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Before we get started we would first like to apologise for our lack of content over the past couple of months; the end of 2017 went a little crazy to say the least. After arriving back from Dubai and Mauritius late November feeling slightly dazed and confused, it goes without saying that neither of us were prepared for Christmas and the associated gift buying that goes with it. The Christmas rush was on and to complicate things further, we were spending the big day up in Scotland meaning all the present buying needed to be sorted in advance. To make matters worse, we had one family member who had just gotten out of hospital, when another was rushed in. So, we are pleased start 2018 by saying everyone is fine and by unveiling a new PhotoArk!

It was a little over a year ago when I dipped my toe back into a camera system after a five-year hiatus of using a fixed lens Leica X1 followed by a Typ 113. Having enjoyed and appreciated the simplicity of these models, I began to long for the versatility of an interchangeable lens system again. Anyone reading my previous posts will be aware that I spent many months trying out different systems before deciding to buy an original Leica T body and 11-23 lens. Impressed by the intuitive interface and beautiful results, I built on this by adding 35 and 60mm lenses which rounded out the focal lengths nicely. With the Honeymoon period long gone, and having used the system in various environments such as snow, extreme heat, dust and humidity, I feel that now would be a good time to appraise the system, for better or worse.

OK, so I have been reading lots about the APS-C format lately which is the reason I have reacted; one thing that really dribbles down my blowhole is what I see as standard acceptance of a misused word or phrase. Ebay ‘Mint’ is one such example while the term ‘macro’ is increasingly (mis) assigned to anything that provides close focus attributes.

For 360 views of the Peak District, it is hard to beat standing on top of Win Hill Pike on a clear day. Guarding access to the Upper Derwent Valley, it rises steeply from the valley floor to a height of 1500 feet. Along its western flank runs what is left of an ancient Roman road that connected two forts; Navio, near Hope and Milandra, Glossop. Its pine clad eastern side borders with the lower section of Ladybower reservoir which, along with Howden and Derwent, forms a trio of dams that serve nearby cities such as Sheffield and Manchester.

If ever the phrase “the best (insert piece of kit here) is the one you have with you” rang true with me, it is for the small but well-built Velbon Ultra Maxi Mini tripod. I am the kind of person to worm out of carrying a large tripod around all day if at all possible. True, on some shoots it is unavoidable, therefore I have to endure rather than enjoy their use on these occasions.

This is the lens that captured my interest in the T system around a year ago. Tantalisingly exhibited at the 2016 Photography show but unavailable to the public at the time, it would be several months before I finally owned one. This was not as much to do with supply and demand but more my own prevarication when deciding on what new camera system to purchase. Once I had decided to buy into the T system, my commitment was bolstered by 35mm f1.4 ownership.

September 2016 saw the announcement and release of the sixth lens for Leica’s TL system. Forming the third in a trio of high quality primes, the 60mm lens finally gave the TL system a dedicated macro optic that also doubles as a reasonably fast short telephoto solution. I was keen to ‘round out’ my shooting options with something from the telephoto realm and this makes an interesting alternative to the 55-135 zoom. Of course, given the APSC size sensor, the focal length of the 60mm equates to 90mm which, for me, falls into my ideal focal length of between 85 and 135mm, albeit at the lower end of my requirements.