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.

 

 

Backpack modification update – Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest

I’ve spent some more time with my Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack modification. I’ve redone parts a few times because it looked bad.

For those that haven’t read my previous post, I am attempting to add d-rings to the shoulder straps so that I can hang a separate camera bag.

Not to be a downer dave, but I’m a little irritated that my sewing was slightly off with some of the webbing. I also made ample mistakes that still irritate me but I think I’ve saved it :).

The bit near the d-ring isn’t complete, that’s why it looks a mess. The carbon fibre rod still needs to be trimmed and I’m probably going to add a few of those bright green things. They look cool.

It’s not yellow, the lighting in my room is bad. I took this with my phone (I’m lazy.)

Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack modifications and update

This year is going by quite quickly already! There’s only a few months to go until I leave to hike the Great Divide Trail in Canada :).

I’ve been busy with a few things, many mistakes have been made and hopefully you can learn from my losses, haha.

After examining my Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack, I’ve thought about various modifications. We can all pick fault in something, so don’t think of this as me saying the backpack isn’t good or something like that. As stated in a few posts now, I’ve been trying to attach a camera bag to my backpack. A camera inside a backpack on a through hike is basically a lead weight–it won’t get used.

A shopping list will be provided at the bottom of the page…

As you can see, I’ve started by sewing something near the shoulder straps at the top. The reason for this is that the webbing on the shoulder straps themselves doesn’t look super durable and I wouldn’t trust it to hold the weight of my camera (Sony a7rII and a 24-70 GM lens, plus the weight of the bag.) This camera combination is already quite heavy and I think you should forget a heavy DSLR with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (the extra few hundred grams will make a huge difference and it’s much easier to put a few extra batteries in your backpack i.e. offset the weight somewhere else.) If you have the money, I’d advise getting the 16-35 f/2.8 GM lens instead (assuming you’re okay with that focal length too.) It was out of budget for me and I want to bring a Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 as well, anyway, I digress…

 

Instead of cutting long pieces of webbing and then trimming them to size, I tried to make them the right size to begin with and I ended up with barely any material to play with. I’ve never sewn anything before and I feel like a complete idiot really. It was a stupid mistake to make.

The white you see under the webbing is white velcro, and I’m going to change some of that. The loose thread is because I haven’t finished, and if you notice the overlapping webbing on the left is shorter than on the right. I will tidy that up by trimming the excess on the right, but you get the general idea. Like I said… I’m an idiot, haha. I won’t be making that mistake again. In the middle is a carbon fibre rod and then more webbing with a d-ring on the end. Something I’ve found quite useful for preventing fraying and other things is to use a soldering iron. It’ll make the soldering iron messy and obviously a heat gun is better, but it works quite well.

The theory behind this Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack modification is that it will pull weight from two points on either side. I can then attach the camera bag to these straps. The extra weight is negligible and it feels pretty comfortable.  The two pieces of webbing coming down could be a bit longer or a bit shorter. I wasn’t 100% sure where to put them or how long to make them, all I knew was that if they were the wrong length, I would risk cutting into my neck or shoulders. I think they could possibly be slightly longer… Again, I wouldn’t have had this problem if I made the webbing longer to begin with. I’d have never made this mistake with carbon fibre or metal, so I don’t know why I made this mistake with sewing. I think perhaps because I don’t have much webbing, I was afraid of using too much… Who knows.

At the moment, the carbon fibre rod is loose. One solution is to wrap some cuben fibre tape around it and then sew through the excess tape, another idea is to epoxy one piece of webbing to the carbon fibre. The webbing in the middle has to be able to rotate but equally the carbon fibre rod cannot slide through and fall out, otherwise I’ll be a little unhappy.

Sewing through tape isn’t my favourite thing to do because the glue sticks to the needle. I’ve been using a speedy stitcher sewing awl with a fine needle. The needle has to be bought separately. If you’re from the UK, I’d buy it from eBay.

In the photograph above, you can see the carbon fibre rod is a bit long, I’ll sand the excess later on. It’s certainly not my finest work, but when I finish it, tidy it up and whatnot, it should do the job quite well I think.

I’m going to stick some d-rings near the excess shoulder straps too, as well as one more, on each side, around the hip belt. This will allow room to attach lightweight items or the second points on my camera bag to prevent it from swinging everywhere.

Here is the top of the Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack, and as you can see it has a strip of 20mm velcro. In my opinion, this is probably unnecessary most of the time. It does help to get the bag lined up but it’ll probably shred a fleece or whatever. I’m uncomfortable removing it so I’m simply going to cut some extra velcro and leave it there.

Shopping list:

  • Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl
  • Speedy Stitcher Fine needle
  • Bonded Nylon #69 black thread
  • 20mm Webbing
  • 20mm White Velcro (for backpack)
  • 20mm Black Velcro (for webbing)
  • 20mm D-rings

I bought my d-rings from eBay. These are 20mm Nexus D-rings.

On a completely unrelated note…

The size 13 bushido remains to be my favourite shoe of all time, but the high arch is painful for me. Bitcoin has dropped in value, and I’ve had duplicate customs charges (one item I received was damaged.) It’s a difficult process getting a refund, and I’ve had a string of bad luck lately. I must say that ZPacks were very helpful in replacing my item.

Some other shoes I have tried… Arcteryx Norvan, Salomon XA Pro and Salomon X ultra 3. The size 13 Salomon XA Pro’s seem to fit quite well.

Sewing webbing to a backpack without a sewing machine

I’m in the middle of making small modifications to my Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest backpack, and to personalise it a bit I want to sew additional bits of webbing to the pack.

After googling for a while, I’ve decided on buying 69 nylon thread and a Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl.

I was worried I’d have to buy a sewing machine or pay someone else to do the job but from what I can tell, these two things will be enough. The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl acts a bit like a manual sewing machine. I bought some nylon webbing but it’s not very high quality, so I might just use a camera strap which came with one of my camera bags.

As previously stated in another post, I’ll provide proper photographs and whatnot when I’m done. Here’s a couple to show you the general idea. The pictures are a bit confusing, but my camera bag will probably sit below the side pocket on the right photograph. The two upwards arrows are demonstrating another point you can sew onto if you wish. The photograph on the left shows different points you can attach things too, but I wouldn’t trust all of them i.e. they might not hold much weight.

Using some webbing around the side belt, towards the back area, and then another support somewhere else, I should be able to hold my camera bag. I’m not sure if I’ll have to offload some of the camera’s weight to the shoulder strap (for no other reason than comfort.) I’m also not sure how much weight one particular point on the shoulder strap can hold, so I’ll have a look.

I don’t really want to sew anything to the backpack itself as I don’t want to accidentally sabotage it.