Cameracraft January/February 2021

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mer cr ƒ t C JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 • EDITION #38





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CmerCrew Meet our

CAMERACRAFT No. 38 – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 Icon Publications Ltd, Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane, Kelso, Scottish Borders TD5 7BB Tel. +44(0)1573 226032

helping you navigate your craft David Kilpatrick

Gary Friedman

Publisher and Editor

Associate Editor USA


Associate Editor England

Kenneth Martin

Paul Waller

People Places Products

Dealer’s Digest behind the counter




1 Jayne Bond

A walk on the wild side Ian Knaggs

Rob Gray

By David Sheldrick – see page 28.



Iain Poole

Characters in the landscape

Our man in the studio Tim Goldsmith

From analog to digital

PORTFOLIO: LUMINESCENCE BY DAVID SHELDRICK Our cover story goes outside the visible spectrum and back in.





DANNY CLIFFORD Danny takes you by hand and leads you through you the streets of… High Wycombe. Find out why.


KENNETH MARTIN Whatever you think of that portrait prize, try to understand it.


PIXEL POWER IN YOUR POCKET Kenny works with Hasselblad X1D – but loves his iPhone.


FROZEN FLORA A project which preserved 2020 in ice, from the garden of Colin Dixon.

16 News, sports and more

IAIN POOLE Necessity is the motherlode of photographic invention.



DEALER’S DIGEST Looking on with Paul Waller.

Danny Clifford

29 26

Cameracraft’s columnists

From reportage to rock and roll

IAN KNAGGS Come on, feel the noise! How image noise can help graduated tones and photo composites work better. FLYING OFF THE WALL Gary Friedman meets galleryfocused Pamela Cohen .

Richard Kilpatrick

Assistant Editor & Contributor Co-ordinator



Diane E. Redpath

Cmercrƒt JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 • EDITION #38

TAKING STOCK Time once again to assess how the market for images has changed with editor David Kilpatrick.


THE FEELGOOD FACTOR Despite everything in 2020, it’s been a good year for picture uses from the seaside reportage of Arch White.


LONDON PORTRAIT GROUP The LPG Photographer of the Year for 2020 is Panikos Hajistilly.

JAYNE BOND Leave your genre behind at the door! PROFILE: GEMMA SAINS More canny than crazy, Gemma tells Diane E. Redpath about her career and her projects including Caricature portraits and Drag Queens.


LENS REVIEW: SIGMA 105mm ƒ2.8 DG DN ART MACRO State of the mirrorless art tested by David Kilpatrick.


CAMERA REVIEW: SONY A7C The neatest full-framer gets the once over from Gary Friedman.


LENS REVIEW: TAMRON 28-200 FE A travel zoom for Sony E-mount.


TIM GOLDSMITH Swatches reveal historic print styles.


ROB GRAY Do you need all that gear?


GUILD OF PHOTOGRAPHERS Information, benefits and Trade Partner directory.



Thanks to our advertisers for their support in these difficult times

Commercial Cameras



NEWS Sigma’s new I-line with radical design update SIGMA has introduced a new line of mirrorless lenses designated as I-series – that’s as capital i not a figure 1 or a lower case L, all of which can be confused using the sans-serif font we choose for our news columns. The new lenses are all in the Contemporary “©” line-up, but form part of a new mirrorless sub-series. On December 1st they joined the already-launched 45mm ƒ2.8 DG DN to make a total of four I-series lenses:

24mm ƒ3.5 DG DN , E-mount and L-Mount. On sale January 22nd 2021, SRP £479.99 35mm ƒF2 DG DN, E-mount and L-Mount. On sale January 1st 2021, SRP £549.99 65mm ƒF2 DG DN, E-mount and L-Mount. On sale January 1st 2021, SRP £649.99 There is also a new lens cap holder to hold the (bonus!) magnetic lens cap from this range when the camera is in use, SRP £20. The lenses take some of the features which are found in the 105mm macro (reviewed on page 39) such

Reproduced to scale

as the aperture control ring with A and third-stop soft clicks. However, there’s no de-click switch. The big departure is the use of machined aluminium for a solid metal construction, even down to the lens hood itself, reminiscent of classic manual focus lenses 50 years ago. The

Tamron ƒ2.8 APS-C 17-70mm

manual focus ring and the bayonet lens hood are both knurled by cutting a lengthways ridging groove by groove, also found on the aperture ring. This gives them a look similar to ciné lenses which Sigma makes in the same way. The shield between the focus and aperture rings, and the

rear mount section, are hairline textured (like the ART line) for a good grip when changing lenses. We’ll be hoping to try the 65mm first as it’s a new focal length in this kind of lens series. It’s 12-element 9-group design with a 9-blade rounded diaphragm, a 62mm filter thread, and focus down to 55cm (1:6.8 scale) and weighs 405g. It is a design with special attention paid to chromatic correction and the shape of bokeh, avoiding cat’s-eye effect and claimed to produce round focus discs. The 35mm is 10 elements in 9 groups, 9-blade rounded iris, 58mm filters, focusing to 27cm (1:5.7), both versions weighing 325g. The 24mm is 10-elemt, 8-group, 7-blade round iris, takes 55mm filters and focuses to a more impressive 10.8cm and 1:2 half life size scale. It weighs 225g (L) 230g (E). The lenses use stepping motor AF, with MF and also DMF functions. The AF/MF switch is positioned close to the rubber gasket sealed mount. For further information:

Lumesca acquires Flash Centre GROWING UK importer-distributor Lumesca Group Ltd, has bought Photographic Studio Consultants Ltd with its three professional Flash Centre stores in London, Leeds and Birmingham. TFC is the UK agent for Elinchrom flash, Phottix and other brands which will continue along with the existing shops and staff

under the new ownership. Lumesca (formerly XP Distribution) handles many brands throughout Europe and owns Colour Confidence in the UK. Nigel Fielden has been appointed general manager of The Flash Centre and will lead the integration of the businesses.

PortraitPro major upgrade TAMRON’S first new series lens for the APS-C format in E-mount aims for a wider zoom range than competitors, with a 4.1x zoom from 17mm (25.5mm equivalent) to 70mm (105mm) at a constant ƒ2.8 maximum aperture. It uses 16 elements in 12 groups and has a 9-blade circular aperture. Weighing 525g, it focuses to 19cm (wide), 39cm (tele) and achieves subject scales between 1:4.8 and 1:5.2, which on the small sensor size are equivalent to 1:3.23.46. It takes the same 67mm filters as the full frame lenses introduced in the Di III series. A new format range designator is used in the name – ‘Di III-A’; the AF motor is the same RXD as its big siblings.



But for owners of the Sony models which don’t have built-in stabilisation (like the long-running A6000 just discontinued) this lens does have VC – Vibration Compensation, Tamron’s in-lens stabilisation. It is set up to interact with in-body stabilisation and should be ideal for movie work in Super35 on the full frame bodies. It’s a fair bit bigger and heavier than Sony’s CZ 16-70mm ƒ4 OSS, or their £1,200 16-55mm ƒ2.8 G which has no stabilisation. Tamron claim particularly good performance at 70mm wide open across the frame. The lens (Model B070) should be available in January for £779.99 inc. VAT (UK).

ANTHROPICS TECHNOLOGY has launched of PortraitPro 21 image editing software, powered by artificial intelligence. The new features include Sky Replacement, Lighting Brushes, Clone tool, History tool, DeNoising, Color Styles, Hair Highlights, Color copying, Layer presets, optimized color space handling, ability to move catchlights, SVG backgrounds, free stock photos, and lots more, enabling users to speed up their workflow and make more

precise edits to complex features of portraiture. These advanced features use unique artificial intelligence and image processing algorithms to save maximum time whilst producing professional results. The software is available on trial download and its versions cost: Standard £39.95, Studio £69.95, Studio Max £139.95. A discount is offered to Cameracraft readers using code CCJF21, and also applies to upgrades.

Dealer’s I


sometimes think of the saying “ Smile, things could be worse… so I did, and they were!” We thought that 2019 had been a challenging year for the photographic retail trade. If only we knew what was to lie in wait the following year. To be fair the government has I feel been very fair to small business like myself with business grants and loans to smooth out cash flow and running costs due to having to close the shop to the public. I do not employ staff so furlough was not an issue. A forced break gives the opportunity to really look at your business, warts and all and think about how you can best adapt to a new business model. A SWOT test – which means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats – if carried out honestly reveals what is hidden under the carpet. I know that in my case I really need to up my game when it comes to updating my website and embrace e-commerce. Covid has without doubt accelerated on-line ordering and I can no longer rely on my existing methods. New products including astronomical telescopes, which have seen a huge increase in sales this year due to lockdown, are one such growth area already being capitalised by other major retailers. At the time of writing this, there was that very rare event with the grand conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter looking like one star in the evening sky. Now all we need for future stargazing is the weather to play its part and give us a cloudless night, fingers crossed! Other products that sold well during the year were binoculars, macro lenses, lighting, tripods and cameras suitable for vlogging and better quality zoom meetings. In fact Nikon’s announcement of webcam utility software enabling its digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras to be used as webcams was in direct response to customer feedback. Details can be found on line and it is just a case of downloading software to either your PC or Mac and connecting a USB cable – so very easy. For those customers wanting the latest models and tech there were in fact quite a number of new releases. From Nikon came the entry level Z5 and upgraded version II of its Z6 and Z7 cameras, now with twin card slots and other improvements.

Let’s hope 2021 is a good year! Paul Waller of Commercial Cameras looks back at an economy flattened by Covid-19, and forward to the return of face to face business.

Dealers look forward to trade shows, even if lobster is off the menu…

Customer feedback to Nikon played an important role. Canon added to their range, as did Sigma and many others. We of course lost the opportunity to get hands-on with the cancellation of The Photography show at the NEC in March. It did go virtual later in the year and was well received, but it’s the getting-together and the buzz that we all miss. Let’s hope that although next year is again virtual to the best of my knowledge we can look forward to proper shows in the future. It was sad to hear but not unexpected that photokina has been axed. Many happy memories over the years, most unprintable, and the phrase drinking responsibly had not been invented! I even have vague memories of a camera throwing competition (into the Rhine) and a dealer group ordering lobsters each at a restaurant as they seemed good value… only to be presented with a huge bill as they had missed that the cost was per gram! As I write this news has come through that The Flash Centre with branches in London, Birmingham and Leeds has been sold to the Lumesca group. It has been owned and run by Chris Whittle as the UK distributor of Elinchrom and Phottix amongst other brands. I know Chris well and wish him every success in whatever he does next. Shortage of supply due to Covid-related problems was a major headache for distributors and dealers during the year, with promotions that could not be fulfilled leading to frustrations on both sides of the counter. As dealers we are also seeing more of our suppliers selling direct to customers with stock that is not available easily to retailers. Quality used equipment sales are a vital part of a dealer’s business. With the shop shut and not

being allowed to travel to pick up collections being sold, shortages followed. Depending on your viewpoint, this amongst other factors has led to in some cases large rises in values. Medium format especially rose in value and not just the usual Mamiya 6 and 7 rangefinders. Bronica SQ 6x6 and Pentax 6x7 SLRs, Makinas, Mamiya RB and RZ models and even 645 Super/Pro and Bronica ETRS all saw big gains. Leica M reigned supreme in

35mm at the high end, and classic 35mm SLRs such as Pentax K1000 and Canon AE-1 were in demand. Certain cameras could I feel be classed as a part of an investment portfolio alongside the pleasure of owning and using them! If any readers would like advice on either buying or selling with up to date valuations please get in touch. I would love to hear from you. Looking to 2021, I feel that come Spring with more people being vaccinated life may just begin to feel a bit more normal. I don’t see trade shows or camera fairs being held until maybe late in the year. Brexit talks are coming to an end with an uncertain outcome especially re tariffs, so we will have to wait and see. Again if this pushes up new prices then used prices could follow. Maybe it’s best that I don’t have a crystal ball but I guess it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Stay safe everybody – ’til next time!





CLIFFORD Home is where the heart is: even on the street

Danny Clifford has a lifetime of music photography under his belt and is now a popular speaker inspiring new generations. See:




his has been quite a year. One that most of us couldn’t have imagined. In fact, if we saw this played out in a film, we would say that’s not realistic. Sadly, it has been very real. There hasn’t been much work for many of us photographers either, especially in my particular area of photography, which is the music industry. I may have mentioned this before, but, photography is my passion, not just working with sweaty musicians! I have photographed many different things, but it is music that has kept me the busiest over the past 150 years. So, as the music world is dead on its feet right now, I recently decided to get out of lockdown (and self-isolation due to Covid and a recent diagnosis of a rare, incurable blood cancer) and dust off the cameras and get out and shoot. I spoke to a friend of mine who is the features editor at a national daily newspaper and asked him if he would be interested in some photos of homeless and rough sleepers. He was. Well, I know this subject is nothing new and there is no shortage of photos of homeless people. But I just thought, I will shoot some portraits and get some kind of background from

A ‘beg up’ position outside a shopping centre.

each one of them. Provided that they were prepared to speak to me and cooperate. So, I got my gear together, Nikon DSLRs and just for the hell of it also one of my Hasselblad film cameras. One late morning, I aimed at central London. I live about 50 minutes drive from the centre. The weather was kind of perfect, quite overcast, dismal, dreary and just what I wanted, regarding light. As I was born and bred in London, I know it very well. I first headed down to Westminster where there have always been many homeless. I drove around the mostly trafficfree streets looking and looking. After about 30 mins, I started to think, what’s going on? Where are they? I couldn’t find one homeless person. Anyway, I am not one for

giving up, so, I kept driving around. I went all around Westminster, the West End, Victoria, Covent Garden, Soho, Holborn, Fleet Street, Clerkenwell, Old Street, Shoreditch and then up to Islington. I pulled over and sat there thinking what’s going on? There wasn’t one homeless person. However, there were quite a few ‘Big Issue’ sellers, but, in truth, they are not generally homeless. In fact, I know they (rightly) do quite well. A few years ago I had lunch with Sir John Bird who started The Big Issue and he explained to me how well he looks after all of the sellers! So, there I sat by the side of the road and thought, I should ‘Google’ where are the homeless people in London, which I did.

Show this to a professional musician after nearly a year of Covid-19 and they might say it’s been the only way to earn anything. Danny photographs famous names but found this shot on the streets of ?????????????.

Well, you can imagine my horror when I discovered that the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has only gone and put all homeless people in hotels and giving them three meals a day! What a bastard! How inconsiderate is he? Here I was spending my time driving around London polluting it in my gas guzzling vehicle only to find that my photographic subjects are all tucked up in the bloody warm in hotels, probably having lunch as I read all about it on Google. Well, I was livid. No homeless people and no photos. Obviously I am joking and I was pleasantly surprised and very happy that this had happened and that they were all tucked up in the warm. I really hate the thought of people sleeping and living on the streets. There are many reasons why people are on the street. But, in truth, it shouldn’t happen in this day and age. I realised that Sadiq Khan had ruined my day, whilst making many other peoples lives better, so, I happily drove home and headed back out to Buckinghamshire.

Dormitory towns The Mayor of London doesn’t have any control over the Home Counties and that is where I might find some homeless people. A few days later, I grabbed the camera gear and headed into some more local towns. One that is about eight miles from where I live, is High Wycombe, Bucks. As soon as I arrived in Wycombe, bingo! There were plenty of homeless people. I parked up and got my camera gear and started my wander through High Wycombe. The first thing I wanted to do was find some of them and watch them from a distance. This was just to get an idea as to what I was dealing with. I don’t mean to sound odd, but, this is always important. I wanted to see who was begging and who was with them nearby or even slightly out of sight. The first person I saw was sitting on cardboard outside

Part of Danny’s mission was to talk to the street people, and have a proper conversation with individuals.

the entrance to the main shopping centre. He was just sitting there looking quite glum. Every so often he was joined by another homeless person who crept over and they had a quick, quiet, chat. There always seemed to be quite a bit of smiling and joking about. Then that visiting person would disappear leaving the original person still sitting on cardboard and suddenly again, looking glum! I could also see a couple of

weird looking guys hanging around who didn’t look homeless, but, were clearly up to no good and they too were observing the scene. For me they were a potential danger. They looked a little bit lively and were possibly looking for a target to quickly scam or rob. I was carrying some expensive cameras and as always, I was on red alert. I wouldn’t have been too receptive had they tried to remove any of my cameras.

In fact, they may well have regretted trying. So, after a while, I thought I would now wander over to the person who was sitting on the cardboard. I asked how he was and did he need anything? He said “any money please?”; I said, I am photographing people who are living on the street for a newspaper feature. They want to highlight your plight. Are you up for me taking some photos? As I looked at him I could see that he was either into crack or



The situation with homeless people and begging is not a black and white issue, as Danny found out – but black and white brings the reality into focus.

heroin, or both. I knew, that for some money he would be up for it. I told him I will give him some money and he immediately said “great let’s do it”. I asked him his story and he said his mum had died recently and he got thrown out of her house by the council. I doubt that this was true, but I am not there to judge. Just get photos really. Saying that, I have been doing quite a lot of judging on this mission! I asked him where he sleeps at night and he said he tries to get enough money together to sleep in a hostel, which according to him, costs £21 per night. Again, I didn’t think this would be true. When you think about it, the local governments all usually pay for homeless people to stay in hostels. But, I could easily be wrong. You can’t blame them for trying can you? As soon as I had finished taking some portraits. I could see another homeless person aiming straight towards me and asking for money. I again explained what I was doing and offered money for some 8


photos. I was also watching the two dodgy ‘herberts’ who were watching everyone, walking along, and they had now well and truly clocked me and my cameras. I wasn’t at all worried, but, I did keep my eyes on them at all times and they knew I was watching them watching me. This must be what life is like on the street! So, I was now taking photos of homeless person number two. I asked him his story and guess what, he was living with his girlfriend and the council threw him out and made him homeless. Again, it sounded a bit of a tall story, but, hey ho! I took my photos and gave home some money. As soon as he had the money, he and my first subject said “come on let’s go and get some food”. So, off they went, looking very happy. I then spotted another homeless person walking towards me and he plonked himself down on the cardboard. This appears to be a little bit of a homeless begging flight path! They all take it in turns to sit

When home territory is your sheets of cardboard. Money is welcome – often for food or hot drinks, whatever you may think it’s going to be used for.

there and have what they call a ‘Beg Up’. I wanted to go for a wander around the town and as I started to walk away, a couple of police officers came up to the chap who was sitting on the cardboard and told him to move on. Apparently, they are not allowed to sit there and beg. So, off I went on my wander around the town. I found some more homeless people and started to speak to them and then agreed to take more photos. I got some nice photos and some interesting stories, which mostly sounded surprisingly similar and well prepared. I have to say, I didn’t mind that they were probably not telling me the truth. They were using me for money and I was using them for photos. I guess one thing for anyone to remember when undertaking photography of this type, you have to have your eyes wide open and be aware of your surroundings and any danger as I guess its not the same as shooting still life! I guess all in all in the few towns I visited, I met

The dignity of eye contact, up close and talking to the subject.

and photographed about 12 homeless people. It’s also quite important to feel comfortable actually speaking to these poor buggers and you also have to be relaxed about taking photos of people on the street whilst wearing a mask and still being distanced

from the subject. I hope that it’s a mild and warm winter as these poor souls will be sleeping in doorways all around the UK. Some will not survive. If you haven’t ever done anything like this, I would suggest it’s worth it for the experience, not to mention the

photos that you can get out on the street in un-controlled ‘real life’ situations. I am always happy to discuss this and lend any advice if anyone ever felt I could help in any way. Just drop me an email





MARTIN That’s rubbish so it is! The perennial portrait prize reaction.

Art is not easy to understand. Kenneth’s portrait in a gallery shows panels marking historic deaths of people who saved others from dying. It’s a very moving artwork. Portraiture is Kenny’s first love but he is really a GP happy to shoot anything to a client’s brief. He is currently one of the most successful One 2 One Business Consultants and has lectured on both photography and business matters in over 16 countries. Photography Website: Training Website:




ell it’s that time of year again, as soon as the winners are released the posts on social media follow. Anywhere from “I don’t understand it” to “I could do that” to “That is just crap”. These quotes sum up the confusion and the outrage that photographers feel when the annual Taylor Wessing Portrait prize winners are announced. What an outrage that a photographic artist should try to express themselves by actually thinking about their work and subjects and capturing them in a meaningful, artistic and impactful manner. The cheek of it! I guess the limited experience of most social photographers suppresses free thinking as they have been playing to a very limited set of rules and brainwashed into thinking that what they do is the be all and end all – well lit, well composed, nice expression, in most cases contrived and in 99% of cases boring. The breadth of social portraiture is narrow. It is in most cases a commission and in most cases the commissioner is in charge and due to constraints of

a commercial nature, the images must be flattering and saleable, otherwise that photographer would not be in business. As someone who has made their living from social family portraiture for the past 35 years I am in a perfect position to tell you that there is a huge difference between the commercial and the artistic. I am a prostitute, I photograph families for money and have done very well out of it thank you very much. But I also understand the difference. I tell all my mentor studios to separate

their portrait ‘businesses’ from their personal work. As artists we are chained and bound by the clients to produce saleable work and that is frustrating. You became a photographer to take pictures that you enjoy, so separate your business portraiture from your personal and you can still be an artist. Portraiture is simply about communication, communication between the photographer and the sitter and communication between the image and the audience. It’s about emotion and about questioning and teasing the viewer. Traditional techniques, sharpness, focus, print quality, composition really do not come into it in the way social photography demands. In the same way as many people are confused by modern art, the fine art or documentary portrait photographer will send your brain into a tizzy, they will tease you, they will anger you, they will confuse you and finally they will ultimately get you to submit to the image. I love that most of the images shot are part of an ongoing project. This is also an important thing for photographers to do – you should all have a project on the back burner, it helps you become a better and more confident photographer. You cannot judge art in the same way as you judge social photography because in art there are no rules, in a traditional print

competition you would be first of all looking at impact, you would then look closer and tick off all the boxes; yes focus is good, lighting is excellent, pose is strong, expression is nice, it’s well composed … until you finally score it. Art is immediate. It’s an instinctual, emotional reaction to what is in front of you, that is why some people find it difficult to accept what they see, in their eyes, as substandard technique. You see that is the great thing about art, it divides opinion. One man’s Hoover displayed in a display case is another man’s Rembrandt. Art is not about rules it’s about demanding the attention of the viewer. “It’s out of focus” – who cares as long as it speaks to my heart and mind? For me the highlight of every year is The Taylor Wessing Prize. This year is particularly strong: there is obviously a Covid 19 / Lockdown theme running through many of the images and there is such a range of compelling and exciting portraits on display in the virtual gallery, which is brilliant on the website by the way. So open up your minds, read the stories behind the pictures, free yourself from the rules, immerse yourself in the wonderful work and get out shooting and enter next year. You never know, you might be the next prize winner! See:

Visit the National Portrait Gallery’s web pages for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020. Read the stories and study the sets of images. You’ll understand how this is not like commercial portraiture.


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Pixel power in your pocket P

erhaps it’s an age thing, perhaps it’s due to a lack of technical knowledge, perhaps it’s down to the fact that my career was formed teetering on the shoulders of manual medium format cameras – or perhaps it’s simply down to the fact I really only need my camera to do a couple of things for me, but I must say my eyes gloss over and I slowly fall asleep reading all the technobabble on the release of any new camera. A hundred and fifty focusing spots, really? I only want one! Five-axis in-body optical image stabilisation, when I have managed perfectly fine for the past 35 years just holding the camera properly and selecting the correct aperture and shutter speed? I don’t shake uncontrollably, why would I need that? Bionz X image processing engine? If I even knew what that was I probably wouldn’t be impressed. So what do I need my camera to do? I definitely need enough megapixels so the pictures can be used for commercial and professional use. I really only need a single focusing point in the middle so I can focus on the place I want with no fuss and I only really use Aperture and Manual priority. That’s it! OK, I admit, I am not a specialist sports or nature photographer and I do understand needs vary when it comes to cameras and technology, I realise it has its place and all this fancy stuff must be useful for somebody but honestly I don’t want more than I need. I think sometimes we concentrate so much on the tech that we lose sight of the image. I have had many delegates on workshops who were far more intelligent and tech savvy than me, but couldn’t take a picture successfully because they were so tied up in getting the settings of the camera right. I have owned many cameras in my long career as a professional photographer. I started in 1985 with Mamiya RB67s, then I moved onto Hasselblad film cameras and



Don’t count the pixels, make the pictures count, says Kenny Martin. With his Hasselblad and his iPhone to choose from, it’s the iPhone which comes to hand.

Two Blurb photobooks of Venice – created on the iPhone, from photographs taken on the iPhone, during the trip back from the city. Using the Fade Florence Lens and Iron 200 ‘look’ for all the images gave them a faded look and a similar colour and contrast range throughout the books.

in 1997 I made the move to digital with Phase One. I was the first portrait photographer in Europe to move to a fully digitised workflow. Three years ago I jumped on the mirrorless bandwagon with the Hasselblad X1D. It’s the perfect camera for me – light, small, 50mp sensor and SLOW! Just how I like it. As my career is now mainly

in education and consultation, I am constantly travelling and my camera needs have changed fairly dramatically, I am taking fewer commercial commissions and shooting a lot more for myself so the Hasselblad X range is just perfect for me in terms of size and quality, yet still quite basic in its shooting style. It’s also one of

the most aesthetically beautiful cameras I have ever held. However there is another kid on the block and it lets you, as the photographer, concentrate on the images and not the settings – the mobile phone. Now I am not suggesting for a minute that my trusty iPhone is going to make the grade as a professional tool, all these fantastic images we see on Instagram and Facebook that have been beaten half to death with filters, overlays and Snapseed effects fall down when it comes time do do a bit of pixel peeping. The quality is just not there. Sure, I have images printed up to 16” and they look great – and I actually think that smaller square images, well presented, are artistically pleasing. But I don’t think that is the point. This is not a tool for professional commissions, this is a tool to free your artistic and creative juices, a way to record the everyday… well every day, as it’s with you all the time. I shoot literally thousands of images with my phone, way more than I ever shot on my camera. One of the biggest problems with the mobile photography game is the plethora of apps available and of course you can do almost anything with the photographs post-shot. I try to limit my mobile shooting to only one or two apps. This is mainly to keep a theme going resulting in a cohesive, matching and more interesting set of images. My two favourite apps for the iPhone are Hipstamatic and the super simple Contrast. I have worked out through experimentation my favourite combinations to use on Hipstamatic and I select them carefully before starting to shoot. Certain subjects are more suited to certain combinations, for instance the Hipstamatic combination of Fade Florence Lens and Iron 200 film gives a beautiful faded look to the images, perfectly suited to old buildings and street shooting. I recently shot a series in Venice which worked beautifully with this combination. I always

iPhone ‘Contrast’ black and white, above, and a Hipstamatic image straight from the phone Uchitel 20 app, below. use the classic Hipstamatic setting which does not shoot raw and does not allow any postproduction after shooting. This results in a square image, straight out of the camera which is as close to shooting film as anything I have tried. In fact I produced two Blurb photobooks from a trip to Venice and both were designed and ordered on the airplane home, directly from the phone! Another favourite Hipstamatic combination is John S Lens and Uchitel 20 (named after the famous Argentinian photographer Diego Uchitel). This produces a really classy sepia toned image perfect for landscapes and shooting the streets. My other favourite app is Contrast. This renders the image in pure black and white with no details and works extraordinarily well with high contrast scenes – bright hard sunlight is best and creates the most graphic and interesting shots. I have shot portraits with it and they have a very distinctive look. It’s also a great tool to help you understand direction of light. The lens on the iPhone is quite extraordinary with its unbelievable depth of field. It gets everything in focus in the frame which makes it the perfect camera to capture layered street scenes. As you might guess the Hasselblad produces images of extraordinary quality – sharp, beautiful Hasselblad colours (it’s a thing!) and a range of tones

to die for BUT in my mind the images from my iPhone are special, real, they have a spirit and a soul that images from a conventional camera do not. I know lots of friends who feel the same way about mobile phone photography and by the amount of forums and pages on-line it’s

incredibly popular. I actually feel more creative with a phone in my hand with nothing to think about technically and just concentrating on what is in front of you. The fact that my phone images never come off the phone (well, they are stored in the cloud) with never any work done in Photoshop

is the thing I love, instant art! I get a call from a kitchen company wanting a brochure updated, it’s the Hasselblad every day. However it’s the iPhone for almost everything else, feel the freedom, feel the joy and feel the creativity. Happy shooting.


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Frozen Flora

n April 2020, as lockdown because of Covid 19 started, our horizons seemed to close in markedly. Our garden became so important then and Blake’s line of ‘Infinity in a grain of sand’ fitted the situation.

The last year has been a great one for gardening, for walking, and for studying the natural world. Colin Dixon gathered specimens from his garden and preserved them in ice blocks on his light box.

Camellias #1

Rowan Tree Blossom #3

Lilacs #4

Aquilegia Canadensis #7

Pansies #8

Summer medley #10



As a response to this situation I began selecting and freezing our garden’s flowers in a shallow tray of water and thinking of these icebound flowers as a loose metaphor for lockdown. I quickly learned that, visually, it was better to have

Whites on White #11

Poppies #12

Poppies&seedheads #13

Astrantias #14

Late Summer Roses #15

Rowanberries #16

flowers, leaves and stems both in and also above the ice. The thin blocks of ice, embedded with flowers current in the garden at that particular time, were released from their tray and quickly placed on a lightbox and photographed with my Sigma DP2 Merrill camera. This small camera has an APS-C sized Foveon sensor and a fixed Sigma lens equivalent to 45mm on a full frame camera. The Sigma Merrills have certain limitations but in good light the

special combination of the Foveon sensor and that superb lens can create very special images. The images were posted on Facebook. The seasons moved on, flowers came and went, lockdown continued and the number of icebound images as I write this stands at seventeen. – Colin Dixon à Fragments of a November Garden #17

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T aking Stock A t the end of each year I find myself taking stock of taking stock – is it still worth it, and was it ever worth it? The basis of stock photography is much the same as that of recording a digital music track or publishing an on-line magazine – one unit of work has the potential to earn multiple fees, resulting in a passive income stream from the creator’s viewpoint. If product sells in quantity, the production costs don’t rise proportionally and the distribution costs are very low. It’s not the same as selling physical printed magazines, music CDs, or photographic wall prints. These can also sell in high numbers but only if production quantities are increased, and distribution costs are proportional to quantity even if there’s some saving for big runs. Anything which is produced singly or in runs also gives you storage or new batch costs. Stock photography can now have a little or no storage and delivery costs even over many years. Digital stock does not occupy much physical space. This is a change which photographers forget when remembering the days of higher use fees. Looking back, from around 1970 to 1980 I produced black and white prints for photo libraries because colour was used much less than mono in newspapers, magazines and even in books. This meant making 10 x 8” prints, and for the libraries, storing them. The newspaper group I trained with had a large basement devoted entirely to metal filing cabinets full of prints going back decades – it was the only way they could be archived. In the 1980s and 90s everything shifted to colour, at first with rollfilm almost a requirement. Agencies like The Image Bank and ACE had started to accept 35mm originals, and the leading London library Tony Stone routinely blew these up to 6 x 9cm duplicates. Extra copies could be sent to partners abroad. The



by David Kilpatrick

The last year has seen income from most kinds of photography fall, and stock licences are no exception. It’s not all down to Covid, it’s a long-term trend, but sales are set to recover when normal life and worldwide travel returns.

Alamy opened for submissions in 2002, and at first allowed images from small sensor digital cameras like the Minolta Dimage S404 which produced 4 megapixel files, though they had to be increased in size a little (in this case from 1740px wide to 1920px). Taken just after the camera was launched, in May 2002, this New Orleans delta shrimp fishing and oil refinery view netted made two three-figure sales in 2004 and 2009. It remains waiting for future uses – Hurricane Katrina changed this environment in 2005. Many routine stock photos today may be of historic interest in future.

storage requirement really didn’t reduce much as the filing sheets, hanging bars, card mounts and sealed sleeves made each single transparency equal to a print even if only 5 x 4” in size – the multiple layers did that.

The extinction event While the first stock and royalty-free CDs appeared in the early 90s, they were not huge collections or very high resolution. The files were about the quality and size you’d use for a Facebook posting now. It took about ten years for on-line libraries to make sense, with ISDN internet lines replacing modems for many businesses before the faster ADSL broadband arrived. During that time the big

agencies digitised any stock with a proven sales record and returned prints and transparencies to contributors. The volume and bulk of these meant some which went out of business never did so, and photographers got together to save collections from going in the skip. They didn’t always succeed. If Don McPhee of The Guardian had not visited the newspaper group’s London offices on a day when thousands of negatives were being bagged up to go for silver recovery, decades of Guardian and Observer photojournalism would have destroyed simply because it occupied valuable real estate. Buyers stepped in to take over insolvent photo libraries and by this time had the technology to scan everything of presumed value.

The first decade of the 2000s was the great extinction event for the analogue dinosaurs of the image libraries. Although many photographers would say that financial crashes knocked their new digital sales down to a fraction of the pre-2000 values, it would have happened anyway because the entire ecosystem had changed.

Go where the money is If I look back to my earliest years as an editor about 45 years ago a magazine like this would have had a colour cover, sometimes with black and white on the inside, and just eight pages in colour. Half of these would have been reserved for advertising which was worth about twenty times as much, relative to average earnings and retail prices, as today. However the cost of production and print was also around twenty times higher just before colour litho rather than letterpress came as the first revolution. The photography, design and plate production cost as much as two or three advertising insertions and the budget for a shoot, campaign management and a year of ad pages in three or four monthly magazines was about the same as the cost of a three bed house in a London suburb. The progress from the first colour reproduction in a British newspaper (Daily Express in 1937) to the first colour supplement (Sunday Times, 1962) was only 25 years. Just 25 years later Cameracraft’s publishers were founded and won Britain’s inaugural Desktop Publishing Awards for the first ever commercial magazines produced on Apple Macintosh in our first year of operation. Another 25 years on, all the reprographic films, photo chemicals and laser imagesetting which had made that possible were gone and everything was reproduced directly on the printing press, written straight to the plates from digital files sent over a broadband web link.

Each generational change reduced the investment needed and the wage bills. From being amongst the highest paid workers, SOGAT (Graphical and Allied Trades) union members saw process camera work, film assembly, and many types of platemaking just disappear. The fees paid to photographers, and also fees for stock images, once reflected the importance of providing technically excellent originals when the cost of corrections or replacement was eye-watering. It’s a bit like public office, professions or business. If you want to earn £100k, enter a field where that’s normal and the best get far more. To someone in a £150k post controlling a budget in millions, a photo usage fee or a day rate of £1,000 will seem reasonable. To the owner of a startup company getting by thanks to bank loans and grants with full rates relief – taking just an average wage – it looks like two weeks’ pay for a day’s work. Photographers were able to charge good rates, and photo libraries get high fees, because the whole economic system in which they operated was a high-fee environment.

Repeat sales can be as valuable as high fees from a photo library. Taken in Alberobello, the shot above accounts for almost all of $1,943 from 42 sales by Alamy mostly between 2014 and 2020 (many to one client). The cenote at Aktunchen, Yucatan, below has grossed $1,728 from 22 licences for this and variations using a 12-24mm Sigma at 12mm. Most of my own collection is aimed at travel guides and websites.

Small change Now, most image uses don’t incur any production costs except the daily overheads of the computer systems, broadband, web hosting and staff which would be exactly the same without the image use.

Most are no longer in print (the day I wrote this IKEA ended their printed catalogue) they are on-line and have no material value. They can be replaced, enhanced or corrected. Changes in technology and fashion make a range of qualities and styles acceptable.

This has reduced stock image fees more than commissioned photography. As an example, ever since almost the beginning of this story one black and white image of the 1977 drought, cracked mud of an empty Ladybower Reservoir, has sold for me year in year out. I can’t remember the earliest fees from The Sunday Times and the government’s annual meteorological report but they were pretty good. Then in the early 2000s the typical use fee fell to £25, once or twice a year. And then the agency, Rex Features Limited, was taken over and became Shutterstock Editorial.

My December 2020 statement shows only one use, by The Guardian website, with a fee of just £3.75 of which £1.88 is my share. That the image is historic and one of a kind doesn’t really matter. The fee is actually not worth having, and as the agency

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only pays out when the amount due is £30 it will probably never be received – you’d have to get 16 pictures used in The Guardian through Shutterstock’s channel in order to collect your winnings. If you ever wonder why websites, magazines, competitions and TV programmes no longer feel bad about inviting photographers to contribute images without payment this is your answer. Major agencies will sell your work for almost nothing and you’ll never even know where or when it was used. I would rather let my own photography be used free in a context I support, can see and can share than consign it to all and sundry for a few cents a use (£3.75 is a high fee compared to some of the figures I’ve seen quoted for Shutterstock).

in the global economy produce a sharp uplift in the the number of sales and the fees alike. This can happen again, and the depression in fees is not Alamy’s fault, it’s something which has happened across all media and all creative industries.

Tomorrow’s stock

Alamy still works – just I started contributing images to Alamy in 2002 and recently decided to use them exclusively, in return for 50% of licence fees received rather than the 40% paid for non-exclusive. The exclusivity is on an image by image basis, and does not stop you filing other shots elsewhere. Initially fees were often in three figures with 65% going to the photographer. By 2011, after economic troubles in the world generally, the average fee had fallen to $60 and the photographer received 60%, which was later cut to 50% and then to 40% without the exclusivity option. In 2020, it looks as if I’ll have sold about the same number of images – it was 133 in 2011, and rose to over 200 a year pre-Covid, but is likely to be around 140 this year. The average fee has been $26, so well under half that of a decade ago. The question has to be whether or not it’s worth even bothering with photo library submissions. I think it is. Alamy stores and keeps over 28,000 of my images all fully captioned and keyworded – I do have the same files on my own local storage and various archive disks, but it costs me nothing to have an additional fully searchable collection held by Alamy. There was originally an option to pay for storage, and receive a higher cut of fees. That probably worked when typical fees were over $100. 18


To have a long-term in high value stock you may need to learn new shooting approaches, such as the multiple views of key locations used for CGI in films and advertising. Website:

At least Alamy does not always licence images to major editorial websites for $3.11 (their lowest fee recently) and more often charges two or three times that. Other uses will be considerably more whether for TV, a book, or a higher value web use. The last time my annual gross from Alamy was over $8,000 was in 2015 and it is now likely to be half that. In all time I’ve grossed over $115,000 and this feels like a justification for the time spent making and filing images. There remains the possibility of a single high fee at any time, and Alamy does secure fees in the thousands when the licence justifies it and exclusivity can be guaranteed – that’s my other reason for taking the exclusive option. It does not prevent my own use or direct client licensing, as for this type of sale Alamy will contact the photographer to double-check on any possible related images or past uses.

It’s not so different from owning Premium Bonds. Their return is now 1% per annum so if you own £10,000 you might get four £25 prizes during the year. With Alamy, from a relatively non-commercial collection I have neglected in the last two years because of life’s distractions, I make about $300 a month gross, $150 net, or £112.50. It’s taxable, only at 20% for me, which makes it equal to £90 in Premium Bond payouts or £1,080 a year. That makes my Alamy collection worth about the same as £100,000 in those bonds. There are of course better ways to invest money for a return but some carry risks and all mean investing actual cash. With Alamy, you can ‘invest’ files created at no additional cost other than your time using the equipment you already own. It’s been disheartening to see this yield fall from around £4,500 a year for 120 sales in 2010 to £1,000 for the same number in 2020. I’ve previously seen changes

HD and 4K movie clips are already widely licensed as stock footage and the fees for these are more like the old order for still work. CGI backgrounds and photometrically matched image sets from locations also have high value, as do 3D objects for use in CGI whether for advertising stills, games design, broadcast or cinema films. Like 5 x 4” and 10 x 8” transparency stock half a century ago, the technical quality of this type of resource is the key to its value. You can find empty streets, highways, landscapes and all kinds of interiors and scenes photographed with for the end use of high-res image composition. If you search you’ll get the usual Shutterstock, iStockphoto, Getty, Dreamstime and Adobe links come up and also Alamy. You will find CGI generated images, but not digital photography taken for the purpose of uses in CGI work. For that, take a look at – this is one site which offers high end still photography specifically intended for compositing in advertising and film production. Their formats include Plates (simple photographs often in sets of closely related views), HDR files, videos and 360 degree ‘Dome’ format images which allow something like a CGI modelled car to be placed in a view and seen from all round. It’s worth looking at this one stock image resource to understand what may be of value in future and why much routine still photography, even at high resolution, will have the kind of minimal value we now see from everyday photo library sales. As for me, I haven’t even tried the 4K video clips my equipment is able to create. I’m probably part of the next extinction event… Á

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The Feelgood Factor G

Arch White’s stock shots often celebrate the lifestyle you can find in seaside towns and in the past year he’s found the demand for positive images driven by newspapers

iven that the UK and the rest of the world has spent the majority of 2020 in the grip of the global Covid-19 pandemic it is strange that this has been my most prolific year ever for producing saleable images and the most profitable for fees to date. The increased fees have been mainly down to Picture of the Day or Week use in national newspapers including The Times,The Telegraph and The Guardian, plus a recent lucrative book cover usage on a German paperback which attracted a very unusual fee of just under £450 – which I only receive half of. As I write I have uploaded 21,734 to Lightroom and out of these I uploaded 2,643 images to a photographic library/portal. Looking back over the last three years, whilst my sales income has increased by approximately 110 percent, individual image price has reduced by 28 percent. Looking back to 2006 pre-financial crisis the individual image price has reduced by 75 percent. Probably my most memorable sale to date was in 2015 when I had a section of one of my images of the Forth Rail Bridge printed within the transparent window of the UKs first polymer £5 bank note for the Clydesdale Bank. Equally memorable might be when I was first published – in the Photography Year Book 1983. While working as a self-employed driving instructor which I did for 28 years, in the early 1980s I began submitting portrait images to smaller photo libraries and had success with several magazine covers. In 1984 I won a competition with 35mm Photography magazine winning a medium format camera plus an instant camera for the model who appeared in the winning photograph – and a trip to London to meet, and photograph with, a professional photographer and model.



Sunrise behind Bass Rock, North Berwick, East Lothian, on April 20th 2020. The temperature was just 3 degrees and this was not set up or a montage – it’s exactly as the scene looked naturally.

Home territory I am pleased to say that my carbon footprint over the last twelve months has been very much reduced as the majority of my photography has been carried out in my own patch near to home, rather than as some have been doing and buzzing all over Scotland throughout the pandemic. I do have an NUJ Press Card but just because I supply soft news

images to a portal I do not consider myself as a press photographer and I do not feel the need to misuse the pass to frequently travel unnecessarily to other regions during the pandemic. I must confess although I have been happily married for 50 years I am a solitary individual in terms of personality. I am content with my own company and there is no feeling quite like sitting on your

own in a remote area of Scotland waiting for the sun to rise over the horizon and then to document it with the camera. Over the last year this has been replaced by traveling just over a mile to the local beach to catch the sun coming up and hoping to catch a structure or a person or two in silhouette. For this I prefer to use the 'fly on the wall' approach rather than unnecessarily engaging with the

Above: WanderWomen (who encourage women into the outdoors) assembled on the beach to celebrate the sun coming up at the Spring Equinox on Portobello Beach.

Above: Members of Eastern Amateur Rowing Club take to the Firth of Forth at sunrise in mid-March 2020. Below: limbering up on the beach for Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations on December 31st 2019.

subject. The seaside visits are not quite so romantic as the journeys up north but they tell a story of that particular sunrise and the goings-on at the coast. During lockdown my wife and I used the beach as our spot for daily permitted exercise, so many images were taken of the empty promenade and sands. Later as restrictions on movement eased I documented the people attracted to the coast to try to improve their mental health and well-being. This became my focus of attention for the early months of lockdown and many images from these visits were used by newspapers on-line and sometimes in print. I have been submitting to Alamy since 2002, originally scanning 35mm transparencies – in the last couple of months I have started to destroy many of the slides, and my mono negatives. Digital photography began for me as early as 2003. Thanks to inheritance from my late father’s estate I was able to purchase the first full frame digital SLR from Canon, the professional

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1DS. This of course was a revelation coming from medium format and 35mm still cameras. Not having to be concerned about film and processing costs, I began filling up external hard drives of which I now have ten – mostly redundant as they may never be searched again for the images they contain. In the early days of using digital before self-cleaning was built in to the SLR I found that I was requiring a sensor clean almost monthly and as I had to travel to Glasgow to get this done, it was quite onerous. Fortunately that has now changed. In past years I would have thought nothing of leaving home at 4.30am to travel up to Lochaber to photograph the sunrise on a specific scene and be back home in the afternoon to edit and upload images to the library. I only managed to afford to purchase my own laptop at the beginning of 2020 after a welcome

The seaside and shores of the Firth of Forth and the north of Scotland have been Arch’s regular locations. After acquiring a campervan his horizons expanded, he took the shot above at West Bay, Bridport, Dorset. It’s the affirmation of joy in life which the morning papers like to show. Below – the traditional New Year’s Day swim on the beach of Portobello, near Edinburgh. From a chilly start, below, to swimmers in sunshine just before noon, bottom.

have recently retired my third 28135mm lens which began to rattle, but the majority of my images over the last 17 years have been taken with this although it could be classed as a hobbyist lens. I have now replaced it with a 24-105mm Canon lens. After having to consistently chase newspaper uses in the nineties, I avoided photographing newspaper type images and attempted to aim for more magazine and book style images. This changed around 2018 and I’m back in the news again with the type of scenes you see here. – Arch White Á

increase in sales during 2019. Previous to this I was always hampered by the fact that I could not upload images immediately and had to return to base to use my computer and internet. Investing in a laptop would not have made economic sense. I am relatively frugal when it comes to purchasing kit in general. Currently I am using a Canon 5D MkII bought back in 2009. In my kit bag I do have a Canon 100-400mm lens, which has not seen as much use as it perhaps should have done over the years. I 22


Panikos wins London Portrait Group 2020 title

THE TITLE of London Portrait Group Photographer of the Year has been taken by Panikos Hajistilly, one the group’s bestknown and respected members. Panikos has won awards and taken a leading role in professional bodies, delivered many talks and workshops. He’s a Master Craftsman of the Guild. His November 2020 wins in the LPG are shown here – this round was judged by Ron Nichols, USA, one of the founder members of Pro Select software and past president of the PPA (Portrait Photographers of America). Above, Couples; top right, Single; right, Fantasy (Judge’s Choice); below, Group. The runner-up for the year was Hossain Mahdavi, and the third place was taken by Joel Dyer.

About the LPG The London Portrait Group meets on the first Tuesday of each month except January. There is no membership just £10 on the door. The group is non-profit making and supports the Disabled Photographers Society, the BIPP Benevolent Society, Photo Aid and Remember my Baby. There's a quarterly critique where invited judges discuss the work done on a regular basis in members’ studios or outdoors – nothing is shot specifically for the critique. Weddings aren't included. Meetings usually start at 8pm at The Pin Wei Restaurant, 35 High Street, Abbots Langley WD5 0AA ( with a ‘pre-talk’ dinner at 6:45pm. Follow the group on Facebook: The-London-Portrait-Group Twitter: @portrait_group


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KNAGGS Come on, feel the noise! Let it fix your banding & composite problems

Ian Knaggs, a UK based advertising and product photographer specialising in studio product photography, is a popular instructor in studio set-ups and lighting, digital processing and Photoshop.




ll digital images contain noise, it’s a fact. If you listen to camera manufacturers’ hype about new models, there is nearly always a claim about reduced noise. This leads most people to think that having no noise in an image is the best thing – but this is not necessarily the case. Whilst a minimal amount of noise is desirable, a certain amount of noise is essential, especially when compositing images together and generating backgrounds in post production. There is a technique that is often used in advertising images when elements are composited together and noise, or grain, is added so that all elements contain the same amount of noise. This is particularly effective to soften the edges of elements that have been cut out from their background prior to compositing, especially on elements with multiple thin edges like hair and textured objects. It is often a subtle effect and is not noticeable in the final image as the noise is consistent throughout the image. If this process had not been used then the differences in noise between elements would most definitely be noticeable. To help visualise the amount of noise present in an image we use a solar curve (it looks a bit like a sine wave) which reveals details that are not always as easily visible when viewing the image. This is also used a lot when cleaning images as dust spots and imperfections are much more easily seen. Here we can see how the solar curve shows the detail in an image:

If the image above with pure Photoshop gradient tones in the background is viewed using a solar curve (right) it can be seen there is a natural amount of noise in the peppers captured in camera, and no noise at all in the background generated in post production. Gradients created in Photoshop without noise like this can display or print with bands of colour. Using Photoshop we add monochromatic Gaussian noise (centre right) to the affected layers to even up the amount present in all of the elements. This has the added benefit of removing the banding. The noise can be added to individual layers or to a 50% grey layer set to Overlay blending mode. Next time you have to composite an image together, consider looking closely at the noise in each of the individual elements and then match them by adding noise where necessary to create a much more cohesive image, and if you’ve done it correctly it will never even be noticed. Á

Below is a section of the final file as reproduced top – without banding. You may be able to see the noise added to the green, but print processes normally render a smooth looking result as this noise is finer than their dot structure.

CONTESTS Paris Photo Prize 2021 competition entry opens

WINNER OF A GOLD AWARD for Special/Street photography in 2020’s Paris Photo Prize contest, Merja Varkemaa captured something typically Parisian in her black and white moment above, writes editor David Kilpatrick. Paris is not unique in the radiating layout of its streets, but this has given it special qualities for photographers. With major avenues running like the spokes of a wheel from the star-like ‘étoile’ hubs exemplified by the Place Charles Gaulle (Arc de Triomphe), at any time of day when the sun shines there’s a street in contre-jour. All you have to do is explored the web of boulevards and alleys connecting it all and there will be scenes with wonderful light, in contrast to many equally beautiful locations such as Edinburgh where the planning created a grid of in north-south and east-west alignment. In Paris, you can follow the light at any time. In Edinburgh, New York and so many other cities you must pick your time of year as well as time of day. Linguist and translator Merja Varkemaa is from Finland, and has been living in Paris for over 20 years. She says: “Light is the essence of everything, yet its strength and beauty are conditioned by the accompanying shadows and its shine is defined by the contrast of the darkness. The most beautiful light has its grounding in the dark undertones, similar to joy, which is rendered stronger with slightly melancholic memories. In the darkest of shadows and sorrow, the light can always be accessed via the recollection of a past luminous memory. Each happiness contains a small disillusion, whereas each sorrow has hope built in.” The 2021 Paris Photo Prize (PX3) is open for entry with a 10% early bird discount until the end of January 2021. It is a photography award that strives to promote appreciation of photography, discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. The Paris Photography Prize was founded in 2007 and has since become one of the most prestigious photography awards in Europe. It’s a paid entry competition and the categories are: Advertising: Annual Reports, Automotive, Beauty, Book Cover, Calendar, Catalogues, Fashion, Food, Music, Product, Self-Promotion, Other Advertising. Architecture: Bridges, Buildings, Cityscape, Historic, Interior, Industrial, Others. Book: Documentary, Fine Art, Monograph, Nature, People, Other Book. Fine Art: Abstract, Architecture, Collage, Digitally Enhanced, Landscape, Nudes, People, Still Life, Other Fine Art. Nature: Domestic, Animals, Earth, Flowers, Landscape, Seasons, Sky, Sunsets, Trees, Underwater / Water, Wildlife, Other Nature. Portraiture: Children, Culture, Family, Personality, Self-Portrait, Wedding, Other Portraiture. Press/Editorial: Fashion, Feature Story, General News, Nature/ Environmental, People/Personality, Performing Arts, Political, Sports, Travel/ Tourism, War, Other Press. Special: Night Photography, Smartphone Photography, Street Photography, Special Effects, Others “Special”. (NEW) For further information and to enter see:


Free to read online – Creative Light bi-monthly e-magazine –

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photo of writer

IAIN POOLE Always, think what others may need, that you can bring to them – necessity is the mother of invention…

Iain K Poole is a semi-professional photographer specialising in cosplay and landscape, and has won many awards over the last few years and is a Master Craftsman of the Guild of Photographers. Iain is based in the seaside town of Hornsea in rural East Yorkshire.




r in my case re-invention…! Like most photographers I have found the last twelve months Hellish, with little to no regular photography work. Covid-19 has made a lot of people redundant, be it their main business is no longer viable, or they worked in a sector which has been hit hard. One area which has been hit extremely hard was the entertainment sector. Well one person I knew decided instead of sitting on his hands and doing nothing he felt it was time to go in another direction. Allen Stephen Crawford is a costume designer with the most impressive resume having worked in theatre, television and film for over 25 years. He has taken a product which was originally made just for him and his husband and turned into a brand from which to launch himself forward. And this is how we as photographers can help. Diversifying to different genres ensures we have a continuous revenue stream coming in. In this case Allen had a limited budget but he knew what he wanted and more important the message the images would give to potential buyers, he could not afford to pay models. But he could afford my time and more important my expertise. So, one afternoon we set about creating a host of images for his brand. We kept everything simple to keep costs down. We aimed to shoot between 2pm and 4pm and catch the sun as it started to set, as we knew this would help create the correct mood. We used available light while indoors at the client’s home, positioning the subject so any light coming into the room fell on to the garment. Equipment-wise, I was shooting using the Sony A7III, Sony G-Master 70-200 ƒ2.8 and Sigma ART 24-70 ƒ2.8. The longest shutter speed I went down to was 1/80s while shooting handheld indoors, but I could prop myself up against a wall or sofa if required to make sure I was steady. We quickly created some images which would speak to potential buyers and hopefully turn into a steady sales stream for Allen. Now this is where the value adds really come in, having

experience with social media and Photoshop I was able to quickly create some pre-defined posts and headers for social media. I offered help getting his social media set up. Once done, Allen was steam-rolling ahead posting content to social media and responding to potential clients. All in all we had him running in under a week and the plan is to do more – we want to create videos, and drive home that his garments are handmade in Yorkshire. As photographers we are well placed to help new businesses like Allen’s so do not be afraid to reach out to these people, let them know you can help and depending on your skill-set you can either help

directly or advise on how best to start marketing a fledging business. Using the connections in an organisation like the Guild you already have access to a network of people for whom (like me) photography is not their only means of income. So, link up with other creatives to give value add for your clients – work out deals with graphic or web designers so that you can help a new business get a foothold. If you would like to check out Allen’s creation here is a link to his Facebook page below Snugdotme Stay safe and have a prosperous New Year! Á

Luminescence David Sheldrick

Ultraviolet photographic lighting from Broncolor helped create one of the most striking hairstyle shoots ever

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orking with Broncolor lighting systems, I have had the opportunity to experiment with UV images using their UV Attachment which fits their Siros monolites, Pulso G and Unilite heads One of my recent projects produced this series of images with hair prodigy Seung Ki Baek.



He and I had been working on UV images for over a year now and this culminated in a submission to the British Hair Awards 2018. We shot a series of deep sea inspired hair looks using a mixture of continuous and flash lighting. We used the Broncolor UV attachment on one of the Siros S800 heads alongside an 800W UV

Cannon (a continuous heavy duty stage and theatre light used for special effects). Hair was made using various wigs treated with UV hair dye and the make-up was done using commercial party UV make-up which you can find at costume stores. It’s important to note that any pigments or materials that are not

UV reactive will come out as black or not have any colour, so experimenting with different pigments and materials is quite important. There are quite a few tips and tricks involved with shooting clean UV imagery. Firstly, the visible fluorescent colours produced in response to UV light are very easily bleached out by ambient light or

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non-UV light sources, so as close to a black-out environment as possible is needed when working with UV. Either hire a blackout studio or if on a budget gaffer-tape up black fabric to your windows and create blackout. Secondly, you need continuous UV light sources as well as flash. Hair and make-up artists need to be able to see what their work will look like under UV light, as materials and pigments behave differently under UV than they do under natural or flash lighting. A continuous UV light source is also key during shooting to help you auto focus, as the modelling light can not be on when the

two seconds, with the UV flash firing between up to three times during the exposure to create one or more sharp images of the subject. The continuous light throughout the exposure adds the movement and glow, mixed with the sharp detail given by the flash. Using hair dryers to blow the wig hair around, we created more motion in the hair. While the model sat perfectly still I would continuously shoot one second exposures one after the other to catch some where the hair had moved in a way which was captivating. – David Sheldrick Á https:/

temperature, they are normally used with a UV-protecting glass cover. This must be removed when fitting the attachment (right) which passes UV light in the 300-315nm range and gives a coverage of around 50°. Standard uses are in technical, scientific and forensic photography as well as creative projects like this one.

Broncolor UV attachment is fitted (the head would overheat very quicky). So a separate continuous source is required to illuminate the subject in order to view, focus and compose. You will also need a tripod although it is possible to work without one. I have found through lots of testing that longer shutter speeds achieve the best ‘glowing’ effect. When shot with too fast a shutter speed say 1/60-1/200 the images can feel too sharp and the glow of the pigments does not pick up so well. My favourite results where achieved by shooting with shutter speeds as long as one or 30


Model Rachel Brockman, hair by Seung Ki Baek. Make-up Artists, Adelaide Filippe and Josie Chan. Stylist Tina Farey.

The Broncolor UV Attachment itself costs £822 (code 33.626.00) from UK Broncolor dealers including aj’s ( It’s small but solid and weighs a kilo. The black-light filter in it eliminates almost all the visible light of the flash. Only the UV part remains. Though Broncolor tubes as UV coated for a 5900K colour

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ELC 125 TTL / ELC 500 TTL Built For Your Daily Adventure.

©Emily Teague

Ready. Play. Create. The NEW ELC 125 / 500’s are modern compacts built to handle your next adverture reliably & consistently. Featuring TTL with Manual Lock, HSS, Smart Pro-Active Cooling, Auto-On, dimmable daylight LED modelling lamp, colour coded grouping & direct compatibility with Elinchrom’s world-renowned light modifiers.

Prices from £479 with 3 Year Warranty. 32



BOND Leaving your genre behind at the door – always try something new

After 35 years working in education Jayne now enjoys spending time outdoors, photographing wildlife and nature as an amateur enthusiast, constantly learning and striving to achieve better. Jayne has achieved Craftsman status with the Guild of Photographers. Facebook – jaynebondphotography Instagram – jaynebondphoto


ith limited opportunity to venture out with the camera many folk spent 2020 doing one of two things – either revisiting their photographic library and processing images that have been lost over the years, or venturing into new realms of possibilities! There is something very cathartic about stepping out of your comfort zone. Whatever the results the experience of trying something new, something different, something quite alien to the norm can be invigorating and thoroughly enjoyable. My preferred photographic genre is all about nature. I just love being outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, admiring the beautiful scenery and the stunning wildlife so a day spent underground in a dark, dusty environment, wasn’t just a step, it was a giant leap out of my comfort zone. A couple of years ago I was invited, by Canon, to a photoshoot at Aldwych Tube Station. Aldwych is one of London’s secret places. The tube station opened to the public in 1907 but was never used as heavily as intended. It eventually closed its doors in 1994 when it was deemed the cost of replacing the lifts was too high for the income the station generated. During both world wars the adjoining tunnels were used to shelter artwork from several of London’s museums and galleries and it provided shelter for Londoners during the blitz. In more recent years the station has been used for the film set of various TV programmes and films, including The Darkest Hour, Superman IV, Patriot Games, Atonement and much more. As we gathered in the abandoned ticket hall, I started to wonder what I had let myself in for! About twenty other photographers all discussing what portrait lens to use, how to play the light, the best settings to use in darkened areas etc. The only thing you can do at times like this is get stuck in, talk to others and learn from them. So, on we went down the 160 steps and on to the platform, with the added bonus of a stationary tube train and two fabulous models. Wow – what an amazing place, it really is like stepping into the past! There was no flash, nothing

set up, just the freedom to move around, experiment and work with the models. Some folk had their own flashguns and cajoled other photographers to hold them off camera. I spent a little bit of time working with a couple of lovely, supportive guys and then took the opportunity to wander around and experiment with composition. I’mCanon sure I EOS would do a few things 1Dx MkII, 70-200mm IS II USM at ƒ2.8, 1/1000s at ISO 250 differently now, but what an amazing day and a fabulous learning experience. If you ever have the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone do it – the rewards Photographs by Jayne with kind are immense. Á permission of Canon (UK) Ltd.

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Method in the madness! No-one forgets Gemma Sains (or her creation ‘Flossie Hill)! She’s the driving force behind Camera Crazy, capturing from newborns to caricatures. Her latest project celebrates drag artistes. She talked to Assistant Editor Diane about her journey into photography.


emma is a fascinating person to write an article about – I’ve wanted to write this since I first met her, I can see behind her bravado there’s a committed professional with a genius brain bubbling away, constantly thinking up new ideas. She



often steps out from the shadows of normality and reaches for something way out there and different, something a bit special that she can call her own – all the things I love so much in a photographer, in any person actually. It’s sometimes the hardest thing in the world to be

different. People don’t get you, so they don’t ‘get’ your work – they criticise, they make rules that don’t suit your creative mind and way of expressing yourself. So do you bow to the pressure, do you conform your work? Like hell you do, not if you’re Gemma Sains!

Gemma has been into photography from a young age, initially inspired by her cousin who had a darkroom in the loft which fascinated her. She later wanted to stay on at school and get qualifications in photography, but met with some resistance from her parents who

The drag queens project has produced several styles including the gothic look (left) and the caricature portraits which her sitters often find good for promotional use. The graded colour background series works well on her website, it’s based on simple studio portraits on white (left and right comparison below).

suggested she got a “proper job”. Over the years she often tried to educate herself with the help of courses and tutorials, but they failed at first to get through to Gemma, until she decided to get serious about photography six years ago, bought herself a digital

SLR and did her first ever professional baby shoot. It was for her best friend, thankfully: in Gemma’s own words, “I had started reading up about doing newborn shoots, went around to my friend and shot the baby. I was really pleased, I got home put them on to the

computer and loaded them up and I realised I had absolutely no clue on what I was doing. The images were actually awful, all in focus but absolutely horrendous to the point that I didn’t want to give the images to her. From that point I decided that I was going to train to do newborn photography well…” Sometimes we gain from our mistakes! Gemma did in fact please her parents by getting a “proper job”. At the tender age of 16 she had an electrical apprenticeship with London Electricity and is a fully qualified electrician. She has worked hard to rise through the ranks, becoming a senior project manager running multi-million-pound projects mainly on London Underground and Network Rail sites. Her work ethic is second to none, she’s a very hard working and ambitious woman – never be fooled by the fun-loving gregarious side of Gemma that shows up at awards events, she has a very stressful and responsible job, with hundreds working for her, mostly men. She fills her weekends and evening time with photography work and she attends a lot of photography shows. She never buys anything and she rarely attends workshops at them now – she likes to think of herself as a social butterfly. “People interest me and I like to have a drink… as they say, work hard, play harder!” And why not? Gemma is one of those larger than life characters herself, so it comes as no surprise that she created her project with Drag Queens. When lockdown started Gemma wanted to do something to keep people occupied in some of the groups she was in. A lot of

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Camera Crazy is a family portrait business taking advantage of Thames estuary locations as well as good studio facilities. In addition to unusual ideas like the caricature portraits, Gemma stages fairy studio set promotions, offers ‘bump’ to newborn and cake smash, and weddings.



photographers were sad as they had nothing to do, she created a character called Flossy Hill. According to Gemma, Flossy knows everything! She has a monobrow and is proud of it. She needed a professional photo taken of her so Gemma did a head shot for her in her bedroom. Because she wanted it to be different she created a caricature style image that was a cross between real image and cartoon. “This image got a lot of likes and got me thinking about who and how I was going to shoot this. Then one morning I woke up and it came to me, Drag Queens! I have always been fascinated with drag queens I think what they do is amazing, I love their makeup and I’m amazed how well they walk in high heels as I can not. “I set about researching styles of drag queen shoots and what would be appealing as I wanted to have again a backup plan as we all know when you get creative it will either work or it will not, so I always create shoot boards for when I am doing any kind of project with different lighting set-ups colours and so on. “I came across an American photographer called Leland

Bobbé, who did a project called half drag, he created images of drag queens who had done half their makeup in drag and the other half was just their pedestrian attire. I really liked this idea and I thought I wanted to create a series of images of before and after of drag queens. This is where the idea developed so I had the idea of shooting them in their daily clothing and style each holding some drag paraphernalia then they would get dragged up and I would shoot them full clothed with them holding something that was their skill, as an example holding some duct tape or a wig, then in the after image would be a skill that they take to their shows. “To set about finding these drag queens, I went to Instagram and searched #dragqueenLondon, hoping this would find some local to me. I messaged several drag queens and to be fair there was only one that was, shall we say, a bit of a door handle! Then there was one guy who was really excited about the project I had explained. We spoke on the phone, he asked if I only wanted drag queens or would I be interested in drag kings and bio queens as well, he was a

Gemma’s fine art portraiture has included a series with animals in the studio – they are not composites. For this caricature portrait commission she made the giant needle prop (not digitally created, see Gemma's blog/ web pages).

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member of a drag society and he would contact others in the group to see if others were interested in my project. Which they were. “Now probably like me you are thinking drag kings? Oh that must be women that dress up as guys, but what is a bio queen? Google is amazing – bio queens are women who dress up as drag queens, or pedestrians that have a drag persona so they could either dress up as male female or they may dress up as a them or they that have no direct gender.” I asked Gemma what equipment she uses these days. “I’d like to say ‘all the gear, no idea’ – although I do have some idea. I have collected a lot of photography equipment over the years as I do shoot a lot of various styles of photography. “People say jack of all trades master of none, but I do not believe that is the case in photography. My career advisor told me I could not be an electrician – I proved her wrong and I will do the same with the photography industry. It may take me longer to chip away at all of the styles that I enjoy doing, but I will do it and break people’s thinking that you can only specialise in one area of photography. What I have learnt over the years is a base for all photography – you just need to modify what you are doing to a different genre. “I currently shoot newborn, cake smash, maternity, children, creative portrait, and weddings along with practicing stuff like 38


wildlife and things like water splashes or bubbles. “So my equipment is vast! I currently own two Sony A7IIIs, a Fuji XT-2 and I still have a Canon 70D so I have back ups for my backups. I have a range of lenses for all my cameras from fish eye to long focal length. I have same lens range for each camera so in total I possibly have around 15…

As well as using whatever props and costume her sitters may bring to the shoot, Gemma makes them herself, as with a wig made recently for a shoot.

however I don’t count, because then I will know how many and how much it has cost me! “I also have video lights, Godox flash guns (six speedlights), two Godox AD200s, and also Profoto B10 and B10X. These all come with a range of modifiers like mag mods, beauty dishes, octa boxes and strip lights. “I share a studio with four other photographers which has a five-light set up with every colour paper backdrop you could imagine. This space comes in handy to host workshops and other photographers. I have hosted Gary Hill, Natasha Ince and Zanelle Walters, and Paulina Duczman has used my studio to shoot in.” Gemma is multi-talented. She sometimes makes her own props, like the giant needle made from a wooden broom. She’s made a wig once for a shoot and recently made a dress as well. I’ve been exceptionally impressed by her website, I asked Gemma if she’d done it herself or got help? “I have tried to put all my photography in one place, but this constantly needs work and it needed to be set up well. Last year I went to Digitalab’s Residency of the North – an amazing three days of shooting, learning with some amazing people. I met Andy Dane of Aperture Designs. Once we were back I decided my website needed an overhaul, I spoke to Andy told him what I wanted and how I wanted it, he did not question me and he didn’t say you shouldn’t do it like that. I think being a photographer himself he totally got where I was coming from. “A few weeks later I had this amazing website. Check it out:” To finalise the interview I asked Gemma if there was anything she’d like to include in this article that we hadn’t covered already. She said: “I would like people to stop telling others what they can do and can’t do. In photography we should be pushing each other and encouraging people to be different. Different is good not a bad thing. “As they say in the Ninedots community – Create your own Awesome!” – Diane E. Redpath Á


Sigma 105mm ƒ2.8 DG DN Macro It’s a brand new design for mirrorless full frame close-up shooting, starting with E and L mounts, following in a tradition of acclaimed macro lenses from the Japanese maker


he history of Sigma 105mm ƒ2.8 macro lenses will probably be well known to most readers, going back to SLR system days with focus motors taking an age to travel from infinity to life size but excellent optics which were just waiting for advances in camera system design. The DSLR standard stabilised 105mm ƒ2.8 might have reached a new peak of performance but there’s a non-stabilised design for mirrorless bodies now that goes a step further. The new L and E mount (so far) 105mm ƒ2.8 DN DG ART macro comes close to apochromatic correction without claiming it, producing corner to corner sharpness from 1:1 to infinity thanks to the internal Hyper Sonic Motor focusing. The unusual optical design reduces vignetting and creates more circular out of focus highlight (bokeh) discs. Classic macro lenses are simple but this has 17 elements in 12 groups and an unusual concave front element. It does not extend during focusing, but it is 135mm long from mount to rim before adding the well-made 60mm deep

The 105mm DG DN ART is fairly long but slim with good ergonomic design lens hood. This does mean the effective focal length reduces at close focus, and the lens to subject distance is not the theoretical 210mm that the simplest 105mm focal length single element would achieve. Since no lens actually does this – the most traditional designs end up with around 150mm from front rim to focus point – that’s academic. It gives over 130mm clear space at 1:1 without the hood fitted. In contrast the most conventional long macro made, the Sony 100mm ƒ2.8 Minolta A-mount heritage design, gives 155mm clear. The Sony 90mm ƒ2.8 G OSS offers exactly the same 130mm as the new Sigma. The front element is not recessed and does not move. The deep internally ribbed lens good (with a soft-touch rear part to help grip during bayonet mounting and removal) combines with good optical design and coating to cut out into-the-light flare. However, it is possible to induce a flare patch at

small apertures with direct sun just out of shot. The lens barrel itself is little wider than the 62mm filter thread, its front focus-by-wire sleeve allowing a grip at any position from mid to front of the lens. While it is not light at over 700g, it’s very solid and mounts firmly. The focusing is a key feature of this lens, and it is upgraded compared to past Sigma lenses like the recent 70mm ƒ2.8 DG DN ART macro. There are several controls on the lens, in contrast to low-cost 100mm macros which may have no controls at all. First, there’s a brand new full range click stopped aperture ring on the lens. Move off the A setting which hands control over the camera body, and you go from ƒ22 to ƒ2.8 in super-smooth soft clicks with big clear markings. You can lock A or manual mode. Underneath

the lens there’s a ‘Click Off’ switch for continuous manual aperture control often needed in video work. Above this on the control section is a focus limiter setting – Full, 0.5m to infinity, and 0.295m (the closest focal plane to subject distance) to 0.5m. This limiter is coupled to AF mode only, and AF/MF switch is found above a large AF-Lock or Custom function button designed to fall under your left hand thumb. When this lens is fitted the camera’s AF/MF switch is disabled. The limiter, the silent and easily controlled MF focus by wire and the AF (with DMF and magnified view optional) all work well together. If you use MF as many do for macro, you might switch the camera off and on again which makes E-mount lenses re-initialise. In AF mode they reset to infinity then focus (or hunt). In MF mode, they return from infinity reset to the last manual focus position. Some with rather basic AF motors like Sony’s 50mm ƒ2.8 FE macro tend to shift the focus slightly but others reposition with perfect accuracy, and so does this Sigma. Different Sony, third party and adapted lenses behave less

Left: declick, focus limiter, AFL button and AF-MF controls. Centre: aperture ring with mode lock. Left and below: internal focus contrasts with traditional macro barrel extension.

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ƒ2.8 predictably. The focus range limiter is over-ridden by the AF/MF switch, and the many turns needed to focus by wire would make getting back to a close focus position tedious if this ‘return to focus’ was not as reliable in MF mode. As for AF, this 105mm is as fast as you would expect when limited to 0.5m to infinity – it can track action, follow human or animal eye focus or moving targets, and is almost silent with faint clicks. During the test period there was no chance to try it for theatre or concert photography, portraits, or fashion but I’d be confident it will shine.


150dpi (53"/134cm wide print) detail

ƒ10 The passionflowers surviving into mid-December above show off its impeccable bokeh. Wide open the focus blur discs are near-perfect circles over the frame and stopped down a hint of aperture blade shape appears. Aimed at a point source, defocus shows almost no texture to the optical surfaces – it’s as good as hand-polished traditional glass in this respect, so out of focus detail looks very smooth (below, wide open full frame – inset left, at 150dpi equal to a 53" print, point of focus). There’s no bokeh colour shift to tint background and foreground blur. Sigma designers worked hard to




achieve all this and the bokeh, with the absence of cat’s-eye highlights, should make this popular for portrait, fashion and wedding work. When used for distant subjects, the 105mm exhibits just a hint of pincushion distortion. The shot of the industrial building and ventilation pipe, top right, was taken at a slight angle producing normal convergence of the vertical lines which Adobe Camera Raw’s excellent ‘Geometry’ panel can autocorrect well. However, the built-in lens profile (used in raw conversion) falls a touch short of removing the distortion and a setting of -2 was needed to make the vertical lines straight. This is not unusual and at closer range distortion is zero. Shooting at ƒ7.1, the sharpness of this shot on the Sony A7RIII was such that tiny flaws in the pipe and cladding stood out. Over one hundred healing brush moves were needed to remove distracting detail including spider webs and marks invisible to the eye at the scene. This is also a problem when using a camera of this resolution and the Sigma 105mm in the studio. Unless the product being photographed has come from a clean room and never been closer than 2m to a human being, the lens and sensor will reveal countless particles of dust or invisible marks. I use a rocket blower, silk and cotton gloves, and a fine make-up brush to clean items being photographed. Every shot still needs dozens of cloning or healing spots. The very high micro-contrast of this lens, in common with many new designs, will do much the same with skin texture and detail. Apart from skilled use of lighting, the answer may lie in software like Portrait Pro (now in version 21) which can smooth this without losing overall sharpness.

Lens tests are normally done using a chart at a distance of around 3m for a 105mm lens. The Sigma 105mm shows very slight pincushion distortion at this range or with more distant subjects – right, corrected with -2 pincushion during ACR conversion. In the macro range distortion is near zero. This same extreme resolution of textures and detail will be enjoyed by landscape and natural history shooters. Without reproducing dozens of sectional clips of shots, it’s hard to show how this lens far exceeds the performance I encountered from Sony’s 90mm which proved distinctly soft to the edges of the frame even when stopped down a bit. There’s no hint of this with the Sigma 105mm, it’s bitingly sharp corner to corner, wide open, at all distances. The example at the bottom of this page with the housing and trees may give a clue, with the sections from left and right ends of the frame representing a 67cm wide print. Having said this, the in-body stabilisation of the A7RIII was not always successful with this lens used very close. Using faster shutter speeds helps. The lupin (right) was at 1/800s but that needed ISO 640. Shots taken at similar settings were generally perfect sharp but handheld close-ups around 1/60s-1/125s often had visible shake. The 105mm DG DN ART macro sells for £699.99 in L and Sony FE mounts. It’s probably the best autofocus macro now made in this focal length class. L-mount users get the benefit of being able to add 1.4X or 2X tele extenders making the lens an even more attractive choice for owners of Sigma, Leica or Panasonic L-mount bodies. – David Kilpatrick


Left, at ƒ2.8 for a distant view with plenty of fine detail. Below left and right, sections at 300dpi from the 42 megapixel file. Above, with animal eye focus correctly finding the closer eye, sharpness at ƒ5.6 is as good as you could expect (300dpi detail).

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Sony A7C – a first look


here was only one real surprise of the A7C. I say this because I’m currently writing books on both the A7C and Sony’s low-noise high-ISO king, the A7S III, and I’ve been examining every feature to uncover any undocumented changes. And while the internet has been going crazy about the A7S III, due to its video-centric feature set (embedded within a stills-photography body) and their new menu system which makes Olympus’ menus look intuitive, the A7C has been getting little attention other than a nod from DPREVIEW that it’s an ideal travel camera. So I’ll start with the familiar: the A7C is a full-frame, 24 MP stills camera, best described as a cross between the 24MP A6600 APS-C camera and the 24MP full-frame A7 III with the pentaprism-like hump removed (replaced with an electronic viewfinder in the corner for compactness). The menu system is nearly identical to their most recent camera offerings. Furthering the theme of compactness is a new 28-60mm ƒ4-5.6 kit lens which strives to be a pancake (it collapses with the turn of a ring when the camera is off for portability) but still performs much like its APS-C equivalent, the 16-50mm ƒ3.5-5.6 OSS lens. The grip and ergonomics are still decent should you decide to put one of those large and expensive G-Master telephoto lenses on such a tiny body. But some key features have been removed as compared to the A7 III: the front dial is missing, along with pixel shift and some AUTO modes. And there’s only one physical shutter curtain, which closes after the exposure allowing the sensor to dump its capture in the dark. Earlier cameras had two shutter curtains, allowing you the option of closing the shutter before the exposure to zero out each pixel. That’s why the Electronic First Curtain Shutter



Gary Friedman has been checking out a lightweight full frame option

The Alpha 7C is a similar size and weight to an APS-C camera, weighing only 1% more than the Alpha 6600. It has an upgraded 5-axis in-body stabilisation system, and a simplified shutter with no mechanical front curtain. The NPFZ100 battery allows 740 images when using the LCD monitor (680 images when using the EVF). The rear screen is hinged 176° and articulated at the left hand end, enabling easy viewing for self portraits and video as well as a wider range of ground or ‘held over head’ compositions. The new collapsible kit lens is a 28-60mm ƒ45.6; it does not have OSS or power zoom like the 16-50mm APS-C it resembles. There is no front control wheel – a critical omission.

The A7C costs £1,899 in the UK/€1,999 EU/$1,789 US body only.

feature is missing – there’s no first shutter curtain to suppress. Many of the online reviews criticise the A7C for its “inferior” EVF – the resolution is lower than some higher-end cameras (like the A7R IV), and the magnification of the viewfinder image is less at 0.59x magnification, versus 0.78x magnification for the A7 III. You won’t notice this difference unless you actually compare the two cameras side-by-side. In use, it works perfectly even for critical manual focusing. Sony has grafted their latest AF tracking capabilities that the A7 III lacks to the A7C: subject tracking in video mode is superior to previous camera models, and is invoked by touching the subject on the rear screen. Nice touch! No pun intended. Plus there’s a Bird Eye AF feature that I haven’t had an opportunity to experiment with yet but promises to be a godsend to bird-in-flight photographers. So what was the surprise? Whenever I write my books about specific cameras, I put them through their paces, and perform experiments designed to find the edges of their performance. In one case I asked a simple question: will the 24MP A7C show noticeably more noise at high ISO than the 12 MP A7S III, renown for low noise because of its physically larger pixels? I set up a poorly lit test shot and looked in the shadows, which is where noise is most likely to occur. Guess what? When adjusted for size, the amount of noise looked identical to me. I then did a second, more refined test designed to make the A7S III look better by shooting at ISO 2500, its second “base ISO” (as explained in my blog post here: and again, the differences were so small as to not be very meaningful. So if the noise levels are so similar, that gave me the confidence to attempt this lowlight self-portrait using the A7C rather than the A7S III. This is one of a series of self-portraits I’ve been

The left-hand end SD UHS-II card slot and the 4K external recording HDMI port – important for video. taking with my “quarantine beard”; except this time instead of using studio lighting, the light from my face came from the flame in the faux pipe. ISO 6400, 1/10s, ƒ2.8 using the Tamron 28-75 FE lens, and framed and taken using Sony’s smartphone app. The biggest challenges here was focusing critically, since the smartphone app lost its ability to specify a focus point a few years ago, and in total darkness (when using the AF Assist LED) the camera ignores your spot focusing settings and instead focuses on whatever is closest – in my case the edge of the hat. Had I been behind the camera I would have used a flashlight to illuminate the subject and spot focus for the beard; however since that wasn’t an option I set the camera to manual focus, took several test shots with my phone, shifting a few inches closer and further away from the camera until I achieved the focus I wanted. Sheesh! The gallery of Quarantine Beard self-portraits can be found at


The A7C has 2.4 and 5GHz wifi and can be controlled by smartphone with viewing and focus control – even if not the control of the focus point, meaning this quarantine selfie had to be set to manual focus. The gapless, copper-wired 24MP sensor allows 120fps Full HD video recording and top quality 4K. This is the only camera so far apart from the A7R IV and A7S III to offer digital sound via the shoe connection. In low light, the A7S III is supposed to excel. The comparisons below from the same shot (right) taken at ISO 10,000 then boosted +2 stops in raw processing show the A7S III and A7C at the same effective display or print magnification.

Cameracraft 43

LENS REVIEW Tamron 28-200mm ƒ2.8-5.6 Di III RXD


ack in 1992, Tamron invented the modern superzoom with their first 28-200mm – a surprisingly compact ƒ3.8-5.6 design which later gained closer internal focusing and variations with an ƒ3.5 maximum aperture at the wide end. That 1992 lens was actually designed in 1989 and took three years to develop and bring to market. Thirty years on, Tamron designed a new 28-200mm for mirrorless systems – first rumoured in 2019 – which has already reached the shops. The new lens has a breakthrough ƒ2.8 maximum aperture at 28mm. Electronic displays mean ƒ2.8 is not actually needed for bright viewfinder or screen, and on-sensor AF with phase and contrast detection doesn’t need it either, so the main purpose of ƒ2.8 is the allow a slightly lower ISO in poor light. You might say it also allows better differential focus, but it’s not a big step from ƒ3.5. At the size reproduced here, you’ll hardly see any change (top example, ƒ2.8 and ƒ3.5, both at 28mm, right hand half of a frame). It’s mostly about light and exposure not bokeh. With lenses in the 24-240mm range already established for full frame and APS-C well served by Tamron covering 16-300mm, 18-400mm and more what is the appeal of this 28-200mm? Wouldn’t 24-200mm, or 28-300mm, be preferred? The answers lie in size, weight, cost and performance. Those longer range zooms are usually limited to ƒ6.3 at the long end and tend to be at ƒ4 if you just nudge the setting off the widest angle. The photo on the right shows the Tamron 28-200mm next to the first model in this Di III RXD series – the 28-75mm ƒ2.8. The 28-200mm is on the left. They are almost identical in size, taking the 67mm filters used for this entire range of lenses (to date). The 28-200mm has a double barrel-extension zoom action and the zoom lock.



by David Kilpatrick



4000 pixel wide crop from 200mm ƒ5.6 at I SO 800, with seal detail at 300dpi. Grey seal feeding pup at St Abb’s Head.

They fit neatly in exactly the same camera case compartments. The 28-200mm is all about travel, getting out and about, walking, having on the camera you keep in the car, daily camera use.

You will then ask whether it delivers image quality like the 28-75mm ƒ2.8 over that range. At 28mm, the outer field and corners are softer at ƒ2.8 and a strong purple colour fringe can hit high contrast detail like branches against sky. While stopping down improves the sharpness, it also emphasises the fringe. It’s possible to fix it in Adobe Camera Raw but the 28-75mm does not need this attention. Having said this, the centre field at 28mm wide open has Tamron’s new jewel-like clarity and this quality extends across the entire zoom range – by 40mm there’s no hint of the corner softness, and in the portrait to telephoto 85-200mm zone full aperture sharpness is exemplary corner to corner. You can use this lens at 200mm and ƒ5.6 with confidence that subject detail will be resolved on the highest pixel density sensors. It simply does not need stopping down a half stop the way that older 28-200mm lenses did. As for full aperture, it drops off as you expect when zooming in, but not too badly: 28-31mm ƒ2.8 32-43mm ƒ3.2 44-53mm ƒ3.5 54-78mm ƒ4 79-113mm ƒ4.5 114-146mm ƒ5 147-200mm ƒ5.6 The lens stops down to ƒ32 at 200mm, ƒ16 at 28mm but if you set any aperture between ƒ5.6 and ƒ16 zooming will not change it. This is the range you should stick to for non-TTL studio flash work. The bokeh and out of focus highlights are acceptable, and at 200mm ƒ5.6 will give shallow enough focus for portrait or wedding work. The lens uses a hybrid aspheric element and this does show in the slightly complex focus discs and sun-star (more rays than we can count at 28mm and ƒ9, right). Resistance to flare is excellent and the general contrast and colour rendering a good match to the three Tamron FE

Though the 28-200 has no stabilisation, it’s mostly destined for use with bodies which do. Top left: 1/500s at ƒ2.8, and below it, 1/10s hand-held at ƒ16 and perfectly sharp at 28mm and ISO 50. lenses I’m now using as my Sony A7RIII kit (17-28mm, 28-75mm and 70-180mm all ƒ2.8). The XRD focus motor is swift and silent, but the aperture/AF sequence is typical Sony. If you want rapid AF-S focus and shutter release, shoot wide open; if you need to stop down, use AF-C and disable Setting Effect (exposure preview on in viewfinder). AF is fast but can hunt at 200mm on difficult subjects, and sometimes takes a second to kick in after switching on the camera depending on body model and settings. Silent, First Curtain Electronic and fully mechanical shutter settings did not seem to change apparent depth of field at 28mm and ƒ2.8 – which they do with, for example, an 85mm lens used at ƒ1.8. Overall the 28-200mm DiIII RXD will make any owner happy as an all-round daily use and travel lens added to their Sony full-frame outfit. It costs £699 retail inc VAT.

The very smooth twist zoom action of the 28-200mm allows well controlled brief time zoom effects like this, which can be difficult with uneven or stiff zooming. This shot by window light was zoomed towards the wide end from an initial setting of 129mm during a 3.2s exposure at ISO 50, with a brief dwell before starting the zoom twist. To do this, a zoom with a wide range is needed and 28-200mm is ideal. Left: only slight cat’s eye effect on out of focus highlights at 200mm, visible at the left hand side of this crop from centre to left of a shot at ƒ5.6. Below: 28mm at ƒ9 with sunstar.


Cameracraft 45


GOLDSMITH Taking the rough with the smooth – vintage photo papers and surfaces, and the historic Autotype Carbro process

Tim Goldsmith has spent much of his working life in the photographic industry. From working in a central London studio straight from school, to marketing manager at Paterson and full time camera dealer. He is currently a selfemployed photographic auction consultant. Tim is a long-time member of the Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain (PCCGB) and the Stereoscopic Society and is a trustee of The Disabled Photographers Society. You can reach him at or on Facebook as Monark Cameras




box of Kodak Whole Plate WFL.2D please. And a box each of WSG2.D and 3.D. Oh, and does 10x8 WSG.0S come in packets of 10?” If any of this makes sense to you at all, then either you have some darkroom experience or you are at least as old as I am. I started my working life straight from school in a central London commercial studio back in the very early 1970s and that's how we used to order our photographic paper. Anyone bought up entirely on ink jet or Dye Sublimation printing with a computer might be surprised to learn that back then, to cope with the various contrast negatives you were likely to encounter, Kodak alone offered a choice of 6 grades of paper, from Grade 0 (super soft, for very contrasty negatives), up to Grade 5 (for very high-key contrast and text). Most grades were available in multiple sizes and surface finishes so all these options often resulted in a bit of a stock-taking nightmare. Although the vast majority of prints could be made on Grades 2 or 3, we had to keep a huge range in stock so we could deal with those difficult negatives or special effects. For high quality work I usually printed on White Smooth Glossy Double-weight (WSG.D) paper which, when thoroughly washed, was then put face up through one of three huge Kodak glazing machines to give a high gloss finish. Woe betide you if you set the speed too fast on this type of drying machine for if the print didn't fully dry out it would stick fast to the chrome-plated drum. Very careful cleaning and copious amounts of elbow grease (and Windolene) followed! I used to make a lot of prints which were just text for newspaper or magazine artwork (no computers back then). These were usually printed on Single Weight (S) paper, literally dipped in and out of the wash and then on to a dedicated drier. The multi-stained state of the conveyor cloth on this drum meant it was obvious which one of the three machines this was. For a more 'arty' result I would use Kodak White Fine Lustre (WFL), one of my favourite paper

A selection of Ilford, Kodak and Autotype samples (top two images) and an Autotype Trichrome Carbro kit with Ilford tricolour filters and instructions for making ‘Carbro Contact Carbon Anaglyph Prints and Transparencies’ – early full colour and stereographic processes. From Chiswick Auctions.

surfaces back then. But for most of the history of photography there has been a bewildering choice of paper surfaces available, as I recently found when sorting through a large photographic collection that had been consigned to an auction I help run.

Obviously most large photographic companies produced catalogues which included their paper range but if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more would it be worth if you could provide your customer with a picture printed on an actual sample

of each paper surface? And that is exactly what many companies did, with some of them starting nearly 150 years ago. The earliest samples I have found so far is from The Autotype Company. The Autotype Carbon process enjoyed many successful years (in fact the company is still around today) and the examples from their Colour Chart probably date back to the end of the 19th century (although founded in 1868 the company name was changed to The Autotype Company in 1875)*. In simple terms, the Autotype process allowed you to make non-fading, high quality photographic contact prints using their confusingly named "carbon tissues" (later better known as pigment paper) as the transfer medium. Just about any type of paper (or in fact almost any other smooth surface) that could be chemically coated was usable and the subtly of carbon print Autotypes far outweighed that of any other contemporary process. The Pre-Raphaelites in particular were among Autotype champions as once they had seen the quality of the results they were happy, many for the first time, to have their artworks photographed and printed by the Autotype process. Book illustrations produced using the commercial Autotype printing system led to the wider circulation of many of their famous images. This charming little book of samples shows the impressive range of results that could be achieved, with several having a distinctly Pre-Raphaelite feel. I think many of us would be hard pressed to match the quality of many of these images today, regardless of the process used. Jumping forward to the 1920s and 30s, Ilford produced a high quality "album" of whole-plate prints showcasing their paper surfaces. From the type and style of images featured inside I think this album was aimed squarely at the professional photographer although SELO Gaslight and Enitone papers are briefly mentioned at the back. The Ilford sample books continued in various designs, albeit with several images being re-used over a number of years. One version, obviously marketed at the amateur or enthusiast

Paper finishes shown in samples from the Autotype Colour Chart of Carbon Tissues include Brick Red (154, above left), Turner Sepia (142, below centre) and Red Chalk (106, below right).

photographer, featured a set of individual 2" x 3" prints in a neat presentation wallet. Ilford Multigrade paper was, you may be surprised to learn, first launched back in the 1940s and ran alongside their graded papers for many years, reaching its height of popularity when the new fibre-base FB version was introduced in the 1980s. Now under Harman Technology (and separate from ILFORD Imaging Europe who market Galerie

papers) Ilford Multigrade paper is still available today in a number of different surfaces. Today you can still buy from Ilford a swatch book containing a print made on each of their darkroom paper products – see Obviously Kodak were major players in the paper market and at one time the sample books of their range must have been kept by every photographic shop and professional photographic studio as well as by their scientific

customers. From the few examples I have found so far, Kodak ‘spiral bound’ collections seem to feature more ‘pretty girl’ and general family shots alongside some of the more common industrial images and commercial portrait photographs of the time. This kind of photographic ephemera is getting very difficult to find today, probably due to the fact that most of it was designed for use by the trade, to show their customers the available options, and was not expected to be long-lasting. As with most areas of collecting, rare does not always equate to valuable, but items such as these sample books are still worth hunting out if only as examples of the changing photographic (and advertising) styles throughout much of the history of photography. Á

*Celebration of Innovation: A History of Autotype 18682005. Company publication by Today’s equivalent – inkjet paper sample books from Fotospeed and Canson. Autotype International Ltd.

Cameracraft 47


GRAY A challenge to open the new year – drop down 20 years in gear and see where it takes you

must admit from the very outset of my photographic journey forty years ago – when I purchased my very first camera, a lowly Ricoh KR5 with a simple 50mm ƒ2 lens – my collection of cameras and lenses has weathered many storms, changed brands for no apparent reason, filled huge rolling cases to bursting… barely able to lift! Now I’m right up to date with a complete outfit in one simple backpack, albeit not something you would want to carry all day. What makes you choose camera Brand F over Brand C or for that matter Brand N in lieu of Brand S? Is every photographer seeking the ultimate tool to create that one special image or are they following the volatile market like a lemming about to plunge over the cliff spilling another few thousand pounds on the very best “must have lens”? What really do you need in a camera – or what is the best camera you can have?

Having spent my hard saved money on that first simple manual-everything set up, I began to look for the next add-on or lens or whatever would fill that gaping space in my camera bag, always just another lens. Oh, that famous photographer has two cameras! That must mean it's better! So along came the second body scenario, something I still follow to this day. Do I need two cameras or do I just have to find another excuse to do damage to my neck and shoulders in the pursuit of the next image? Maybe if I used three I would not need to have that extra lens to swap out tucked in that specially purchased camera belt system… A camera is only a tool. I have passed this nugget of knowledge to too many people that have sought my advice “what camera should I buy?”. After the normal responses of “what’s your budget?” and “what do you wish to take photographs

Do you really need all the above (some of my working kit!) when what you want to create is below? A vintage SLR and film can do this – and so can the iPhone X which I used.

With a thirty-five year history in photography, from a schoolboy freelance for local newspapers all the way to covering international sports for media and picture agencies. His photographic areas of expertise focus on news, sports and events.



of?” you find they have little knowledge other than what they have seen on news bulletins with the press pack, or in movies that show hordes of photographers with thousands of pounds of gear and huge lenses all clambering for one image. Does the camera matter? Honestly NO. A few years ago an old friend handed my a Kodak Retinette 1A 35mm film camera, the Prontorshutter version from 1960. Yes, it’s older than me… There was a challenge, take one roll of film, and only that camera, and go out and make some images. To say they were surprised when I returned a week later with a complete set of properly exposed and focused prints was an understatement. So what do we need in 2020, the latest iPhone or smartphone (other brands are available) or if you believe the blurb a “professional spec” camera? Will a sixty-year-old vintage classic do the same? What about that latest offering from the ultimate in imaging technology, yours sir for only £7,000 – without a lens, remember… Why not take a challenge, find that old film camera on the shelf or that ancient original DSLR, it’s only a 2.74 megapixel sensor and captures 5 frames per second for up to 40 frames. I can bet it will surprise you. The best camera you can have is the one that’s in your hand at the moment in time you need to make that image. If it’s a smartphone or an action camera so be it. Try not to get bogged down with all that gear that you must have – it will hinder you in more ways than just hurting your neck and the bank balance. Take your latest £3,000 camera and lens combo, and remember it is only a box that is used to store a sensitised media (digital or analogue) and a lens that will focus an image upside down on that format. It still will follow the exposure triangle that you learned all those years ago as a teenager. It's not about the camera, it's about the photographer that can see the image and create something to share.. Á

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Cameracraft 49

Cmercrƒt Publisher & Editor: DAVID KILPATRICK Icon Publications Limited Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane Kelso, Scottish Borders TD5 7BB +44(0)1573 226032 FACEBOOK PAGE: @CameracraftF2 Assistant Editor DIANE E. REDPATH +44(0)1573 223508 Associate Editor RICHARD KILPATRICK Mobile +44(0)7979 691965 Associate Editor, USA GARY FRIEDMAN

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Cmercrƒt REARVIEW

We’ll start 2021 – or close 2020 – with four pictures from the image of the month competition of the Guild of Photographers. The Guild’s support has kept the magazine going through a difficult year, but far more that – their team has created an on-line community with live meetings and almost daily inspiration and vital information. These are all pictures of a kind which could be in your viewfinder before the days grow longer and distances grow shorter once again. Here’s deliberate camera movement in Venice from Cliff Spooner of Hereford’s Clifftop Photography. Below, a striking multi-shot articulation of a chicken skeleton by Victoria Balls of Victoria Jane Photography, Norfolk. Top right, a chilly outdoor portrait by Aaron Llewellin of Admiral Photography, Bristol. Bottom right, by wildlife and pet specialist Laura Galbraith of Laura Galbraith Photography, Burwell, Cambridgeshire.

Cameracraft 51

Photo Noriyuki Watabe: 70-180mm | 180mm | F / 2.8 | 1/ 2000 | ISO 800

We‘ve got you covered

Tamron Sony E-mount lenses are specifically designed

ability to shoot close-ups, especially with a shallow

to maximize the potential of your Sony full-frame

depth of field. All lenses in this series also feature a

mirrorless camera. Their extreme portability and light

moisture-resistant construction and have the same

weight design enhances the limitless versatility of each

filter diameter of 67mm. Who says great things can’t

lens. Another key feature of these lenses is the amazing

come in small packages?


52 Transcontinenta ameracraftUK Ltd. | Distributor for Tamron UK and Ireland | |

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