (£49), and you’ll be able to charge two batteries at once, as well as powering up your smartphone. The charger can also be run from your car via a 12V lead. hahnel.ie


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Manfrotto Off road Hiker 30L backpack £150

Winter shoots mean transporting not just your camera gear, but other kit to make yourself more comfortable, such as extra clothing and provisions, so you need a bag that does both. Weighing 1.9kg, Manfrotto’s Off road Hiker 30L is a great choice along those lines, with quick side access to its well-padded, modular camera compartment in the base of the bag, as well as a space at the top of the bag for day-to-day gear. There’s also an innovative camera strap on the front of the pack that allows your camera to be carried there. Its outer is made from water-repellent nylon and for more serious weather there’s a stitched in raincover. The camera compartment is removable when required, turning it into a regular hiking bag. manfrotto.co.uk

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Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT carbon fibre tripod £220

If you’re after an ideal tripod for cold weather shooting, consider carbon fibre legs – not just because the legs will be more comfortable to hold out in the big freeze, but also because any weight shed is good for energy conservation. Check out the Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT carbon fibre, which has a great mix of rocksolid stability and flexible working. There’s a maximum reach of 170cm (closed it’s 63cm) and a multiangle centre column that lets you flip its position through 180° for working at low angles, all the while maintaining the tripod’s stability. The 28mm diameter, three-section legs adjust to 25º, 50º and 80º angles, and feature quarter-twist leg locks and spiked rubber feet, which are great for snow. Maximum load is 8kg. vanguardworld.com

Samyang 20mm f/1.8 ED 10 AS UMC £430

Prime lenses are getting more popular with landscapers and brands like Samyang have brought us fast apertures and wide focal lengths at affordable prices. Samyang’s 20mm f/1.8 is one such optic; a great option for low-light landscapes, which is available for Canon EF, Nikon and Sony FE, Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X and Canon EOS M fits. As a manual focus lens, it’s perfectly suited to scenics, where you can work more methodically, and the focusing ring’s smooth action and long travel mean you can focus with great accuracy. The 20mm focal length lets you pack in a lot of scenery and helps enlarge frosty foreground detail if you shoot close to the ground at the closest 20cm focusing distance. intro2020.co.uk

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Really Right Stuff L-Plate around £120

The more time you spend in freezing conditions, the colder you’ll get and mechanical gear like tripod heads can start to freeze up, making even minor adjustments a chore. Anything that helps you work faster and stay warmer is a bonus; and this includes shooting with L-brackets, allowing you to switch from horizontal to vertical orientation without having to recompose, or alter the position of the tripod. Try Really Right Stuff’s L-Plates, which are compatible with Arca-Swiss style heads. Made from light, strong, precision machined aluminium, they also feature antitwist flanges for the most solid fit between camera and plate, and they’re available for almost any DSLR body you care to mention. reallyrightstuff.com

MacWet Climatec Long 12 Cuff gloves £30

Landscape photography can involve a lot of hiking, but also a lot of standing around, waiting for the right light, or for long exposures to tick down. And standing around in the winter is a sure-fire way to get cold, as you won’t be generating any heat through exercise. So in addition to a cosy down jacket and hat, invest in some decent gloves. These MacWet Climatec Long Cuff gloves are windproof, waterresistant and fleece lined on the back, while the Aquatec fabric used on the palm and fingers gives a sure grip and enough sensitivity to dial in settings without needing to free your fingertips. They’re available in sizes from 6 (XS women) to 12 (XXL men), and four pleasingly neutral colours. macwet.com


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Camera test Specs Price £359 body only, £409 with 1855mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-P VR kit Sensor 24.2 megapixels Sensor format 23.5x15.6mm DX, CMOS ISO Range 100-25,600 in steps of 1EV Shutter range 1/4000sec to 30secs, in steps of 1/3EV, Bulb, Time Drive modes Up to 5fps Metering system Matrix metering: 3D Color Matrix metering II, centre-weighted metering and spot metering: EV2-20 range. Matrix and centreweighted metering EV0-20 Exposure modes PASM, scene modes, special effect modes Exposure compensation +/- 5EV (1/3 steps) Monitor 3in TFT LCD with 921K dots Focusing Single-point, dynamic-area, autoarea, 3D tracking (11 points) Focus points 11 focus points (including one cross-type sensor) Video 1920x1080: 60p (progressive), 1280x720: 60p Connectivity Hi-Speed USB, with MicroUSB connector, Type C HDMI connector, Bluetooth Specification Version 4.1, SnapBridge Storage media SD, SDHC (UHS I compliant) SDXC (UHS I compliant) Dimensions (wxhxd) 124x98x75.5mm Weight 445g Contact nikon.co.uk

Above The D3400 is well equipped to help beginners get more from their photography, yet there is also the potential with a full set of exposure modes for more creativity as their camera skills develop.

Nikon D3400

As the first entry-level DSLR from Nikon to boast SnapBridge connectivity, the D3400 has a range of features allowing you to do everything in camera while offering a helping hand to help you capture your best images Review and pictures by Jemma Dodd While Nikon has recently released a number of cameras aimed at pros and enthusiasts with the D5, D500 and D5600, the D3400 is its latest entry-level DSLR offering. With an ISO range of 100-25,600 the D3400 has an increase of one stop compared with its predecessor the D3300. It boasts a 24.2-megapixel DX-format sensor offering highquality images in a compact body that weighs just 445g. Even when attaching the 18-55mm kit lens the D3400 is a lightweight option and is easy to handle. To make the kit even more portable the lens can be retracted when not in use to take up even less space in your bag, clicking into place with a button on the top. The lens must be extended into place before you are able to start shooting and the camera will display a message to inform you to rotate the zoom ring to extend the lens. As an entry-level camera it’s ideal for beginners and has a limited number of buttons on the back including playback making it simple to use. In addition to the usual PASM modes, which can be found on other Nikon DSLRs, there are also dedicated modes which include

portraits, macro, sports and more. The D3400 also has an in-camera Guide Mode which can be accessed easily from the top dial. Within this guide it offers a limited menu with handy tips and advice to help you set up your camera and choose the best settings for different subjects. While aimed at beginners and enthusiasts the inclusion of a manual mode lets you take full control so as you develop your photography skills you can advance further with the same camera. The shutter speed dial is positioned on the back of the camera, while aperture can be changed by holding down the exposure compensation button in front of the shutter. ISO can be altered by holding down the Fn button on the left of the camera, again using the same dial to change it. All of these buttons are in easy reach, but alternatively you can change the ISO by hitting the ‘i’ button and using the directional pad to switch between other settings such as white-balance, image quality, focus mode, AF-area and metering without accessing the menu. The D3400 is Nikon’s first entrylevel DSLR to feature SnapBridge

While aimed at beginners and enthusiasts the inclusion of a manual mode lets you take full control... connectivity. By downloading the SnapBridge app to your smart phone you can transfer lo-res files from your camera to your phone, even when shooting and also while the camera is in sleep mode. You can then upload them directly from your smartphone to your favourite social networking sites or email them to friends and family. While other Nikon camera models feature Wi-Fi the D3400 doesn’t, which means that while you can transfer lo-res files you won’t be able to transfer full resolution images or shoot remotely using the SnapBridge app. SnapBridge uses low-energy Bluetooth, to help avoid draining the battery life of your camera, and thanks to a low-energy design and a high-capacity battery Nikon claims that on one full charge

the D3400 can capture up to 1200 shots. The D3400 also has creative filters which you can apply to your photos after shooting with the retouch menu. You can also use them by simply switching the top dial to Effects and using the dial on the right of the camera to swap between filters, including Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect, Selective Colour, Silhouette, High key, Low key, Night Vision, Super Vivid, Pop and Photo Illustration. Once you have chosen a filter to use, simply press OK and then switch to Live View which will allow you to preview the filter before you shoot. Full HD video recording is also included and can be accessed by pressing the (Lv) Live View button and then the red button on the top of camera to begin recording.


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Camera test Performance: ISO

Original image

The D3400’s ISO range covers 100-25,600 and also gives you the option to select auto ISO so the camera will choose the best ISO for you. I took some test shots on an overcast day and set an aperture of f/8 shooting in aperturepriority mode. At ISO 100 the image is crisp and clear and it isn’t until around ISO 800 that we can start to see some evidence of noise, with much more of an increase at ISO 3200. At the top of the range at ISO 25,600 the noise is extremely grainy. Choosing to look at the image taken at ISO 3200, which had a reasonable amount of noise, I used the Noise Reduction slider in Lightroom to see how easy it was to remove the noise. Moving the slider until I was happy left the image looking fairly soft having lost some of its detail, so I’d personally aim to keep the ISO below 1600 where possible.

The D3400’s ISO range covers 10025,600 and also gives you the option to select auto ISO

Right The Nikon D3400 performed well at low ISOs with noise becoming evident at around ISO 1600. At around ISO 3200 this increased more, and that carried on through to its top ISO 25,600.

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

ISO 25,600

Performance: exposure latitude Metering a correct exposure at ISO 100, aperture f/5.3 with a shutter speed of 1/30sec I took a correctly exposed image and then took eight more shots adjusting the exposure compensation from -4EV to +4EV in 1EV steps. When correcting the under and overexposed images in Lightroom the overexposed images were much easier to correct. The +1EV and +2EV corrected images were similar to that of the original, with hardly any change in noise, but a slight difference in colour/tone. As the +4EV image was too overexposed to capture any detail in the sky, no details could be recovered when correcting the image. Moving on to the underexposed images, the image taken at -1EV was easy to correct with minimal noise, while the -2EV image started to display more noise and a slight change in colour. This increased further moving through the -3EV and -4EV shots.

-1EV

-3EV

-2EV

-4EV

Verdict Being Nikon’s first entry-level DSLR to feature SnapBridge the D3400 is sure to attract those who want to get better quality than shooting with a phone, but still have the ability to upload their images instantly to social media platforms. Being so light and portable it’s ideal for travelling with and thanks to a built-in guide mode and integral filters you can do everything in camera before transferring the images to your smartphone, which also makes it great for family use. An entry-level camera, its key features include the guide mode, SnapBridge, five framesper-second shooting and Full HD video recording. 23/25 Features Built-in guide mode to offer help and assistance for beginners, SnapBridge for photographers who want to share their images instantly, creative filters and Full HD video Performance 23/25 Great low ISO quality and able to shoot handheld at around 1/10sec with no camera shake or blur

Original image +1EV

+2EV

Handling 22/25 It’s lightweight and portable, but a touchscreen would be handy Value for money 23/25 For just £409 with a kit lens it’s a great price for a beginner or family camera that’s easily portable for days out and social events

Correct exposure

+3EV

+4EV

91/100 Overall A great camera for those starting out in photography or those who want a helping hand with shooting Pros Lightweight and portable, ideal for beginners, great price for an entry-level camera Cons LCD lacks touch-and-tilt ability


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Camera test Specs Price Body only £7788, XCD 30mm f/3.5 £3348, XCD 45mm f/3.5 £1908, XCD 90mm f/3.2 £2268, X-H lens adapter to fit H-series lenses on the X1D £288. X1D-50c 4118 Edition with XCD 45mm lens £10,788 Sensor 16-bit CMOS, 43.8x32.9mm, 50 megapixels Sensor format 8272x6200 pixels ISO Range 100-25,600 Shutter range 60mins to 1/2000sec, flash sync at all speeds Drive modes 1.7-2.3fps Metering system Spot (2.5%), centre-weighted and CentreSpot Exposure modes PASM Exposure compensation +/-5 EV in 1.0, 0.5 and 0.3EV steps Monitor 3in 920k with touchscreen functionality. EVF with 2.36 million dots Focusing Contrast detect AF, instant manual override Focus points Grid of 35 covering 85% of the image frame Video HD 1920x1080p Connectivity Wi-Fi, GPS, mini HDMI, audio in/ out, USB 3.0 type-C connector Storage media Two SD card slots Dimensions (wxhxd) 150.4x98.1x71.4mm Weight 725g body with battery Contact hasselblad.com

Above The X1D’s uncluttered, handsome looks promote good handling. The large touch-sensitive 3in monitor is good to use, although more set-up and custom options like swapping what the scroll dials do would be nice.

Hasselblad X1D-50c

Join us for a close look at the world’s first mirrorless medium-format digital camera Words and pictures by Will Cheung It’s not mass market, but that’s because the digital medium-format cameras are very, very expensive. But things are changing with the launch of the X1D with a body price of £7788 and the Fujifilm GFX 50S expected this spring with a competitive price. The X1D was the world’s first medium-format camera to do away with a reflex mirror. As we have seen with smaller image formats, dispensing with a mirror means camera designers can make products smaller, lighter and more portable. That’s exactly the result with the X1D, and its 50-megapixel sensor means incredibly high image quality helped in no small way by Hasselblad’s XCD lenses. Three are available to order now, the XCD 30mm f/3.5 (£3348), XCD 45mm f/3.5 (£1908) and the XCD 90mm f/3.2 (£2268). In 35mm terms these lenses equate to 24mm, 35mm and 71mm focal lengths. More XCD lenses will be introduced in the future while users with H-series lenses can buy an adapter for the X1D. I tested the X1D with the 45mm and 90mm lenses and they combine very well on the body. Portability rates highly; toting the X1D around is akin to a full-frame DSLR. It weighs 1242g with the 45mm which compares with the 1285g of the Nikon D810 with 35mm f/1.8G lens. I found the body design excellent, both ergonomically and cosmetically. It’s slim and the bold right-side grip gives a comfortable, secure hold while the control layout is uncluttered with a minimalist feel. The neat design is helped by locating many of the camera’s functions on the fixed, touchsensitive 3in LCD rear panel. Here, depending what screen you’re in, you can engage the self-timer or turn on the Wi-Fi as change ISO or set exposure compensation. The menu system is good to use which is helped by large icons and fewer items compared with many cameras. Having fewer items does mean fewer customisation and set-up options. This does throw up some anomalies though. The secondary SD card slot can be set up as overflow but there’s no option to back up the primary card, nor can you save JPEGs to one and Raws to the other. There is no option to shoot just JPEGs only either.

The monitor is lovely for when you want to view image previews too, and you can move from shot to shot by swiping or pinching to enlarge the image. The viewfinder image is provided electronically. The EVF is decent rather than exceptional and I did see moiré effects on-screen though with finely patterned subjects. This was not on the final shots. Autofocus is responsive and fairly quiet – but not silent as you get with many current AF lenses. It’s quick too, not as quick as the leading CSC or DSLR, but still impressive given we are talking mediumformat. Accuracy is very good. The AF system uses a wide spread central grid of 35 points covering 85% of the image area and individual points can be selected by touch on the rear monitor. With the camera to the eye the AF point can be chosen using the two scroll dials. The exposure and white-balance systems proved very capable too

The reason why many photographers use medium-format is for the really high image quality dealing skilfully with a variety of lighting situations. Of course the reason why many photographers use medium-format is for the really high image quality. Or should I say higher image quality as the latest full-frame 35mm cameras from Canon, Nikon and Sony do offer very high pixel counts. The X1D’s 43.8x32.9mm CMOS sensor is anti-alias filter free and offers 16-bit capture with a claimed 14EV dynamic range. I shot in Raw and JPEG and there is no denying the quality of the images coming out of the X1D. Bitingly sharp, detail-packed,

noise-free and capable of serious enlargement without artefacting; just impressive (and big) files. I did a few comparison shots with a full-frame DSLR just out of curiosity. Were the X1D images superior? Yes, I think they were, but we are not talking black or white here but delicate shades of grey. The pictures are excellent and if your ambition is to make big prints and enjoy the slower pace of mediumformat photography, the X1D could be for you. You just get lovely photographs and that, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about, isn’t it?


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Camera test Performance: exposure latitude I shot a daylight scene and with a tripod-mounted X1D manually bracketed exposures from the correct reading which was 1/60sec at f/8 using ISO 100. The resulting Raws were corrected in Lightroom. With a claimed 14EV dynamic range for the 16-bit sensor I was expecting a good showing. The abused Raws corrected well and even at -4EV looked good and acceptable. Overexposure was also well handled with the +2EV shot looking very good while there was a colour shift with the +3EV shot. All round, a capable performance.

Original image

0EV

-1EV

-2EV

-3EV

-4EV

+1EV

Above The X1D’s touch monitor works well with gestures like swipe, spread and pinch. Handling is good which is just as well as I couldn’t find a way to disable the touch feature. Layout is user-friendly too and being able to move between the control screen (above left) and the main menu (above right) with a finger swipe is very good. Half press the shutter button gives live view, and this reverts to control screen after 12secs.

+2EV

+3EV

Verdict

+4EV

A high-performing camera that will undoubtedly delight and satisfy you for many years Performance: ISO

ISO 800

ISO 1600

For this test a low-light scene was used. The X1D’s base ISO is 100 and the image exposed at that speed needed 3.2secs at f/8. Images shown here were processed in Lightroom with no noise reduction. The X1D’s ISO range is 100 to 25,600. At the lower ISOs up to ISO 800, image quality is excellent. Clearly, it depends on final use, but I’d happily shoot at ISO 3200 where with some software NR, the images are still very clean, crisp, saturated and feature good blacks. Even ISO 6400 is impressive and the noise present has a nice, gritty filmic feel. Original image

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

To say that a medium-format digital Hasselblad complete with a standard lens at under £10k (less if you are VAT registered) is a bargain sounds like utter madness, but in the context of the digital medium-format market, I think that is a perfectly fair comment. Yes, it is still a serious amount of money but there are keen photographers, pros and enthusiasts out there with that sort of budget. If you are one of them and you make the commitment of going for an X1D you will be the proud owner of a high performing camera that will undoubtedly delight and satisfy you for many years to come. 20/25 Features The X1D has plenty to offer and the lens system will grow Performance 24/25 Excellent image quality even at high ISOs 22/25 Handling Fits the hands very nicely and ergonomics mostly good 20/25 Value for money It’s good value for what’s on offer – but it is still £10k

ISO 12,800

ISO 25,600

86/100 Overall If medium-format appeals, check out this capable camera Pros Image quality, overall handling, portability Cons 10sec start-up time, sharp lens/shutter noise when you take a shot, limited set-up/custom options


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First tests

First tests Accessories

We get our hands on the latest kit and share our first impressions – so you know whether or not to add it to your wish list Reviews by Will Cheung and Kingsley Singleton

Specs Prices £14.99 Data transfer speed Up to 130MB/s for USB 3.0 and 15MB/s for USB 2.0 Interface USB 3.0, USB2.0 for micro USB Water resistant Yes, 1m depth, 72 hours Operating range Yes, 0-60°C Shock resistant Yes X-ray proof Yes, 500secs radiation time Magnet proof Yes, 15,000 Gauss Dimensions (wxdxh) 36.6x5.7x16mm Weight 5g Contact samsung.com/uk

Samsung USB 3.0 Flash Drive Duo 32GB £14.99 One of the skills of modern day life is managing memory, especially on smart devices that can quickly be filled with pictures, audio files and apps. Hence the need for accessories like the Samsung USB 3.0 Flash Drive Duo. This device has two interfaces, USB 3.0 at one end and micro USB at the other, so ideal for managing data of your smart devices and computer. It is a flash drive so its reliable and features Samsung’s five-proof toughness. I tried the unit using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test app and by shifting data around and timing how long it took. With the Blackmagic app, the USB 3.0 interface read speed rated at an impressive 148.9MB/s while write speed managed 44.1MB/s which is respectable. In a practical test, I used a folder containing 10GB of data. This is larger than backing up a few JPEGs off the phone. This was using a Mac Mini (late 2012) fitted with a Crucial 750GB SSD drive and 16GB RAM. It took

just over six minutes for that data to write from the computer to the flash drive, which works out to 41.3MB/s, so not far off the Blackmagic tested speed. Doing the test in reverse, it took just 71secs and that works out to 148.7MB/s which is almost identical to the Blackmagic test. To test reliability I conducted some simple tests. The aim wasn’t to break the drive, but to put it through conditions to see how it would fare. To test shock resistance I dropped the flash drive three times from one and two metres onto a wooden laminate floor. The only result was that its micro USB cover popped off. For waterproofness, I left the drive submerged in fresh water for 24 hours, and to test temperature operating range, I left it in the fridge for the same time. Once dried off, I quickly plugged it into the computer and there were no problems. The strongest magnet I have is that on the MagMod flash modifier so I left the drive sitting next

to it for 15 minutes and tried the drive, again with no problem. Well, the unit emerged from my tests unscathed and the data on the drive remained safe. WC

Once it dried off I plugged it into the computer and there were no problems Verdict The Samsung USB 3.0 Flash Drive Duo proved to be a reliable device – and with its attractive price it is a great buy and offers a dependable backup solution. Pros Samsung five-proof ruggedness, good price, fast read speed Cons Supplying a cord or lanyard to attach the drive to a key ring would have been a nice touch, an integrated cover would make it even better


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First tests

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED £2050 Announced in July last year to a mixture of pant-wetting excitement and the odd raised eyebrow, Nikon’s 105mm f/1.4 slots neatly into the company’s current pro range as its fastest telephoto model. It also expands Nikon’s range of f/1.4 primes. Portrait photographers were justifiably enticed by its wide maximum aperture and claims of the super-smooth bokeh it produces, but at only 20mm longer than the excellent Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, pragmatists wondered if there was enough difference and sufficient improvement to justify the outlay. After a few weeks with the lens, shooting a variety of subjects, I can tell you it’s excellent, but… Let’s look at the positives first, of which there are masses. Despite having a plastic barrel (which is a little disappointing at the price), it’s still a hefty 985g, which took its toll over a day’s shooting; it felt about twice as heavy at the end. But all that highquality glass (there are 14 elements in nine groups) does add up to some wonderfully sharp images. The lens doesn’t have a Vibration Reduction function, and like the plastic barrel this does avoid extra weight, but at this price, the lack of VR is a troubling omission to me. Sure, fast lenses like the 105mm and good technique offset camera shake, but stopping down in the gloom will still be an issue, especially with high-res sensors picking up all sorts of micro-blur. The 105mm f/1.4 is only one centimetre longer than it is wide, so it could feel awkwardly plump for some, but I found it a good size, well balanced against the D800 I use, and the lens’s two controls – there’s only the focus ring and AF/MF button to speak of – fall easily to hand. However, one problem with the width is that, with the lens hood fitted, the AF illuminator light is blocked; this occasionally proved awkward

Specs Price £2,050 Format 35mm (FX), APS-C (DX, 158mm equivalent)

The 105mm f/1.4 is exceptionally well tuned for high-resolution sensors, showing impressive clarity even wide open when trying to lock on in low light, and while removing the hood solves the issue, it does leave the front element unguarded against flare. Talking of the front element, it takes 82mm filters, so you may be looking at an additional outlay there; many of Nikon’s other high-end lenses use a 77mm filter, and the commonality is a benefit. The large focusing ring turns with great smoothness and while the throw is long, taking just under 120° from near to far, the extra distance allows more precise manual focusing, which is great for secondary applications like astrophotography, still-life or fine-art landscapes. There is some breathing when focusing near to far, and the angle of view changes by around 25%, so it’s worth focusing roughly in the ballpark before making fine adjustments or your composition could be a bit off by the time you do. Portrait photographers will most likely be using AF, and therein the 105mm doesn’t disappoint; autofocus is not all that fast, lacking the ‘snap’ of something like the 70-200mm f/2.8G, but it’s sure-footed. And while not claiming to be an action lens, it was lively enough to follow a moving subject well in the D800’s 3D tracking mode, albeit stopped down a little to extend the depth-of-field.

Original image

Mount Nikon Construction 14 elements in 9 groups Special lens elements 3x extra low dispersion (ED) 85mm f/1.4

105mm f.1.4

Coatings Nano Crystal, Fluorine Filter size 82mm Maximum aperture f/1.4 Minimum aperture f/16 Diaphragm 9 blades Internal focus Yes Manual focus Yes Minimum focus 100cm

Above The 105mm f/1.4 clearly adds more compression, making background blur more prominent, but whether it’s a vital purchase over the cheaper 85mm depends on your needs (and your wallet). Minimum focus is 100cm, which compares pretty well with the 85mm f/1.4’s 85cm and the 70-200mm f/2.8E’s 110cm. It never felt restrictive and it’s easy to fill most of the frame with your subject’s face if required. Optically the lens is outstanding. The 105mm f/1.4 is exceptionally well tuned for high-resolution sensors, showing impressive clarity even wide open, and consistent sharpness across the frame. Shooting a test subject through the aperture range, images increased in sharpness up to a sweet spot around f/8-f/11, but I’d be happy to shoot at the full f/1.4. That said, I would probably still stop down to f/1.8 or f/2 for a little more safety in the depth-of-field and even greater F/1.4

clarity. The lens does vignette quite heavily wide open, and this hangs around through the wider apertures, before disappearing at around f/5.6. It’s easily correctable by in-camera or Raw processing, though. Fringing is virtually non-existent. Compared with an 85mm lens, the longer focal length certainly enhances blur. The compressed perspective makes the bokeh bigger and more impressive, with points of light forming pleasingly circular, flat discs – there are no squashed doughnuts here. What’s more, there are no signs of colour aberrations in defocused areas, as happens with some lenses. Altogether, it’s a fabulous look which portrait photographers will adore. KS

Focus limiter No Maximum magnification 0.11x Distance scale Yes, feet and metres Depth-of-field scale No Image stabiliser No Tripod collar No Lens hood Bayonet fit hold supplied Weather-sealed No Dimensions (lxd) 94.5x106mm Weight 985g Contact nikon.co.uk

F/1.8

Verdict

Above The 105mm f/1.4 is a truly outstanding performer in the imagequality stakes. Sure it’s not completely sharp wide open, but it gives impressive results, and while it also vignettes at the wider apertures, it’s not all that noticeable outside of test conditions. Fringing and other distortions were very difficult to spot. A top performance.

F/2.8

F/5.6

F/11

F/16

There’s no doubting that this is Nikon’s royale portrait lens, and it’s optically wonderful, so if you don’t have a fast prime for portraits, this is the one to aim for. However, for me, you won’t be shorting yourself too much if you opt to save £500 and go for the 85mm f/1.4. If you already own the latter, the new lens is luxury, not an essential purchase, so test one on a weekend loan to see if it puts a spring in your step. Otherwise, you might want to consider waiting for the inevitable (and hopefully imminent) 135mm f/1.4. Pros Wonderful image quality Cons Weight, price


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First tests

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art £1199 Sigma’s range of top-end, fast aperture prime Art lenses is growing apace and there are now five f/1.4 primes available, all of which continue to receive glowing reviews. The fifth member is the anticipated Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, which was launched last September and is in the shops now at £1199. This lens is a completely new 85mm design and, as you’d expect from a lens with this pedigree it is packed full of premium glass and quality components. Its 14-element construction includes one aspherical lens and three types of Sigma lowdispersion glass, ELD, SLD and FLD – E stands for extraordinary, S for special and F for F! Simply, the exotic glass keeps chromatic aberration to a minimum and helps to maximise image quality. See the website if you want to learn more about Sigma’s optical technology. We know the internals are high spec, so let’s move onto its build and finish. Well, you can’t help but be impressed with the lens’ finish which is typically impeccable Sigma with a wide, smooth focusing barrel, which takes about one third of a rotation to cover the distance range, and beautiful cosmetics – the lens certainly looks the business. A bayonet-fit hood and case are supplied as standard. The filter size, though, is a whopping 86mm. For comparison, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G’s thread is 77mm and the Canon 85mm f/1.2 is a mere 72mm. Using filters is probably not top of the agenda for all buyers of this lens but if you are thinking of using it wide open in bright light, you need to factor in the cost of bigger NDs or adapter rings. Its size is an inescapable fact and it is a big lens even making the fullframe Nikon D810 used for this test look small. The step up from an f/1.8 maximum aperture lens to a f/1.4 might only be 0.7EV and is just about discernible through an optical viewfinder. However, the difference in size and

weight is certainly significant and you have to bear in mind that there is no Sigma Optical Stabilisation included. Good camera technique is essential to make the most of this lens’s ability especially as it is likely to be used by owners of high resolution DSLRs and any camera shift has serious implications on image sharpness. Get it right though – and that includes checking whether your DSLR needs any AF micro adjustment with this lens – you will be rewarded with top quality images. Sharpness is impressive at f/1.4 and images withstand critical scrutiny across the frame. Add a little unsharp mask and fine detail just leaps out. There is a trace of purple fringing at f/1.4 but it is gone by f/2 and it is nothing major and quickly eliminated during Raw processing. Stopping down further does little for the already high resolution but contrast does improve and any minor fringing that was present goes. The apertures of f/4 and f/5.6 were very impressive. In fact there is little to choose with images shot in the f/4-f/8 aperture range where images are pin-sharp across the whole image frame and the tiniest detail is crisply resolved. That is great news because your aperture choice can be down to creative depth-of-field control as opposed to needing to stop down to get decent sharpness. Quality remains high right through to f/16 where diffraction slightly softens the image but the image’s sharpness is still more than acceptable. The expansive front element means there is the potential risk of ghosting or flare but I actually didn’t experience any on the occasions I used the lens – and that was with and without the supplied hood. Overall, optically this Sigma is a very fine lens, and just about lives up to all the hype and anticipation. But if you are shooting at the wider apertures just make sure you double check focus and practice good handholding technique. WC

Original image

Specs Price £1199 Format 35mm and APS-C Mount Canon, Nikon, Sigma Construction 14 elements in 12 groups Special lens elements SLD, ELD, FLD, 1xapsherical Coatings Sigma Super Multi-coating Filter size 86mm Maximum range F/1.4-16 Diaphragm 9 blades Internal focus Yes Manual focus Yes, full-time override Minimum focus 85cm Focus limiter No Maximum magnification 1:8.5 Distance scale Yes Depth-of-field scale Very limited Image stabiliser No Tripod collar No Lens hood Supplied

As you’d expect from a lens with this pedigree it is packed full of premium glass and quality components

Weather-sealed No Dimensions (lxd) 126.2x94.7mm Weight 1130g Contact sigma-imaging-uk.com

Below The Sigma lens was tested on a Nikon D810 on a variety of subjects. This particular scene was shot in Gravesend with the camera mounted onto a Gitzo Mountaineer GT2542 carbon fibre tripod fitted with an Arca Swiss ball head. Shots were taken using the camera’s exposure delay mode set to 3secs. F/1.4

F/2

Verdict

F/5.6

F/8

F/2.8

F/4

F/11

F/16

The 85mm focal length is a hugely popular one, especially for people photography, and this Sigma option is certainly a very worthy and capable one. Its large diameter filter thread, the lack of OS which would help handling and the body form are negatives. It is, for example, nearly twice the weight of its Nikon rival. That said, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 is a classy performer which is no more than I’d expect from the brand and if you’re using a high resolution DSLR and love good bokeh, then this could be your dream portrait lens. Pros Build and optical quality, good close focusing distance Cons Large filter size, bulk, no OS


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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First tests Specs Prices XMT500 £1199, XMTR trigger £229 Power output 500Ws Power range 2-500Ws 9EV in 0.3EV steps, full power to 1/256 Shortest flash duration 1/10,309sec at 1/256, 1/222sec at full power Colour temperature 5600K, +/-300K Battery charge time Four hours from flat High speed sync Up to 1/8000sec Modelling lamp Yes, 10W LED with off, 30%, 60% and 100% settings Radio control 2.4GHz Recycling 0.01sec to 2secs Modes TTL (3EV range) , manual, strobe (max 100 flashes per burst) Autodump Yes Fan cooling Yes Dimensions (WxHxD) 36.8x12.6x14.4cm Weight 3.5kg with battery Contact bowens.co.uk

The Bowens XMT500 shows a return to form for the brand

Bowens XMT500 £1199 Like many photographers, my first mains flash was a Bowens. Made in England, with good power and built like the proverbial brick outhouse, my kit gave reliable service for ages. Time has moved on, though, and you could argue that for a time Bowens lagged behind while flash technology raced ahead. The Bowens XMT500, however, shows a return to form for the brand. Design is still done by the Englandbased team while manufacture is now in China, and the XMT500 exhibits the build and robust qualities of Bowens units of old. It’s a batterypowered head with a 500Ws output and the features photographers expect nowadays. There is the option of TTL flash control with the optional XMTR trigger (£229 and available for Canon, Nikon and Sony), good colour stability throughout the power range, high-speed sync flash and excellent battery capacity. There are some fine design touches too, the most notable being the head’s simple locking mechanism. Just lift the lever, adjust the head and push it back down to grip the head in position. The head itself is slightly front heavy even without a modifier but even when the lever is in its unlocked position there’s still tension so the head doesn’t flop forward. It’s a nice, practical and usable piece of design. The power range is 9EV from full power to 1/256 manually adjustable in 0.3EV or with the trigger in 0.3EV. Power is provided by a 8.7Ah Lithium-ion rechargeable battery that

fits into the top of the head. It features a charge check LED. Removing the battery is a two-handed operation, one hand to push and hold the springloaded lock button and then the other to remove the battery. A design trick has been missed here and springloading the battery compartment so that the battery pops up free of the body when the unlock release is used would make life much easier. As it is, a good thumb/finger grip is needed. The rear control panel is the centre of operations. The LCD info panel is excellent and easy to read – I was initially puzzled by FLSH mode but it is just manual mode and I’ve no idea why Bowens did not use the more obvious widely used MAN for manual. I think the control buttons are rather small and neither the buttons nor labels are backlit which won’t help in poor light and the labelling in Bowens house magenta/ pink colours isn’t overly legible. Of course, familiarity will help. The LCD shows battery state, groups/channel info, output level and mode, and then settings are adjusted using the buttons and control dial. I tried the XMT with the XMTR Nikon flash trigger, PocketWizards and a Nikon SB900 speedlite in its master mode. A charged cell gave 605 full-power flash bursts by which time recycling was 10secs and the red battery state LED was flashing but until then recycling was 2sec stretching to about 3secs by 500 flashes. My test was in batches of 100 flashes at a time with

a ten minute break. That is excellent capacity and of course in lower settings or in TTL mode, you will get a great many more bursts. Adjusting the power levels manually at 1EV intervals I found the output stayed in step until the lowest two settings, 1/128 and 1/256. In both of these cases the gap is more like 0.5EV than 1EV so tests shots actually turned out underexposed. I also tested its power output using a flash meter with the XMT fitted with a basic reflector. At full power, three metres and ISO 100 I got a meter reading of f/11.7 while moving in to 1m the reading was f/32.4. Output is adjustable in 0.3EV steps that of course matches camera aperture steps and there is no option of using 0.1EV, either on the head itself or when using the XMTR trigger. Colour stability from full to minimum power was very good with

no serious shift through the range. The optional XMTR trigger gives wireless TTL and manual control. It has the option of five groups and 32 channels so plenty of versatility there. It worked well with the XMT500, although the trigger’s handling could be better. There’s no direct access to each group, as on some other triggers, and you have to scroll through groups A to E, then select the group you want to adjust. It works fine, but handling is slow compared with other triggers. The trigger gives the option of highspeed sync and TTL. With the head fitted with a basic reflector two metres from the subject, using a Nikon D810 at ISO 100, setting 1/8000sec allowed f/1.8 while dropping shutter speeds gave more power and more aperture options – f/4 at 1/2000sec, f/5.6 at 1/1000sec and f/8 at 1/500sec. Of course, setting higher ISOs gives even greater options. WC

Verdict

Design matters The XMT500 has some nice design touches including the excellent, quick to use and positive head adjustment lever while the protruding flash tube ensures even light coverage with softboxes and other S-fit modifiers. Personally, I think battery removal could be easier and the small control buttons, while they look good, are just too small. Build quality is very good and battery capacity is excellent.

The Bowens XMT500 is a good, powerful, location light with plenty of features and amazing battery stamina. Some aspects of handling could be better but the niggles are minor and subjective and there are certainly more positives than negatives. With the common S-bayonet accessory fitting, power, excellent battery capacity and a competitive price, the Bowens XMT500 is sure to have great overall appeal. Pros Head adjustment lever, power capacity, colour stability, common S-bayonet, price Cons Battery release mechanism, control buttons could be bigger


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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First tests Specs Print resolution 9600x2400dpi Inks Six individual ink tanks: pigment black PGBK, black BK, cyan C, magenta M, yellow Y, grey GY. Standard size and extra large inks available. ChromaLife100 inks

Canon PIXMA TS9050 £219.99

Unprofiled

Print speed 21cm borderless 10x15cm Scanner resolution (optical) 2400x4800dpi A4 scan speed 14 secs

Profiled

Copy speed 19secs A4 Interface USB 3.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, PIXMA NFC touch and print, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, SD memory card slot (microSD with adapter) Compatibility Windows 10, 8.1, 7, Vista SP2 Mac OS X 10.8.5 and later Dimensions 37.2x32.4x14cm Weight 6.7kg Contact canon.co.uk

Colours looked nicely saturated, contrast levels seemed high, although tonal gradation was smooth

Above Above is with the printer’s colour management and below is with custom profile. There are differences and the profiled print is better – but the differences aren’t huge and need direct comparison to appreciate. Both prints were on Epson Value Glossy Photo paper.

Canon is unique in being the only imaging brand offering capture and final output solutions, with a range of printers from consumer level models to huge, high-output pro models. The TS9050 is a leading model in Canon’s PIXMA range of all-in-one printers. It’s an A4 printer, copier and scanner that’s packed with features aimed at fun and enthusiast photographers. It puts ease of use as well as high-quality output at the top of its features list. You can print wirelessly, whether that is from your cloud, an SD memory card, your smart device or from your computer. The touchscreen and the Canon app make the TS9050 a user-friendly unit and for those of you who produce a lot of prints, there are individual inks with the option of standard (571 7ml, 570 15ml) or extra large (11 11ml, 570 22ml) tanks. The 571 photo inks are cyan, yellow, magenta, grey and black. The 570 ink is pigment black ink and would be used for printing documents. For this test, I took the standpoint of this unit’s suitability as a printer for the keen enthusiast photographer, as opposed to the smartphone or more casual photographer. Setting up is a quick and straightforward process and onscreen prompts guide you through the

process loading the ink cartridges and connecting up to your devices. Within ten minutes of unpacking I was ready to connect the unit to the computer; then I went to a Canon website to download software and just minutes later the unit was ready to print. My own set-up is profiled and I use generic ICC profiles downloaded from the websites of the paper suppliers when printing. Searching around on the web it seems generic profiles for Canon’s A4 consumer printers are not generally available. This means for serious output with the TS9050 you’ll need to consider custom profiles, a service offered free by some paper suppliers including Fotospeed and Permajet. So for my review, I started by making a few custom profiles using the Datacolor SpyderPRINT so I could compare profiled and non-profiled output using Epson, Fotospeed and Permajet papers. My first prints using files I’ve used before for printer reviews were made allowing the printer to manage colours. The results were pretty good and viewed in isolation there is little to moan about. Colours looked nicely saturated, contrast levels seemed high, although tonal gradation was smooth. All told the non-profiled prints were perfectly acceptable.

However, the same files then printed with my home-produced profiles gave superior results. The contrast levels were slightly lower and the colours were more saturated and generally more accurate. The differences were clearly evident in side-by-side comparison, but it is worth stressing that the non-profiled files came out looking good, especially those on glossy/lustre papers. The matt/fine art finishes were less good. I had less success with printing black & white. Whether I used a monochrome RGB or a greyscale file, and with the black & white output box ticked in the printer interface, my mono images came out with a distinctive brown/sepia colour cast. I didn’t manage a truly neutral mono print on the papers I used. It took around two minutes to output an A4 print and the unit is quiet so no issues printing when the family is trying to watch the TV. In the printer interface there is the option of normal or best quality. I tried a couple of files at both settings and saw no discernible difference between the two so save time and probably ink with the normal mode. The other thing to remember in the printer interface is to select the paper rear-feed slot – thicker photo paper does not work through the main paper cassette.

Generally, though, my experience with the TS9050 was a good one. Being able to copy and scan as well as print are useful extra benefits too, and it has it lots of nice touches like the touchscreen, many connectivity options and it looks great in a domestic environment. WC

Verdict So will it suit the photographer who just wants brilliant output? As always, it depends. If you want to use fine art papers, have generic profile support and the option to make the occasional A3 or A3+ print then probably not. On the other hand, if you want a versatile home printer for family use that can also copy and scan and to produce highquality A4 prints of your best shots with minimal fuss, then the Canon PIXMA TS9050 has a lot to commend it. Pros Multi-function, optional extra capacity ink tanks, straight of the box prints look good Cons Limited generic ICC profile support, mono prints come out sepia, less good with matt/fine art finishes


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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First tests Specs

Paxis Mt Pickett 20 backpack £200

Material Nylar hydrophobic ballistic fabric/ synthetic rubber base Tripod holder Yes Sternum strap Yes Laptop/tablet pocket Yes (9in) Waist belt Yes, with additional clips Zips Waterproofed on upper Dimensions (WxHxD) Exterior: 51x30.5x18cm Pod section: 28x13x14cm Weight 2.5kg Contact johnsons-photopia.co.uk, paxispax.com

Paxis has rethought the way you get to your gear with an ingenious compartment

Can you handle it? The Paxis Mt Pickett’s standout feature is its swinging Shuttle Pod, letting you access kit without taking off the bag. The Pod is unlocked using a pull handle on the right strap and it certainly speeds up access, although space in it is quite limited.

In the world of camera backpacks, it’s pretty difficult to innovate. In fact, the basic design that satisfies photographers hasn’t changed much in decades; a well-padded, voluminous interior to stow and protect gear, comfortable straps to make carrying easier and some level of waterproofing. Add some handy stuff like compartments for your lunch and somewhere to hook a tripod, and you’re looking at a design that serves most needs. So the Paxis Mt Pickett 20’s design is a bit of a surprise. The company, which was formed by outdoor enthusiasts, has rethought the way you get to your camera gear with an ingenious compartment that, when the backpack is donned and the mechanism triggered, swings out to your front at waist level for quick access. The promise is increased speed of shooting, but you also get to avoid taking your bag off and bending over in situations where it wouldn’t be sensible, like wet or dirty environments, or a prison shower. So does it work? Well, yes, and pretty well too, with a couple of caveats. The part that swings out is called the Shuttle Pod and to use it you pull a metal release handle that sits on the right shoulder strap. This is connected, by a cord, to a locking mechanism, and once released the Pod is free to swing forwards. You

need to reach backwards to grab it, rather than it being spring loaded, but there’s a convenient handle to grasp, and after a few goes it felt like second nature to me. Pulling the lever with my left hand, having already located the handle with my right, the whole process, including unzipping the pod took only a few seconds. What are the drawbacks? The main problem for me was the size of the Pod and the weight it’ll take. At 28x13x14cm, I stowed a Nikon D800 DSLR body with a 24-70mm f/2.8G lens fitted, but there wasn’t room for much else. And while more space can be earned by splitting lens and body, it rather defeats the increased speed. That said, if you have camera in hand and use the compartment to store lenses it makes a lot more sense, providing a good platform for swapping optics. And if you have a smaller DSLR body, or a CSC, that will certainly free up space for more lenses. There’s a zippered and sewnin wallet for small items, too. With smaller gear, the Shuttle Pod design makes a lot more sense. The D800 and 24-70mm have a combined heft of about 1.9kg, which is well under the quoted limit of 2.25kg (5lb), but the Pod still felt quite unbalanced when swung out, even with the waist strap buckled to counter it. Again, with lighter kit it works better.

I found loading the Pod easier with the bag donned, as when it’s on the deck, you need to unlock it and swing it out for access, which is more fiddly than when it’s slung. The Pod was also a little lacking in rigidity with its sides having only thin padding. There is a Pod Armour pack (for an additional £15 or so), and while this is normally intended as dividers, I preferred to fit them around the edges for more protection. The rest of the bag is extremely rigid, thanks to the stiffened back where the mechanism sits. This is welcome (it means the bag can be stood on the deck without falling over), but it adds to the weight, which at 2.5kg isn’t exactly light before a load is added. The upper is more generous in size than the Pod, taking around two thirds of the height, and within it are several pockets including one for a small laptop or tablet. It’s a good space and allows for provisions, outdoor gear or kit you don’t need in a hurry. There’s no shortage of webbing and attachment points to string more gear on the outer, either. The bag was comfortable in carrying with broad, well-padded straps, and the belt added stability. There’s also an ergonomically designed, thickly padded back with airflow vents and an adjustable sternum strap to ease the weight on your shoulders.

There’s no separate raincover, but to combat the elements the back has a water-resistant outer which performed well: caught in persistent rain, water beaded well and, thanks to the waterproofed zips on the upper I noticed no ingress. There is however a hydration port on the top, right next to the waterproofed zips, which is liable to act like a drain in a heavier downpour. It’s an odd place to put it; ports are normally on the back or side to keep water out. If you need to put the bag down it has a thickly padded, rubberised bottom, but it would be nice if this had extended further up the sides, so it could deal with water of more than a few millimetres. KS

Verdict Once you can get over feeling like Inspector Gadget, the Paxis Mt Pickett 20 proves to be a useful, clever design. It’s better than many bags that claim to offer fast access to gear, but is more suited to smaller, lighter kit than heavy bodies and lenses. If you require speed, definitely give it a look. Pros Innovative, comfortable, and well made Cons Space, weight and some waterproofing concerns


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Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Technique PART 5

Camera School

Here we lift the lid on all things camera related, showing how to get better results from your CSC or DSLR and providing all the info you don’t find in the manual. So, stick with us and you’ll soon be wielding your camera like a pro. This month, how the aperture setting you use influences the depth-of-field Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton So far in Camera School we’ve examined the effects of aperture on exposure, showing how the size of the aperture affects the amount of light recorded and therefore the brightness of the image. But there’s a secondary effect of aperture, which is of just as much interest to photographers: it’s called depth-of-field. What is depth-of-field? Depth-of-field is a measurement of how much of the image is considered ‘acceptably sharp’. This depth-of-field might be a few millimetres or many hundred of metres, and it’s governed by several factors, including the size of the aperture, the size of the sensor, the focal length you’re shooting at, and how close to the camera you set the focus. Acceptable sharpness? Let’s go back to that term ‘acceptably sharp’ for a moment, because it’s important to understand that there’s no hard line between in focus and out of focus. Only the point at which you focus is truly sharp, and there is a gradual defocusing away from that plane, even if those areas appear sharp to your eyes. As areas become defocused, points of light spread and are called circles of confusion. What’s considered ‘acceptably sharp’ is Enlargement at f/4

Enlargement at f/8

Enlargement at f/16

based on how big these circles of confusion are. Some will appear to perfectly sharp to our eyes, and some won’t; it’s when they begin to affect this perception of sharpness that the depth-of-field ends. Traditionally, the circle of confusion only needs to be 0.001in (0.025mm) in size for that area of the image to lose acceptable sharpness. But acceptable sharpness is also based on the viewer’s eyesight, viewing conditions, the size, the resolution of the image, and more. The important thing to keep in mind, is that the sharper an image looks from the nearest object to the furthest, the greater the depth-of-field can be said to be. It’s also worth remembering that, generally, the depth-offield extends further behind the point of focus than it does in front of it (towards the camera), and this becomes more pronounced the further away you focus. Aperture and depth-of-field So, how does the aperture setting affect the depth-of-field? Broadly, the larger the aperture (lower f/number), the less depth-of-field there will be. And as you close the aperture, depthof-field increases. So, when shooting with the same lens and focusing in the same place, if you shoot at a low f/number like f/2.8 or f/4, Full image at f/4

you’ll only generate a small depth-of-field and lots of the scene will be blurred; if you shoot with a high f/number like f/16 or f/22, most of the scene will appear to be sharp. How to control depth-of-field Because depth-of-field is one of the most important creative decisions you can make in an image, it makes sense to take full control over it. For this reason, it’s best to shoot in aperture-priority mode (A or Av on the Mode dial), wherein you’ll be able to set the f/number in respect of the amount of sharpness you want, with the shutter speed compensating for it to create a good exposure. You can also control aperture in manual mode, wherein you’ll need to set the shutter speed, too. On most digital cameras aperture is controlled using one of the command dials, but some, like Fujifilm’s X-series, feature traditional-style aperture rings around the lens itself. The aperture setting will be displayed on screen or within the viewfinder, and if you’re using live view mode, you may get a preview of the sharpness of the scene. Most DSLRs also still include a depth-of-field preview button that does the same thing via the viewfinder, although the viewfinder will dim as the amount of light is reduced.

Above Once you’re in aperture-priority mode (A or Av), you’ll have full control of the aperture, and therefore the depth-of-field. By altering depth-of-field you can control how much of the scene is in focus (see examples below), which is one of the most creative tools you can use in photography. NEXT MONTH How the focal length and where you focus affects depth-of-field.


Photography News | Issue 40 | absolutephoto.com

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Competition

Editor’s letter

A belated welcome to 2017 The festive season is a busy one but I managed to dedicate the odd day to trawling through the thousands of images captured over the past 12 months. At the start of 2016 I did resolve to make fewer pictures but make more of them count. Did I succeed? No, not really, although that is not to say I’m unhappy with my output. I do try to rate, delete and catalogue pictures as I go along and doing it in bite-sized chunks is much more manageable. Even so I usually end up with loads of keepers – or at least ones rated five stars. To be honest I end with too many images for two reasons: indecisiveness and impatience. The first is definitely my problem but the latter I blame on my computer so I managed to do something about that. My computer, a late 2012 Mac Mini, uses a conventional hard drive, one of those with a spinning disc. While the benefits of SSDs (solid state drives) are widely advertised most computers still use conventional hard drives where you get greater capacity and better value for money. With huge catalogues, multitasking and big files my fully RAM-ed up computer was painfully slow and this meant going through pictures was torturous, hence my impatience. My tether was at its end so I took the plunge and went for an SSD, thinking it would be a great Christmas holiday project. I first checked out the actual disk replacement procedure online to make sure I could really do it. I’m not IT literate so the prospect of disconnecting and swapping stuff around is alien and scary. The online video made it seem easy with the right tools, ie. hex keys and Torx screwdrivers. Ordering the right SSD drive was really straightforward. I went to the Crucial website, then downloaded the app that scanned the computer and told me what I needed. With the drive and newly acquired tools in front of me I just followed the video. Naturally, the reality was more fiddly than the video – obviously the instructor was an expert – but after 30 minutes the computer was back in one piece. I fired it up in great anticipation and... nothing! Hmm, not that easy then. I retraced my steps and tried again. I found I hadn’t been forceful enough with the connector between the SSD and the computer. Hoping I’d resolved the issue, I put the unit back together and tried again. Hurrah! The performance benefits were significant and immediately obvious. The Lightroom

catalogue’s previews refreshed almost instantly. Photoshop opened with lightning speed and I tried working with some very large image files – panoramas in excess of 500MB – and speed here was impressive too. I didn’t make any time tests with the traditional hard drive so I can’t be empirical about it, but the SSD is many times faster. It has made a colossal difference to my workflow and I can now go through catalogues rating and deleting images like the proverbial knife through butter. If your computer and sanity are creaking under the strain, do consider the SSD option. I’m not saying it’s cheap – although SSDs are getting cheaper – but the savings in time are massive. Even after a heavy edit I still had quite a lot of half-decent results to edit and print. I am lucky enough to have a decent home printer so making big prints is not an issue so long as I feed it some ink occasionally. I know many photographers print, but a great number do not and only look at their shots on screen. I’ve always made prints and still have my chemical darkroom kit – it’s all in a box currently but I will fire it up when I get the space. There’s something very special about having something tangible in your hands. It is just my opinion but I don’t understand why so many photographers seem content with on-screen images. You might have the best screen in the world but there’s no haptic experience and for me that’s why I take pictures in the first place. I’m off to delete more pictures and look forward to meeting up again next month.

WIN!

A Samsung memory card! Capture life’s special moments across all devices with the ultra-reliable Samsung SD memory cards. Samsung’s latest SD cards can write data at an impressive 90MB/s and read data at an even higher 95MB/s. The cards are also amazingly reliable being water, temperature-, X-ray-, magnet- and shockproof, so shooting in the most challenging conditions isn’t an issue. We have one massive 64GB Samsung PRO SD card to award to an eagle-eyed winner. Just complete the word search below, and you’ll find one word in the list that’s not in the grid. Email us on puzzle@photography-news.co.uk with that word in the subject box by 12 February 2017. The correct answer to PN38’s word search was Ring and the Samsung 64GB card was won by G Baillie of Plymouth. Congratulations to him. samsung.com and search for memorycards

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Photography News Issue 40  

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