Reviews

Inevitably, the purchase of a new camera system has triggered the shift towards a new bag in which to store and transport it. Post Leica T purchase, I found myself once more lusting after something more utopian that those I already own. Having just used a Leica X for the last few years, I always found my Clik Elite Cloudscape and Vanguard Arlen 49 back packs suitable for the job as they did not need to house much in the way of additional lenses and equipment. At present I could still use either of them as my system is still small (one body and two lenses) but looking ahead I can see myself with at least one, if not two more lenses as well as a few more peripheral items. Additionally, my TL 35mm f1.4 lens is pretty large when the hood is attached and this really does impact on its storage at the moment. Given one of my future purchases is likely to be the 60mm f2.8 macro lens, which has the same size hood, I will soon be running into problems. I also have a Billingham 335 bag which will house the system going forward, but I find shoulder bags heavy and cumbersome.

So I finally committed to a new camera system after many months of evaluating what the market has to offer. I decided to buy into in the Leica T or TL system as it is now known. With very few exceptions I have never been the kind of person to jump at new technology, preferring instead to remain behind the curve and reap the benefits of a debugged product that usually has the added bonus of reduced pricing. My purchase of the T is no exception and finally found its way into my hands more than two and a half years after its release. Such a long time in the market place has resulted in huge discounts, particularly as I timed my purchase with the announcement of a slightly updated model, the TL. Given the small generational differences between the two (32GB instead of 16GB internal memory) faster autofocus in C-AF mode (which will probably trickle down to the original T in the form of a firmware upgrade) and a pretty new titanium finish with bevelled edges, I am more than happy with the choice made.

We have always liked photographing small things and are particularly interested in macro subjects. Due to this, we found ourselves moving in to small product photography not only out of interest but also due to picking up some work in this field. Initially we used similar methods for photographing these small items that we had deployed for our macro work. And while the results were acceptable it was obvious that something more professional was required. This triggered a search for lighting, stages and backdrops of which there are many. As we did not intend to work with subjects much larger than the size of a DSLR body and a couple of lenses, our attention was drawn to Novoflex’s Magic Studio system. Having used some of Novoflex’s products in the past, and been happy with them, we took a closer look which resulted in a purchase.

I admit, I am a bit slack when it comes to reviewing my equipment, it usually takes me about a year before I even consider reviewing it. But it does give me plenty of time to familiarise myself and give it a bit of a beating before I start singing its praise.

It's fair to say more and more people are dumping their compact cameras in favour of using the camera on their smart phone. With that in mind we feel it's time to do our very first photographers review of a smart phone; the iPhone 6S. When Apple first released the specs for the new iPhone camera people took to the forums and expressed their disappointment with the same 12MP sensor used in the previous model. It would seem people were expecting a higher 16MP ccd similar to Samsung's and HTC's latest offerings. But in a world of playing top-trumps with statistics people overlook what really matters, the quality of the image. One of Microsoft's Nokia Lumia’s featured a ridiculous 41MP censor which served only to sound impressive, the reality was it failed miserably when compared to the iPhone 5S’ 5MP camera.

Just over three years ago when I first brought my Pentax K-5 I wanted a lens that would cover me for most situations while I squirrelled money away to expand my system. Naturally I chose one of Pentax’s zoom lenses, the 16-50mm f2.8 which over the years I shared a love/hate relationship with. Optically it was great but it was big and suffered from some strange auto-focus issues. With an upcoming trip to Sicily I could not bear the thought of miss-focused, soft images. You can imagine my delight when the wonderful Pentax announced a Limited 20-40mm zoom lens, I could already see myself stood in front of Mount Etna with this gorgeous piece of kit mounted upon my K-5! I soon returned to reality and realised I needed to devise a way to finance this venture. Goodbye 16-50mm.

I am not one for adding to my photographic gear often, nor do I buy items impulsively, preferring to research my intended purchase for months in some cases. When the Leica X Typ 113 was announced last year I read any information I could find enthusiastically and it soon became clear that this camera was going to be a replacement for my much loved X1…but not just yet…or so I thought.