Category Archives: Camera Equipment

The Gatherers Of Light

Voigtlander Nokton and Super Nokton; Long Term Real World Review

A look at a pair of the latest additions to a most unique line-up of lenses, designed for m43 cameras. Read through to find a 15% discount on the full range of Voigtlander m43 Nokton and Super Nokton lenses.

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 Super Nokton (f0.8 equivalent 58mm field of view) on camera and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). Pictured on my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

This astonishing f0.8 aperture’d lens, with an equivalent 58mm field of view on 35mm full-frame format, is in a class of its own. Ground Aspherical elements and a 12 aperture blade design mean that its rendering is simply as spectacular as its light gathering. It focuses down to a very impressive 0.37m and measures 88.9mm x 72.3mm, coming in at 703g.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view) with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

A 120mm equivalent at f0.95 makes for a very special portrait lens. Its close focus of 0.34m though, brings it into close-up photography territory, making for a very versatile lens. Measuring in at 82.5 x 87.7mm and weighing 860g, this is the chunkier of the newest two Noktons. 

The pair make for an extremely impressive set and the addition of a Voigtlander 10.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton or Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton lens will make for a perfect three lens outfit, for photographers or film makers, with a uniform rendering, colour, feel and of course, unique light gathering ability.

Discoveries Of The Super Fast F No.

I’ve been using fast aperture lenses for most of my career (almost 33 years at the time of writing). I was the first amongst my colleagues, on my first two newspapers in the 1980s and early 90s, who had an f1.2 lens, in the form of a Canon 55mm f1.2L FD lens. This was soon to be joined by the phenomenal Canon 85mm f1.2L FD lens. In those days of film, the most common film a photojournalist had was 400 ISO, so those fast apertures allowed us to work in hugely varying light conditions.

For me, fast lenses have always been about their light gathering ability and not ‘bokeh’.

I later went on to get AF versions of these lenses in my Canon EOS days. Many years later, when the Leica M9 came along, I saw what the recently released Leica Noctilux ASPH could do. So, after some saving, an insurance cheque from when a security guard dropped a bag full of camera gear and broke most of it and selling off of less used equipment, I managed to get a Leica 50mm f0.95 Noctilux ASPH. An aperture I’d never ever dreamed of and one which opened many possibilities.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Angelika Ghazaryan, a descendant of Genocide Survivors, at the 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th, 1915. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. US President Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My philosophical approach to lens choice has always remained the same; standard lenses, later joined by zoom lenses as the quality increased, married to at least one super fast aperture lens. This approach makes for an extremely versatile outfit.

Years later, I started shooting what began as a personal project on opera, which soon turned into a major 10 month project with an exhibition (seen by over 400,000 people) and a book, supported by Olympus. I was an Olympus Visionary at the time and was shooting with OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 MkII cameras. When working backstage, I quickly realised that the f1.7 M.Zuiko lenses weren’t fast enough. My Leica M9 and 50mm Noctilux weren’t usable either, as I simply couldn’t see enough in the dark to allow me to manually focus the optical rangefinder. The Olympus mirrorless with its EVF was allowing me to see in the dark, almost like a soldier’s night vision, but the available lenses just weren’t usable as the light levels were so low. I started looking for a speedy solution.

I recalled Voigtlander has a 25mm f0.95 Nokton and when I looked deeper into this, realised that the range had been expanded. A quick phone call to Hardy at Robert White Photographic, was followed by me ordering a Voigtlander 17.5mm (35mm equivalent) and 25mm (50mm equivalent). These two f0.95 lenses allowed me to create work impossible to shoot otherwise. Having these f0.95 apertures was truly a revelation. To give an idea of the lighting conditions, I’d often be shooting at 5000 ISO, 1/20th of a second at f0.95. The marriage of fast aperture and built in body stabiliser allowed me to work unhindered by the less than favourable conditions. The slightly deeper depth of field on m43, also aided me to get my subjects sharply in focus. Some of these pictures were printed at over A0 in size, approaching around 1.5m in length for the exhibition.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII and Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Ida Ränzlöv, singing the part of Arminda, Anchise’s niece, waits backstage for her cue. Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. Dress rehearsal. Royal College of Music Opera School, Prince Consort Road, London. November 25, 2016. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Later on, on a different production, I decided to add the Voigtlander 10.5mm f0.95 Nokton (21mm equivalent) to my setup. These three Noktons have stayed with me since I first got them in 2015, through to my transition to Lumix.

To see some of my work using these Noktons, either visit my Instagram @terakopian or look at the backstage, low light work in my reportage on the opera, Albert Herring on my SmugMug website: https://terakopian.smugmug.com/Albert-Herring-Opera 

To help illustrate the light gathering aspect, imagine this as a shooting scenario: You’re shooting a portrait in a dimply lit church, trying to craft a beautiful image using the available daylight, gently flowing through the windows. At a very reasonable 400 ISO, you choose to shoot at 1/125th shutter speed, to ensure no movement from you or the subject. With a Nokton, you’re at f0.95, which allows these settings. If you were to shoot with your pro spec zoom lens at f2.8, you would have to ramp the ISO up to a less acceptable 3200 ISO. For me, this ability to shoot with available light is far more of a priority, than bokeh hunting, which of course the Voigtlander Nokton and Super Nokton will give you, by the bucket load. The ability to isolate the subject, is there, in a very unique and aesthetically pleasing way. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. A portrait of opera singer Aris Nadirian. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Fast F No. Flip Side

These are all specialist lenses and when wide open, they’re not clinically pin sharp when shooting a lens chart, specifically as you start to edge further out from the centre, the sharpness drops somewhat. Even a Leica Noctilux ASPH costing over £8000 struggles with this. Physics is physics and any lens that reaches the dizzying apertures of zero point something, has to make a compromise or two. I only raise this as I’ve occasionally read criticism of all these mega aperture lenses, where the social media poster clearly doesn’t understand that these are specific tools for ultra low light work. Of course, when you stop down to the f5.6 through to f9.0 window, the lenses will sharpen up dramatically, including towards the edges, rendering ‘perfect’ clinical results. For me though, an image with soul wins over a clinically sharp picture of a boring, static object. Photography is about emotion and thought, and these lenses give us the tools to create such work, in conditions often out of bounds.

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 SUPER NOKTON (f0.8 equivalent 58mm field of view) on camera and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). Pictured with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

These aren’t general purpose lenses, they are however masters in low light and creative photography. They allow you to work in conditions that are dreamt of and rarely realised with regular prime lenses or zooms. Just to put your mind at ease when I write they’re not clinically pin sharp, I’m more than happy to put my reputation on the line and produce not only my own personal work with these nocturnal creatures, but shoot commissioned assignments too. They are that good. Just not as good when shooting charts on a wall, pixel peeping the chart and comparing them to standard lenses, which don’t have the f zero point something magic.

It’s about keeping in mind that these are specialist tools, which means that I use my Noktons for specific work, that’s where they shine. For fast street photography during the day, I’d definitely choose an AF lens. However, for the same genre at night, when trying to work in the most challenging of situations, then these lenses are the perfect choice and will produce magic. For observed moments in a pub, at a wedding, by the canals in Venice, or a portrait of a loved one, choosing either of these lenses will produce pictures that you will treasure. The close focus also adds the ability of still life closeups, of anything from flowers to objects. Shoot these wide open to create something extremely unique, or stop them down for a more traditional look.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Barbed wire and fencing nearby London Underground rail tracks. Ealing, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

This magic takes a little bit of work though and you need to raise your skill level. Once you do though, imagery that wasn’t recordable, begins to write to your memory card. Put in the time it takes to master manual focusing, learning how the focus ring behaves, develop a little muscle memory, use focus peaking and punching in to magnify the focus point to check critical focus, and these lenses will make you smile. You start to produce results from environments you simply wouldn’t have previously been able to really work in. One other tip is to focus wide open, which allows you to be absolutely critical when focusing (it also gives focus peaking a razor’s edge of area to highlight, adding to accuracy) and then if needed, stop down to shoot. Naturally the subject dictates how to approach it, so with faster shooting scenarios, one can focus stopped down as well.

My bag of three Noktons is now a bag of four Noktons and one stellar, Super Nokton. These five lenses are a crucial tool of how I work. I’d definitely recommend you check them out. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Sunset reflections during a COVID 19 Lockdown permitted exercise walk. Ealing, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Tonal Range

My years of shooting with my three Voigtlander Noktons showed me that these lenses have tremendous tonal range; from highlight detail, with a lovely information rich gradation, all the way to the deepest shadow areas. This provides a raw file with all the details you need, ready to be processed to produce a vibrant colour or the lushest of monochrome images. I’m thrilled to share that these new additions exhibit the same rich, full tonal range. Stop them down a little and they become pin sharp too, perfect for detail rich landscapes or urban cityscapes. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Daily life on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Image Processing

When it comes to image processing, m43 cameras have their lens correction info built into their raw profiles. With any non-m43 or non electronic lens, this information is missing. I’m thrilled to say that Adobe’s LightRoom has all this information in the lens correction module. So, just choose Voigtlander and then find the profile for the lens you’ve shot with. In my LightRoom, I’ve actually set up Custom User Presets for each lens, so one click, populates all the settings I need, including some raw processing tweaks.

On the subject of image processing, all the images posted here and in the related Flickr album (see below), were shot in raw and processed in LightRoom. The finishing touches to the colour photographs and the black and white treatment on the monochrome images, were done in Exposure Software’s X6 and X7.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Daily life on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Construction

Anyone who has used a professional grade manual focus lens from the ‘good old days’ will immediately feel at home. Both of these lenses are phenomenally made. Engineered to perfection; perhaps, over engineered even. To help illustrate this, my three previous Nokton lenses are seven years old at the time of writing; seven years of professional use has left the performing exactly as they did initially and looking practically brand new. These are well made, professional grade lenses. As the DNA is the same with the two newer lenses, I have no doubt that a decade or two on, these lenses will be just as good as they are now.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view) with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The focusing rings are smooth, the aperture rings sure footed. For film makers or those working on film sets as photographers, the aperture ring can be de-clicked at the twist of a ring, resulting in silent operation.

On the video front, the full range of m43 Noktons and the Super Nokton, provides an amazing set of lenses. High end film makers prefer manual focus anyway. The feel, accuracy and look of these lenses, married to a quality ND filter, will produce a wonderful look and feel.

I used to shoot Canon FD (mainly L lenses) and then Nikon AS and AIS lenses in the 90s and both of these Voigtlanders remind me of using those quality lenses with their silky smooth and sure footed handling.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

These solid and metal bodied lenses are heavier than most of their plastic bodied brethren though, so one needs more careful matching to camera body. They balance perfectly and handle beautifully on my Lumix G9 cameras, with or without (which is how I usually have mine) the vertical grip. I wouldn’t really use them on my smaller and grip-less Lumix GX9. I’d definitely recommend the higher end bodies with grips or the middle range bodies with their optional grips. This will make for a more comfortable setup. In my days when shooting with Olympus and my set of three Noktons, the E-M1 balanced perfectly, but the E-M5 MkII definitely needed the grip added for comfortable working, as the built-in grip was just too small. Of course if working with a tripod, or a cage for video work, the handling won’t be an issue. It’s worth keeping in mind that the extra engineering and metal construction makes for much more control on fine tuning the focus, which is crucial when working wide open. 

Other f0.95 Options

At the time of writing, other options for proper f0.95 lenses are from Leica with their Noctilux range and Nikon with their Noct. These options will set the photographer back in the £8000 to £10,000 range. There are a few other options available, but these are gimmick lenses in my opinion and good to play with perhaps, but not to shoot seriously with, in situations when one has to use dependable gear. I definitely wouldn’t use the other options on professional assignments, where as I haven’t hesitated to use my Voigtlander Noktons.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. (London, UK) 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

At the time of writing, the Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton comes in at £1,599.00 (inc VAT) and the Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton at £1,049.00 (inc VAT). Whilst not cheap, nor is their construction, or the results they produce. Given how well they perform, how well they’re made and well my older Nokton lenses have lasted, these are valued appropriately I’d say. These lenses are worth every penny and the Super Nokton is unparalleled in it’s f0.8 aperture.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. (London, UK) 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

When planning a camera outfit or planning lens purchases, investing in the best lenses you can get, is the wisest move. Sticking a cheaper lens in front of the best sensor, will give an much inferior result to putting a great lens in front of a good sensor. The other aspect, is that lenses far outlast camera bodies. So invest wisely and you won’t need to change the lens anywhere near as often as you would a body. 

Both of these optics produce phenomenal results, with a look and feel that gives the images a signature and a ‘pop’. For me, a huge part of the attraction for Lumix and Olympus m43 is the Nokton range, as it adds tremendous versatility that no other lens mount on the market has; super fast apertured lenses covering ultra wide angle, to medium telephoto (equivalent of 21mm to 120mm). With the addition of these two optics, the range is now not only complete, but with the Super Nokton, out of this world good. I can’t recommend them highly enough. As I have done, get in touch with Robert White Photographic and check them out. You won’t be disappointed. 

Final Thoughts

Whilst both m43 brands produce exceptional lenses, especially in their Leica DG and M.Zuiko PRO ranges, including faster f1.2 and f1.4 options, there just isn’t the option to go faster. In a sea of images shot with f2.8 zooms, with some stretching for the Lumix, Olympus or Sigma faster lenses, nothing is going to give the look of these Voigtlander lenses. The 60mm Nokton and 29mm Super Nokton, render in a unique way, not only letting you create in lower light, but to make an image which is unique. An image which pops. Bringing almost a three dimensionality to the scene. If you can look at a scene, raise your camera and make a unique photograph, I say, why not?! Creativity is about creating, not mimicking the masses with run of the mill facsimiles.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. The wall of hearts grows as a memorial to loved ones taken by coronavirus. Each heart representing every one of the UK’s close to 150,000 victims (to date). The memorial is the idea of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group, which has called for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. The National COVID Memorial Wall. North Wing, Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, London SE1 3FT. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Aperture Is Aperture

These astonishing lenses are f0.8 for the Super Nokton and f0.95 for the Nokton.

Let’s clear up a misconception though; that of apertures being somehow different in Micro Four Thirds, as its a cropped sensor. I keep seeing misinformation online in forums and groups, so think it crucial to clear this up!

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. A portrait of Elvis. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Imagine that you have a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. Its a constant aperture lens, so f2.8 all the way through. So, at 70mm, f2.8 is the same as f2.8 at the 200mm end. Both, given identical lighting conditions, will provide the exact same exposure. So, f2.8 is f2.8.

However, the depth of field on the same lens will differ tremendously from the 70mm to the 200mm end. 70mm will give a wider depth of field, with more being in focus, compared to a shallower depth of field at the 200mm end.

So, it’s in fact depth of field and the rendition of the image in defocused areas, or bokeh, which differs between sensor sizes. So, an f2.8 aperture on a given lens, will render bokeh, or set depth of field differently between m43, APS-C, full frame or medium format etc. The larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field and the softer the bokeh. As mentioned though, the light gathering ability of that f2.8 aperture remains the same. So, for the physics of light, these f0.8 and f0.95 apertures, have the same astonishing light gathering ability as a full frame camera and lens would….well, if there was an f0.8 option available.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Geese on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One last point on the subject of bokeh; many novices will rush to buy the most exotic aperture lens they can afford, wrongly thinking it will improve their photography because its a “bokeh monster” or that it will magically just render bokeh, without the photographer needing to master any basic elements of photographic technique or understanding of photography.

One can achieve beautiful subject isolation and soft background, with a lens set at F5.6 or f8.0, or get everything relatively sharp in the frame with little or no isolation using an f1.4 aperture. Camera to subject distance needs to be close and subject to background, much farther. Keep this in mind. It’s not just setting an aperture, but understanding subject and background distances, for a given aperture, for a given social length.

Given this understanding, then yes, a magical aperture of f0.95 or f0.8 will not only let you work in super low light, but allow you to achieve astonishing subject isolation, with that 3D look and super soft, beautiful bokeh. Given the lens is a good lens; aperture alone won’t produce creamy backgrounds. So dear reader, do get these dream lenses, but also learn about photographic technique and practice too, so you can get the most out of your lenses and even more importantly, get much more joy and satisfaction out of your photography. 

One Last Thought On Bokeh

It’s really disconcerting how may photography enthusiasts are bokeh hunters. There’s a sizeable enough group of people who express more interest in out of focus backgrounds, than they do for the in focus aspect within the photograph; the actual subject. No great photograph in history has ever been about the out of focus background. Whilst these lenses will allow this, crucially, they allow creating photographs and video, in lighting conditions which would make it impossible. They produce a beautiful and unique signature when doing so and can make your subject pop. That is where they shine in my opinion. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

READERS’ DISCOUNT CODE

The fabulous folks at Robert White Photographic and Flaghead Photographic Limited have very generously provided a 15% discount code. The code is multi-use, so you won’t be limited when getting a second or third lens, should you decide super low light photography or subject isolation like never before available on m43 is for you.

The code Terakopian will get you a 15% discount off, from any of the six Voigtlander Micro Four Thirds lenses. Visit Robert White Photographic if you’d like to use this discount. Having shot professionally with five of these lenses for years, I really cannot recommend them highly enough. They open up new avenues of possibility with your camera.

Link To My FLICKR Album

To view the photographs featured and some others, without downsizing or compression, please visit this Flickr Album which accompanies this review.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. A Pilot Custom Urushi fountain pen. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Third Place In The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021

Absolutely delighted to get a third place in the the premiere, international photographic awards dedicated to food photography, which so deeply covers the various aspects of food, from celebration and opulence to hunger and the need for sustenance. It’s a phenomenal competition and I’m thrilled my work was recognised by the global judging panel. Many thanks to the awards’ team and all the supporters and sponsors of the Pink Lady Food Photographer Of The Year.

Third Place; Politics Of Food.
Devoid Of Diners. First Month Of The COVID 19 Lockdown In London. Deserted London town following the COVID 19 pandemic and the first month of the coronavirus lockdown. The deserted courtyard in the famous Covent Garden Apple Market, normally seen bustling with diners. London, UK. April 23, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Many thanks also to this year’s judges, chaired by food photographer, David Loftus, Fiona Shields, Head of Photography, Guardian News & Media, Susan Bright, Writer and Curator, Nik Sharma, Cookbook Author and Photographer, Chef Simone Zanoni, Restaurant Le George, Four Seasons Paris, Alison Jacques, Founder, Alison Jacques Gallery and Vitalie Taittinger, President, Champagne Taittinger.

Finalist; Politics Of Food
A Key Worker In The Food Industry. First Month Of The COVID 19 Lockdown In London. The normal of ‘eating out’ during the COVID 19 lockdown, has become ordering in, as restaurants are only allowed to be open for deliveries. Bicyclist delivery driver for the online food delivery company Deliveroo, awaits their booking, as Londoners out cycling for their daily allowance of excerise, pass on by. Deserted London town following the COVID 19 pandemic and the first month of the coronavirus lockdown. London, UK. April 23, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My prize winning image got third place in the Politics Of Food category. This section is about photojournalistic images that show the reality of issues relating to food anywhere in the world including the impact that Covid 19 has had on the global population over the last year. I’m delighted that another of my photographs was a finalist in this section and one other also made the shortlist.

I’m absolutely in awe of the overall winning image, titled ‘Taste’, by Li Huaifeng. Such a wonderful image.

The exhibition of award winning work is due be held at the RPS (Royal Photographic Society) in Bristol from 20th November to 12th December 2021. With over 20 categories, ranging from the Politics of Food to Food Portraiture, the images from the Awards capture the great sweep of stories and cultures in the world of food.

Shortlisted; Politics Of Food
The normal of ‘eating out’ during the COVID 19 lockdown, has become ordering in, as restaurants are only allowed to be open for deliveries. Bicyclist delivery driver for the online food delivery company Deliveroo, awaits their booking. Soho, London, UK. July 14, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Technical Information

For the photographers, some background to the equipment used. The third place image (top) was shot on my Lumix S1R with a Lumix S Pro 16-35mm f4.0 lens.

The finalist image (centre) was made using my Lumix S1 and Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f4.0 lens.

The shortlisted image (bottom) was made using my Leica M10-D and Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE lens.

All images were shot in raw and processed in Lightroom Classic and finished in Exposure Software’s X6.

Awards Ceremony Video

If you’d like to skip forward to the Politics Of Food section, it’s at time code 31:36.

Your Vote-People’s Choice Award

As the judges of the prestigious Travel Photographer of the Year competition, currently choose the winners for the main competition from the announced shortlist, the organisers have now opened the public vote segment for the People’s Choice award – the winner of which is chosen purely by visitors voting for their one favourite image. The winner will be announced in January together with all of the judged results of the awards.

A couple look out into the bay. The Great South Wall, Dublin Bay, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. January 18, 2020.
Photo: Edmond Terakopian. Sigma fp and Leica 50mm APO-Summicron SL lens.

There is some truly phenomenal photography in this segment and I’m thrilled that one of my images appears on the People’s Vote page. Please have a look and vote for your favourite shot. Should you choose image number 45, I will of course be most grateful!!

Voting is open until 21st January 2021.

The photograph was made when I was shooting a project for the L Mount Alliance, using a Sigma fp and a Leica 50mm APO-Summicron SL lens. The raw file was processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic and finished off in Exposure Software’s X6.

Many thanks and wishes for a much deserved happy new year for us all. Keep safe, keep well.

The Photography Show 2020

Wonderful to see the UK’s biggest show on photography persevere through having to be cancelled earlier this year due to the pandemic and return in this COVID 19 friendly, virtual form.

https://www.photographyshow.com/welcome

The Photography Show will be on this coming Sunday and Monday, September 20th and 21st. So, get some of your favourite snacks and drinks in stock, plump up the cushions on your favourite chair, fire up your computer or smart device and settle in to all things photographic.

Registration is free, so visit The Photography Show and register. There are a host of talks by some very talented friends and colleagues, as well as talks by the various camera and other equipment manufacturers.

21-Sep-2020 16:45– 17:15. Shooting an international campaign

I’m delighted to be presenting on one of the Main Stages this year. My presentation will be on “Shooting an international campaign“, on the Connect stage. I was thrilled to have been commissioned by Panasonic Lumix Japan to shoot the international launch campaign for the yet unannounced Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 lens. During my talk I’ll be sharing various aspects of how I prepared for and worked on the campaign, sharing my images as well as a behind the scenes video of me shooting one aspect of the project. I’m most thankful that Lumix UK have supported my presentations and will be hosting a live Q&A shortly afterwards.

A full list of Lumix related talks and sessions can be seen on the Lumix Experience website. You will also find a link to the Microsoft Meetings for my Q&A session.

21-Sep-2020 12:20– 12:50. Eyewitness: A global movement to preserve memory through the printed image

https://www.eye-witness.org

I’ll also be one of the photographers from the Eyewitness collective who will be part of a panel talk about the importance of having prints and why we’ve joined together as a global collective of concerned photographers, sharing our thoughts about the physical manifestation of the image and why we feel it’s crucial for us as individuals, as a society and also us as photographers; professional and enthusiast.

EddyCam Camera Strap Review

Ergonomics. Speed. Megapixels. Focal Length. Aperture. All considerations we photographers make when choosing a camera and lens. All very important considerations, of course.

Then out in the field or in our studio, we put our carefully chosen equipment to the task of helping us create the photographs we envisage, either by observation of the world around us or from the creative concepts within. You reach for your camera at that critical moment, as the juxtaposition of life becomes perfect or your model gets into their groove, yet is slips off your shoulder, you fumble, get a grip, raise it to your eye and that fleeting moment has disappeared and you’ve missed your picture.

EddyCam Edition 35mm in cognac brown camera strap with natural contrast seams, on my Leica M10-D, Leica brown leather protector case and Leica 50mm Noctilux ASPH. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

If you’ve never worked as a photojournalist, wedding photographer, street photographer and so on, that may seem like a tad of poetic license, but anyone working in a genre which requires fast reactions, especially when working with multiple cameras, has been there. Especially in these genres of photography that involve a lot of moving around, often with two, sometimes even three cameras, for long periods of time. As mentioned, photojournalists, wedding photographers, street photographers, to name a few disciplines, will all know this feeling; cameras that slip off your shoulder not only become very frustrating, they do make you miss a picture. Sometimes as a journalist, you find yourself running (either towards a breaking story or away from an unfolding danger) and cameras which slip off the shoulder aren’t only frustrating, but will slow you down as you need to keep adjusting.

The thousands you spent and the days you agonised over camera and lens choice, don’t reach their potential as the camera slipped when you reached for it. Or as you’re running around a corner during a speedy walk about by a politician in a rush to get back to his office and away from his constituents, and the camera slips off your shoulder and pendulum actions itself into a brick wall (something I’ve personally ‘enjoyed’ doing, many years ago!). Or the tiredness setting in as the cameras on your shoulder or your neck become uncomfortable and you get sweaty, the fatigue and discomfort soaking up your creative energy and stamina for working.

EddyCam Edition 35mm in cognac brown camera strap with natural contrast seams, on my Leica M10-D, Leica brown leather protector case and Leica 50mm Noctilux ASPH. The leather end pieces and the nylon connection straps are sewn five times with special thread, which guarantees a high tensile strength. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

All of this is down to one simple choice. Your camera strap. It’s the simple accessories we spend less time considering that can make our lives easier, more comfortable and fruitful, or frustrating, fatiguing and non-productive. Simple accessories like memory card wallets, battery holders, small bags for cables and adapters, and of course, camera straps.

I have to admit of never really looking at EddyCam before. I had noticed the company on my periphery, but as I had discovered UpStraps more than a decade ago, I wasn’t really interested in other camera straps. UpStraps gripped my shoulder like nothing before. Ugly, inelegant but absolutely practical, with a big chunk of rubber. Very uncomfortable on the bare neck though, but this had been my choice, along with my colleagues’, for a long, long time.

On assignment with the EddyCam Edition 35mm on my Leica M10-D. I hadn’t yet got the Edition 50mm Shoulder straps for my Lumix cameras yet and they’re still on UpStraps. Edmond Terakopian on assignment, covering the clapping for carers, in appreciation of the nurses, doctors and staff at the NHS during the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Fulham Road, London, UK. May 28, 2020. Photo: Jeff Moore

Purely through an exploration based on aesthetics, I started to have a look around online, for a new strap to compliment my Leica M10-D. I’d got a very elegant and practical Leica leather half case, in brown, and wanted to see if I could find a nice brown leather strap for it. The huge issue being that it had to be practical. It basically needed to stay put on my shoulder, be comfortable on my neck and the fashionista in me also wanted it to look good with my Leica combination. I had previously, years before, been through the fashionable and unpractical straps made by various purveyors of beautiful, yet unpractical straps. Google and YouTube then brought me to EddyCam.

Leica M10-D with 50mm Noctilux ASPH in a leather Leica half case and cognac Eddycam Edition 35mm leather camera strap. London, UK. June 29, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

When I saw the Edition 35mm cognac brown version, it seemed to tick all the boxes. Strangely, the first thing that immediately caught my eye and made me look at the strap as a serious contender, was the double X pattern stichting on the leather end pieces, which connect the main elk leather strap to the webbing. This was craftsmanship and manufacturing which was clearly made to last, and made for real use. There are so many beautiful straps with a couple of stitches or eyelet connectors, that make me wince in horror at the thought of them coming undone and my camera crashing to the ground whilst on assignment. This however, was properly designed, for heavy use in the field, by photographers who want to use their cameras as opposed to photograph their cameras on cafe tables.

I also liked the notion of an un-padded leather strap, which meant it would be soft, easily wrapped around the wrist and comfortable in use. The shape of it also showed that it should stay comfortably on the shoulder. The website stated “The patented lines, created together with orthopaedists, are so formed that you can easily carry it on your shoulder, around your neck or diagonally”.

The Edition 35mm In Use

I’m pleased to say, the orthopaedists clearly knew their stuff as did Edlef Wienen (Eddy), the brains behind the product. It came as no surprise when I later found out that Eddy is a very keen photographer of decades and also an avid hiker. I’ve found when something is conceived and created from passion and experience, it truly rises to a different level.

I have to admit to never having been aware of elk skin, so when I read the EddyCam straps are made from this, it did make me ponder. The company’s website states “Elk-skin is one of the thickest leathers there is – very sturdy and almost indestructible. At the same time, almost no other leather is as fine and soft as elk-skin”. It does seem a contradictory reality, but after receiving the Edition 35mm, it clearly is so. Extremely soft, but very tough too. The contrast stitching and two tones of leather, along with the high end webbing straps, which still remain malleable, even down to the coated and rounded stainless steel clips, just ooze quality.

Packed for my next assignment. Lumix S1 and S1R with Lumix S Pro 16-35 f4.0, 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f4.0 in a MindShift PhotoCross 15 backpack. Leica M10-D with a 50mm Noctilux ASPH and 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE in a ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 5 shoulder bag. All cameras on Eddycam straps. London, UK. June 10, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One wonderful aspect of the strap is also a little bit of elasticity, which translates into more comfort when worn. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bounce, but it gives it a little of suspension by stretching roughly an extra 2cm along it’s entire length. A Leica M10-D is a small camera, but it’s solid, so weigh’s more than one assumes. Add a Leica 50mm Noctilux ASPH and you’ve got some heft. I’ve found wearing this combination either around my neck or on my shoulder, has been supremely comfortable and crucially, non slip too. I’ve walked the streets for hours, when documenting the COVID 19 lockdown, or photographed clapping for carers outside a London hospital, working inside a church when services resumed and always found my camera stayed on my shoulder, remaining comfortable. When worn around my neck, against bare skin, it also always remained extremely comfortable.

It’s one thing making a beautiful and elegant strap; it’s a totally different thing making a strap which is practical and usable in real life scenarios. EddyCam has managed to combine both these things. In a career spanning 31 years, I’ve never found any strap which achieves both these qualities.

The Shoulder Range

I was so impressed by the Edition 35mm for my Leica, that I started looking further into the entire range. I wanted a strap for my Lumix S1 and S1R. When on assignment I’ll often work with two cameras. One with a Lumix S Pro 70-200mm and the other with either a Lumix S Pro 24-70mm or 16-35mm, depending on the assignment. My search led me to the Edition 50mm black on black Shoulder version.

EddyCam Edition 50mm, black on black Shoulder version camera strap, on my Lumix S1R and Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f2.8. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The bigger and heavier S Series needed a slightly wider strap to spread the load more as well as a little padding. The materials on this edition differ slightly too; Finnish elk skin on the outside and Mongolian yak leather on the inside. The yak leather brings even more grip. As a result, it’s not as soft as the elk leather, but certainly not abrasive either, nor as uncomfortable as rubber against the skin, so whilst the S Series cameras usually reside hung on my shoulders, around the neck things didn’t become uncomfortable. One could also of course flip the strap over for a softer feel.

Hours spent on assignment, indoors, outdoors, worn on top of various materials of shirts and jackets, all resulted in one universal outcome; comfort and grip. The camera just stays put. The strap grips very well indeed, is extremely comfortable and just wide enough without being too wide, so easily packs away in a camera bag.

EddyCam Edition 50mm, black on black Shoulder version camera strap, on my Lumix S1R and Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f2.8. The leather end pieces and the nylon connection straps are sewn five times with special thread, which guarantees a high tensile strength. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I had one reservation before getting the 50mm shoulder version though. As the straps are ergonomically shaped, my worry was that it may not work with my camera mounted with a 70-200mm. With longer lenses, I often turn the camera so the prism is pointing inwards (always on my left side so the shutter isn’t accidentally pressed when it rests on my side). This way the longer lens points downwards rather than outwards, which makes moving around easier and the lens is less prone to bash into things or people. The yak underside has so much grip though, that to my joy, I found the strap works on either shoulder, regardless of the direction it’s facing (although a little better when carried properly as the ergonomic curve helps it rest better). Also, the benefit of having elk on the top side means that if you want to carry your camera diagonally across your body, you can twist the strap so the elk side is in contact with you, meaning you can comfortable slide the camera from your side, to your front and shoot. As before, there’s a tiny bit of elasticity in the strap; it’s much less than the Edition 35mm, but does move a tiny bit, around 1cm along it’s entire length, giving you a little bit of suspension. Lastly, the internal natural rubber padding, which is just right as it’s not too thick, makes the strap sit extremely comfortably, even with a heavier professional body and longer lens, even for extended periods of time.

I also got another strap from the shoulder range, an Edition 35mm black on black Shoulder version for my Lumix GX9. This is identical in size and shape to the Edition 35mm cognac brown version, but has the yak leather on the underside for that extra grip, but lacks the rubber padding of the wider Shoulder versions. I really liked using this version of the strap too and my observations on its performance are as above.

EddyCam Edition 35mm, black on black Shoulder version camera strap, on my Lumix GX9 and Leica DG Summilux 15mm lens. London, UK. July 18, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Value

We get the “free” included camera straps in the box with our cameras. Often with bright branding, that from a distance screams “photographer here”. Often with little comfort and very little grip. We also have a range of truly awful straps on the market from various manufacturers, which should be avoided at all costs. There are also several other manufacturers which make a range of straps extending from beautiful to practical. These qualities being mutually exclusive though.

EddyCam is the only manufacturer which I’ve used which has practical elegance, seemingly as an unspoken ethos. It goes further though. Absolutely comfortable, supremely grippy and phenomenally well made. Every aspect, from design, thoughtful choice of materials and production, means this is a first rate product. This is manufacturing at it’s best, realising the concept of design through practical experience and expertise in the field.

Looking at the market, the pricing is nearer the top end. The question is though, is it expensive, or is it good value for money? Having used these straps on assignment and personal work, for over two months, I’m absolutely certain that there isn’t a better camera strap for my needs. I’m also certain that these straps will last for decades. Through several camera changes, easily.

I used to use Nikon burgundy (with yellow stitching) wide camera straps back in the days of film. These were expensive, but lasted many camera changes and I still have them on my Nikon FM2 and F3, over 25 years after purchase. I’ve also used the same UpStraps for well over a decade. Comparing these two straps with my EddyCam straps, I’m absolutely certain the EddyCam straps are the best made and thus will easily outlast them.

When you make this realisation, the cost of the straps becomes extremely good value. In the heat of the moment though, when you reach for your camera and it slips from your shoulder, making you fumble and end up missing that picture, that’s when you will wish you bought that EddyCam.

Urban 2020 Selected Photographer

Very happy to share that a portfolio of 5 of my images has been selected for the next stage of the Urban Photo Awards.

Wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial khachkar (a carved Armenian Stone Cross memorial sculpture) took place after a remembrance service and prayer of intercession, to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th, 1915, when 1.5 Million Armenians were massacred by the Ottoman Empire. A member of the clergy swings a censer (a type of thurible) of incense. The usual wreath laying ceremony at The Cenotaph, attended by hundreds, was cancelled this year due to the COVID 19 lockdown and instead took place on church grounds. St. Yeghiche Armenian Church, Cranley Gardens, South Kensington, London, UK. April 24, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Panasonic Lumix S1 with a Lumix S Pro 16-35mm f4.0 lens.


https://urbanphotoawards.com/selected-2020/selected-2020-people/#group-1 (I’m around 2/3 down the page – just look for my full name)

A portrait of Jim Connor (former picture editor, The Herald, Glasgow) enjoying a pint of Guiness at The Long Hall pub in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. January 17, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Sigma fp with a Leica 35mm APO Summicron SL f2.0 lens.
Opera singer Ida Ränzlöv (mezzo-soprano) in her dressing room ahead of her performance in Ian Page’s visionary MOZART 250 series, 1770 – A Retrospective. In conjunction with Classic FM. Wigmore Hall, Wigmore Street, London, UK. January 09, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Sigma fp with a Lumix S Pro 50mm f1.4 lens.
Fashion designer and independent British luxury brand, Joshua Kane, in his flagship store at 68 Great Portland Street, London, UK. July 23, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Panasonic Lumix S1R with a Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 lens.
Easing Of The Coronavirus Lockdown In England begins today with non-essential retailers being allowed to open if they adhere to social distancing rules. Harrods opens it’s doors to shoppers who began queuing over an hour before the 11am opening of the store. Knightsbridge, London, UK. June 15, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
Panasonic Lumix S1R with a Lumix S Pro 16-35mm f4.0 lens.

All the images were made using the L-Mount camera system. Three images were shot on the Lumix S Series with Lumix S Pro lenses and the other two images were shot on the Sigma fp with a Leica APO Summicron SL lens and a Lumix S Pro lens.

All photographs were from raw files, edited and processed in Adobe Lightroom and finished in Exposure Software’s Exposure X5, with the monochrome image being finished in DxO’s Nik Collection, Silver Efex Pro.

Fingers crossed for the October announcement!