Sony GM lenses, Godox & Profoto lighting updates, etc.

Following my recent post, I feel I should  write a bit of an update :). I have a lot planned, and as I’ve expressed before, I’d like to work in Canada. The easiest way to do that is to run a business for a few years.

I’ve been asking myself a bunch of questions, and comparing gear. At the moment, here’s some of my thoughts?

  • What types of photography do I want to do?
    • I’m better at things not involving people quite so much and my brain is more technically minded. I believe I can get quite good at interior photography and perhaps product photography if I put the effort in. I’d also like to be able to do pet photography which falls into the category of portraits. Weddings are attractive due to income but it is not something I’d want to start with. I’d also like to do some macro, which product photography can fall into. This would help increase the quality of my website, exponentially (for example, if I were to write a review of the Garmin Fenix 5X watch, it’d make sense to have a decent photograph of it).
  • What lighting will I need for the photography I want to do?
    • I’ve looked at interior photographs I like, for real estate, and they all use numerous flashes. I believe I will need about five speedlights for this. For pet photography, about two higher powered strobes, probably no more than 250 watts. For product and macro, even more than that. I believe a bunch of speedlights and one high quality strobe is enough to start with.
    • In an ideal world, I’d probably have a Broncolor Siros 400, Profoto B10 and a bunch of Godox speedlights. Unfortunately, none of that is going to communicate with each other.
  • What lighting modifiers will I need for the photography I want to do?
    • Some CTO gels
    • A 75mm octabox with grid. Preferably the Elinchrom 75mm deep octabox, but… It doesn’t let you put on grids.
  • What lenses or rather what focal lengths and apertures will I need for the photography I want to do?
    • 12-24mm zoom or 12mm and 15mm primes (I already have other wide angle focal lengths covered), 100mm macro, perhaps a wide aperture portrait (85mm f/1.4) and a 70-200mm later on (this is not a priority, unless I don’t bother with a dedicate portrait lens and I just get a 12-24mm zoom and a 70-200mm zoom).
  • How does Godox compare to Profoto and does Godox offer a flash as small and colour accurate as the Profoto B10?
    • In my opinion, the Godox AD600 Pro is superior to anything Profoto offers in its class but unfortunately, the Godox AD200 is not likely to be as good as the Profoto B10, due to colour accuracy and ease of use with modifiers, and light stands. If Godox were to release a Godox AD20o Pro or a Godox AD300 Pro, I think I’d be all in. Their speedlights are incredible for the money. I want something like the Godox AD200 with more colour accuracy, and the Godox AD400 Pro is simply a bit too big for some stuff I want to do. Profoto is potentially on to a winner with the Profoto B10, but they don’t have any speedlights that’re worth considering. Therefore, Godox potentially has a better ecosystem for what I want to do, but perhaps I should mix and match somehow.
  • Does Godox offer a flash comparable with the Profoto B1X?
    • The Godox AD400 Pro is comparable; it is cheaper and has a higher quality light output, etc.
  • Does Broncolor offer flashes comparable to Profoto, Godox or Profoto?
    • Their Siros lights are comparable but heavy on a light stand, and they don’t really do a Profoto B10 or Godox AD200 equivalent. The Broncolor Move is superior to anything Profoto offers and their Siros lights are superior in terms of colour quality.
  • Can the Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master lens do macro with a Harumi filter?
    • I believe the Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master lens can do macro with a filter but I’m not sure how good it is. If it’s really good, then this lens with a Sony 12-24mm FE lens might be all I need to start with.
  • Will the Voigtlander 110mm FE be suitable for portraiture?
    • I think this will be too slow to focus with, for certain types of pet photography, and its aperture might not be ideal for the more artistic shots. However, I can see it’d be really, really good for some portraiture. Therefore, I’m a bit on the fence and I’d quite like to own both, haha. I’m not sure which I’d buy first…
  • Will a Wacom Cintiq be necessary and what are its downfalls?
    • I think the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium will be enough, however, when I live in Canada, a tablet with a screen is more useful because I can plug it into a lightweight computer and not need to buy a secondary monitor. It’s also nice to edit what’s on a screen. Unfortunately, when you press the pen onto the screen, it’s like putting your finger on a typical LCD. The smaller models aren’t as good in terms of colour accuracy either.
  • What will I do if something fails?
    • If I buy Godox, I can afford to buy secondary equipment. If I buy Profoto, it’s pushing it.
  • What are my plans for my website?
    • I’d like to pay an artist to make a bunch of icons, so I have about six icons mobile users tap. I’ll make everything minimalist. I’m not sure if this means I will develop a whole new theme for this site or make a secondary site and polish this one.
  • What’s currently wrong with it?
    • The reviews are poorly written, I’ve rushed them and I haven’t put enough effort into the photographs I took of the equipment (it’s a bore setting up equipment to take review photographs, but I will get around to that one day).
  • Why are my photographs bad?
    • My composition could be better but I think primarily they lack decent lighting, editing, and the idea behind them could be a lot better.
  • What photographs are better and why?
    • While in Canada, I took plenty of snapshots of where I went to document my trip in a way–they weren’t very good. When I sat around for a while and took more effort into my shots, it definitely showed. So I think a lot of it comes down to effort and being deliberate. Either I want to travel somewhere for fun and rush to take a pic, or I want to go somewhere with their sole purpose of taking a photograph.
  • What am I likely to buy?
    • Godox AD400 Pro, a bunch of Godox speedlights an an AD200. The Profoto B10 is far more tempting than their other lights, so I don’t know. For lenses, the Sony 12-24mm f/4 FE lens and probably the Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master lens. I’m really tempted by the macro too. Lastly, a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. I can’t justify buying everything at once, nor can I afford to do so. With that in mind, I’m a bit confused. This isn’t all down to cost, either. Regardless of cost, some of the Godox equipment is genuinely better than Profoto but also, I suspect the Profoto B10 is superior to some of the Godox stuff. It’s really hard to decide.

The list is pretty endless, and that’s why it’s taking me a long, long time to buy equipment and whatnot.

If these were lenses, you’d see people dissembling them (like lensrental) and doing all kinds of objective testing. With lights, we’re told by some guy to believe it’s a better light, with better build quality and no real evidence to back it up.

 

 

Profoto B10 and Godox AD400 Pro potential review

Profoto have just announced a new product, the Profoto B10. I have been reading through various comments about Profoto and it’s interesting. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again so I don’t get a “you’re a crappy photographer and don’t know what you’re talking about!” email of abuse. I’m not a good photographer, but I know a bit about making things and I’m fairly good at critical thinking.

The Profoto B10 build quality

Build quality is an interesting concept and it’s often brought up into a discussion when Profoto is mentioned. What do you think of when we say “build quality”? I often find poorly machined products made of metal are are touted as having good “build quality” simply because they feel tough/cold in the hands.

The profoto is plastic/polycarbonate. I bought a Profoto B1 and the Profoto Sony transmitter; I wouldn’t say either are built like a tank.

Here’s some things I noticed… The early version of the B1 was a wash with flash tube problems, many people had received a B1 with a flash tube that had fallen out. The B1 I received didn’t exactly impress me from a build quality perspective.

The transmitter, even less so. Take a look at the top photograph, you can see how the plastic shell doesn’t even cover the terminals properly so if water got into the battery door, it goes straight into all of the circuity. In fact, anything could go down there. It’s just lousy. The battery compartment door was also, incredibly lousy. The door itself is incredibly thin plastic and it just screams cheap crap to me. I know why it’s this way, because it’s far easier to make and assemble.

It’s just a battery compartment door, and you might think why should I be worked up over this? Well, it’s quite simple really. This is a very, very high priced item and it should be made better. For the same price, you can get a far more complicated and rugged transmitter. It uses similar technology too. Obviously you’re not going to control your camera with that, but it gives you a rough idea as to how much you’re being ripped off if you buy this thing.

Let’s take a look at their other products:

  • Profoto Easy Stand — An easy to machine stand, made with cheap materials having a price tag of £2,835
  • Profoto ProDaylight 800 Extension Cable 5m – A £10 cable being sold for £395
  • Profoto WideZoom Reflector — £30 of materials being sold for £385
  • Profoto Off Camera Flash Grid Kit — £4 worth of materials, you can have it for £72

Still not convinced?

  • Profoto OCF Barndoor — This is very, very simple to machine. It’s just a bit of sheet metal for the most part. Its weight is advertised as “300 grams”, so you know there’s not much substance to it. £72

The marvellous Profoto B10

If the marvellous Profoto B10 works better than everything else, and it does the job you intended, who cares if the manufacturers kept costs down, right? Well, here’s the problem with that too.

The Profoto B2 doesn’t colour match with the Profoto B1X. Yeah it’s similar, but it’s not the “I paid loads of money for my colour critical work!!” I imagined it to be.

In the end, I’m left thinking… Hmm. Serious photographers should probably buy Broncolor as they’re more colour accurate and freeze water better. The average photographer is probably best with Godox.

Profoto B1 and Profoto B10 vs Godox AD400 Pro

One interesting comment I read a lot is that people should buy Profoto because they offer better light than the competition. I guess if you pay £9,000+ for a complete system of lights, you’ll want to believe that, right?

From what I’ve observed, the Godox AD400 Pro is actually more colour accurate than the Profoto B1 and it’s certainly more colour accurate than the B2. It’s also advertised as less powerful than the Profoto B1 but I’ve been told it is more powerful.

If there was a Godox AD200 Pro, I would be seriously interested in that. The Godox AD400 Pro is considerably larger and heavier than the Profoto B10. I feel the Godox AD200 is probably not as good as the Profoto B10 but I think the Godox AD400 Pro is a better flash than the Profoto B1.

My conclusion with the Profoto B10

Ignoring the fact that the A1 is a complete rip off, the B1x probably isn’t any better than the Godox AD400 Pro, and the Pro-10 is a rip off also, I think the Profoto B10 is a good looking piece of kit. On pape, the Profoto B10 specs are impressive and if it can be more colour accurate than a Godox AD200, I think it wins this round potentially. It’s a good size, shape and you can get third party modifiers.

When I think of building a complete system, I have to consider the other lights though and the Profoto A1’s are ridiculous to say the least. I’d be happy owning one B1X but at the price point, it’s a hard pill to swallow. After the guarantee period is up, the repairs are so expensive you’re cheaper to buy another Godox light anyway.

I really like the form factor of the Profoto B10 and I’m severely put off by chinese customer service, so in that way it tempts me. If it colour matches with the B1X, then I’d simply skip buying a Profoto B2.

I think I will end up buying a Godox AD200, Godox AD400 Pro and a Godox round head. I will then review these after I’ve bought them.

Flash misfires

The Godox has a different setting for close proximity. If you’ve had troubles even when you’ve used this setting, please let me know in the comments below 🙂

Canon full frame mirrorless EOS R shutter mechanism

I’ve been reading photography forums too much the last few days, trying to decide what lenses/lighting to buy. They are a wash with information/discussions about the Nikon Z 7 and the Canon EOS R, full frame mirrorless cameras.

A few features have been discussed, like the larger mount of the Nikon Z 7. Unfortunately with the internet, if enough people say something is true, then for some reason everyone thinks it’s true. Very early on, people argued the Sony e-mount was too small. To this day, I haven’t seen evidence this is true.

The Canon EOS R shutter mechanism

Another argument that caught my attention was about cleaning sensors and how the Canon EOS R will close its shutter when you change lens. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but if dust hits the shutter and it gets jammed in the mechanism, that’s going to be expensive to replace.

Touch wood, I haven’t needed to clean the sensor (actually, you’re cleaning toughened Schott glass cemented to the sensor). Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the wind is coming from, so I lick my finger and hold it up (this is a trick I learned when flying radio controlled planes/helicopters). Yeah it looks weird for a second, but that’s the direction the dust/rain is going to come from. I then turn my back to said direction, and switch the lens. To switch the lens, I unscrew the cap on the top of the lens I’ll be using but I leave the cap on it. Then when I dismount the lens on the camera, I can quickly switch caps and lenses, without having to be unscrewing things. It might seem like a minute point but it has worked for me, so far.

I don’t care much for the “Nikon is better than Sony!” or “Sony’s an electronics company, not a camera company!” arguments. These companies get our money, we shouldn’t have to support them with verbal loyalty. They should be the ones trying to be loyal to us :). That said, I don’t whole-heartedly support Canon’s choice yet. It might work, it might be more prone to failure. What I’d prefer to see is perhaps a second shutter-like mechanism cover the sensor.

Photography equipment and flash reliability

I’m considering doing portraits either of people or pets, and perhaps some interior shots. Ideally I’d like a sony 16-35 f/2.8 g master lens, broncolor move, 105mm voigtlander macro, sony 85mm f/1.4 g master lens and a 70-200mm f/2.8 g master lens, haha. However, I cannot afford all of that :’).

I’m not really sure if I should start by buying a 15mm voigtlander lens and then perhaps get an 85mm or think about the lighting more. My longest lens, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8, isn’t quite long enough for some shots I’d like to take.

 

This shot for example would have looked a bit better if it was slightly wider. I’m sure a better photographer would have worked around the problem but I wanted to include the flowers and the little house.

 

Something else that’s caught my attention is the various lights available… Profoto B1x, Broncolor Siros 400 L and the Godox AD600Pro. I own some Godox lights and I think they’re severely underrated. I also think that the Profoto A1 is EXTREMELY overpriced for a speedlight, and this makes me question whether their other products are also a rip off. I’ve temporarily owned the Profoto B1 and it felt quite plasticy to me. To me it seems like the Godox AD600Pro probably does what I want at a much lesser cost.

So I could be looking at the Sony 85mm f/1.8 FE lens, Godox AD600Pro, and the Voigtlander 15mm FE lens too. In an ideal world, a 100mm f/2 G master macro lens would exist. That would be good for portraits and macro use. Lastly, the Rotolight AEOS LED Light might be worth considering too. They are around the same price as the Godox AD600Pro. My concern with the latter two is they are perhaps not as reliable as Profoto or Broncolor. I’d really like to see Broncolor come out with something to compete with the Profoto B2.

Aperture: ƒ/16
Camera: ILCE-7RM2
Taken: 2018/06/24
Focal length: 21mm
ISO: 320
Shutter speed: 1/125s

Nikon Z 7 and why it’s has failed already

I think the Nikon Z 7 has failed before it’s been released. A while ago, I wrote a page about the Sony mirrorless system, the article primarily focused on defending Sony against people who blindly hate the company. I didn’t write it to engage in internet drama, but I know there’s a lot of people who read the internet, listen to the negative comments and get put off from buying a product. I am not a Sony “fanboy” as they get called. I have no loyalty to a particular brand. I’ve spent my money, they already have enough from me.

Please note that these are my thoughts so far. It hasn’t been released yet so I can’t know for certain if my opinions are based on accurate information. I can only go by what I’ve seen in pre-release videos and whatnot.

The Nikon Z 7 is quite a failure

I’m not a great photographer but I understand a lot about technology, and on a technical level, the Nikon Z 7 is a bit of a failure. Despite owning a Sony camera and being invested in the system, I still wanted it to succeed. Why? Competition is always good. It helps companies innovate and also decrease their costs.

One Card Slot

My Sony a7rII has one card slot. It received a lot of negative points in reviews for this. I doubt the Nikon Z 7 is going to get hammered in the same way for it, but I think Nikon should be criticised more. Why? When Sony made their cameras, there was nothing really like it to compare to. Nikon have seen the failures Sony made (of which there’s quite a few e.g. RAW file problems, etc.) and should have learned. Additionally, the Sony a7rIII is in a similar prize bracket to the Nikon Z 7 and it’s going to get compared to it. People making a purchasing decision, people who were perhaps on the fence between Sony and Nikon, might just think hmm “this has more features”.

It’s not a particularly well used card type at that–XQD.

Lack of lenses

Again, I got into a few discussions with this. People said there’d be a hybrid Nikon camera others argued “There’s also a very easy way for Nikon to provide an EVF without changing the viewfinder at all.” The reason this is illogical is because of the way DSLRs are designed. They have a secondary autofocus sensor, separate to the image sensor. When the mirror is up, light doesn’t hit this secondary autofocus sensor; therefore, it’s as good as inactive. If you design a hybrid camera, you have to think about ways in which the light can hit the sensor. Sony tried it with a translucent mirror, but in my opinion it was a failure. Additionally, if you start adding mirrorless into a DSLR body, the camera has to have a sensor far back into the body. You also need to have servos with specific servo designs and it’s all a bit of a mess.

I’m keeping this a bit bland because I’ve already discussed it at the link above and this isn’t the issue here. Nikon did right to pick a new mount for their mirrorless cameras. It allows them to design different lenses compared to a DSLR lens (lens element groups don’t have to be added to extend the back focal length unnecessarily for the non-existent mirror).

They’ve failed in terms of their lens line up. They must have known what the sensor to lens mount distance would be, ages ago. They didn’t have to wait for their camera to be manufactured. They could design lenses in the lab with a sensor mounted to a board, pretty much. I’m being a bit facetious but what they have here is similar to what Sony came out with, with the Sony a7. You may think I’m holding them to a different standard to Sony, and I am. Sony didn’t have competition in the mirrorless market. Nikon has it, they had to do better.

The focus system

It’s like the liveview in their DSLR. Lacklustre, not nearly as good as the Sony. I’m sorry I keep quoting Sony, but aside from Leica, there’s not really any full-frame cameras to speak of in the mirrorless market.

The PASM dial

I like where they’re going with the OLED screen. I would like one on my Sony a7rII and I’d certainly like to see one on the Sony a7rIIII. My issue is that the PASM dial is ridiculous. If you’ve got an OLED screen, there’s no reason you can’t make your dials do more than one thing. For example, you move your dial and it selects from “M” to “A”, and this is shown on the screen. Then imagine you press a button, and now the screen shows ISO instead and when you move the dial, it changes the ISO.

Having a marked PASM dial, with a lock nonetheless, limits it somewhat. Perhaps the lock acts more like a switch, where you press it the once and it locks, press it again and it unlocks. Perhaps the PASM dial can be configured to control different things. I guess we’ll see :).

Up to 9 fps shooting

It’s a minor point, and I don’t need anything that shoots this fast. I doubt the average person does either, but if the competition is offering 10FPS and 20FPS options, Nikon probably should too.

The lens mount is ridiculous

People argued the Sony lens mount is too small for a full-frame sensor. When you look at where the light comes from and whatnot, this is complete nonsensense. The Nikon mount on the other hand, it’s gigantic. It seems unnecessarily large, unless the sensor is moving ten meters left and right because of image stabilisation? On the full frame camera, I admit it’s not quite as terrible. What about if they use the same mount for a potential crop camera though? That’s going to be ridiculous.

It’s as if they thought, “hmm, Sony received a lot of criticism from people with absolutely no knowledge regarding physics, optics or lens design. Let’s go against what we know and just make the biggest lens mount possible!”

They’ve succeeded in a lot of areas

The screen on the back looks well designed. The cameras ergonomics look good, as does the menu systems, the OLED, the button layout, the sensor performance, etc.

Wacom Cintiq Pro, Wacom Mobile Studio, Mini ITX and Intel Hades NUC

I’ve been taking a brief look at what computer equipment is currently available on the market. It’s easy to lose touch of what’s a good buy as technology improves at a rapid pace and prices change equally as fast. For example, I bought my workstation computer a few months back and it’s already out of date, haha.

If my work permit problem is dealt with and I get to work in Canada as I’d like, it’s not viable for me to take a large computer with me (especially on a plane). I originally started looking at the obvious things, such as the Dell XPS and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and also the Microsoft Surface Book but they’re all quite expensive.

I’d really like a pen

Most of the editing on my photographs is quite bad and it’s something I’ve been working on lately–a more subtle look. I’d like to develop my own style too but that’s a long way off. For this, I can imagine myself using a pen quite a lot… I miss having a pen.

Needless to say, for a 16GB Laptop, you’ll quite easily pay around the £1,500 mark plus an additional amount if you buy a pen. This could be the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. That’s quite a lot of money–money I don’t have right now.

So I got thinking about computers similar in size to a playstation. They’d fit in a suitcase quite easily, but obviously I’d need a screen. The current generation of Wacom Cintiq screen is actually really, really good. It captures about 94% Adobe RGB if you get the larger model, with 100% SRGB and it has etched glass that’s supposedly meant to be fun to write on and not get scratched too easily. The smaller model is not as colour accurate; however, the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13″ is as colour accurate as the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13″. It’s a bit confusing, and I would have liked to see a Wacom Cintiq Pro 13″ with a screen as good as the 16″ model, simple because it’s more affordable.

 

In summation, for less than what a laptop costs, I could buy something like an Intel Hades NUC and a Wacom Cintiq 13 FHD Pro for less than a Laptop and a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. The advantage is that I’d be able to write directly on the screen, and the screen is probably better than a stereotypical laptop (with the exception of some of the Dell Laptops). The performance would be better too. You can also make machines based around the Mini ITX form factor, not to mention Slim Mini ITX.

The Intel Hades NUC is rather expensive as barebones PCs go, and you don’t necessarily have to get that model. I certainly think it’s something to consider if you’re not planning to take your laptop anywhere other than from a home location to new accommodation.

Another advantage with this method is I could sell all of my desktop equipment, excluding the peripherals, and then use this as my regular machine. I believe it’s certainly powerful enough. This would help off set the cost a bit. Unfortunately, as I’m not sure what’s happening with Canada, I may have to save up, study a bit and then study in Canada at a later date.

I felt like writing about this though because perhaps you’re in a similar predicament and it might help you :).