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news

Issue 31 11 Apr – 5 May

Your FREE newspaper packed with the latest news, views and stories from the world of photography

Fujifilm X-E2S Turn to page 35 to see it in action

Gear of the Year All the winners & trophies on page 13

GET YOUR

FREE DIGITAL EDITION every month*

*at absolutephoto.com

WIN!

A Samsung 64GB Pro memory card

Testing, testing

Enter the competition on page 56

7 pages of accessory tests start on page 38

© Anthony Morris

The finalists The five rounds of the Camera Club of the Year competition are over and we have our five qualifiers. Who will win the grand prize?

© Rosie Mathisen

© Forrest Weir

© Graham Jones

© Tony Gill

© Peter Gennard

© Eddie Telford

© Henry Slack

In association with

For winning a round, each club receives a professional quality Canon PIXMA PRO-100S printer, worth £499.99, which produces A3+ prints with its eight colour inkset. The five finalists now go through to the Grand Final, for a chance to win a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO‑1000, a 12-colour, A2 printer worth £1199.99 and a day with renowned landscape photographer, David Noton.

© Alison Fryer

© Nigel Jones LRPS

After five themed rounds, covering The power of nature; Movement; Patterns & textures; Brr, it’s cold; and Low light, five clubs have qualified for the final of Camera Club of the Year 2015-16. In no particular order, they are Parkwood Camera Club, Smethwick Photographic Society, Ayr Photographic Society, Harpenden Photographic Society and Dorchester Camera Club – congratulations to all of them.

The five clubs will each learn the details of the Grand Final task this week, and have a fortnight to complete it. Judging will take place immediately and the Camera Club of the Year 2015-16 will be announced in issue 32. All the entered photos from the five rounds of Camera Club of the Year are on the website.

Join us for Photo 24 Photo 24 is a free photography event taking place in London. It starts at noon on 17 June …continue reading on page 9

absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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News

Tokina offers bright aperture in wide lens

Canon 1300D

Canon has announced a new entry-level DSLR – the EOS 1300D. It features a large APS-C, 18-megapixel sensor and DIGIC 4+ processor. The ISO range is 100-6400, expandable to 12,800, great for shooting in low light. Features include Full HD video, Wi-Fi and NFC. With three buying options available you can purchase the 1300D body only for £289.99, kitted with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DCIII for £329.99 or with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II for £369.99.

Tokina’s 14-20mm f/2 Pro DX lens is available in Canon and Nikon mounts, selling at £849.99. It features an all-new proprietary optical design, which uses three apsherical lens elements, as well as four Super-low Dispersion glass elements. A One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism allows you to switch between AF and MF using the snapping focus ring.

canon.co.uk

tokinalens.com

Two new from Leica Up first is the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90– 280mm f/2.8-4 lens. It features integrated optical image stabilisation, which allows exposure times to be increased up to 3.5 stops. Dual internal focusing ensures a fast and quiet autofocus while shooting and the lens also features a detachable tripod mount. Its focusing range at 90mm is 0.6m and 1.4m at 280mm. The 90-280mm lens is available for £4650.

The second is a new addition to the Leica T Camera System portfolio, the Leica Summilux-TL 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. Available in black or silver anodised finish, the lens costs £1650. Also new is firmware update 3.0.0.0 for the medium-format Leica S (Typ 007). leica-camera.com

See further with Sony Added to Sony’s line-up of Cyber-shot cameras is the RX10 III, which features a 24-600mm f/2.4-4 telephoto lens and boasts a 20.1-megapixel 1.0-type stacked sensor and BIONZ processor. Other features include 4K video quality; triple lens rings for focus, zoom and aperture; an upgraded handgrip shape compared with other RX10 models; and a new focus button on the lens barrel, which allows you to lock the focus distance. Sony has also introduced two lenses to its full-frame FE line-up, the FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS telephoto zoom lens priced at £1150 and the FE 50mm f/1.8 prime lens priced at £240. sony.co.uk

Sigma expands reach Nikon Spring Cashback Nikon is offering up to £150 cashback on selected DX and FX NIKKOR lenses. The offer runs until 29 June 2016 and all claims must be received before 31 July 2016 to qualify.

Sigma has paired its 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports and Contemporary lenses with the TC-1401 1.4x Teleconverter to offer kits with an extended reach. The Sports kit retails at £1649.99, while the Contemporary kit is £1349.99. There is also a new firmware update available for both the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports and Contemporary lenses, Canon and Nikon mounts. The update improves the AF algorithm and enhances the AF speed through optimisation of the HSM drive control. It can be installed using SIGMA OPTIMIZATION Pro, which can be downloaded from sigma-global.com/ download/en.

nikon.co.uk sigma-imaging-uk.com


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News

Bag it with Tamrac

Tamrac’s new Hoodoo Backpacks are made from water-resistant waxed canvas and feature comfortable harnesses. The Hoodoo 18 can hold a mirrorless or compact DSLR as well as an extra lens. There’s also space for personal gear and a dedicated sleeve for a 13in laptop. The Hoodoo 20, on the other hand, is larger in size than the 18 and can fit additional lenses, as well as a 15in laptop and also offers easy access to your gear through the front of the pack. This versatile bag includes a removable, protective camera module, which can act as a separate shoulder bag. Each model comes in a choice of three colours, Kiwi green, Pumpkin orange or Ocean blue. The Hoodoo 18 is priced at £89.99 and the Hoodoo 20 is £130. tamrac.com

Vanguard addition to VEO collection

Whether you plan on shooting action stills or video, Vanguard’s new monopod with tri-feet could be your new three-legged friend

Go premium with 4V Design leather straps MacGroup and 4V Design have launched a range of premium camera straps made from handcrafted, Italian Cuoio leather. There are 29 lines available in total, which include neck straps and wrist straps, available in various colours and sizes. Prices range from £38.50 for Watch Wrist Straps designed for small and medium compacts up to the higher priced ALA Top Leather straps for £109, which are ideal for any camera that features universal or metal ring fittings. There is a test on the 4v Lusso Large strap in this issue. 4vdesign.it/en

Spider hand strap Spider Holster has announced three new products: the Spider Light Hand Strap designed for mirrorless and other lightweight cameras; the Spider Web tether; and the Black Widow Vertical Adapter, which allows the Black Widow holster to be attached to a vertical strap. The Spider Light Hand Strap is available in six different trim colours. spiderholster.com

The newest addition to the award-winning Vanguard VEO collection is the VEO AM-264TV aluminium monopod with tri-feet and PH-113V Video Pan Head. Its maximum load capacity is 6kg and it weighs just 1.5kg. Folded down, the VEO AM-264TV is 64.5cm and extends to 171cm. A screw on the base allows you to tilt or lock the monopod in position, while the PH-113V two-way video head can tilt +60° to -90° and rotates 360°. It’s priced at £109.99. vanguardworld.co.uk

Light the way with Elinchrom Expanding its lighting equipment, Elinchrom has announced two new kit collections: the D-Lite RX range and ELB 400 sets. Also announced is a new Elinchrom EL-Skyport Plus system. The D-Lite RX range offers seven sets, from those for beginners to those for more advanced shooters with prices starting at £540. See our review of the Softbox To Go Set on page 42. The ELB 400 sets include four portable, robust and lightweight options to choose from and offer more than twice the flash capacity of the original Quadra. elinchrom.com


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News

Benro introduces GoPlus range The GoPlus range from Benro features both classic and travel tripods with eight models to choose from. The Classic range models offer classic folding legs and a Quick Flip centre column, which can be used as a lateral arm for shooting at low angles. The Travel range features reverse folding legs, as well as the Quick Flip centre column, providing versatility in a travel-friendly tripod. Each model within the range is available in either carbon fibre or aluminium and can hold a maximum load of 14kg. All the tripods can be converted into monopods, offering further versatility. Prices start from £130.

New Phottix products launched MacGroup and Phottix have added the Phottix Hexa-Para series of deep octa softboxes to their range. Available in two extra large sizes to fit Bowens-compatible S-type mounts or an Elinchrom mount, both Hexa-Para softboxes have a removable inner double-defused centre, an outer diffuser and 16 support rods, which help to maintain a close-to-perfect circle. The 120/47in softbox costs £169, while the 150/59in is £249. Hexa-Para speedrings are required in addition to purchasing the octa softboxes; both the S-Type for Bowens and Elinchrom Speed Ring cost £27. Also new is the Odin II TTL Flash Trigger which features group buttons and thumbwheel control for fast operation, TTL power control +/-3EV and a high-speed sync of up to 1/8000sec on compatible cameras. Currently available for Nikon and Canon, the receiver costs £125 and the transmitter £160. A Sony compatible model is expected to arrive in late April.

benro.com

Before: no filter

After: with Lee Hard grad

Lee Filters additions Originally Lee Filters offered its medium and very hard ND grads as custom-made filters for professional photographers. Now these options are available to all users of the Seven5, 100mm and SW150 systems. Both the medium and very hard grads are available in 0.3ND, 0.45ND, 0.6ND, 0.75ND, 0.9ND and 1.2ND versions. Individual filters and sets are available – the 100mm starts from £86.23. leefilters.com

phottix.com


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News News in brief Joining the Twitterati Photography News has joined Twitter. Join the discussion, get inspired, share images and keep up to date @photonewspn. @photonewspn

The Sony World Photography Awards has had another successful year with entries from all over the world. British doctor and amateur photographer, Tino Solomon was named the winner of the United Kingdom National Award, with second place taken by Mike Odwyer and the third place winner named as Stuart Cripps. All the winning and shortlisted images across the competition will be on show at the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London, from 22 April until 8 May 2016. somersethouse.org.uk

© Tino Solomon

Capture One Pro 9.1 The latest update for Capture One Pro, version 9.1 is now free to download for existing Capture One Pro 9 users. The update features a new range of workflow, Image editing and asset management tools. phaseone.com Lessons in landscape Looking to improve your landscape photography? Peter Watson, a contributing photographer to several image libraries, takes you through 80 practical lessons, with tried-and -tested techniques in Lessons in Landscape, Techniques for Taking Better Photographs. Available from May, Lessons in Landscape costs £19.99. ammonitepress.com Plustek Z300 scanner The new ePhoto Z300 scanner from Plustek automatically detects photos or documents placed in the device and will scan them up to 300dpi. It accepts paper sizes from one inch up to A4 size and up to 0.76mm in thickness. The Z300 scanner costs £130. plustek.com Dive in Take your compact for a splash with the Polaroid Dive. Designed to house compacts from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony, the Polaroid Dive protects your camera up to 130 feet underwater. Prices range from $99.99-599.99 (£69.92- 419.54) depending on the camera. If you fancy trying out some underwater shooting see our feature for advice and tips. polaroid.com

© Tim Laman

© Kazuma Obara

© Mike Odwyer

Final call for EPOTY The Environmental Photographer of the Year competition is making a final call for entries before the deadline on 18 April 2016. Submit your images or videos that promote an understanding of contemporary global environmental and social issues including climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity and human rights and you could win part of the £6000 prize fund. epoty.artopps.co.uk

Sony WPA

World press photo Thousands of images from across the globe were submitted to the 2015 World Press Photo Contest from the likes of photojournalists, picture agencies, newspapers and magazines. Now you can see the chosen images and most newsworthy moments within the World Press Photo 16 paperback, which will be available from 20 May, priced £18.95. Above top Royal Marine Band at ship launch by Mike Odwyer Above below The Door to Hell by Tino Solomon

© Kai Nomiyama

worldpressphoto.org

Left Enchanted Bamboo Lights by Kai Nomiyama

Mastering exposure book You may know your stuff, but there’s nothing wrong with refining your knowledge. Mastering Exposure, The Definitive Guide for Photographers by David Taylor will help you to control your exposures and expand your practical knowledge in order to create stunning images. Available now Mastering Exposure is priced at £19.99. ammonitepress.com

Capture Britain’s beauty Millennium Hotels and Resorts newly launched Through The Lens photography competition gives you the chance to win £5000 worth of top-of-the-range camera equipment! Enter up to three images that demonstrate the chosen theme of What makes Britain beautiful? before the closing date of 2 October 2016. Whether it’s natural, industrial, wildlife, family or friends, choose what you think defines Britain’s beauty. Finalists’ work will be showcased at an awards ceremony at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London. whatson.millenniumhotels.co.uk/through-the-lens/entercompetition


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News

Photocrowd print sales launch Online photo community photocrowd.com has launched a print sale service for its users. Members with a free Crowd account can earn a minimum of 50% of the profits from each print sale, while paid subscribers to the site can earn up to 80% commission. Users can also purchase their own prints through the site, with introductory offers for the first month, which includes 25% off all prints, or choose the Founders Subscription that gives three months free and a Founders badge for your Photocrowd profile. photocrowd.com

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Paris World-renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s images of Paris will be on show at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich from 23 April until 29 August. The exhibition, Henri CartierBresson: PARIS, will include 83 images from the Magnum photographer, which were all captured between 1929 and 1985. Henri Cartier-Bresson fans won’t want to miss out as some of the images are being shown in the UK for the first time. Tickets for PARIS are £7/£6 concessions. scva.ac.uk

Get a pro website and sell prints in one place © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

Joining forces PhotoBox and Zenfolio now offer a new subscription gallery service, which allows you to create a professional website and offer a range of printed products to your clients. A free one-month trial is available, as well as three different packages; the starter package which is £5 a month, Pro UK package for £16 a month or the Advanced UK package, which is £25 per month. zenfolio.com/uk

News in brief More memory from Lexar Lexar has announced a 200GB high-performance microSDXC UHS-I card, which offers read transfer speeds up to 95MB per second. It also comes with a USB 3.0 reader. Also announced is the XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 reader. lexar.com Toshiba SD cards Toshiba has launched a new range of ultra-high-performance EXCERIA PRO UHS-II microSD cards, as well as extending its high-end EXCERIA PRO SD and EXCERIA microSD and SD card line-up. Also new is the TransMemory-EXTM U382 32GB USB pen drive, with both Type A and C ports. toshiba-memory.com DxO unbundles The DxO ONE camera is now available at a new low price of just £399, thanks to the unbundling of its desktop software. Also new is the Version 1.3 update, which is available for the DxO One connected camera via the iTunes App Store. dxo.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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News © Neetha Atukorale

© Adrian Furner

© Mark O'Leary

© Mark Stimpson

© Brandon Donnelly

Join us for Photo 24 Photo 24 is a free photography event taking place in London. It starts at noon on 17 June and ends exactly 24 hours later. If you want to join us for this annual image-taking extravaganza all you have to do is sign up now London is one of the world’s most photogenic cities with an unlimited supply of great opportunities for creative photographers to enjoy. With famous locations, great architecture, events, markets and street photography, there is more than enough to keep a keen photographer busy for a lifetime. Of course, you can go to London any time, but Photo 24 gives you the chance to shoot the city with a group of like-minded souls and we’ll be running photographic contests and other activities in conjunction with the event. We’ll have news of prizes (hint: there may be a Nikon D500 up for grabs) and other fun stuff in future issues, and to give you an idea of the level of work possible, the pictures on this page were taken by readers on last year’s Photo 24. This is the fourth Photo 24 and it’s getting more and more popular by the year. That means places are limited. So, to be as fair as possible, we’re asking for registrations now and after the closing date of 6 May we will be selecting 200 names at random. We will contact those

selected to confirm attendance and the unsuccessful applicants will be put on a waiting list – in case! So, if you fancy the idea of a day-long camera experience in London, log onto (or register at) absolutephoto.com, click on the Members’ Area tab and choose Register for Photo 24, then fill in the application form. Remember, applications must be made by midnight 6 May. What, how & where you want Successful applicants will be fully briefed before the event in terms of preparation and kit, as well as general health and safety. We’ll also be sending out our special Photo 24 Passport, full of hints and tips as well as location ideas. The core principles of Photo 24 are (as ever): Everyone who comes along can shoot what they want, how they want and where they want. You can stay and shoot for the whole 24 hours or perhaps you might prefer a stint on Friday, have dinner and a sleep for a few hours and rejoin the activities for sunrise

the following morning. It is entirely up to the individual. That said, we will organise photo walks and regular meet-ups throughout the 24 hours, as well as some optional paid-for events (maybe a ride on the London Eye, or a trip on the Thames?), too. Thanks to our association with the Nikon School all participants will also have access for the whole 24 hours to its central London facilities, just a few minutes’ walk from Oxford Circus Tube station. If you have never attended this sort of mass photo event before, you can join a group dedicated to helping you get the most out of the 24 hours and you can also buddy up with fellow photographers. We’ll also be sending out regular texts during the event with news, advice and shooting suggestions. If all this sounds absolutely brilliant and you would like to join us for a photo-filled trip to the capital, then go to absolutephoto. com and register now. absolutephoto.com

In association with

Nikon School Thanks to our association with Nikon and Nikon School for Photo 24, we have 24-hour access to the School’s Margaret Street premises in central London. It's just a few minutes' walk from Oxford Circus Tube station, free refreshments will be available during the event, and there's seating and toilet facilities, too. It is also the perfect meeting point so if you have lost your photo buddy (or want to hook up with one), the Nikon School is the place to aim for. While the Nikon School training team are experts in Nikon equipment, they are also excellent photographers in their own right and can help you get more from Photo 24 regardless of the camera you're using. Of course, they can help Nikon users who want to learn more about their camera during the event, too. Nikon School runs courses throughout the year, not just at its central London base but all around the country. Here are some of the upcoming courses on offer to give you an idea of its breadth of coverage. It is worth saying that many of the skills-based and creative courses are open to photographers of all brand loyalties. For details go to the Nikon website. nikon.co.uk 16 April The Art of Film Noir Portraits: Part 1, London – £149 3 May Getting Started with Speedlights: Part 1, London – £129 13 May Join the Pros: Wildlife, Droitwich – £179 20 May The Art of Cityscapes, London – £129


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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

Clubs

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 achievement; 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

News in brief

How to submit

Deadline for the next issue: 28 April 2016

We need words and pictures by 28 April for the next issue of Photography News, which will be available from 9 May. Write your story in a Word document (400 words maximum). 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.

Around the world at Hailsham © Louise Pemberton

Apology Our apologies to Lynne Morris from Wigan 10 and Andy Polakowski from Mold Camera Club. We wrongly credited Andy’s image, Travelling Hopefully, to Lynne in the last issue. Sorry about that.

Hailsham Photographic Society’s Annual Print Exhibition is on 20-25 June, and showcases images from the club’s 80 members. The display features almost 150 prints, taken across the world, many of which are award-winners. Visitors can also vote for their favourite shot to be in with a chance of winning a print. The display is at the Charles Hunt Centre and is open from 10am to 4pm

daily. Entry is free and members of the club will be on hand for a chat about the images. The society has also recently raised £1000 for the Kipling County Carriage Driving Group for the disabled. They raised the money with their annual colour AV show. hailshamphotographicsociety. co.uk © Ray Beckwith

Lightroom demo Update your knowledge with Richard Curtis, principal solutions consultant digital imaging for Adobe Systems Europe. He’s giving a demonstration at Wantage Camera Club on 23 April. Tickets are £12.50 in advance or £15 on the door. wantagecameraclub.co.uk

Visit Hailsham Photographic Society’s annual exhibition to see images from East Sussex to Africa

Emmerdale visits Earl Shilton Currently appearing as James Barton in Emmerdale, actor Bill Ward is also an award-winning photographer. He’s visiting Earl Shilton Camera Club on 18 May to give a talk Tickets cost £8 for non-members and they’re £5 for club members. earlshiltoncameraclub.org.uk

Visit Brentwood Library during April to see Brentwood and District Photographic Club’s exhibition. The club is currently actively recruiting members; the first three meetings are free of charge. The club meets on Fridays at The Friends’ Meeting House in Shenfield. bdpc.co.uk

Competition central at Farnborough

© Peter Elgar

Farnborough Camera Club has been busy both running its own club competitions and entering interclub ones so far this year. The year kicked off the print panel contest, which chairman Richard Jenkins won, fighting off stiff competition from Mark Pirie, John Fletcher, Wendy Collens and Sally Seager. Next up were the Rainbow and Molesworth competitions between Aldershot, Farnham and Fleet Camera Club, Yately Camera Club and Farnham. The Rainbow is an open competition, while the Molesworth is monochrome only. Together the two contests attracted around 100 entries, and in what the club believe is a first, Farnham’s chairman Richard Jenkins won both! Finally in the club’s own print contest, Linda Kent won the beginners section and Lesley Turner and Richard Jenkins were successful in the advanced group. While at the club, judge Chris Palmer also presented CPAGB awards to Lesley Turner and Sally Seager. farnboroughcameraclub.org

Above Shadow Walkers – on show at Brentwood Library.

Right Farnborough CC’s Richard Jenkins with the Molesworth Cup, with June Miller and Dave Smith, and one of his winning images.

© Richard Jenkins


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Awards

The winners Photography News Awards 2015

Last month saw the UK’s imaging industry packed into the NEC for The Photography Show 2016 – so it was the perfect venue to roll out the red carpet for the Photography News Awards. PN’s editor Will Cheung played host and handed out the trophies to the deserving winners, as voted by our readers...

Canon scooped the most PN Awards, winning four categories: the EOS 5DS/5DS R won Professional DSLR; the PowerShot G5 X won Zoom Compact; the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM won Standard Zoom Lens; and the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM won Prime Standard Lens. David Parry and Stephanie Kelly staggered off with the trophies.

Nikon won Advanced DSLR with its D810, Consumer DSLR with the Nikon D7200 and Telephoto zoom lens with the Nikon AF-S 200500mm f/5.6E ED VR. From left, Mark Higgins, Sara Marshall and Briony Samuel collect the Awards.

Chris Burfoot collects the Award for the best Mains Flash Power Pack, the mighty broncolor Scoro S 1600 RFS.

Fujifilm’s Theo Georghiades collected the Awards for Professional CSC with the Fujifilm X-T1, while the Fujifilm X-T10 won best Consu mer CSC and Launch of the Year.

The PN 2015 Award for Advanced CSC went to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and it was collected at The Photography Show by Olympus’s Mark Thackara.

Portable flash is a rapidly growing business and Profoto is one of its shining lights, as witnessed by the company winning best Portable Flash with the B2 Off-Camera Flash system. Paul Eigg (centre) and Matt Wilson from Profoto picked up the trophy.

Lighting specialist Elinchrom won Awards for Monobloc Flash with the Elinchrom BRX 500 and Innovation of the Year for the Elinchrom ELSkyport Transmitter Plus HS. Chris Whittle from Elinchrom was more than happy to collect the Awards.

Best Studio/Lighting Accessory went to the Hähnel Captur, an innovative trigger/remote release device, and here it’s David Holley from Hähnel collecting the Award.

Independent lens maker Sigma won prizes for the best Wide-Angle Zoom with the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM A lens, and the best Prime Wide-Angle for the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM A. Graham Armitage (left) and Paul Reynolds are the happy chaps collecting their PN Awards.


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Awards Long-established tripod and accessory brand Manfrotto won Awards for best Tripod: Carbon-Fibre with the Manfrotto 290 XTRA Carbon, and Shoulder/ Sling Bag with the Manfrotto Agile II Sling. Manfrotto UK’s Paul Hill and Darren Long came along to collect Manfrotto’s trophies.

its Jessops won best Retailer, while ider. Prov ning Trai t bes won Academy demy is Ian Savage from the Jessops Aca seen collecting both prizes.

Leading independent lens brand Tamron scooped two Awards, best Superzoom lens, the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro, and best Macro lens, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro. From left to right, Martin Syrek, Alexander Marx, Jane Nicholson, Leo Steinberg and Jerry Martin.

Jenny Hodge and Jason Hewerd from Leica collected the Award for the Premium Compact winner, the Leica Q.

the Hasselblad’s Mark Witney accepted era Cam mat -For PN Award for Medium for the Hasselblad H5D-50c.

Oddný Edwards from Vanguard picked up the Award for best Tripod: Travel, for the Vanguard VEO 204AB.

Bag and case specialist Lowepro scooped two Awards, best Roller/Hard Case wen t to the Lowepro Pro Roller X100 AW while the Pho to Backpack winner was the Lowepro Pro Trek ker 450 AW. Loraine Morgan from DayMen Inte rnational collected the Award.

Hahnemühle’s William Turner 310gsm won the Inkjet Media: Fine Art Finish. Heidi Wilson and Simon Waller from Hahnemühle were the willing recipients.

and Calumet Rental was voted Best Hire Centre y. troph the ving recei er here is Jon Warn

to a product that is one The winner of the best Filter category went Filters Big Stopper. Lee the time, our of s filter lar popu of the most . prize the cted colle Ralph Young from Lee Filters

Here’s Zeiss’s Karen Howorth looking delighted with two Awards, Prime: Telephoto, for the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 and Video Lens, for the Loxia 50mm f/2.

d for quality With advances in LEDs and the nee t products grea saw we o, vide light sources for light NEO Roto the y atel Ultim . gory cate this in ht’s olig Rot and t Ligh ous LED won Continu rd. Awa the d ecte coll s mon Gam Rod


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Awards

the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo. Jane Dixon Voted best Colour Management Device was up the Award. from Color Confidence is seen here picking

Quality output remains a hugely important aspect of photography and Loxley Colour scooped PN Awards for best Processing Lab and Book Service. Calum Thomson from Loxley collected the prizes.

A quality monitor is essential if you want to enjoy your images at their best and the winner of the best Monitor category was the BenQ SW2700PT Pro 27in IPS LCD. Jason Lee and Wen Ku flew in from BenQ’s head office in Taiwan to collect their prize.

went to Winner of best Tripod: Aluminium Award the Benro Mach3 TMA37AL and the kins Hos k Mar by w sho the at was collected from MAC Group.

Dom Gurney from Epson is seen picking up the Award for best Inkjet Printer, the Epson SureColor SC-P800.

We all need memory and storage is a hugely popular subject. Winner of the best External Storage Device was the G-Technology 4TB G-Dock ev. Mark Billington from G-Technology is pictured here receiving the Award.

Pixapro is a young company in the imaging world, but showed its reputation is growing quickly by winning best On-Camera Flash for the Pixapro Li-ION580 ETTL. Tang Wu (centre) and Ling Ting Wu were on hand to collect the Award.

Memory card winner: Samsung SDXC Pro Plus UHS-1

edia Insurance Nik Stewart from Aaduki Multim e Provider. ranc Insu t Bes for rd Awa the d collecte

winner was The best Photo Website Provider by Adam d ecte coll rd Awa the with Zenfolio in. Coll aud Edwards (centre) and Arn

With so many options, the media categories saw some great products facing off. The Inkjet Media: Photographic Finish winner was PermaJet FB Gold Silk 315gsm and the prize was collected by Joseph Reiner of PermaJet.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Interview Profile

Tom Clunn

Interfit is a popular and well-respected lighting brand, but in the past few years it has been in the doldrums. That’s all set to change with a wave of exciting new products

Biography Years in the photo industry? 12 Current location Hamble, Southampton Last picture taken I photographed an acrobat/break dancer in Sheffield. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? For a long time I wanted to be an ice hockey player, but then I found photography. Dogs or cats? Dogs Toast or cereal? Toast with Marmite Email or phone call? I get a lot of emails, but I prefer phone calls.

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, it’s more about improving the function and performance

Although Interfit has been around for many years, recent arrivals to photography might not know much about the company. Can you introduce Interfit please? Interfit has been in the photo market for around ten years now. We offer a huge variety of studio lighting equipment, modifiers and photographic accessories. Everything from flash and continuous lighting, to LED panels, lighting stands, softboxes, backgrounds and more.

looking for a catch or some trick in the small print, but as Photography News knows from its own review of the S1, there isn’t a catch. We wanted to create a light that would match the technology and function of comparable market-leading flash options, but at a price that would be compelling for everyone from the keen amateur or prosumer all the way up to working professionals. And that’s what we’ve created in the S1.

What do you think are the strengths of the Interfit brand? Perhaps, more importantly, what do you think are the opportunities looking forward? I think the main strength of Interfit is our ability to grow and adapt in a market that is constantly changing. We have offices in the UK and USA which allows us to spot trends and advancements early to keep moving forward.

What really excites you about the S1? I’ve been shooting with the S1 for around six months now and it still amazes me how adaptable it is to any given situation. It’s a real workhorse in the field and I don’t worry about battery life or colour consistency at all when I’m shooting on location. The controls are intuitive and the results are brilliant. More than anything it’s made people ask what they’re really paying for with more expensive lights from other brands.

Interfit has been very busy working on a new corporate identity. What was the thinking behind that? The last 12-14 months have seen a lot of positive changes for the company. In February 2015 we introduced our new CEO, Frank Muscatello. Since then, we’ve adopted a new management structure, developed some important new products, redesigned our corporate image and re-asserted ourselves as a competitive brand in the world of studio lighting. The rebranding has allowed us to launch the ‘new’ Interfit to an audience who may not have been aware of the company previously. How is the lighting market? Is there still plenty of interest from enthusiasts as well as professionals? Last year was tough for the market, but this year is already proving to be full of promise. Keen photographers, whether professional or amateur, will always need good, consistent, reliable lighting options. This is something Interfit prides itself on offering, and with some of our new products we’re confident that photographers of all abilities will consider our lighting solutions more seriously. Many companies offer lighting and accessories. What sets Interfit apart from rivals? I think the fact that we’re a relatively small company (compared with some of the bigger brands) keeps us hungry and focused on progression of products and delivering great customer service, so that’s the main difference, but I don’t really see the other brands as rivals. If you worry too much about what other people are doing, it’s very easy to lose sight of your own goals. We’re more interested in the wants and needs of our customers and helping them achieve the best images possible with the best products we have to offer. Interfit recently introduced the S1, a highly specified portable lighting system with many great features including high-speed sync (HSS). It’s early days in the product’s life cycle but how has it been received so far? The S1 has been really well received since its launch. When we first announced it, people were

With the S1’s arrival, as it is a mains and battery driven flash unit, what is the future of the Stellar and EX lighting families? The S1, though accessible to everyone, is really for a niche market of photographers; those who want HSS, TTL flash metering, IGBT circuitry and the option to be fully portable with a true studio lighting solution. Having said that, there’s certainly still a place for the Stellar and EX studio light ranges. I’m sure that, moving forward, we will update and improve the ranges as technology improves, but it doesn’t have to be an either or scenario. The lighting choice comes down to the needs of the individual photographer. Interfit has also recently introduced the Proflash TLi flashguns for Canon and Nikon. These are the first speedlights with li-ion rechargeable batteries. Why is this an important feature for photographers? Imagine a world where you don’t have bags and

pockets filled with AA batteries. The Proflash speedlights make this a reality. With over 650 full power flashes per charge, HSS, TTL flash metering, plus master and slave compatibility with Canon and Nikon speedlights, these flashguns are a fraction of the cost of the onbrand battery powered flashes. Flash aside, Interfit seems to be working hard on continuous lighting too. With all the interest in videography, have you seen a greater interest in this lighting type? We have seen an increase in interest, but not just for video. Our F5 continuous lighting kits and our 19in fluorescent ringlight have seen incredible growth in the last three or four months with photographers. Continuous light is so manageable indoors and the effects of the ringlight are just stunning. They’re both balanced at 5400K so you can use them together for some really great results. What do you think will be the next big thing in lighting? For me personally, it’s the S1. I think we have reached a point where improvements are more focused on fine-tuning and upgrading technology. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, it’s more about improving the function and performance. What else can we expect from Interfit in 2016? We have some more new products arriving this year, most notably, our new range of softboxes, modifiers and lighting umbrellas. The whole range is made with exceptionally high-grade materials, all the softboxes will come with grids included, and the price points will be inviting to say the least. The highlight of the range for me is the new 200cm (72in) Deep Parabolic softbox. I’ve used a prototype of its smaller brother (120cm/48in) and the quality of light is breathtaking. interfitphotographic.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Profile Biography

Before the Judge

Christine Widdall Each month, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences. This month, it’s multiple award-winning photographer Christine Widdall

Christine Widdall With numerous accolades and awards to her name and more than 30 years of experience in club photography, Christine judges at club level as well as nationally and internationally. Years in photography I began photography as a child of five, working with my father's darkroom. He brought a Leica back from Germany after the Second World War and that was the first camera he let me use. I was immediately hooked. Home club This is my 30th year at Oldham Photographic Society. I am president elect and will take up my fourth term as president in September to take the club through its 150th celebration year in 2017. Favourite camera Pentax K-3 Favourite lens Pentx 16-50mm DA*, a beautifully sharp lens and ideal with the 1.5x crop K-3 Favourite photo accessories The Marumi DHG Achromat Macro 330 (+3 dioptre) close-up lens attachment. I can fit that to my 50-135mm or 70-200mm lens for a macro facility on any camera. Favourite photographers I appreciate so many genres and styles that it is impossible to choose one favourite. Favourite subject I am probably best known for photomontage and taking a creative approach, but my first love was landscape and nature. I published a book on Saddleworth, where I live and still spend time documenting it. Awards I have received many awards over the last 13 years spent entering exhibitions. My photographic highlights include the RPS Award for the best set of creative images, the Excellence Award of the International Federation of Photographic Art (EFIAP), the Master Award of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (MPAGB) and the Fellowship Award of the British Photographic Exhibitions (FBPE).

It never occurred to me that I would become a judge… it just happened. Many years ago, I was asked to judge a small competition at a local church group. I found they needed very basic advice on how they could better express themselves photographically with their pointand-shoot cameras and that’s where my judging style developed. By word of mouth, I judged at nearby camera clubs and soon joined the local list of judges. Later, once I began to be a successful salon entrant, it wasn’t long before I was invited to judge at federation level and then at national and international salons. This led to judging in France, Belgium, Malta and Ireland. In 2012, I joined the Photographic Alliance list of judges and have taken part in the PAGB Awards for Photographic Merit as one of six adjudicators. I am involved in the selection of new judges for my federation, where I organise a mentoring scheme to help candidates prepare for their PAGB awards adjudication. The most remarkable judging experience I’ve had was an international exhibition in Alsace in their coldest winter in 100 years. I arrived in Alsace to a temperature that reached -18°C overnight. We were judging in the village of Riedisheim in a beautiful timbered and plastered historic building. When we arrived the heating wasn’t switched on, but our hosts came to the rescue with hot coffee, brioche and pastries to warm us up. The pictures were great and it was quite an experience judging with a professional French photojournalist plus French, Belgian and Swiss judges from their national associations and learning how different their preferences can be. Subsequent engagements abroad working with judges of other nationalities has helped me to develop as a judge. Being entrusted with the appraisal of work by other photographers is a big responsibility, but it is also rewarding. Beginners need the most encouragement as they struggle to develop their style and it is often the processing of images as much as the composition that they need guidance in. Editing software is powerful so it is easy to overprocess and oversharpen pictures and I try to point out sensitively where something can be improved. I hope that in the process of judging, I give constructive help to photographers, but that is for others to comment on. In the UK, the standard of club photography is rising which is

evidenced by the number of UK clubs reaching the top ten positions in the FIAP World Cup. This is especially noticeable in nature photography, where birds in flight and even birds fighting can now be captured in wonderful detail and sharpness thanks to the advances in digital cameras. Colour prints are less often tainted by unwanted extreme colour casts and, with the advance of software techniques, we can blend images together and achieve a full range of highlight and shadow detail in the most challenging conditions. I worry that projected digital images will take over from prints in some clubs, now that the quality and resolution of digital projectors is improving. Most big competitions, from federation to international level, require working with other judges. Most judging panels get on well together and I like to think that we are all prepared to discuss the merits of the best of the work when making our awards and to compromise when there isn’t total agreement. It’s been said that the best picture is the one the judges can agree on and, in my own experience, such agreement is generally arrived at amicably. Many salons allow each judge to make their own special award for their favourite image in addition to the jointly agreed top awards. Cold judging Much of my judging is done at club level where I prefer to judge ‘cold’ on the night, without having seen the images before. I like to experience them freshly in front of the audience and let them experience the picture with me, laugh with me at the humorous ones and try to understand those with a deeper meaning. That can be challenging when something difficult to assess is presented, but fortunately I have rarely been lost for words and experienced judges learn to cope with any situation. My first thought is to look for the positives in the photograph and, even in the weakest submission, it is usually possible to see something of merit, if only the intent of the photographer. It’s easy to be carried away with a picture that is so good it takes your breath away but it is equally important to give an appraisal of that image. We try to encourage clubs not to overload judges with huge numbers of pictures in a single evening, because I believe every piece of work deserves some comment and not to be dismissed with just a mark. Some common failings I see in club competitions are poor use of light and poor use of processing. As far as composition goes, I take

© Christine Widdall

Words by Christine Widdall

the view that ‘if it works, it works’. By looking at theories of composition and visual communication, it is usually possible to understand why one image works and why another doesn’t, which is often concerned with psychology as much as with graphic rules. Photographs are not just about where an element is placed, but about how they work together in the picture, whether they tell a story, impart an idea or create a mood. We respond emotionally to pictures. Inevitably, some images fail to get their message across but we should look for the positive aspects of work we judge and try to help the photographer to develop a stronger way of seeing and communicating. I enjoy pictures with a clear message and those that shout ‘quality’. HDR, for example, is just a processing method. It can be done well or badly and it’s the same with different genres of photography… my job as a judge is to analyse how successful an image is within its own genre. To that end, I think I have tried most genres of photography over the years. By experiencing each genre I’ve found the difficulties and challenges within each subject type and I try to bring that to my judging. I am disappointed that judges sometimes have a poor reputation, because most of them work very hard, for no reward other than travelling expenses and they give their time and expertise freely. As individuals we all have different likes and dislikes, different experience,

different levels of knowledge and unique personalities that we bring to our analysis of each image. Because of that, it is inevitable that we can’t make everyone happy all the time. Our job as judges is to encourage and advise and to select winners within the rules of the competitions. Naturally some judges will be more popular and some photographers will be more open to constructive criticism. Perhaps we should have a kind of Hippocratic oath amongst the judging fraternity such as ‘above all, do no harm’. I think judges coming together on a peer-to-peer basis to discuss judging might help to moderate some of the worst traits and we are starting to do that now in the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union. As judges, we also see styles come and go, but the trends I am seeing in the strongest work are better editing, sympathetic processing and clarity of expression. In spite of trends, great photography will succeed. My final advice to club members is to make your images clear and simple, pay attention to processing and listen to the advice of those who will see in your work what you choose to ignore or don’t see. Appraisal sessions with peer groups can improve the general standard of your work. So don’t be too proud to listen but don’t be afraid to be adventurous or to break the rules. christinewiddall.co.uk

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@photographynews.co.uk with the judge’s name and, if possible, their contact details.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Advertisement feature

What you see is what you get

SpyderCHECKR

© Oliver Mews

Colour calibration

Controlling image colour and contrast is vital – and it doesn’t get much easier than when you’re using Datacolor’s Spyder range Ever been faced with the problem of shooting the same subjects throughout the course of a day, and all the varied lighting conditions that the day can bring? Colour wise, you need to arrive at consistent end results, no matter what kit you’re using, but fortunately the guys at Datacolor can save you a lot of time and heartache doing it. The problem is never more obvious than when shooting a wedding. The bride and groom can have you shooting in any number of conditions: a poorly lit church with stained glass windows, candles and in the worse cases bar heaters; group scenes in the great outdoors where you’ll need to deal with whatever light is available; and finally the reception with a possible coup de grâce of an evening disco to complete the day’s lighting extravaganza. If you’re using multiple cameras and shooting video across those conditions then you’re giving yourself a potential nightmare; making sure everyone looks equally tanned in all shots and that the bride doesn’t look as though she’s had four changes of gown, from ivory to beige and back again. With so many variables it’d be nice to set some control over what you’re doing, allowing you to match different cameras, deliver a neutral white point for shots (where needed) and control contrast across your entire shoot. Fortunately that’s what Datacolor’s SpyderCHECKR and SpyderCUBE do best. Part of the Spyder range of calibration devices, they put you in the driving seat

from the first shot to the last whether it’s stills or video you’re shooting. Control your capture The SpyderCUBE is a highly pocketable version of a grey card but avoids you having to worry about it becoming creased, stained and worthless when compared with conventional foldable cloth or paper cards. This little gem, as the name suggests, is cubic in shape and only about 4cm (not much more than an inch) in length per side and allows you to balance contrast for your shot like no other solution on the market. Despite its size the SpyderCUBE gives you larger blocks of grey to use as targets than most conventional cards, with two of the cube’s faces split between a 96% white and an 18% grey triangle. Provided you can see both of these two-toned sides when the cube is either hung or tripod mounted in the shot, you have a perfect target to set grey balance irrespective of the direction of any lighting or if it’s changing. Once you’ve shot the SpyderCUBE simply choose the lighter of these split sides to use in setting the grey balance and then use the black and white quarters to set your highlights to the 96% white and shadows to a 4% black. Any out-of-gamut scintillation (100% white and over) or 100% shadows should only appear on the ball atop the CUBE or in the hole at the centre of the black face, respectively. The pocketability of the SpyderCUBE means it’s always available to shoot with and doesn’t require a major feat of positioning to

get the angle correct as conventional cards do. Simply pull it out of its bag, hang it in the scene or use a mini-tripod, shoot and away you go. Control the colour When you need to do more than simply set white-balance and control contrast for your shots, and instead control all the colours across your shoot’s spectrum, allowing you to get that dress, skin tone and any other important hues just right, then the SpyderCUBE’s big brother the SpyderCHECKR comes into its own. This multi-coloured target comes in a highly robust plastic case about the same shape and size as a tablet computer. Intentionally not as pocketable as the SpyderCUBE its fold-out design is ideal for shooting from a distance and in particular for group scenes. Controlling the retouch Once you’ve gone to the trouble of removing colour casts and linearising images so they appear to be in the same lighting conditions you’d be rather defeating the object if you started retouching and adjusting colours on a non-colour managed screen. Get yourself a Spyder5 screen calibrator to manage your screen colours and this won’t be a problem. This ultra-accurate device simply plugs into your computer’s USB sockets and allows you to calibrate connected screens by running the easy-to-use Mac or PC software. Once run you can retouch your

Spyder5 screen calibrator

© Oliver Mews

images safe in the knowledge that ‘what you see is what you get’ at least as far as colour is concerned. Working with soft proofing profiles from your print houses or output devices you’ll be in full control and able to see how your images will output on virtually any combination of paper, ink and printer. For full synchronisation, the SpyderCHECKR comes with plug-in software for most image capture solutions (eg. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Hasselblad Phocus) and enables you to set up a calibration preset with the touch of a button to linearise all your shots. As the software knows what each colour swatch should be, it can instantly calculate calibration across the spectrum to remove casts and bring all colours into alignment in virtually any conditions. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to ask your brides, grooms or models to hold the SpyderCHECKR – as long as you shoot the target at some point in the same lighting conditions that any group of shots is taken in, you can apply the calibration to the whole group later on. For further information visit the website. datacolor.com/photonews

© Oliver Mews

Before SpyderCHECKR

Get your colours sorted today! Sign up for free live webinars at datacolor.com/pn-webinars To get 15% off your order at the Datacolor Online Store head to... spyder.datacolor.com/orders/

Above The SpyderCUBE is a portable, reliable way of calibrating your shoot and thanks to its design it’s easier to place in the scene and more durable than a conventional grey card.

After SpyderCHECKR

... then simply choose your product and use the exclusive promo code ‘photonews’ at the checkout. Please enter the code at the final stage. NB. Pricing and transactions are in Euros.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

21

Camera Club of the Year

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Amazing Canon prizes! The Camera Club of the Year will scoop a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000. This brand-new professional quality A2 printer is worth £1199.99. It uses a 12-colour Lucia PRO inkset that includes four blacks for excellent monochrome output. On appropriate media, Lucia PRO inks have impressive lightfast qualities. The Club will also attend an exclusive day with renowned landscape and travel pro photographer David Noton, enjoying a workshop and an illustrated talk.

Camera Club of the Year 2015-16

Five izes monthly pr

N CANMO A

The fabulous five have finally been decided, so now it’s time for them to fight it out in the Grand Final!

After five brilliantly creative rounds, the first stage of Camera Club of the Year 2015-16 has closed. We have to say it’s been a privilege to have been sent so many amazing entries in this year’s competition and the standard was kept tip-top throughout every theme, which made judging both a pleasure and a struggle. As you’ll see below, the great pictures kept coming right up to and into the fifth and final round. But hang on – there’ll be no popping of champagne corks just yet, because for each of the monthly round winners, things are about to heat up. Yes, these clubs have now qualified for the Grand Final of Camera Club of the Year 2015-16. Each of the finalist clubs and societies – Dorchester (Round 1),

Parkwood Camera Club produced the best overall mix of images on the theme, though entries were superb throughout.

imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

exclusive day

Monthly winners The five monthly winners, culminating in Round 5’s winner below, each won a Canon PIXMA PRO-100S worth £499.99. This is a professional quality A3+ printer, featuring an eight colour inkset with excellent lightfast qualities. Its built-in Wi-Fi capabilities means wireless connection is possible so prints can be made from tablets and phones as well as the computer. canon.co.uk

Apologies Last month, we omitted a few club scores from the results; they’re below. Sorry for the inconvenience caused to all concerned. Dorchester Camera Club 81 Newent & District Camera Club 81 Wisbech & District Camera Club 81 Earl Shilton Camera Club 71 Harlow Photographic Society It was incorrectly shown that Harlow had qualified for the final when that was not the case.

Scores Above The power of Iceland’s 200ft Skógafoss is given scale by the tiny human figures beneath. Below The chaotic, tattered sky at Camber Sands contrasts with the ordered wind turbines below. © Tracy Hughes LRPS

© Nigel Jones LRPS

Top This was the best angle we saw on Newhaven’s ferocious battle with the sea. Middle This windswept tree on the North Downs shows the harsh power of prevailing westerly winds, and the low angle gives its details space in the composition. Bottom This long exposure, a great interpretation of the theme, sees the brooding sky put man’s power in perspective with nature’s.

12‑ink A2 inkjet printer, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 worth £1199.99 – wait your turn and no squabbling now! But there’s also an amazing and highly exclusive David Noton photography experience day to enjoy. Make sure you come back and see who’s been crowned Camera Club of the Year 2015-16.

DAVID NOTON

CANON

© Kev Bell LRPS

The fifth and final round was focused on the formidable power of nature. Quality was high, so much of the judges’ decisions came down to how the club’s talent had interpreted the theme. After much deliberation, the shooters from Parkwood Camera Club came out on top and can look forward to printing their winning shots on a brand-new Canon PIXMA PRO-100S worth £499.99 as well as being entered into next month’s Grand Final. Well done all who entered and especially Parkwood!

The fifth and final round was focused on the formidable power of nature

Overall winner prize:

© Henry Slack

We asked for your images illustrating the awesome power of nature. Here are the winning shots...

Overall winner prize:

© Nick Coombs

Round 5: Results

Harpenden (Round 2), Ayr (Round 3), Smethwick (Round 4) and Parkwood (Round 5) whose images you can see below – will soon be informed on how the Grand Final is to be contested, but you’ll be pleased to know it involves another exciting photo challenge, the fruits of which will be displayed on these very pages next month. There have been some amazing prizes on offer from our friends at Canon, and that continues into the Grand Final with the overall winners earning not just the coveted accolade of the Photography News Camera Club of the Year 201516 but also two further brilliant rewards. The overall winning club can look forward to printing images from its very own professional,

PIX PRO-100S

Parkwood Camera Club

85

Harlow Photographic Society

84

Harpenden Photographic Society*

83

Cymru Monochrome

83

Dorchester Camera Club*

83

Newent & District Camera Club

82

Peterborough Photographic Society

82

Smethwick Photographic Society*

82

Wisbech and District Camera Club

81

Tonbridge Camera Club

81

Park Street Camera Club

81

City of London and Cripplegate PS

81

Halstead & District PS

80

West Wickham Photographic Society

79

Dronfield Camera Club

77

Buckingham Camera Club

75

*Already qualified for the final


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Competition National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition

Exploring the world through photography This year’s National Geographic Traveller competition had over 2000 entries from across the world. We spoke to Chris Hudson, Group Art Editor at National Geographic to find out more

What is your role within the competition, Chris? I’m the Group Art Editor at National Geographic Traveller magazine and I’m responsible for all of our creative output in the public eye. I head the judging panel for the photography competition and it’s my responsibility to curate a set of images for our judges to deliberate over, from which we pick the final winners. When was the competition set up and what are its aims? The competition is in its fifth year. Our aim is simple – to encourage our readers to get involved and share their travel experiences through stunning photography.

With so many competitions in the photography industry, what makes yours stand out from the rest? It’s hard to stand out in a crowded market, but we’re really here to simply celebrate great photography. We’re not looking to use images for our own gain. I’d like to think that the range of great prizes we have to offer across all the categories, means it has a wide-ranging appeal to everyone, amateur or professional. What were the requirements for submitting images? We have several categories that all have their own criteria, but generally we like to keep the brief open to interpretation. We like to see creative approaches to photographing subjects and by leaving the criteria open, we hope to get everyone

© Emma Muir

© Jeremy Flint

© Simon Morris

Interview by Jemma Dodd

© Matt Parry

submitting varied work. Submission is through our website, where the work is moderated and appears in galleries to help new entrants gauge the standard of the competition. What categories were there for photographers to submit work to? We restructured the competition slightly this year, having four photography categories instead of our usual six: people, urban, nature and action. These categories had been the most successful in previous years. This allowed us to introduce three new categories – portfolio, mobile and video. Every category had a winner, and the overall photography, portfolio, mobile and video winners all received destination prizes, as well as our grand prize winner, which was chosen from one of the categories.

Which category was the most popular and was that reflected in the overall winning image? We’re most proud of our portfolio category, which exceeded expectations in its first year. It helped raise the level of entries throughout the competition and I think this was due to the fact that more professional photographers felt compelled to enter. It’s a great category because it allows the photographer to tell a story with four images instead of just providing a great capture with one. Our magazine is all about narrative in photography and the portfolio category echoes this. In what way did the grand prizewinning image stand out? Despite the portfolio category being very strong, we found that the people

Top left Grand prize-winning image by Jeremy Flint titled Fisherman on Inle Lake, Burma. Top right Emma Muir focused on this dancer’s feet to capture a different perspective and also incorporated movement. Above left Simon Morris photographed reindeer herders in Yarnal, Siberia and made the shortlist with his strong portrait. Above right Matt Parry found a reflective surface and captured a dramatic, mono image of Paris in the rain.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Competition © David Godfrey

We’re looking for photos that tell a story – they obviously have to be travel-based, but narrative is also important

obviously have to be travel-based, but a narrative is also important. This has certainly been exemplified in the portfolio category. Do you find that entries are from a certain level of photographer – professional or amateur – or is there a broad mix? There is a broad mix and what is great is that amateurs are having just as much luck in getting their imagery into the shortlist. It really goes back to what the photographer sees before they click – if they have a great composition, or are lucky to get that split-second moment, they have every chance of success. A good example is our photography winner from the nature category. The photographer decided he wanted to shoot a colony of puffins and didn’t seem to be having much luck, but with the last click before heading home he took his winning shot. Can you tell us about the judging process and who was on the panel? The process lasts around two months © Peter Brisby

Above Peter Brisby made the shortlist with his images showing the lives of girls who had escaped the conflict in Myanmar.

© Stanley Dellimoren

Would you say there is a certain style of photography that comes across in the competition or are you seeing completely fresh work? I would like to think that all of the winning work is fresh and varied – this year’s shortlist was incredibly diverse in both style and subject matter. That said, we’re looking for photos that tell a story – they

Below Stanley Dellimoren took this photo from the Olympic Tower in Munich and was fascinated by the shapes of hall and its scale.

CEWE printing

category, as has always been the case, was incredibly strong, too. What was great this year was that entrants didn’t go for obvious faces, which we’ve seen a lot of in previous years. This is what makes our grand prizewinner so great. In this one shot of a leg-rowing fisherman in Myanmar, the photographer has managed to tell a story through great composition. People may argue it’s a bit of a cliché, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that there has been a great deal of thought and work behind the shot, which in this situation probably required quick thinking and great technical ability. What aspects do you look for in a winning image? What do you feel makes a photo stand out? It’s tough to pin it down to one or two key criteria, but I would say that, in five years of running the competition, we’re still looking to see photos and subject matter that we haven’t seen before. The story behind a photo is often just as important for us as the picture itself. Great technical ability should be a given, but we feel that a shot that captures a moment, gives a real sense of emotion and, most importantly, makes the viewer feel like they are there experiencing it for themselves, is crucial.

Left David Godfrey won the Nature category with his image of a puffin in flight on Skomer Island.

between the competition closing and the winners being announced. When it closes, I work through the entries and devise a list of around ten images per category. This is then put in front of our judging panel, who spend several days deliberating before reaching a conclusion. I then collate their feedback, analyse the set of images as a whole and pull together a shortlist. We announce the shortlist and generate publicity ahead of our winners’ announcement, which took place at The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show in London this year. We then exhibited the winning images in London and Birmingham. On the judging panel this year alongside myself were Steve Davey, freelance photographer; Carol Enquist, senior photo editor, National Geographic Traveler magazine (US); Alastair Jolly, European manager for SmugMug; and Andy Greenhouse, co-founder of the creative motion agency Swhype. What were the winning prizes? Prizes included a five-night stay in the Serengeti for two, including a wildlife photography lesson with an on-site expert for the grand

prize winner, eight nights in Hanoi, Vietnam for the portfolio winner, four nights in an Arabian wildlife park in Abu Dhabi for the mobile winner, a seven-day Aurora Borealis photography course in Iceland for the photography winner, and a threenight five-star break in Ischia, Italy for the video winner. And the competition continues in 2016 and beyond? Yes! We’re already working hard to see where we can improve the competition, and are putting plans in place with regard to sponsors and prizes. Next time we want to expand on the success of the competition and push for more entries and even higher standards. While the portfolio category has been a great success, we need to work harder at mobile and video to get a larger response, and we may even look to include or adapt the mobile category to take advantage of Instagram as a way to enter. The shortlisted images are available to purchase as prints through theprintspace website at art.tt/y8p. natgeotraveller.co.uk

The National Geographic Traveller Photography competition is run in partnership with CEWE PHOTOBOOK. If you’ve ever wondered how to store and display your amazing photos so you can show them off to friends and family, then look no further than CEWE PHOTOBOOK. Display all of your best snaps and technical expertise in one place. Whether you are passionate about landscape, portraiture, black & white or travel photography, you can make each book completely personal to you and your style. Simply download CEWE’s free software and begin creating your photobook. You can design the layout of your book bespoke to your preferences, and add text and borders of your choice. Or you can let CEWE PHOTOBOOK Assistant do most of the work for you. Your professionally printed and bound book will be delivered in just a few days and will be ready to be shown off to friends, family and clients alike. Prices start from £5.99. Find out more online. cewe-photoworld.com


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Interview Photo2016

Spring when you’re winning This April sees Vale of Evesham Camera Club’s annual exhibition growing in success. Exhibition chairman John Kellett BPE2* gives us the low-down and we hear from this year’s selectors, too © Valerie Duncan © Anthony Wright

Interview by Jemma Dodd Can you give us some background on the competition? To promote British photography exhibitions a group of exhibitors formed the BPE (British Photographic Exhibitions) in 1991. This introduced a set of common guidelines in the way that exhibitions were run, promoted member exhibitions nationwide and introduced a Crown Awards system, which gave recognition to entrants who gained step levels in acceptances. In 2003, recognising the growth in digital photography, the Vale of Evesham Camera Club (VECC) introduced the first totally digital BPE national exhibition with entries and the gallery of acceptances hosted entirely on the Internet. At that time, all the entries arrived by post on CDs and floppy disks. With the acceptances gallery hosted on the Internet, for 12 months, this allowed photographers to view the acceptances from anywhere in the world rather than having to travel to a time-limited showing. VECC has since organised 27 Annual exhibitions with 18 of these being national open events.

What are the aims ? To raise the profile of VECC and provide a quality exhibition which attracts and showcases the best of British photography. By using highly respected and distinguished selectors, chosen from the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain’s (PAGB) main list of judges, we want to assure entrants that their images will be scored by a panel of knowledgeable and experienced selectors. Acceptances in the exhibition count towards BPE Crown Awards and winning images are awarded PAGB medals and ribbons.

different people and therein lies the appeal for photographers who like to think outside the box and use their imaginative skills. For the purpose of this exhibition, there are other labels, which cover this genre which include Abstract, Altered Reality, Contemporary, Creative, and Surreal. The common thread is that this embraces a very diverse category of images made using an assortment of techniques and with equally varied intentions. All components of the image must have been created by the entrant and of course the photographic content should predominate.

What categories are most popular? VECC’s Photo2016 has four digital categories: Colour, Monochrome, Experimental/Creative and Natural History. This year we attracted 4896 entries from 541 entrants. Colour was the most popular category attracting 36% of the entry, with Monochrome being a close second with 30%, a figure which has increased in recent years. Our Experimental/Creative section which is a less common exhibition category attracted 14% with Natural History having 20%. The Experimental/Creative category means different things to

Are the entries from amateurs, professionals or a mixture? The majority of photographers are amateurs and members of camera clubs. Although there are a number of entrants who are professionals, in the main they specialise in different genres of photography to that of their entries to the exhibition. What awards do winners receive? As the exhibition enjoys PAGB patronage we award Gold and Silver PAGB medals for the best and runnerup image in each of the four categories. These awards are joint decisions by the

selectors. Each selector then awards their Selector’s Medal to an image of their individual choosing, and they can appoint one for each category in which they act as a judge. Beneath these awards are given PAGB ribbons for Highly Commended images. Commended images are awarded BPE ribbons. The number of ribbons in each category depends upon the size of the category and the discretion of the selectors. This year a total of 79 images were given awards. We endeavour to feature all of the award winning images in our catalogue. What advice would you give to next year’s entrants? To visit exhibitions, either physical or virtual, and study the style and quality of images which gain acceptances. Similarly look at the award-winning images contained in exhibition catalogues and show CDs. Read the comments made by the selectors which usually include valuable tips. Recognise that the selectors will make up their minds about an image in about six seconds, thus images need to have impact and ooze quality. Have a clear point of interest and a pathway through the image to that point without any distractions that

We want to assure entrants that their images will be scored by a panel of knowledgeable and experienced selectors lead the eye out of the image. Pictures also need a touch of originality. Is there anything else? Every year the exhibition supports a charity which relates to photographers, and in 2016 it’s photovoice.org. This is a Londonbased charity which works all over the world and its aim is to help under represented communities use photography to tell their story and to effect positive change. The gallery of accepted images can be seen on VECC’s website at eveshamphoto.net


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Interview © Adrian Lines

The images selected for the exhibition were of varied subject matter and excellent quality high

Opposite, far left The Card School by Valerie Duncan – Highly Commended Colour Image Opposite, bottom right Catalan Coast by Anthony Wright – Commended Colour Image Opposite, top right The selectors from left to right: Ian Whiston, Malcolm Kus, Graham Hodgkiss and Peter Siviter. Right In The Wars by Adrian Lines – Selector’s Medal awarded by Graham Hodgkiss © Sally Hamond

© John Bailey

Above Sally Hammond received a Commended – BPE Ribbon for her black & white Street Walking shot.

Above John Bailey received a Highly Commended – PAGB Ribbon, for his White Tailed Sea Eagle image.

© Richard Wozniak

© Roger Evans

Above Roger Evans also received a Highly Commended – PAGB Ribbon for his image, The Lifter.

Above Best Natural History Image – PAGB Gold Medal was awarded to Wild Dog Games taken by Richard Wozniak.

Comment from the selectors

It was an honour and a pleasure to be invited to be part of the selection panel for Evesham’s Photo2016 exhibition. The selection days ran very smoothly and we would like to thank John Kellett and his exhibition team for their hospitality and superb organisation in keeping to the tight schedule necessary with the number of entries received. The submissions this year contained a large number of new images to the exhibition circuit, which made selection days very interesting and enjoyable. As selectors it’s our job to judge the image projected on the screen and not to second guess how it was achieved or the degree of difficulty. We also need to have an open mind to all genres of photography and not just our personal taste. As one frequently sees in exhibitions, a number of good images suffered from oversharpening, high dynamic range effects and plug-in filters. Many lost out on selection as a result. The organisers are to be congratulated on the outstanding projection of the images. However, we wonder if many exhibitors see their images projected onto a screen before being entered into Salons – several images were very bright tending to be overexposed. Monitor calibration and ambient light levels, when images are being adjusted by entrants, can both influence exposure judgment. Overall the images selected for the exhibition were of varied subject matter and excellent quality with the winning pictures extremely high. We were impressed with the Experimental/Creative pictures and the entrants’ ideas were of a high standard. The Natural History and Colour sections were again in keeping with the high standards that we have come to expect within BPE Exhibitions. The only subject matter missing from the Natural History section was the lack of floral subjects; not a very popular subject with nature photographer’s these days. Congratulations go to all of the award winners and thanks to all entrants for giving us the opportunity to see their work. Graham Hodgkiss ARPS MPAGB APAGB AFIAP Malcolm Kus ARPS DPAGB EFIAP/b Peter Siviter DPAGB EFIAP Ian Whiston AFIAP DPAGB BPE4*


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Competition Pro focus

Foreign affairs This is how photographers from around the world and across the decades see Great Britain and its people. How will we view their images of us? are all grey. However, it’s not an exhibition to simply be walked around. There is a curated route, as its architecture, commissioned by Pardo from architecture practice Witherford Watson Mann, leads you on a prescribed walk through the chronologically presented works. “But within the gargantuan space we’ve created a library area that acts as the backbone of the show, which people can come in and out of. You’re encouraged to sit down, take a moment, read a book. “Hopefully people will engage with that space, spend time in there, and get to know the photographers more,” encourages Pardo. barbican.org.uk/artgallery ‘Strange and Familiar’ is at the Barbican Art Gallery, London until 19 June. Below & right Okamura’s work from Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Top left Candida Höfer, Liverpool IX, 1968 Top right Edith TudorHart. Kensal House, London ca. 1938 Above Tina Barney, The Red Sheath, 2001.

© Akihiko Okamura / Courtesy of the estate of Akihiko Okamura, Hakodate, Japan

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

© Akihiko Okamura / Courtesy of the estate of Akihiko Okamura, Hakodate, Japan

Magnum photographer Martin Parr’s been busy. Not only is his own exhibition Unseen City currently on at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery, he’s also curated Strange and Familiar for the Barbican. Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers depicts our country through the eyes of social documentary, architecture, street and portrait shooters from around the world, from the 1930s to the present day. It’s a huge topic, and the exhibition is large, as Barbican curator Alona Pardo, who collaborated with Parr, tells us: “There’s plenty to see. We’ve got about 350 prints in the show, but we’re also showing 60 photo books, rare and out of print works. We actually selected just 23 photographers, but we could have shown many more.” Among those photographers are some well-known names such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bruce Gilden and some lesser known ones, like Akihiko Okamura. A photojournalist who covered the Vietnam War and the Biafran conflict, “Okamura was clearly drawn to photograph conflict, but with such a different gaze from anyone else photographing at the time. He photographed across the Republic and Northern Ireland. His photographs are very beautiful, lyrical colour works that feel very different. His work has never been shown here in the UK; we came across it in Japan. I think he’ll be an absolute revelation,” says Pardo. Other works new to the British public are 51 shots from Gilles Peress’s study of the Northern Irish

Troubles from the Protestants’ point of view. And getting a first UK release is Raymond Depardon’s work from Glasgow, shot for The Sunday Times in 1980, but never published. Two unknowns Parr was keen to include are Frank Habicht and Gian Butturini. “They had fallen off the radar, but made a fantastic body of work around the 60s,” explains Pardo. “At the same time Brian Duffy and Norman Parkinson were working, they were out on the street photographing a much more dystopian vision of 60s Britain.” Two criteria were applied to choosing the photographers. Firstly, the work had to be truly representative of Great Britain, “including Scotland, Wales, England, north to south and east to west, as well as Northern Ireland, and charting the social history of Britain, how we’ve changed, how others see us and how they’ve influenced British photography. Ultimately the show charts a history of Britain through the medium of photography.” Secondly, the photographers must not have settled permanently in Britain. “They had to be travelling through or may have spent up to a decade here, but they hadn’t become affiliated or appropriated into the mainstream of British photography.” “The show’s quite bleak,” continues Pardo. “It is a portrait of a Britain that’s quite down at heel, it’s about austerity and poverty, unemployment. It charts the economic and social decline to the Thatcher years, from post-war austerity, to that one moment of euphoria in the 60s and then the pretty bleak 70s and 80s with strikes and urban decay.” Echoing this bleakness, the galleries within the exhibition

© Edith Tudor-Hart / National Galleries of Scotland

© Tina Barney / Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

Written by Lisa Clatworthy

© Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015


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Technique

Underexposed Shooting underwater

We shed some light on the depths with help from the award-winning Alex Mustard Words by Kingsley Singleton Pictures by Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard

This page With a lifetime of underwater shooting under his dive belt, Alex has shot everything from marine plants and animals to submerged fashion and portraiture. His techniques and approaches are described in detail in his Underwater Photography Masterclass. © Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard


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Technique © Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard

Above There’s great scope for shooting wide in underwater photography, for wildlife and the submerged wrecks, ‘split-level’ shots or flooded interiors here. Alex uses special domed ports with wide-angle lenses and supplementary ‘wet lenses’ on compacts that can be swapped underwater. As you read this, somewhere just on the wet side of the Philippine coastline, Dr Alex Mustard is likely surfacing from a day’s submerged shooting. It’s there that the multi-award winning photographer is conducting classes in advanced macro photography underwater. Yes, ‘advanced macro photography underwater’. Now, considering macro shooting is complex enough to master on dry land, doing it in tens of metres of water is quite a skill indeed. “This dive in the fabulous Philippines is all about photographing the amazing and bizarre macro © Alex Mustard

Above Taking time with composition pays off below the waves as much as it does above them.

life here,” he beams, “we’ve been shooting everything from seahorses, including tiny pygmy seahorses, to octopuses, such as the deadly blue-ring octopus and the entertaining mimic octopus.” This macro approach and every other aspect of underwater shooting are discussed in Alex’s new book, Underwater Photography Masterclass, and while it might seem like a subject as alien as the environments he shoots in, there’s plenty to intrigue alongside insightful parallels with regular photography. That said, with the temperature at PN’s Cambridgeshire HQ yet to trouble double figures and the water fearfully frigid, it’s hard not to be at least a little jealous. Dive into underwater shooting On speaking to Alex, any hint of that jealousy disappears and you’re immediately taken with a man who’s as in love with what he does as he is aware of the hard work it takes – and the privileges it brings. “For me,” he says, “there are many, many more reasons to photograph underwater than above it! For starters water covers 70% of our planet and underwater life is more diverse and bizarre than on land. Animals live their lives in ways that seem totally alien to us. Furthermore, most underwater species are just as curious about us as we are of them.” In ways animals on land have learnt not to be? “Yes, and that means many photos are taken within touching distance – and as encounters feel very interactive, so are the pictures”. It’s not just about the wildlife either, he continues, “We can photograph historic shipwrecks, frame spooky caves… underwater photography really is a diverse discipline.” Alex enjoys other types of photography, but only shoots professionally underwater; “I guess I am a hobbyist in the other genres, but I think that it’s a big mistake to close yourself totally within one discipline.” In

that vein, he draws inspiration from many branches of photography and likes to learn by reading about regular landscape, portrait or wildlife photography; “many of my favourite underwater images have been directly inspired by examples from these disciplines.” Rise from the depths Of course Alex’s success didn’t happen overnight and his fascination began with a youthful interest in marine life; the photography came as a way of sharing his experiences with his family. “Now I find the underwater world a fascinating muse in itself. The way that light is filtered through the surface of the sea, the mystery of a shipwreck or the excitement of meeting sharks. Also, underwater I can move freely in three dimensions. This means I can approach my subjects from whatever angle I choose, selecting the best viewpoint for a photograph. Imagine how photography on land would be so different if everyone had the manoeuvrability of a drone.” It’s a captivating thought, and while good piloting is a prerequisite of shooting from the air, underwater photography – at least that which happens at significant depths – is reliant on good diving skills. “You certainly need to be comfortable and competent underwater before you can start taking pictures there. It is an alien world; one in which we cannot see and survive without the right gear. This can be as simple as a mask and snorkel or it can be full diving gear. Knowing how to use this gear like it’s second nature and how to control your position precisely underwater is essential.” That said, underwater shooting is very much open to beginners and non-divers, too – you just need the right kind of locations, shallow waters like rivers, lakes and the seashore. “There is easy access to underwater subjects in rock pools, ponds and rivers,” Alex explains, “and often you can just lie

Safe as housings There’s no denying that gearing up for underwater photography will put a strain on your wallet; but how much of a strain really depends on what route you want to go down. For instance, because the housings required are bespoke you can spend far less waterproofing a compact than a DSLR. Housings are specifically engineered to camera bodies, so you must pick exactly the right one for your model, and although many manufacturers like Canon produce their own housings, some of the most trusted casings come from brands like Subal (which Alex used for most of the shots in his book), Nauticam, and Ikelite. You can find a great range of these products at camerasunderwater.co.uk (and they also have a rental service so you don’t need to commit lots of cash straight away).

For some idea of the costs involved, a compact housing like the Canon WP-DC44 for the Canon G1 X costs around £200 and is good for depths down to approximately 40m. Contrast that with an Ikelite case for the same camera and you’re looking at just under £600, but it will go deeper, has a mounting tray and grip, and offers greater expansion in terms of adapters, wet lenses and flashguns.

Move onto housings for DSLRs and for a typical APS-C body like a Nikon D7100, the Subal ND7100 will set you back around £2500, but it does go down to 80m. To that you’ll need to fit a separate lens port, so budget at least another £200 for a flat port and £500 for a domed port for wide-angle and fisheye lenses. It’s an expensive business, but you need to know kit is secure in the water. On top of any housing and grip you can then start building your rig, including flexible arms and sync cables for flashes, buoyancy aids and more...


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Technique on the bank and submerge the camera. If you have a friend with a swimming pool, try some model photography. Just sink a black piece of material as a backdrop, to hide those ugly tiles and then dress the model in flowing clothes. Even simple portraits become interesting when submerged. Just let your imagination go and dream up wacky concepts.” Put your housing on it What you really need, then, is to get in the water, and give it a try – but that’s going to mean protecting your camera, because as Alex says “electronic cameras and water are not the best of friends.” When it comes to what kit to buy, there’s a huge array of options, from fully waterproof models to bespoke housings for CSCs and DSLRs. “If you just want to give it a try though,” Alex advises, “I’d strongly recommend a system based around a compact camera. That way you can get started for less and, in underwater photography, it’s actually the waterproof accessories that you attach – wide-angle lenses, underwater strobes – which really transform the capabilities of a system. In

many ways these are actually more important than the camera in the middle of it all.” In fact, an underwater housing for a compact, such as a Canon G1 X, might only set you back £150-200. CSC cases start at around double that, but for a large DSLR you will be looking at the wrong side of £1000 and probably a lot more. Ever ingenious, Alex also suggests a bargain option: “a cheaper way into underwater photography is to look for secondhand gear. Current-generation gear holds a good value, but older cameras and housings (the underwater housings are always bespoke for each camera model) can be had for amazing money. The good news is that you don’t need to buy everything at once and you can build up the kit over time.” There are also flexible cases and waterproof bags available, and while Alex advises these can work well in the shallows, they don’t function as you descend. Being soft by design, water pressure takes its toll on these versions, so while they’ll likely remain watertight, the physics means that “as soon as you are away from the surface they actually turn rock solid

and stop you using the camera.” Flexible cases also lack the ability to attach accessories, and according to Alex, “the optics are limited for wide-angle shooting, which requires a domeshaped optical port. So their use is limited – but they can still be the ideal tool for some jobs in shallow water”. Lighting your way So why the need for those underwater flash accessories mentioned before? Essentially, light intensity drops fast underwater, even just a few feet from the surface, so artificial light is vital. Alex describes the change as dramatic and also that the strength of the light depends hugely on the angle of the sun – more so than on land. As it lowers, more of the sun’s energy is reflected off the surface and how far it penetrates also depends on the clarity of the water. What’s more, colours are quickly affected: “water absorbs different colours of light at different speeds,” clarifies Alex, “so warm colours, particularly reds, vanish very quickly. In fact, 70% of the red light at the surface is gone by the time you reach the bottom of the

Water absorbs different colours of light at different speeds,” clarifies Alex, “so warm colours, particularly reds, vanish very quickly”

We tried it! Underwater on a budget

Can you get a feel for aquatic photography with no more than a fish tank, a DSLR and a stunning disregard for your own comfort? Inspired by Alex’s work, I decided to give it a try...* It quickly became apparent that underwater shots can be amazing, but they take a lot of skill, practice, the right equipment and a suitable location to get them right. I decided that one way I could get an underwater taster without shelling out too much cash or traveling too far, was to try a half-submerged or ‘split-level’ shot, where the regular scene is mixed with the water line. And best of all, it’s possible to do it with nothing more advanced than a small fish tank. I gave it a try, assisted by Bunk the spaniel, his aunty Sarah and a tennis ball. I’d been looking forward to trying a shot like this for a while; but when the need arose, of course it was a freezing day in March. Not that water in a Lincolnshire river was ever going to be as warm as the Caribbean. And nor did I expect it to be clear, given that the river was high and so close to churned up farmland. So really the best I could hope for was to get that meniscus look across the frame, giving the right kind of aquatic feel. Using a small, cheap fish tank – a 20l version should only set you back around £20 – I first ‘dryfitted’ a DSLR and lens, using a splash proof Pentax K-3 II and 10-17mm fisheye. The combination fitted fine, and I placed a towel under it for stability and to

mop up any water that crested the sides. The towel also allowed me to wedge the body forwards with the lens up to the glass, minimising reflections. I then carefully started to submerge the tank, getting used to its weight in the water and making sure it was indeed watertight. It had a tendency to float and roll so some pressure needed to be applied to keep it in the right spot. Fairly pleased with this, I removed the set-up to dry land, and worked out the exposure and focusing required. I knew that manual focusing would be needed to avoid the AF hunting in the water, and, at f/14 and shooting at the 17mm end of the lens, I calculated that focusing the lens at about 1m would give me plenty of sharpness to play with – the depthof-field extending from about 40cm to about 4m. I used some electrical tape to prevent the focus ring from moving from that spot. The exposure I also set manually to avoid the system getting fooled by the reflective surface; a setting of 1/250sec at f/14, ISO 1600. Finally, I put the camera into its Continuous drive mode, and it was time to shoot. I managed to get a few good shots of Bunk as he swam close to retrieve the ball, positioning the tank with one hand and shooting with the other, though it’s fair to say there were more misses than hits. One thing I did find to be a problem was water droplets on the tank, so it needed to be wiped between takes, and even that didn’t totally get rid of them.

The fish tank route is certainly no substitute for shooting with a waterproof housing, which would make composition a lot easier for one thing. I was fortunate enough to have a submerged gate to lean on for stability, too. On the plus side, the water actually seemed warmer than I expected, although that could have something to do with adrenaline. What would I do differently next time, apart from get a wetsuit and a plane ticket to the Bahamas? The weather didn’t play ball so I’ll be looking at trying it again in more sun, or employing some flash to add sparkle. I’d plan on finding a location with clearer water, too, so I can try firing a flash through the bottom of the tank, in the hope of illuminating some paddling legs. The process of holding the tank with one hand and shooting with the other wasn’t ideal

either – I’m already sketching out plans to improve it with some flotation aids, ballast and a cable release attached to the top to avoid reaching in to fire the shutter. Oh, and I’ll be getting some waders to save a soggy trip home. The best thing though is I’m certainly inspired to do more. *Remember, water is evil and thinks it’s hilarious to kill your camera and you, so if you fancy giving this a go yourself we accept no responsibility for loss of kit, life or dignity.


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Technique © Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard

© Alex Mustard © Alex Mustard

Above Just as above water, simple camera techniques can change the look of an image, tuning it to your intentions and making the best of the subject. Alex’s book is brimming with great examples of this, such as the fast-swimming spotted dolphins (above left), which required a fast shutter speed of 1/640sec, and the motion-blurred panning shot of a reef shark (top centre), that used a slower speed around 1/4sec combined with flash. Varying the shutter speed also helps work with a flash set-up to create a black backdrop for a more graphical look (above centre) at 1/320sec, or mix the ambient light and add depth (above right) at 1/40sec. deep end of a swimming pool. Most scuba dives go rather deeper than this, which is why flash is so necessary in shooting.” The flash brings natural colour back, but just as on any subject, it’s not a simple case of firing the light and expecting good results. Just because you’re underwater, you can’t forget about the quality of the light as well as the quantity. For success in deep water shots, says Alex, being an expert at flash photography is vital: “Understanding how to balance exposures with ambient light and how to position flashes to create the lighting you want is really the biggest challenge – but it also offers © Alex Mustard

Above Here, the high sun is composed so that it’s hidden by the seal, lowering the contrast and adding some wonderful sunrays.

the greatest rewards.” On the upside, if you’re already used to working with flash, you’ll find it fairly easy to adapt, he says. Again, however, there are exceptions for those wanting to make a splash with pics in the shallows. If you don’t go too deep, colour correction can be achieved with a simple tweak of white balance in camera, or by controlling the Temp slider in your Raw conversions. “In shallow to medium depths we can also use coloured filters, combined with the camera’s white balance to restore the correct colours to a scene without the need for flash.” That route, says Alex, is particularly useful when shooting very large underwater subjects or aquatic landscapes: “some subjects are too big to illuminate with flash, so we shoot them using just ambient light – caverns, wrecks, whales and more tend to be photographed this way.” Fogging up for air There are some interesting parallels with winter shooting when it comes to prepping gear for the depths – the problems of condensation appearing when moving quickly from cool to warm environments. “This isn’t an issue on the outside of the housing,” says Alex, “but troublesome inside.” For instance, he explains, on tropical dive trips, “if a camera is prepared in an air-conditioned space, condensation will form when you go outside. But that’s not a problem as long as you don’t open the housing.” If you need to open the housing, you need to return to the same environment, or wait for 15–20 minutes for the temperatures to equalise. There can also be problems when taking a warm camera into cold water; “kit is usually prepared somewhere warm before cold water dives so if you go straight into cold water, this will cause condensation inside the housing.” To fix this the camera should be left in the cold air, or a cold rinse tank, to acclimatise. Condensation also happens inside housings as the camera gets hot. “This is particularly problematic with compact cameras, which have small, plastic housings and powerful (hot) internal flashes.

Running the flash on low power and adding a silica gel sachet can help.” Attention to detail is vital; “simple problems like a lens cap being left on inside a housing can scupper a whole session, so test everything twice, while you are still high and dry. Everything is much harder underwater, so set modest targets, rather than going underwater with a massive shot list. A couple of great images are worth hundreds of average ones.” Making the difference Good lighting and exposure are the basis of successful underwater shooting, but what comes next – the true key to outstanding pics – is to build upon them; pictures must be compelling in their own right. After, all photography is about the images, not the science. How does Alex achieve that? “Good shooting technique is particularly important underwater because it’s an environment that punishes poor skills severely. But once you’ve mastered the basics, the focus moves to producing powerful images; exploiting lighting, camera settings, viewpoint, perspective and composition, to show the subject in the way you choose. We’re not free to do everything, because some pictures will never work underwater, such as shooting through too much water, but there is plenty of scope for creative endeavours.” A good example of that is working with shutter speed to achieve different looks, which is just as achievable underwater as it is on dry land; in Alex’s book there are some great examples of motion-blurred fish, as well as slow-sync flash shots where slower speeds are used to blend the ambient blues of the ocean with the artificial light. On the flip side, some shots require much faster speeds to freeze the animal’s motion. Essentially it means that if you already know how to do this stuff, you can apply it underwater straight away, and if not, they’re skills you can learn above water and use below to make your shots stand out.

Take the plunge!

If you’ve enjoyed this and want to know more about the world of underwater photography the next step is to get your hands on Alex’s book, Underwater Photography Masterclass. Published by Ammonite Press and priced at £19.99, the book spans 192 pages of superb imagery and insightful explanation. Best of all, it’s delivered in a clear, easy-to-understand style, making it perfect for beginners or those who want to push on in this exacting field. The book begins with instruction on diving equipment and camera types, broadens into understanding and controlling light underwater, then shows how to tailor it for different subjects; large wildlife, macro specimens, sunken landscapes and wrecks. Alex explains all through the lens of an experienced diver, showing how preparation, safety and maintenance are vital for success. The book takes in a wealth of watery locations all around the globe and there are some amazing species to see, too, from shoals of fish in the Egyptian sea to gangs of spider-crabs in the UK. Seek out a copy today! underwaterphotographybook.com

amustard.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Camera test Specs Price £549 body only, £749 with 1855mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS XF lens Sensor X-Trans CMOS II sensor, 16.3 megapixels, EXR processor II Sensor format APS-C 23.6x15.6mm, 4896x3264pixels ISO range 200-6400, expandable 100 to 51,200 with JPEGs only Shutter range 30secs to 1/32,000sec, flash sync 1/180sec. Mechanical and electronic shutter options

Fujifilm X-E2S An update for the award-winning X-E2, Fujifilm’s newest entry-level camera is a rangefinder model with 16.3 megapixels and an X-Trans CMOS II sensor, but is it worth the upgrade? Review by Will Cheung

Drive modes Single, continuous up to 7fps Metering system Multi-zone, average, spot, AEB Exposure modes PASM Exposure compensation +/-3EV Monitor Fixed 3in, 1.04 million dots Viewfinder 2.36 million dots, 100% view Focusing Contrast detect, phase detect, multi-area, centre, tracking, face detection, selective single point, single, continuous, manual Focus points 77 in Wide/Tracking mode Video 1920x1080 Connectivity USB 2.0, Mini HDMI, Wi-Fi Storage media 1xSD/SDHC/SDXC Dimensions (wxhxd) 129x75x37mm Weight 350g body and battery only Contact fujifilm.eu/uk

The images The right side of the X-E2S’s body is busy but despite that handling is good. The exposure compensation dial would benefit from a lock and using the four-way pad to move the AF point around needs a slight handposition shift.

Fujifilm recently upgraded its flagship X-series model, the X-Pro2, which we tested in issue 29. At the same time Fujifilm introduced its new entry-level rangefinder model, the X-E2S. The X-E2S is fundamentally an update for the popular and awardwinning X-E2 with the headline of an improved AF system, an electronic shutter and an improved handgrip among other things. At £549 body the X-E2S only offers an attractive entry into the Fujifilm X-system. Like the X-Pro2, the X-E2S gives a rangefinder experience with the eyepiece to the EVF positioned to the far left side of the body. If your preference is for a more DSLR style of handling and shooting with a centrally placed viewfinder eyepiece then look at the X-T10, available for £449 body only. The X-E2S’s EVF provides an excellent viewing image that’s easy to view even with spectacles on. Fujifilm does say the X-E2S’s EVF has been improved from its predecessor with a display magnification of 0.62x and the world’s shortest display time lag of 0.005secs. There is a dioptre correction feature to the left of the eyepiece and I did find on occasion that was adjusted as the camera was removed from the bag. Key camera data such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO are shown across the bottom and out of the image area. With the Screen Set-up menu item, you can get other items to show, like subject distance and histogram, and these sit within the image area. Push the DISP BACK button on the back panel and you get an image free of any data until you partially depress the shutter release and then you get essential information across the bottom.

The quality of the actual EVF image is excellent with a bright viewing image and the finest detail on show and no image smearing as you pan across a scene. The switchover to EVF from the monitor is automatic when the camera is raised to the eye. This camera is EVF only and has no optical finder like the X-Pro2. The camera monitor is fixed and not touchscreen operated while the menu structure is traditional Fujifilm with five red-coloured Shooting Menu tabs and three blue Set-up tabs. Given the structured and arguably better organised menu seen on the X-Pro2 perhaps it is a surprise that the new look isn’t employed here. Camera handling generally rates highly with controls that are positive, well placed and of a good size. Most controls are on the backplate while on the top-plate are the shutter speed/exposure mode dial, the exposure compensation control, the shutter release and a customisable function button. No locks are provided on the two dials and, in particular, the compensation dial can be inadvertently adjusted so watch out for that. Also on the top-plate is a pop-up flash. Its frame design means the flash head itself is slightly in front of the camera body which helps avoid lens shadow during flash photography. With the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom at 18mm, you can get as close as a metre with no lens shadow, get closer and you get a slight shadow. In the menu, there is a commander mode with compatible units. Control layout on the back panel is very Fujifilm so current X-users will find their way around quickly but even for newcomers it shouldn’t be a

The quality of the actually EVF image is excellent with a bright viewing image and the finest detail on show problem navigating your way to the key controls. Six buttons on the back panel are customisble, the AE and AUTO buttons on the left-side and all four of the thumb-pad controls. There are 27 options including NONE that can be assigned to each of these buttons. Pressing Q takes you to the Quick menu with up to 16 functions instantly accessible. If you prefer you can edit these to suit your needs. In default set-up, the bottom pad of the four-way controls takes you into focus area where you can move the AF mode or change the size of the AF sensor. Direct AF control with all four pads working is an option. The AF system is very capable and there are plenty of options. Rather than single zone you may prefer Zone or Wide/Tracking. In Zone you have the option of 77 AF zones that you can set as groups of nine, 15 or 25 and the active zone can be moved anywhere within the 77 point pattern. In Wide/ Tracking mode, you are leaving it to the camera to pick what to focus on, again using the 77-point pattern and little green boxes light up on the EVF/ monitor to show you which zones are being selected. There is also face and eye detection – the latter with the options of auto, left-eye or right-eye priority. Eye priority performance was inconsistent and taking some

interior daylight head and shoulder portraits with the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 lens was more miss than hit. That isn’t to say that eye detection didn’t work, it just wasn’t reliable. Face detection itself was more effective. I tried the X-E2S with a wide range of prime lenses and zooms including the 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 and the new 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 (also tested in this issue), both of which feature linear motors and internal focusing. Generally, autofocusing speed was good and impressive in decent lighting conditions. The camera would lock on static subjects readily without hunting in single AF but was less good in continuous AF especially in Zone and Wide/Tracking mode. In those focus settings you rely on the camera picking up what you want in focus and with messy scenes, the system couldn’t cope and locked on the wrong subject or flitted around the scene randomly. Using single area AF, adjusting the size of the active point to suit proved more reliable. One area where the camera proved very reliable was with exposure. Extreme contrast can trip it up of course, but in some against-the-light situations the X-E2S still delivered useful shadow detail. In more gentle conditions, the multi-zone system delivered time and time again.


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Camera test Performance: ISO The X-E2S’s sensor is the same as its predecessor; it is a known quantity and is known to be capable when you start to scale the ISO range. Our test shots were taken at twilight using Raw and JPEG quality settings within the native ISO range of 200-6400. The images shown here within this speed range are from Raws processed through Adobe Lightroom with no noise reduction. In-camera noise reduction was set to 0. Beyond the native range and there’s the JPEG option only. To give you some idea of the existing light conditions, the ISO 200 exposure was 3.7secs at f/8. Images are very clean up to ISO 800 when noise starts to appear.

The noise does have a very filmic feel and fine detail does not suffer though. Detail rendition remains good through ISO 1000 and 1250 and is still more than respectable at ISO 1600. The grain pattern is more obvious but it is not offensive and again it is still filmic and some noise reduction in software would make a significant benefit. For critical use you could still get away with ISO 2000 but above that and the higher levels of noise would probably detract from the picture although fine detail remains impressive to ISO 3200. Venture into the ISO expansion zone and image quality is nothing to shout about with heavy noise levels and detail is on the mushy side even at ISO 12,500.

ISO 200

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

ISO 25,600

ISO 51,200

Full-frame image

Noise starts to appear at ISO 800. The noise does have a filmic feel and fine detail does not suffer though Above High-contrast scene well handled. Shot with the 18-55mm at 50mm, 1/450sec f/4, ISO 200. Above right Straight-out-of-thecamera JPEG shot with 55-200mm at 164mm, 1/180sec at f7.1, ISO 200. Far right A dark subject came out marginally light. Shot with 18-55mm at 34mm, exposed at 1/250sec at f/3.6, ISO 400. Right Southwold pier at late evening with a 18mm f/2 lens well captured with good highlight and shadow details. Exposed at 1/250sec at f/8 and ISO 200.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Camera test Panorama

Photo fun with the Fujifilm X-E2S The Fujifilm X-E2S, like many cameras, has plenty of modes for JPEG shooters to experiment with. The Film Simulation modes are well worth using and Classic Chrome and Velvia/Vivid are two I enjoy. The X-E2S has a Film Simulation Bracket mode where you can select three modes and the camera will automatically provide three different files with just one push of the shutter release. Accessed via the DRIVE button are the advanced filters and the options to shoot panoramas and multiple exposures. Among the collection of advanced filters are such settings as Toy Camera, Pop Color, Miniature and various partial colour settings including orange, blue and red. Nothing radical here and what’s available works well enough. The same applies to the panorama setting where you can set the camera to sweep in different directions to suit the scene or your vision. There are two size options too. Push the shutter button once and pan the lens in the indicated direction and after 20 or so shutter actuations, the camera takes a few seconds to process a panorama image. Pan too quickly or slowly and the camera tells you but generally it is quite easy to get right. Panning smoothly is the key to success here and the mode is fun.

Pop color

Toy camera

Selective color orange

Verdict If you are an existing X-E2 user I can’t see you contemplating an upgrade to the X-E2S. Both cameras have the same 16-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor and thanks to Fujifilm’s totally admirable attitude with significant and useful firmware updates, an X-E2 with the latest v4 firmware, you get the same AF, the electronic shutter with a top 1/32,000sec speed and more so the two cameras are almost identical. Long story short, if you are thinking of the X-E2S you could save £150 and buy the X-E2 while it is still around and install the v4.0 firmware and you have the X-E2S in all but name and a few cosmetic differences such as the updated handgrip, an AUTO button and an improved EVF. That said, the Fujifilm X-E2S is a fine, very capable camera with lots of nice things to enjoy including the excellent image quality of the X-Trans sensor. If you’re looking for a CSC system to commit to, the X-E2S could be the camera for you.

Above The X-E2S excelled when it came to tricky, high-contrast lighting scenarios and rarely was exposure compensation needed.

Features Has plenty to offer even though there is nothing outstandingly exciting

23/25

Performance Very capable exposure and focusing skills

23/25

Handling Generally very sound but a couple of locks wouldn’t go amiss

22/25

Value for money Competitive for a camera of this ability

22/25

Overall A capable CSC with plenty to tempt would-be Fujifilm owners Pros Image quality, compact, versatile, plenty of custom options Cons Not much of an upgrade from the X-E2 with v4.0 firmware

90/100


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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

Hoya Fusion From £36 Photographers give a lot of thought to the lenses they buy and in most cases precious little to the filters they stick on the front. Given that putting anything in front of the lens is going to impact on its ultimate performance, even if that impact is tiny, this doesn’t seem logical. So if you have spent hundreds or even thousands on a lens it surely makes sense to minimise any quality loss by investing in a decent piece of glass. Hoya’s latest range of Fusion filters uses professional-grade optical glass with a nine-layer multicoating formula to give excellent light transmission qualities. Use a Hoya Fusion filter and your lens’s performance will not be impacted. But the range offers much more ,with a new antistatic layer giving filters protective qualities as well as being stain and waterproof, scratch resistant, anti-static and easy to clean. Three filter types are available, a circular polariser, ultraviolet and protector. Looking at the transmission characteristics of the clear protector and UV filters, the latter removes near UV wavelengths around 350-400nm. If you’re in the hills or at the coast when there is a strong blue sky, a UV filter will help stop your pictures becoming too blue – very important with film where you can’t just use a custom whitebalance to get round the issue. I had a Fusion Protector to test so headed out to the coast with it and

my regular protection filter. With heavy rain forecast I was looking forward to a good soaking. The 5mm thin high-quality mount is beautifully machined and it screwed sweetly onto the lens with no cross-threading. Having a front thread and being thin helps to avoid vignetting when you want to add an extra filter or a creative filter holder. I tried it on a Nikon 16-35mm f/4 and added a Lee Filters 100 holder with no vignetting at the wide end. I am happy shooting in the rain and one benefit was immediately apparent. On my normal protection filter drying off water drops with a microfibre lens cloth smears and getting a clear view to shoot through without any soft-focus was difficult. In persistent rain I had to take the filter off because the image was soft. With the Fusion filter I didn’t have that problem at all and even with a damp lens cloth keeping the filter clear and free of smears was easy. Next I planted a peanut butter thumbprint in the middle of the two filters. Admittedly this is a rather extreme, but good, way to test how a filter deals with problematic situations. Using a kitchen towel, first dry and then dampened, the Fusion filter was quickly restored to its pristine state; the sticky residue came off readily. The other filter needed a good deal more buffing to remove the resulting bloom. WC

Specs Prices 58mm Protector £36, UV £44, circular polariser £75 77mm Protector £55, UV £70, circular polariser £120 Availability All 3 types, 37mm to 82mm Mount thickness 5mm (77mm Protector) Weight 29g (77mm Protector) Contact intro2020.co.uk

Verdict There are filters available at all prices and the Hoya Fusion range is in the more expensive area of the market, but then that is fully justified with top-quality glass and those extra protective characteristics provided by the new anti-static coating.

Images To test how easily substances could be wiped off the Hoya Fusion filters, peanut butter (top) and water (above) were used. Water ringmarks came off no problem and peanut butter was removed more easily compared with rivals.

Pros High optical quality, antistatic coating, easy cleaning, thin mount, front filter thread Cons None


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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First tests

Fujifilm XF100400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR £1499 Smaller formats like APS-C and Micro Four Thirds have the advantage over 35mm full-frame when it comes to long telephotos. The smaller image area means lenses can be more compact for the same telephoto effect or a little bigger and have greater pulling power. Thus the new Fujifilm XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR has the effect of a 152-609mm telezoom. Add a 1.4x teleconverter and it becomes a 213-853mm lens. That is serious pulling power, even if the maximum aperture of the lens/ teleconverter at 853mm is only f/8. The 100-400mm has all the bells and whistles you’d expect Fujifilm to pack into a top-end lens costing £1500. It is protected against dust and water, features exotic glass for leading optical performance, has a rotating (unmarked) aperture ring and an image stabilisation system with a claimed 5EV benefit. That covers most of the acronyms and initials in the lens’s name apart from the LM, which stands for linear motor, and this lens has two for fast, silent autofocus. In terms of physical attributes the 100-400mm is not that dissimilar to the Canon EOS full-frame lens of the same range. The Fujifilm weighs in at 1375g so is lighter by around 275g. Fit the lens onto a camera body (I tried it on an X-Pro2, X-E2S and an X-T1) and in every case the lens is the dominant partner, but balance is still good and hand-holding is very much a possibility. Strangely, the foot

of the tripod ring is really short – far too short for a lens of this focal length range. Comparing it with Fujifilm’s 50-140mm f/2.8 the foot is about half the size and that does compromise handling. A longer foot can help when hand-holding, with it fitting in the palm of the supporting hand and it also comes in handy as a carrying handle. I fitted a Wimberley tripod plate to extend the foot and make the lens more comfortable to carry. The good thing is that it is replaceable so perhaps an optional longer foot will be available – if not from Fujifilm, then almost certainly from a third party. The lens does have a lock to hold it in place at 100mm. Speaking of locks, the supplied lens hood also has a lock and should you need to use a polariser on this lens the hood has a slide window so you can rotate the filter without having to remove it. This is a good bit of design which makes the small tripod foot seem even more odd. Using a lens of a long telephoto range handheld is not ideal and a support of some sort is always to be recommended. However, in reality shooting handheld is often the only option so having an effective image stabilisation system is important. This lens’s proved remarkably skilful. If I’d read a review that said pinsharp handheld pictures are possible at the long end of this lens at 1/25sec while standing on a sandy beach in a strong onshore breeze, I’d be more than a little sceptical of the findings.

Specs Format APS-C (152-609mm equivalent in 35mm format) Mount Fujifilm X Construction 21 elements in 14 groups Special lens elements 5 extra low dispersion, 1 super low dispersion Coatings Fluorine Filter size 77mm Aperture range f/4.5-22 Diaphragm 9 blades Internal focus Yes Manual focus Yes Minimum focus 21.75m

Above Let’s be honest: hand-holding a 600mm equivalent lens at 1/25sec on a breezy day at the seaside is madness and blurry pictures are almost guaranteed. But the Fujifilm’s OIS system did a remarkable job and our shots were critically sharp. But I managed exactly that using an X-T1 with its mechanical shutter and at 400mm, equivalent to over 600mm in the 35mm format, so I am seriously impressed. I am not for one moment suggesting this should be standard operating procedure but it does show it’s possible. Optically, this lens is a class act too. At 100mm, you get a high standard of sharpness from f/4.5 onwards at the centre as well as the edges and certainly good enough for critical use. At this focal length quality peaks

100MM

200MM

400MM

100MM, F/4.5

200MM, F/5

400MM, F/5.6

100MM, F/8

100MM, F/22

200MM, F/8

200MM, F/22

400MM, F/11

400MM, F/22

at f/8 before falling away. A similar performance is seen at 200mm although the best aperture was f/11 but no real complaints about the wider apertures. Only f/22 is disappointing. The weakest performance, relatively speaking, was at 400mm. Wide open sharpness was acceptable but matters improved at f/8 and f/11. Although less impressive than the 100mm and 200mm settings that is no real surprise and there is no reason why the 400mm setting can’t deliver critically good pictures. WC The images Our test pictures were shot with the 100-400mm zoom mounted on a Benro Mach 3 TMA38CLV3 tripod. The camera used was a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and selftimer used to trigger the shutter. Resulting images were processed through Adobe Lightroom.

Focus limiter 5m-infinity, 1.75-5m Maximum magnification 0.19x Distance scale Yes Depth-of-field scale Yes Image stabiliser Yes, 5EV benefit Tripod collar Yes Lens hood Yes, lockable and with slot for polariser use Weather-sealed Yes, 13 water and dust resistant seals Dimensions (lxd) 210.5x94.8mm Weight 1375g Contact fujifilm.eu/uk

Verdict This is a very fine and highly capable lens that will appeal to nature and sports photographers. It is no lightweight and definitely not the sort of optic you would carry around on the off-chance of getting a picture, but for its focal length range the XF100-400mm is remarkably portable and compact. Optically it is very good too and perfectly useable at its wider apertures, which is a key quality with telephoto lenses like this where the smaller apertures are generally less important. And in regards to sharp handheld shots, the lens’s IS system is remarkably good at delivering sharp results at shutter speeds you shouldn’t really be using for a lens this long. All in all, a very fine lens and at a decent price for a long telephoto.

24/25 Features Great range, WR, OIS and swift AF 24/25 Performance Very useable wide open and even better one or two stops down 23/25 Handling Only complaint is the rather strangely inadequate tripod foot Value for money Good for the range on offer

24/25

95/100 Overall Fujifilm reputation for high optical quality upheld Pros Image quality, very impressive image stabilisation system, WR build, great pulling power Cons Why such a small tripod foot?


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First tests Specs

Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4 Softbox Set £790

In the box 2x D-Lite RX4 heads, with 100W lamps, protective cover, 1x Portalite Square 66cm, 1x Portalite Octa 56cm, 1x translucent deflector, 1x EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus, 2x mains leads, 1x sync lead, 2x 88235cm lighting stands with carry bag, 1x tube case for two heads Power range 5EV power range, 25-400Ws, adjustable in EV0.1 steps Power supply Mains Minimum flash duration 1/800sec Recycling times 0.35-1.2secs Colour temperature 5500K Cooling Microprocessor controlled fan with thermal cut-out Modifier setting Elinchrom bayonet Modelling lamp E27 100W, proportional, min, max, off Integrated receiver Transceiver with 7 channels & 4 groups Sync socket 3.5mm jack, 5V sync voltage Hi -Sync compatibility Yes – camera dependent, with Skyport HS Dimensions (wxhxd) RX4 head 14x19x26cm Weight RX4 head 1.5kg EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus Working range 200m Power 2x AAs Sync socket 2.5mm jack, 5V sync voltage Dimensions (wxhxd) 5x10.3x3.4cm Weight 0.122kg Contact elinchrom.com, theflashcentre.com

Over the review period, the kit performed without missing a beat

Elinchrom won our Innovation of 2015 Award for its impressive Elinchrom EL-Skyport Plus HS, a trigger that gives Hi-Sync with practical levels of output using its Quadra portable flash system. Now the company has launched another trigger, the EL‑Skyport Transmitter Plus and at the same time has looked at its lighting kit offerings. Here we take a look at the D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Set, which includes the new trigger. The D-Lite RX4 series of compact flash heads is aimed at newcomers to studio lighting and offers great value for money. This kit, which contains all you need to shoot professional quality pictures, retails at £790. The heads, which we’ll come back to, and leads aside, an important part of the kit are the two Portalite softboxes, the Square 66cm and the Octa 56cm. Both disassemble to be very portable and take just a few minutes and a modicum of effort to assemble. Front diffuser panels are supplied, but in the kit is a white deflector disc that means you can turn a softbox into a beauty dish. The Octa, which gives lovely round catchlights, is ideal for this approach. As the kit comes with two softboxes and no brollies that also means you don’t get spill kills or basic reflectors. Therefore, if you buy brollies later, you’ll need to invest in spill kills, too. Each RX4 head has a maximum 400Ws output at full power, represented by 6.0 on the LED readout and is adjustable in EV0.1 steps in default mode – this can be changed in the unit’s advanced features mode. The difference between 6.0 and 5.0 is one f/stop, and 2.0 indicates minimum output of 25Ws. Power changes can be done with the up/down arrows but also remotely

using the Skyport Plus unit, and auto dumping dissipates spare energy when going from a higher power setting to a lower one. Dumping can take many seconds so you might as well trigger the flash and let it recharge to the lower setting – it’s quicker. To give you some idea of output, I set up one head and used a Gossen flashmeter set to ISO 200. At full power (the 6.0 setting) with the 60cm softbox (front diffuser panel fitted) placed 3m from the subject, the meter read f/16.7 – which equates to f/20. Using the Octa with the white deflector in position, the meter reading was only EV0.2 less. Move the light closer to 2m and full power gives readings of a little more than f/22 so basically there is plenty of power for most portrait situations. For product shooting where your lights might be even closer, full power with the 60cm softbox gave enough light for a meter reading of f/45.7 – your lens probably stops at f/32. The power output control is very effective too. With no movement of light or flashmeter, full power gave a f/16.7 reading, adjusting the power out to 4.0, ie. two stops down, I got a reading of f/8.0.6 so a mere EV0.1 out. Taking the power down another two stops gave a reading of f/4.0.8 – again an EV0.1 variance from the full power reading. That’s admirably consistent and we’re talking variances that aren’t really discernible to the naked eye. Each head has a tungsten ES fit 100W lamp. This can be turned off, set at full power or set to be proportional to the flash output. Pushing the lamp icon button on the back panel scrolls through the options. You can set Visual Flash Control in advanced features where the modelling lights go off when the flash fires and come back on when the unit is recharged.

Recharging at full power averaged around 1.7secs in my tests. That’s marginally slower than as claimed in the specifications, but it’s still plenty fast enough. With the modelling lamp and flash on full and a softbox fitted, in my tests the cooling fan turned itself on after about 15 minutes and ran for five minutes before switching off. Then 15 minutes later it started again. It’s not noisy so during a studio session becomes accepted background noise. One of the key selling points of this To Go kit is the new EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus. It’s twice the size of the Speed version but that is offset by easier to use buttons, a swivel mount and a working range up to 200m, plus it takes readily available AA cells. Features include four groups, eight groups on normal mode, eight in speed mode for leaf shutter sync and remote power adjustment. Over the review period, the kit performed without missing a beat. It didn’t overheat despite being left running with the modelling bulb on and the flash being regularly fired for several hours at a time. Power was sufficient for home studio shooting and the Skyport Plus trigger proved utterly reliable. There are also plenty of extra features to let you adjust such things as the duration of the recharging confirmation beep and whether you want to adjust power in EV0.1, EV0.5 or EV1 steps. Another important factor for the home studio user or for the photographer on the move is that the two heads fit into one bag and the stands fit into another with the leads, softboxes and trigger spread between the two. The whole packed Softbox To Go Set takes up very little room indeed and carting it around is easy enough. The ‘To Go’ tag is well merited. WC

Above left This good value kit includes two D-Lite RX4 heads, two softboxes and a deflector, a Skyport Transmitter Plus, two stands, leads and two cases. Top The Elinchrom D-Lite RX4 heads offer plenty of power and it’s easy to control. Above The Portalite Square 66cm and Octa 56cm softboxes.

Verdict In the world of studio lighting, £790 for a two-head kit with stands, softboxes and a quality radio flash trigger is very competitive value. And you’re also buying into the Elinchrom lighting system where the range of lighting modifiers is second to none. There are also plenty of third-party options and many brands use Speedring adapters so the same modifier can be attached to Elinchrom, Bowens or Profoto heads with the appropriate adapter. To sum up, the Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Set is a very good value lighting kit with enough power and features for many photographers, and topped off nicely with the EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus. Recommended. Pros Lightweight, good power output, two useful modifiers, quality radio trigger, advanced features Cons Nothing significant


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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First tests Specs In the box CamFi remote camera controller, mini USB camera connect cable, micro USB cable for charging, double screw/hotshoe adapter, lanyard, quick start guide Camera compatibility Wide selection of Canon and Nikon DSLRs – see website Software platform iOS8.0 and above; Android 4.0 and above. Mac OS X 10.10 and above; Windows XP and above Signal distance 50m Speed 150Mbps Battery life 6 hours Battery 1800mA lithium rechargeable Dimensions (wxhxd) 89x4.4x2.6cm Weight 77g Contact cam-fi.com

The app itself I found easy to navigate and use

CamFi £115 More and more photographers want to control their camera and to view or download pictures remotely and wirelessly whether it’s for a selfie or something a little more interesting. Joining the range of gadgets that offer this functionality, the CamFi works with your smartphone or tablet (or desktop computer) and is attractively priced at £115 too. Set up is easy. The small unit has an on-board battery, rechargeable via an USB input, so I got that charging while I downloaded the free app onto my iPhone and iPad. Once the unit was charged – the blue LED goes out – it was time to play. A micro USB cable is supplied but, of course, there is no standard when it comes to camera interfaces so you need to make sure you have a suitable cable handy. The CamFi website tells you which Canon and Nikon cameras (no other brands currently are compatible) work with the supplied cable and which might need an optional lead. Plug the unit into the camera, secure the unit with the fitted lanyard or the supplied hotshoe adapter and turn it on. It takes 12 seconds to start up and you are looking for a constant green LED. Connect your device to the CamFi’s Wi-Fi, then open the app and the pair connect up. The claimed range is 50m and certainly at 30m it was working fine on my test. To be fair, it was dead easy and I got a connection immediately with the three different Nikon DSLRs I tried. Tap Live View and a couple of seconds later you’re seeing the camera view through your smart device’s screen. The app itself I found easy to navigate and use. Tap anywhere on the viewing image and the camera will autofocus; you can pinch and spread to zoom into the image – up to 7x – to check focusing and you can fine-tune focus with the MF option too. The app even tells you when you have reached the limit of the lens’s focusing range. In terms of AF efficiency, you are at the mercy of the camera’s

live view system rather than the CamFi unit so a bit of hunting for focus is no surprise. When I tried exposure bracketing, the camera refocused between each exposure so the process isn’t especially speedy. With the refocusing and a delay of a few seconds between each shot, this is a potential drawback if you are shooting for HDR merging later. The range of control available is impressive. Being able to change exposure mode, aperture, ISO and shutter speed (in 1/3EV steps) is simple and painless with minimal time lag, and in bracketing you can set up to +/-3EV and up to nine shots (this depends on the chosen step value). There is a programmable focus stacking option too. The interval timer function is very versatile where you can set start time, the interval between shots and the number of frames, and there’s a B timer available too (the camera has to be in B mode) with a two-second delay before the shutter opens. You don’t get live view in B shooting. There is a fractional time delay between pressing the smart device’s shutter button and the picture being

taken. That could be an issue, for example, if you’re shooting birds because the subject could be gone when the shutter is released. This is both with and without live view. You can wirelessly download and share your shots too. A large JPEG or a Raw from a Nikon D810 took under ten seconds to transfer. I had two issues with the CamFi, both bugs and probably resolvable. When trying to record video remotely, I kept getting the same error message, ‘CamFi is not responding’. But I knew I was connected because the live view was still showing the live image and the other features were operable too. I also managed to go back to still shooting straight afterwards too. That’s is something to check if you are intending video use. And the other was the desktop app which I couldn’t get working at all. It could see the camera but I got no further so that was disappointing. WC

Verdict The CamFi definitely has potential and its price isn’t outrageous – a Canikon programmable cable remote release will cost you more as would a branded wireless remote control set. Obviously whether the CamFi is worth the money depends on whether you envisage yourself needing wireless camera control. If you do, then at this price, and assuming you don’t get the video and desktop app issues I had, the CamFi is a very attractive proposition and it’s a very capable and versatile unit. Pros Attractive price, it works – mostly Cons Slight delay with shutter release, video function didn’t work, the same with the desktop app

Advanced timer

Bracketing

Focus stacking

Manual focusing

Mode change

Playback

Quality mode

Zoom in focusing


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

Like Fujifilm X-series? You’ll love the Fujifilm X Magazine. Whether you’re a dedicated Fujifilm X-series user, or are considering your very first model in the range, the Fujifilm X Magazine is a must read. Available to download to your tablet or mobile, or to view online, the FREE magazine brings all that’s great about X-series into one place.

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Search for Fujifilm X Magazine in the App Store and Google Play or visit en.fujifilmxmagazine.eu to see the latest issue.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

46

First tests

Third-party straps Of all the accessories that you can buy for your camera, the strap is very possibly the one most likely to be taken for granted, especially as you got a nice branded free one when you bought your camera. Yet it is such a vital piece of kit that it merits serious consideration and it is certainly worth looking beyond what came in the box. A good camera strap needs to be comfortable, secure and practical in an unobtrusive, behind-the-scenes way. Ideally, it should look the part too but the three big considerations

are that a strap should be comfortable, keep the camera safe and be great to use so let’s take those points in turn. If you’re going to have a camera hanging from your shoulder/neck all day long you want a strap that isn’t going to dig into your skin or feel scratchy or itchy after a short while. When it’s cold you’re going to have a jacket or thick top and that helps avoid any discomfort but on T-shirt days when it’s humid and hot, there is nothing worse than an irritating strap. On areas of contact with the

skin, look for quality padding and stitch-free areas. Some straps use stretchy material like neoprene that can cushion the weight of your DSLR as you’re carrying it around. A shoulder pad with good grip means the camera is less likely to slip. A secure strap means that your camera stays put, safe from the effects of gravity as well as from stray hands. The anchor mechanism is important so check this point carefully and make sure when you attach the strap that you follow any guidelines for

maximum security. Some straps have extra plastic clips or fittings to enable fast fitting/removal and these clips need to be high quality and firm in their operation to ensure there is no chance of accidental release. Usability is very much a personal thing. Indeed, many photographers don’t like conventional shoulder straps at all and prefer wrist straps or pap-type straps. To be honest, it is often a few weeks into a relationship with a strap that handling issues manifest themselves

and they’re rarely immediately apparent when you’re in the shop. Comfort aside, you might find the strap fouls the shutter release when you lift the camera to the eye, or its shoulder pad might not grip very well so the camera is regularly sliding off your shoulder. In the longer term, you might find the strap’s fittings can scratch around the lugs impacting on the camera’s resale value. Here we take a look at three straps new to the UK market and check out what they have to offer. WC

EDDYCAM 35mm 4V Design Lusso €189 £79

Miggö Two-Way Speed Strap £23

EDDYCAM straps are handmade in Germany from Scandinavian elk-skin leather and not only are the straps functional, they also feel luxurious to the touch and are very skin friendly. Various widths, styles and colour combinations are on offer so whether you want a strap for your pro DSLR or for your binos on your next trip to Ascot races, there is a strap for you. The EDDYCAM 35mm is designed for CSCs such as Leica, Olympus OM-D/PEN and Fujifilm X-series and has a load bearing of up to 1.2kg and each strap measures 155cm in length. The version I had is brown with natural-contrast seams so looks lovely but it is €10 more than the basic strap. There is no shoulder pad as such but it is slightly fatter where it fits on the shoulder. Nor is there any extra grip or raised surface on the underside but there’s no problem with the strap fitting on the shoulder. While it is not as stretchy as a material like neoprene, there is give in the elk leather so that helps to cushion the camera’s weight. If you grab the strap at each end and pull hard you get an extra 4cm which gives you an idea of the stretchiness. Four beautifully machined metal fittings allow plenty of length adjustment and the clip design lets you attach the strap to the camera quickly but very securely too. Pads to protect the camera from any risk of scratching are also supplied. I tried the EDDYCAM on the Olympus PEN-F and various Fujifilm X-series cameras, most of the time with the cameras around my neck, and I enjoyed the experience very much. The important thing from my perspective was that I didn’t think about the strap at all. In other words, it did its job without making itself a nuisance and that is only a good thing.

If you want a versatile strap the Miggö Two-Way Speed Strap could be the one for you. At £23 it is also very attractively priced. In the box come all the bits you need to use the strap in round the neck/off the shoulder ‘classic’ mode, but seconds later you can switch it to ‘sling’ or pap-strap mode with the strap running across your body. A few seconds more and you can attach the camera to the straps of a backpack. The two attachment bands take seconds to fit to the camera body and then you’re ready to go into either mode. Very usefully, once the strap is clicked in place there is a simple locking mechanism to ensure the two stay together. Just slide the blue tab to lock the sections together. The shoulder section of the strap is nylon and there is a 37cm section of padding stitched into the strap. The padding is quite thin and does a reasonable rather than outstanding job of spreading the load and providing comfort. The pad material is stretchy but the strap itself isn’t so it doesn’t offer much in the way of cushioning. For sling use, the fitting is screwed into the camera base and a coin slot enables secure tightening. The camera does not glide up and down the strap and the whole thing moves when you bring the camera up to the eye. As an additional measure, a thin safety cord is provided. My favourite sling strap is the Black Rapid and the Miggö is not a patch on that, but then it is a fraction of the price – and the Black Rapid does not transform into a classic neck strap. I think the Miggö is a decent shoulder strap first and a useable sling strap second. At the price though, value rates very highly, so definitely worth a look.

Verdict The EDDYCAM strap is the most expensive of the three here but it is a luxurious strap with a very tactile feel and it’s the most comfortable on the skin too. It makes a great partner for your CSC and comes recommended. Pros Very soft material, security, great looks Cons Price eddycam.com

Handmade in Italy, the Lusso Large is designed to replace the strap that came with your DSLR and there is much to like about it. For me top of the list is the shoulder pad. The top side is leather and embossed with the company’s logo but it’s the underside that really impresses. It has what the company calls Ultra-Grip Technology and it does offer a very high level of grip. If your current strap is constantly sliding from your shoulder, you have really got to try this strap. It stays put brilliantly whether you’re wearing a shirt/blouse, T-shirt or outdoor jacket. The shoulder pad uses memory foam on the underside and that gives a cushioning effect during use and even with a full-frame DSLR the load is spread out for greater comfort. This pad surrounds the main part of the strap which is 20mm wide cotton ribbon, so it’s soft to the touch, very flexible and the length can be adjusted within a 100-132cm range. At each end of the strap are a couple of stitched leather fittings that join it to the attachment bands made from 100% polyamide and designed to offer high resistance to wear and tear – and to cutting. These bands are 10mm wide and are stitched and folded to stop the band slipping. The bands loop through the supplied metal spring rings with anti-scratch leather camera body protectors. I did find these attachment bands could be better. The stitched and folded endings did prevent the attachment bands slipping free so there was no risk to the camera, but the band could slip until that safety measure kicked in. To prevent any movement I threaded the end over and under the clip an extra time and then there was no slippage at all.

Verdict There is much to like about the Lusso Large strap and it is very useable, especially the extremely grippy shoulder pad that is excellent. The attachment band issue needs looking at and I’d suggest doubling it over for extra security. Pros Shoulder pad very grippy Cons Needs a better attachment band 4vdesign.i

Verdict This Miggö strap performed well in the test with a variety of DSLRs including the Nikon D5. Security is very good, length adjustment fast and there are the options of sling or backpack use as well as around the neck, so versatile. Pros Great value Cons Shoulder pad thin, not a great sling strap mymiggo.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

If you’re a confident photographer who’s looking to take their skills further Advanced Photographer is the magazine for you. Exclusively digital and perfectly designed for your iPad, Kindle or tablet, every month Advanced Photographer brings you eye-opening techniques and trusted reviews, as well as interviews with the world’s most talented photographers and the best competitions to test your mettle and grow as a creative force. Get inspired to shoot new subjects and take on fulfilling photo projects – you won’t look back with Advanced Photographer . Designed exclusively for digital, so you can enjoy it from start to finish on your tablet. Beautiful high-resolution shots from the best image makers around the world. Expert shooting and editing advice, plus ways to brush up on your existing skills. Inspiring projects and cutting-edge creative work from the most talented photographers. Rigorous tests on the latest kit.

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Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

49

First tests

Panzer Conqueror 35.5 £140 Many photographers are perfectly content with the level of protection afforded them by a quality camera bag or photo backpack. Some photographers who travel a great deal or work in challenging conditions, however, need something more robust and designed to withstand truly arduous conditions. Perhaps something like a Panzer case. Panzer cases have been available in the UK since 2014 and its parent company, Oakmays, has supplied protective solutions since 1996, so the brand has a good pedigree. Its heavy-duty hard cases are available for phones, tablets, compacts and DSLR systems and all are waterproof, airtight, shatter proof, chemical resistant, crush proof and shockproof. In this test we trialled one of the larger and best selling cases in the range, the Conqueror 35.5 flight case which retails at £140. You can’t help but be impressed with the case’s substantial build quality. True, it weighs in unladen at 8kg but if you need protection, you get it in spades. There are two carry handles – the main one is rubberised for comfort, and there’s a pull-out handle. The latter is firmly locked in place – when parked or in use – and for me was perhaps an inch or two too short for true pulling comfort but everyone’s physiology is different so worth testing this in person. Two latch locks on the front secure the case. These work firmly and need a good push to secure, while their angled lip design ensures you get an airtight seal. Holes are provided if you want to add a padlock or security seal. A pressure release valve is fitted on the front too should you get an airlock. This case comes with fitted foam sheets, one in the lid and four in the

compartment, the top two diced and ready to be customised to your kit. Of course, before you do anything irreversible you need to think about layout. Replacement foam is available from Panzer or online so if you make a mistake or want spare sheets for different outfits it’s no problem. This model has a 35.5l capacity and there’s room for a decent sized DSLR outfit. You can see it’ll comfortably take two full-frame bodies, four lenses and a flashgun. Have the bodies standing on one end and the flash upright and you’ll fit more. Put another way, the Conqueror can take enough kit to make it quite heavy. If you anticipate flying with this case as hand baggage, it conforms to the size restrictions of many (but not all) airlines, but if there is a weight limit you are likely to exceed that once it’s loaded up. As restrictions change you need to check with the relevant airline before travelling. But if the case does have to go into the plane’s hold you know the contents are protected. To gauge the level of the protection offered, I put the case into the bath and ran a jet of water over it for 15mins and left it submerged for the same length of time. Then I put an egg inside, had an 80kg man jump up and down on it and drop tested it from 1m and 2m. The case, also with an egg inside went into the plane hold on a return flight out of Heathrow – I was on a business trip so it seemed a great opportunity to give the case a real-life test. The good news for the case’s interior – and the egg – was it survived my tests and those of the baggage handlers, emerging unscathed apart from a few wear-and-tear scratches. Yes, real life will throw up sterner and potentially riskier situations but it seems to me that the Conqueror is built to repel. WC

Specs Price £140 Construction High impact-resistant ABS engineering resin Foam inserts 5 pieces supplied in total – 2 diced Latch system Double throw latch Seal Tongue and groove with rubber O-ring Ingress protection rating IP67 Volume 35.5l

You can’t help but be impressed with the Conqueror’s build quality

Dimensions (wxhxd) Internal: 480x370x200mm External: 520x431x236.5mm Weight 8kg Contact panzercases.myshopify.com

Images With the ability to accommodate a volume of 35.5l, the Conqueror will easily have room for two full-frame bodies, lenses and a flashgun. Far left bottom To test the Conqueror’s watertight seal, the case was placed under a jet of running water for 15 minutes and then submerged for the same amount of time.

Verdict There’s no doubt that the Panzer Conqueror 35.5l is a terrific, very solidly made case offering a high level of protection and it comes in at a very attractive price. If the size of this case doesn’t suit your specific needs, there’s almost certain to be something in Panzer’s extensive range of cases that will and has the same protection skills as the Conqueror.

Above To test how safe gear in the Conqueror 35.5 would be, an egg was placed inside and then the case was dropped from 1m and 2m off the ground. The Conqueror was also jumped up and down on by an 80kg man. The egg survived both tests.

Pros Incredible level of protection, good capacity Cons The pull-out handle is just a little too short


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

50

First tests

Miggö Splat From £13.99

Specs Splat CSC, point & shoot Price £13.99 Maximum camera weight 0.50kg Size 18cm diameter foot to foot when flat Weight 0.065kg Splat DSLR Price £16.99 Maximum camera weight 1.5kg Size 28cm foot to foot when flat Weight 0.110kg Contact mymiggo.com

Carrying a full-size or even a travel tripod is not always practical, but there is always the option of stashing a mini tripod in your bag at all times, perhaps something like a Miggö Splat. Two sizes of this fold-flat flexible tripod are available: a smaller fivelegged (a ‘pentapod’?) model suitable for action cameras, compacts and CSC types, priced at £13.99; and a larger three-legged model designed for DSLRs, in the shops at £16.99. The mymiggo.com website has a camera fit guide in case you are unsure which Splat will fit your own model. Both Splats have silicon-coated metal sheet legs that are very flexible so you can mould them into different shapes, but they are rigid so they hold the camera in place once positioned correctly. There is even a little lateral movement in the legs, should it be needed, but obviously this is limited. The Splat’s flexibility means that it can be flattened for portability, which makes it ideal for stowing in your camera bag so it’s always available. There’s a tripod bush to fix the Splat to the camera, which has a lift-up finger grip to make secure tightening comfortable. There’s also a groove to enable the use of a coin (a 10p piece was perfect for tightening). The provision of a hex socket would’ve been a nice luxury. Each foot has moulded dots to improve grip and one foot has a drilled hole so you can hang the Splat

from a convenient nail, too. This hole also means you can move the camera adaptor to it which is handy. That means you can, for example, have two legs gripping onto a fence and a small flash/action camera on the third limb. There’s not much more to say, except that both the Splats worked impressively throughout the test. I tried a variety of compacts, CSCs and DSLRs on these Splats. For most keen photographers the more sensible buy and probably the more useful would be the three-legged Splat DSLR, but given the low outlay it may be worth getting one of each. The smaller Splat works well as a minipod with compacts and CSCs like the Fujifilm X-E2S and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I had the 14-150mm zoom on the latter and supporting it with the smaller Splat was no problem at all. The Fujifilm X-E2S has an off-centre tripod bush so I found a little more care with balance was needed, but once correctly positioned, making very long steady exposures was no problem. The larger Splat has a quoted maximum load of 1.5kg, but I tried it with a Nikon D3s and 24-120mm lens, a combination weighing nearly 2.3kg and it worked just fine as a minipod, provided care was taken with the leg positioning and adjustment. With such a heavy lens, it was important to make sure one of the Splat’s legs was under the lens for maximum support.

Images Use the tripod bush to fix the Splat to your camera – or a flashgun – and then try wrapping the legs around a banister (left), door (bottom left), branch or anything else that takes your fancy, for good support.

There’s not much more to say, except that both the Splats work impressively… While the larger Splat worked with the pro Nikon it was pushing the limit. It was more comfortable with lighter cameras but even something like the Nikon D800 was fine. It can take a little time and fiddling to get the Splat and camera correctly set up. For instance, if you are trying to get it perfectly level you’ll need to do some flexing. The same applies when using the Splat as a tripod, making sure all three or five feet are in contact with the surface. If you have the Splat gripping something, make sure the camera is firmly in place before letting go. This is especially important if you are attaching the Splat to something like a varnished banister where there is the chance of gradual slippage. Keep hold of the camera strap just in case Let the camera settle for a few seconds before using the remote release or the self-timer – choosing a 10- or 12-second delay is probably a good option. The larger Splat’s legs bend up to a point near the camera mount which

means secure fixing to a thin pole, railing or fence is not feasible. The smaller Splat is better in this respect. Shooting horizontal pictures with both Splats is straightforward, but going upright is more challenging depending on the weight of the camera and, in particular, the lens. Tightening the bush as much as possible helps, but a bit of common sense will go a long way here. Having the camera lens directed appropriately during upright use means it is tightening itself against the camera bush; have it facing left and it can loosen itself. Supporting cameras is just one use for the Splats. They are perfect for holding, for example, a flashgun with a suitable cold shoe adaptor. Getting a light into a tricky position is perfectly feasible without the need for any clamps or tape. If your photography means you often need to get a flashgun into awkward positions, a couple of larger Splats would be a worthwhile addition to the kitbag and they’re probably far more versatile than screw clamps. WC

Verdict Splats are excellent accessories and are very good minipods, suitable for a wide range of cameras. The larger Splat exceeded expectations and coped well with a 2.3kg body and lens combo, once some extra attention was paid to setting up. The flexible legs also mean many situations can be handled. One thing I can’t vouch for is how much flexing the metal sheet legs will take, but with a few weeks of regular flexing both idly at my desk and in actual use, nothing snapped. Given that a Splat is unlikely to be used every day, there is no reason why you wouldn’t get many years’ reliable service out of one. For the money, the Splats are effective, simple accessories well worth having. Pros Great prices, lie flat for portability, versatile, provides solid support, suitable for most cameras Cons Small thing, but a hex socket would be nice, doesn’t work so well with very thin poles/railings


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

52

Accessories test Buyers’ guide

Lights fantastic

£950

1

Polaroid BrightSaber £130

At around a third of the price of Westcott’s vaunted Icelight, this is an attractive choice of lightbar for those on a budget and it offers an excellent range of features and applications. The BrightSaber weighs only 454g, making it easy to cast over a subject and hold in place. It’s this versatility that makes lightbars so attractive, as they allow you to place the illumination where it’s required, whether you’re working fast or shooting long exposures. The BrightSaber can be run from batteries or the mains if you’re in the studio, and its 298-piece LED bulb array has plenty of power, but can give a pleasingly soft look thanks to the frosted diffuser. There’s also a tripod thread for exact positioning. The light is balanced to a daylight-style 5800K, but also comes with a sleeve-like tungsten colour temperature filter that drops it to 3200K and is activated with a twist of the handle. This allows it to be used in mixed lighting or to add colour contrast. The BrightSaber can be set to Repeat mode for creative stroboscopic effects, too. A case is included for storage and transportation and there’s an IR remote which can control the BrightSaber or be used as a shutter release for Canon, Nikon and Pentax cameras. polaroid.com

Profoto ProTungsten Air Tungsten Light £950

As well as its line of flash lighting, Profoto makes a range of professionalquality continuous lights that are built to be powerful, adaptable and stand up to the rigours of daily use. With its choice of interchangeable 500W or 1000W tungsten lamps, the ProTungsten Air offers all the power that you are likely to need and this can be lowered to just 10% of the output. It also uses a silent two-speed fan to return over 300 hours of life from its lamps. As on Profoto’s range of flash heads, there’s a frosted dome over the lamp that gives a distinctive look to the light, but here it is also used to provide additional protection from the heat of the lamp. What’s more, it allows nearly all of Profoto’s extensive range of lightshaping tools to be used alongside the ProTungsten Air. The Air part of the name relates to remote control of the unit which can be operated wirelessly using a Profoto Air Remote or Air Sync Transceiver. It manages to provide all this in a lightweight 2.7kg housing, and the unit also has a large handle on the rear for easy carrying and operation. profoto.com

£85

5

POLAROID BrightSaber

you get’, so there’s less pressure to meter the scene in order to find the correct power and exposure settings. What type of continuous light you use depends on the subject and how you want to position it; lighting can come from tiny, lightweight LED devices mounted on your camera, or larger off-camera LED light panels and movie-set style heads using tungsten or fluorescent bulbs. There are even lights small enough to hide within the scene for highly creative styles as well as versions shaped to fit perfectly around your lens for shadowless effects. And if you’re not sure exactly what type of light you’re going to need, some continuous lights even offer flash style output giving you the best of both worlds, so there’s a feast of options on offer from just one piece of kit. Just like flash, you can of course modify the light, using shapers and diffusers, and control its power to a fine degree. Here we’ve listed PN’s pick of continuous lighting gear and you’ll find there’s plenty of innovative products to discover as well as prices to satisfy all budgets.

2

PROFOTO ProTungsten Air Tungsten Light

INTERFIT NG-65C Fluorescent Ring Light

Stop struggling with weak, inefficient lamps – here are some of today’s best continuous lighting options for photographers and videographers… Like every aspect of photo kit, continuous lighting is getting cheaper and better with each passing year, and there are some great products out there on the market. The thing is though, until you get your hands on some continuous lighting gear you won’t grasp just how useful it can be. For starters, with high-quality, full HD or 4K video now offered on most DSLRs and CSCs, and more and more of us making use of it, some form of continuous lighting is essential. And it’s not just about giving a professional look to your movies, it’s absolutely vital in balancing ambient light when required to fill in shadows and reduce contrast. For stills photographers continuous lighting is just as useful and can be used to augment the available light, or add illumination to parts of your subject where it’s required. All you need to do for a natural look is use a light with a colour temperature similar to that of the light in the scene or filter it to match. And of course another advantage in using continuous light for stills is that ‘what you see is what

2

ROTOLIGHT NEO Variable LED 4

From

1

£330

3

PIXAPRO Daylite4 4200W Kit

£250

£130

3

Pixapro Daylite4 4200W Kit from £330

The Daylite4 kit has pretty much everything you need to get started with continuous lighting, whether it’s for stills or video. It comes with two Daylite4 heads, each of which holds four lamps and to accompany that are two 60x80cm softboxes, two 2.6m stands and a roller case to put it all in. And all for £330. A twolight solution gives you lots of options for a professional looking set-up, and the interchangeable modifiers allow a mix of styles to be employed, for instance using a (separately available) spill-kill reflector as a kicker with a softbox at the front. Power can be adjusted at 1/2 and full levels and the lights give a daylight-style colour temperature of 5500K so can be used with natural light without filtration. The fluorescent bulbs are included and produce much less heat than tungsten, so it’s more comfortable for your subject. And because the Daylite4 heads use a common E27 Edison Screw fitting you can fit your own choice of fluorescent bulbs at a different power level; and the heads will take versions up to 105W in strength. This is the basic kit in the range, but others are available with up to five heads, boom stands, backgrounds and more. essentialphoto.co.uk

4

Rotolight NEO variable LED £250

The Rotolight NEO is a highly adaptable and mobile continuous light source – so good, in fact, that it scooped the Best LED Light category in the 2015 PN Awards. One of the Rotolight NEO’s main attractions is its bicolour LED system, which allows you to control the colour temperature of the light between a range of 3150K-6300K. This is easily adjusted via one of two dials on the rear, with the other controlling the power output. The light from the NEO is beautifully flicker free and consistent, and it can be further adapted by inserting ring-shaped filters into the light’s front cover. The NEO also has a Designer Fade mode that helps produce custom fade up/down effects in videography and a True Aperture Dimming function which calculates the amount of light for your subject at its given distance. The model runs on either six AA batteries or an AC adapter and can be easily mounted on a lighting stand using its 1/4in thread. It also has a hotshoe mount, and at 14.5x5cm in size and 354g in weight it feels fine when carried on top of a DSLR or video camera. The NEO comes with a neat pouch that holds the whole kit and adapter. rotolight.com

5

Interfit NG-65C Fluorescent Ring Light £85

There’s no doubting the usefulness of a high-quality ring light. With the illumination wrapped in a circle and used close to the subject it can produce a very soft, almost shadowless style and this is at its most effective when mounted on the same axis as the camera. The shadowless style makes it highly useful for a wide variety of subjects, including macro, still life, product photography and portrait shots where the blemishes and wrinkles are heavily reduced. In the latter case, a strong and distinctive circular catchlight is also produced. The Interfit NG-65C is made primarily of metal for added durability, uses a fluorescent tube giving a 5400K light temperature and is powered via a 2.4m mains cord. Rather than fixing to lens, like a ring flash, which would be unwieldy given the NG-65C’s 1.3kg weight, the ring is mounted on a lighting stand via its 5/8in thread. Assisting placement of the light is a flexible ‘gooseneck’ arm, allowing the light to be bent into whatever position is required. The NG-65C has an outer diameter of 43.3cm, while the hole in the middle measures 36.8cm, so there’s plenty of scope for shooting through the middle even with large bodies and lenses. interfitphotographic.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

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Accessories test

8

PIXELSTICK LED bar

LUME CUBE LED light

9

7

£290

6

£330

ELINCHROM Zoom Scanlite Halogen Head LITEPANELS Astra 1x1 Daylight E LED

£60 £420 10

BRONCOLOR HMI Kit Crossover Kit

£3,500

6

Litepanels Astra 1x1 Daylight E LED £420

This is one of the entry-level Astra models from Litepanels, which supplies highquality LED lighting for photography and videography. The light follows Litepanels’ traditional form of a square light and the actual unit measures 45x41.3x13.4cm. This large area makes softened looks easier to generate while the individual premiumquality LEDs that make up the panel are tightly placed and give a bright output of 1696 Lux at 1.5m as well as faithful colour rendition. The light is dimmable from 100% to 0% and is flicker-free throughout, as well as lacking any colour shift across the range. Construction is hard-wearing aluminium which provides plenty of protection as well as acting as a heatsink, so thermal management is improved. All mounts and the rails which accept filters and lenses are also machined aluminium. The light’s frame is a yoke-style design that allows lots of freedom in positioning, and batteries can be mounted there for location work as well as it running from the mains. The 1x1 lights also come in bicolour versions allowing a change of colour temperature and there’s a range of accessories like diffusion panels, honeycombs, gels and barndoors on offer. litepanels.com

7

Elinchrom Zoom Scanlite Halogen Head £290

Elinchrom’s Scanlite is all about simplicity with an innovative zoom feature. The zoom function, accessed via a dial on either side of the head, takes the spread of light from an angle of 20° to 50° when the included 21cm reflector is fitted. This saves you time and money as multiple reflectors aren’t required and gives a variety of styles from flood to spotlight. For further modification, such as umbrellas, there’s a centred 7mm fitting, and an extra umbrella fitting for other shaft sizes. The Scanlite can use 300W or 650W halogen lamps (both with a 3200K temperature), and these are protected by a transparent glass dome. To prevent overheating there’s a low-noise fan-cooling system which adjusts its speed depending on the temperature, and if it does overheat the head shuts down. It accepts all standard Elinchrom bayonet-locking modifiers and most Elinchrom reflectors, softboxes and umbrellas can be used with a 300W lamp fitted (most Elinchrom metal reflectors can be used with a 650W lamp, too). The large grip on the rear improves handling especially when fitting it to light stand and at only 1.2kg and measuring 24.5x15.5x20.5cm it’s highly portable. elinchrom.com

8

Pixelstick LED bar £330

If you’re into low-light photography you’ll probably have seen images created with a Pixelstick – they are quite simply amazing, and it all comes down to the product’s innovative LED lighting design. Physically the stick extends to 1.8m long, features 200 LEDs and runs off eight AA batteries. But the crucial part is that each of those LEDs can be set to a different colour or shade. On its most simple level, this means you can create colourful swathes of light during your long exposures. But you can also upload more complex images and patterns to the device; these are broken down into single lines and the output updates as you move horizontally, so each LED becomes a pixel and you can paint a whole picture or symbol into the scene. Upload of images is via SD card and there’s a simple converter on Pixelstick’s website to correctly size any image you want to use – the possibilities are therefore almost endless. The stick itself has a sturdy but light aluminium housing and it’s controlled by a simple four-way pad and LCD screen. The device comes with a padded carry case and an extension handle allowing you to spin the lights more easily or hold them steady. Additional diffusing ‘lenses’ for the LED arrays are available. thepixelstick.com

9

Lume Cube LED light £60

The Lume Cube is perfectly named, being first, a light, and secondly a cube. But take a closer look at what this tiny continuous light can do and it will surprise you – it can be used as both a continuous light or as a strobe. Bought either singly or in dual or quad packs, the Cube is powerful for its size; it’s only 1in square, but has a maximum output of 1500 lumen, adjustable down to only 1 lumen. The light is balanced at 6000K, making it a little warmer than daylight, and it can run for 20 minutes at full brightness on a single charge, rising to an impressive-for-its-size 2 hours at 50% brightness. The light can be controlled manually via small buttons on its body, or using a Bluetooth connection to iOS and Android devices. For its strobe function, the Cube can also be triggered via an optical sensor and the flash has a variable duration of 1/8000 to 1sec. The device is waterproof to a maximum of 100ft, so can easily be used in wet weather conditions where you might not feel comfortable using your flash. It has a 1/4in tripod thread for attachment, and there are plenty of accessories, for mounting it to DSLRs, smartphones, action cameras and more. lumecube.com

Broncolor HMI F200 10 Crossover Kit £3,500 Well sure, that might seem like a hell of a wedge, but once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, you can be fully assured that broncolor’s HMI lights are worth every penny. As an HMI (Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide) light the F200 at the heart of the Crossover Kit is made for highlevel applications like movie work and the quality of light is much admired. It’s also extremely efficient, and its generous daylight-balanced output, which is far more substantial than LED lamps, draws three times less power than a halogen light would. Light can be focused between 14–51° when the open face reflector is attached and is adjustable from 60-100%. Power comes from the included ‘ballast’ powerpack, which is attached by a 5m cable, and the Crossover Kit also includes adapters for broncolor light shapers, a Speedring, a 55x40cm Video Pro XS softbox and a robust carry bag so you can easily transport the kit to location. Like others in the range, the HMI F200 lamp housings are robust and weather resistant, so you’ll be able to shoot where other lights would succumb to rain or spray. But despite being strong, it’s also compact and light. bron.ch


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

55

Technique Photo school

Camera class

Everyone has to start somewhere, even pros, and in Photo School we look at the core skills every beginner needs. This month, how to shoot a series of focus-stacked images and blend them using software for perfect sharpness… Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton Where you focus in the scene affects the depth-of-field created. With this in mind, by focusing in the right spot and using a small aperture, the zone of sharpness can in theory extend from very close to the camera, all the way to infinity. However, in macro shots where you focus close to the camera, this makes depth-of-field harder to extend. And while smaller apertures (higher f/numbers), are required for extended focus, they lead to diffraction; a loss of critical sharpness. So what do you do? Why use focus stacking? One way is to use focus stacking, a technique wherein separate shots are taken and focused at different points throughout the scene, then

combined to produce the ultimate sharpness throughout. This technique also lets you maximise image quality by shooting at the apertures which give the best image quality. So, while shooting normally at f/11 might give the best sharpness but not the greatest depth-of-field, focus stacking separate shots at f/11 will give you both. Not just for macro Focus stacking is most commonly used on macro images where even using the smallest apertures can lack the depth-of-field required to cover the subject. But that’s by no means the end of where it’s useful; it can help on any kind of shot where you want to increase the depth-of-

field and sharpness; a landscape or still-life shot taken with a regular lens for example. Focus stacking is also useful in low-light photography where you might want to use a wider than usual aperture to keep the shutter speed high. Basically, so long as there’s little or no movement in the scene then the pictures should align and stitch together easily.

In association with

Step-by-step Focus stacking 1. Focus on the closest point Using a tripod or other camera support, frame up your composition, giving a little room around the subject to allow for any cropping that might be required during alignment. Next switch to manual focus, either via a switch on the lens or camera body, and activate live view on mode. Zoom in on the screen and find the closest point on the subject you want to be sharpest. Focus there, then take the first shot.

2. Shift the focus and repeat Again using the magnified view, use the lens’s focusing ring to shift the sharpness slightly further into the scene. To do it accurately, and make sure you don’t miss a bit, make a mental note of where the focus starts to fall away and set the new focus point there. Shoot again, and repeat until you’ve worked through all areas you want to be sharp, front to back.

The technique As you’ll see in the step-by-step guide, it’s fairly easy to shoot the separate shots required. The images then need to be blended and any minor shifts in alignment corrected. These shifts are due to the effective focal length of the lens changing by

a very small amount as you focus, so the perspective can be altered slightly. Ideally you should expose manually to get consistent lighting and, as focus stacking is all about maximising image sharpness, you don’t want to compromise the clarity with poor technique. Therefore, use your camera’s self timer drive mode and a cable release to avoid camera shake. And switch on any mirror-up or exposure delay modes your camera has to increase sharpness further. Single image at f/13

25 focus stacked images at f/13

How many shots do you need? The final thing to consider is how

many shots you’ll need to cover the subject. This depends on many things; like the size of the subject and how close you’re focusing. The number of shots required will also rise as you open the aperture and fall as you close it. It’s also important that you don’t miss any ‘slices’ of the subject as you work, so change the focus very slowly. To avoid any sudden loss of sharpness, which can make pics look unnatural, always shoot a few more pictures than you think you might need as a safeguard. Next month: More camera skills

Software skills How to stack & blend separate images Focus stacking is one of those techniques with a 50:50 split between shooting and editing, so it’s vital to get both parts right. After shooting the sequence you need to align and blend the pictures, and if you’re working on a landscape or another wide shot where the graduation from sharp to unsharp is simple, this can be done manually, either by masking or erasing the parts that aren’t required. On more complex subjects, especially where sharp areas cross over blurred ones, an automated route is best. There’s is a method of automatically aligning, stacking and blending images in Photoshop detailed in the steps on the right, but like many other techniques, if you’re into focus stacking there are dedicated software packages that can offer superior results (see panel far right). Once you’ve blended your image check it closely for any errors, for instance where it goes from sharp to blurred and back again, and reshoot if necessary. Next month: More easy editing tips.

1. Stack up the layers

2. Blending the sharpness

2a. Manual blending

The first thing you need to do is stack the shots in layers. With all the pics in Photoshop, go to File>Scripts>Load files into Stack… hit the Add Open Files button, then OK. Once the layered document has been created, you can close the originals. If you’re using Adobe Bridge, highlight the images and go to Tools>Photoshop>Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Or, in Lightroom highlight the images in the Catalogue and go to Photo>Edit In>Open as Layers in Photoshop.

During stacking, in some versions of Photoshop you’ll get an option called Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images; if so, tick that as it cuts out the next bit. If not, after the images have loaded, make sure the layers are all highlighted (press Ctrl+Alt+A on a PC or Cmd+Alt+A on a Mac) and go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers… then click OK. Next go to Edit>Auto-Blend Layers, select the Stack Images option and click OK. If you’re happy with the blending just go to Layer>Flatten Image and save.

If you’re working on a shot where there’s no complicated transition between the separately focused pictures, after alignment you can simply mask or erase the unsharp parts. In the above image, one pic focused in the foreground and the others further into the scene were stacked. Next, a Layer Mask is added to the top layer. Painting black or white hides or reveals the layer, so in this case the foreground (which was out of focus on that layer) is masked away by painting black.

... and what about bespoke focus stacking software? Although you can achieve focus stacking in Photoshop, it makes sense to try packages that have been deliberately designed for the task. These tend to be faster and more accurate than using Photoshop, as well as offering a wide range of options in terms of how the blending is rendered. Check out the excellent Helicon Focus (heliconsoft.com) and Zerene Stacker (zerenesystems.com), both of which are available for around £50 and offer free trials.


Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

56

Competition

Editor’s letter

Speed demon

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 50MB/s and read data at an even higher 90MB/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 one eagle-eyed winner. Just complete the wordsearch 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 8 May 2016. samsung.com and search for memorycards Professional DSLRs can be like buses with two arriving at the same time. Earlier this year came the Nikon D5 which was soon followed by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. Both are high-spec, fast-shooting, gorgeous DSLRs, and so they should be given that they cost over £5k each. Luckily for me a Nikon D5 arrived in the office for review last week and I’ve just come back from a Canon event where I got to shoot with the EOS-1D X Mark II. If you follow us on Twitter you would have seen some of the things I was up to. Both models in terms of build and features are way beyond what I need for my photography but that doesn’t stop me admiring and enjoying them. I don’t need to shoot at 14fps – the Canon does 16fps in live view. In film days that would have been one roll of 36 exposure film over and done with in a little over two seconds. Would an action photographer of two decades ago shooting film with a 5fps motor drive get better shots using a modern camera with 14fps and more? There is no real answerto that but my own view is that having the ability to shoot at 14fps means more people can achieve the level of result that previously required innate talent including great timing. To use a street photography analogy, Henri Cartier-Bresson did more than fine at capturing the decisive moment with a knob-wind Leica. Hand him an 8fps camera and he’d no doubt do even better, but give a film Leica to a modern photographer who’s shot digital only and how would they do? It’s an interesting thought, but what is clear is that we’ve never had it so good. Just look at ISO speed. I remember loading up with Kodak High Speed Ektachrome for colour slides. High Speed? It was ISO 160. The EOS-1D X Mark II tops out at ISO 409,600, the D5 at an incredible ISO 3,280,000. That’s quite

something even if image quality at these ISOs isn’t great. Yet! Give it a few years and we could, when the urge takes us, shoot at six-figure ISO speeds and still get exhibition quality results. Who needs light? Suffice to say, full tests of both DSLRs will be in Photography News soon. Meanwhile, I’ve been testing camera straps. At The Photography Show (TPS) there was plenty of high-end kit like the two DSLRs above but accessories were big too and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many new camera straps. Many of us keep our camera’s gaudily logoed strap but there are some great straps out there, whether your preference is for a hand strap, a pap strap or a shoulder strap. Given the time we spend using a strap it makes sense to buy one that’s comfortable and suits you. Thanks to everyone who came to TPS and picked up the latest issue of PN. Apologies to those who came after lunch on the last day and found we’d run out. It was our first time at the show so we made an educated guess on how many copies we’d need. Note to self: take more. An extra thank you to those who stopped by for a chat, it was wonderful to meet so many readers. It was even a pleasure to meet one chap who wanted to say hi and shake my hand. “I am a professional photographer thanks to you,” he said. “I began reading your work when you were on Practical Photography and I always found inspiration in your features.” What a lovely thing to say, I thought, as I swelled with pride. “So I started reading you when I was 13 and I’m 43 now so that’s 30 years ago.” Suddenly, as I landed with a bump, I felt very old.

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Photography News Issue 31  

Your free newspaper packed with the latest news, views and stories from the world of photography.

Photography News Issue 31  

Your free newspaper packed with the latest news, views and stories from the world of photography.