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 :).

Flight booked and some other stuff

Hey,

My flight has been booked to Canada. Certain parts of the GDT aren’t open yet (in Waterton) and may not be this summer, which is just my luck (I’m good like that) but I’m hoping I can navigate around the obstacles.

I feel like the list of items I’ve had to buy has been neverending. I saved some money with ravpower np-fw50 batteries (they’re much cheaper than Sony’s own) and I saved a few quid with a headnet, too (mine was only about £3 from China, haha.)

I realised that I had focused too much on equipment lately when I began booking camp sites. A few were taken, so I’ve had to pick other sites. This has promoted me into making a “mistakes I made with the GDT page.” I will add to it as I go along. Rather than wait until I’ve completed the GDT and add everything, I’ve posted it now and I’ll add each thing bit by bit so it’s fresh fresh in my memory.

 

Lightroom, Capture One, White balance and the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV

The Sony a7rII received a small amount of criticism from some for not having a built in flash, and it was only a small amount of criticism but it’s reassuring to see the Sony a7rIII lacks a built in flash. Regardless of the brand, occasionally, you’ll read the odd forum post requesting such a silly feature. The general argument pro this idea is that if it’s not used, it does no harm and you’ll occasionally forget to bring a light. My argument remains the same… Built in flashes introduce an extra point of entry for water i.e. the flash has to pop up somewhere and water can get in said “somewhere.” Additionally, you need a large capacitor inside the camera for the flash to function. This takes up extra space and capacitors are generally quick to fail.

I’m hiking the Great Divide Trail in Canada, this June, and I recently bought a Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV light for it. It’s advertised as having a 5000K colour temperature, a high CRI, it’s lightweight and upon switching it on, you can instantly tell it’s different to other lights of its kind. In case you misinterpret this post because I write too much, the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV is the perfect tool for a hiking photographer in my opinion; it can be used as poor man’s flash, a video light, and a hiking light. It has a nice spread, there’s no horrifying hotspot, it’s incredibly bright for its size and it’s great. This page isn’t a review, so I’m not going to be posting photographs of it and whatnot. I will be reviewing the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV light at some point though.

If you use it with a Nitecore F1 and a 18650 lithium battery, you can have a small USB powerbank and a light for whatever you desire too but again this might not interest everyone. When I write my review, I plan to review all of these products mentioned as I think it’s a light that should be a part of a system rather than a light on its own.

Summation:

  • Built in flashes — Bad
  • Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV — Amazing
  • Adobe Lightroom — Bad
  • One One Capture One — Awesome

I’m a nerd weird and I guess the thought of spending so much money on a tiny little light meant something to me. This should behave as advertised right, or why not just get a cheaper light? I felt I was being pedantic for caring but these things aren’t cheap. Okay, so I took a photograph of a grey card, completely disregarding whether the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV would be useful for hiking with, and in Lightroom I noticed it said 4600K or thereabouts. I emailed the shop I bought it from and they were incredibly kind on the matter. They said I could return it if it wasn’t suitable.

I tried ArgyllPRO ColorMeter trial software, it crashes a lot and uses the battery even when the app is closed, but I really like the look of the app and this could be useful to me. I didn’t realise the readings aren’t real in the trial version (in fairness to the author, this is clearly stated if you click “read more”.) I wonder if the full version has more updates and crashes less. If it were cheaper, I’d take the risk but at £93.99, it’s a bit much.

So here’s where things get interesting… I installed Phase One Capture One 11 software for Sony. It’s free and it looks good. The colour temperature was different with the grey card, and I thought how could this be? I prayed for a blue sky to use as a reference, and it only rained more. So I began looking at all my old photographs looking for blue skies (which in England is no easy task) and judging white balance based on that. Additionally, I used the camera’s built in white balance tool and it yielded the same results as Capture One 11. .

 

I know what you might be thinking… The wall looks slightly cooler in one, and yes you’re right. The shadows are different. It all looks a bit different, but that’s as close as you can get it with the white balance tool alone. If you type in the same numbers for each program, for the white balance, you’ll be horrified at the results.

I did this with hundreds of photographs, using different lights (flashes, natural, natural cloudy, the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV) but trying not to use the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV very much in case I returned it, and it’s my belief that Adobe Lightroom is full of shit.

I’ve drawn the conclusion that this light is indeed the advertised 5000K or thereabouts. It matches natural light close enough.

It looks slightly cooler here but that’s just the angle. It’s actually slightly warmer than sunlight. As with all lights, the smaller the light source the more defined the shadows, but it’s still quite nice for macro photography I think. I think it’s bright enough you could add a modifier too. Again, this isn’t a review but it’s a few points to consider.

 

 

Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Lens review comment

This is just a heads up to the people looking at Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 lens reviews, you’ll probably find a few bits of misleading information.

My reviews aren’t very good, so please don’t take this as me implying mine are better. However, I searched google and I noticed two statements that caught my attention. These statements exist with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2.0 lens and the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens reviews that I’ve read so far too:

  • “Weather-resistant construction”
  • “there’s very little non-rotating real estate on the barrel to grasp when attaching or removing the lens. This makes changing lenses a bit slower and more awkward than it really should be…”

There’s no seals inside these lenses. There’s one seal at the back of the lens which helps to prevent dust but it’s not a sealed inside like a Sony G Master.

To mount or dismount the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 lens, and other lenses in the series, you turn the focus ring fully until it stops. Then you dismount as normal. A lot of people try gripping at the back to dismount their Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 lens and I’m sure they’ll try something similar with the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 lens too, lol… They think because the focus ring turns, you can’t use it as a gripping point, but you can (you just have to reach closest focus or infinity depending on whether you want to mount or dismount the lens.)