Website news, blogging, breakthrough photography and stuff

Hey,

Running this site has been a bit of an experimental process for me. Writing reviews has taught me that it requires a lot more effort than I realised, and as much as I’ve discovered what I want to do, I’ve also discovered what I don’t want to do.

I had a lot of fun adventures and experiences in Canada last year but I never really wrote much about them. I don’t want to make the same mistake again. Unfortunately, I kind of turned this site into more about reviewing equipment rather than actual blogging. That’s what happens when you don’t have a clear plan, I guess. At the time of making it, it was to write a bit about the Pacific Crest Trail in America. I wish I recorded audio notes while travelling in Canada or had a laptop with me and wrote a little each night (I should have done that), and then left my laptop at hotels / friends, when hiking. I’m quite good at writing stories and whatnot, so I think I’d be okay at it. I am terrible when it comes to writing reviews though, haha. I guess reviews are structured differently and I’ve had education regarding writing stories but not when it comes to writing reviews.

I’m currently working on a business website, for interior photography. I’ve learned it’s something that comes to me way more naturally than other types of photography. For now, my goal is to complete that website and create a portfolio for interior photography only.

When I’ve done that, I’d like to change the direction of this website a bit. I will start to write actual blog posts when I travel but I’ll keep on writing reviews. I’ve gradually been improving their quality but they need to improve a lot more also.

Lastly, unrelated but a while back I bought a Breakthrough Photography 6 Stop 52mm X4 ND filter. I was really impressed with it. I have recently ordered a Breakthrough Photography X4 82mm CPL filter. I’ll let you all know what I think of it :).

Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master lens vs Zeiss for landscape photography

The Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master lens was announced today. I saw some reviews of it and it looks like a fabulous lens. I’d still love to see a Sony 100mm f/2.8 G master macro lens because I’m not hugely fond of 90mm macro due to its clutch design and lack of sealing.

I don’t currently have anything longer than 70mm in my kit, but I used to own a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L lens. 135mm has always been a focal length I liked. I think I prefer it to 85mm; don’t ask me why, there’s just something about it that I like.

Most lenses I buy now, I buy with weight in mind. That doesn’t necessarily mean weight is the deciding factor, for example I don’t have to take a specific lens on a long hike with me. As I currently lack anything longer than 70mm, it would certainly be nice to have a lightweight lens in a longer focal length for hiking.

My heaviest combination so far with Sony has been the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens and the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens. Those were manageable for me, hiking around 20 miles a day. I think I could throw in a voigtlander 15mm but anymore than that will be a nightmare to deal with. I’m looking to lighten my load if anything, so here’s some potential combinations I’ve thought up…

My Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 & Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G master lens combination is slightly inadequate for me as I find myself wanting a wider lens occasionally. I believe that I could really benefit with the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G master lens. The problem here is that I don’t anything like a Sony 135mm f/1.8 G master lens to fill in the longer length either.

At the moment I cannot afford any of this stuff, except potentially the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 FE Super Wide Heliar lens. So if I do go for a long hike this summer, I’ll probably buy that. Looking into the future though, I’m perhaps more tempted by the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 than I am the Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master lens. What about you? That wider aperture would be really nice for evening shots too, but that applies to the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 batis lens as well.

Sony 12-24 f/4 G lens review next steps

The Sony 12-24 f/4 G lens is proving difficult to review at the moment but I haven’t forgotten about it. I have another site I’m working on for work and I need to put my time into that.

I will be photographing some AirBnBs in the near future though and should be able to use those photographs for my review. I think it’s a subject better suited for the review as I believe the Sony 12-24 f/4 G lens is inferior to the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G master lens for landscapes, but it’s better for interior photography.

Manfrotto 405/410 Junior Gear Head, Benro and Arca Swiss Geared Heads

For interior photography, a ball head is slightly restricting and not the best, so I would like a geared head for my tripod. There’s a lot of reviews and information about ballheads, heads with quick release grips, etc. but there’s not half as much information regarding the best geared heads. For those unfamiliar, a geared tripod head is a tripod head with–as the name would suggest–gears in it. Initially the knobs will look like grips to adjust tension, but if correctly advertised, twisting the knobs will adjust the tilt of the tripod head. Each axis will have a different knob.

The current models I’ve been looking at are listed below:

Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head

The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head has a paradoxical name, it’s called “junior” which informs you that it’s the lesser performing model, but its model number is greater than 405. Being pedantic, I feel it should be called the 400 :).

The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head is the geared head I am most interested in for my tripod at the moment. It’s not as heavy as the 405, and it shares the same quirk as all of these tripod heads–there’s not much room to switch to portrait mode. With the arca swiss heads, you can get an L bracket to circumvent the portrait issue but with a proprietary plate, you’ll find it less easy. I’m told that you can get around this by turning the tripod plate round and it’s very rare it will ever be an issue–especially on stable ground like in a house.

I know people who have this model and are satisfied with it, which is reassuring. It doesn’t support the same weight as its bigger brother but I’ll be using it with a Sony a7rII and a Sony 12-24mm f/4 G lens–it’s a lightweight setup.

From what I’ve read, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it.

Weight: 1.22 kg
Payload: 5.0 kg

Manfrotto 405 Geared Head

The Manfrotto 405 Geared Head is heavier than the 410. I don’t really care but for landscape photography, the 410 is probably better in that regard. It’s more expensive, and the main benefit for interior photographers is that the gears are slightly finer.

I don’t think the added price is worth it for me and I may end up using a geared head for landscape use, so the weight difference–although not a benefit currently–might matter.

If you’ve got a lot of heavy equipment, you might want to consider that also.

Weight: 1.6 kg
Payload: 7.5 kg

Benro 3-Way Geared Head (GD3WH)

The Benro 3-Way Geared Head (GD3WH) looks to be a great value for money head, and it’s both more expensive and cheaper than the other options depending on where you shop or if you want to convert the others to an Arca Swiss compatible head. The Benro 3-Way Geared Head (GD3WH) looks like it has fine gears (judging from reviews) and it’s quite a lightweight head. I am tempted to get one of these but there doesn’t seem to be too much information about it.

Weight: 0.91 kg
Payload: 6.0 kg 

Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head & Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head

Both the Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head & the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head are horrendously expensive but they seem to be the best gear heads available. If budget was no concern, I’d get the Arca-Swiss D4 Geared Head. When I initially saw it, I thought that the price was a mistake.

Everyone says the Arca-Swiss Geared Heads are well made pieces of equipment and as much as I think they’re great, I think it’s a bit silly the gears are exposed to dirt with the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head.

The Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head is better in this regard, and it’s a bit cheaper too but it’s still way overpriced in my opinion. I completely understand that it’s of higher quality than the competition, but the amount of aluminium and the machining costs are not enough to justify the prices of these two items.

For landscape photography, I think the Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head would be the best of the bunch.

Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head
Weight: 925 g
Payload: 25.0 kg 
Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head
Weight: 800g
Payload: 25.0 kg

Leofoto G4 Geared Head & Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO

Both the Leofoto G4 Geared Head and the Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO look like great gearheads. They’re priced more similarly to the Manfrotto 405 Geared Head. I am finding it difficult to find useful reviews on these two models, and it’s quite difficult finding a place to buy them.

From what I’ve observed on YouTube, their gears are quite fine. They perhaps don’t support heavier setups but again, I will only be using it with a Sony a7rII and a 12-24mm f/4 G lens.

The benefit with the Leofoto G4 Geared Head and the Sunwayfoto Geared Head GH-PRO is that they’re both quite small and don’t take up much space in a camera bag.

KPS T5 Geared Ballhead

The KPS T5 Geared Ballhead is very sleak, and has precise, fine gears from what I’ve read. It’s a bit like the Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head only somewhat cheaper.

It is almost impossible to buy in the UK and out of budget anyway.

Snapchat notifications — remove user typing message Garmin Fenix 5x

For a while now I’ve been perplexed how to keep notifications with Snapchat but remove the secondary “user is typing” notification. It’s especially annoying with the Garmin Fenix 5x smartwatch because it bleeps or vibrates twice depending on what options you have set.

The option is pretty simple to change. In “general notifications” turn off the two sliders. I’m not sure if this will have an effect on other smart watches, but it’s definitely been a problem with the Garmin Fenix 5x.

Apologies to mobile users

I’m currently trying to make quite a few changes for mobile users. At the moment the front page especially looks quite messy.

When it’s complete, the menu items will be a lot easier to access on mobile and the typography will look a bit better. This isn’t the only website I work on, but hopefully I can complete it soon.