Category Archives: Review

Never Ending Storage Needs

The OWC ThunderBay 8-Bay Enclosure

With the constant need for more storage, when my current storage got down to a few hundred gigabytes of free space, the time came to expand. I was very happy to spot that OWC had brought out a new 8-bay solution, which I had somehow missed. So I ordered the OWC ThunderBay 8-Bay Enclosure to expand my photographic and video storage.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been using various OWC external storage boxes for many years now. My current storage for my picture library (including video) was residing on a four bay ThunderBay box, filled with WD 6Tb Enterprise class hard drives. These were all left as individual drives, connected via Thunderbolt 2 to my Mac Pro. Once the fourth drive was down to a few hundred gigabytes of free space, it was time to plan ahead and upgrade.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. The lockable front cover has been taken off, showing the 8 drive trays. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Before I continue, a few explanations on why use multiple drive bay enclosure boxes, over getting individual external drives. In a nutshell, its to keep things nice and tidy. Declutter. With a box storing 2, 4 or 8 hard drives, you only need one electricity plug and one connection cable to your computer, not 2, 4 or 8. It also means that my entire picture library is always available; many colleagues have to unplug and plug in various hard drives to try and find more historical work. Lastly, the constantly attached library also means that Cloud backups can happen fully and properly.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. With the thumbscrew undone, the drive tray can easily be slid out. Here, the new 8Tb Toshiba hard drive has been screwed into the tray, ready to be inserted back. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The ThunderBay enclosures aren’t hardware RAID boxes, but give you an option of using SoftRAID (a software RAID, available in two versions) by OWC. It’s not something I personally use. All my drives in my ThunderBay enclosures have always been used as individual drives (I do use hardware RAID 5 in other enclosures as backup boxes). These individual hard drives are then backed up to my RAID 5 box using Carbon Copy Cloner, backed up offsite manually (per assignment) and also backed up in the Cloud automatically, using Backblaze. Incidentally, that Backblaze referral link will give us both a free month of Cloud backup, if you’re a new customer.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. I always add a label to the hard drive (make sure never to cover any holes on the hard disk’s case) and also onto each individual tray. This makes future upgrades or swap outs easier and fool proof. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Once the OWC ThunderBay 8-Bay TB3 Enclosure arrived, I simply shut down my Mac Pro, took out the four hard drives from my previous ThunderBay 4-bay enclosure, installed them in the 8-bay enclosure and added the fifth, new drive. Each drive screws into its own drive tray using the supplied screws. After some research, I also decided to try a Toshiba Enterprise class hard drive for the first time. I opted for the Toshiba 8.0TB MG05ACA Series SATA Interface Enterprise Class Hard Disk Drive, also available from OWC. This leaves three bays free in the box, for future upgrade needs. It’s an extremely elegant, practical and future proof solution for one’s never ending storage needs.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure, next to (on the left) an OWC ThunderBay 4 Mini enclosure, which houses 2.5” SSD drives. All the drives have been fitted, leaving thee vacant for the future and the unit is plugged in. Being a TB3 enclosure, I used an Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter, to allow it to work with my Mac Pro (Late 2013 model). August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Something worth thinking about, if your current storage involves multiple external drives, with a spaghetti like tangle of cables. If you’re not worried about warranties, you are extremely careful and are happy to take the risk (there is always risk present in doing anything with the innards of computers and related equipment) is to physically transfer those individual SATA hard drives into a ThunderBay box. Declutter and become more efficient. The intelligent design also allows 2.5” drives to be used.

Clockwise: OWC ThunderBay 4 Mini, ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, G-Technology G-Speed Shuttle XL (in RAID 5 configuration, used as a backup) and my Apple Mac Pro (Late 2013). August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

However, the best option would be to transfer the data onto new hard drives. I tend to swap out hard disks every 4-5 years, as they all have finite life cycles. Also it means that as hard drives increase in size, the physical number of drives needed is less.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure has individual LEDs for each drive. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Lastly, always backup your work. You need everything on at least two physically different drives, but ideally three. One set being kept in a geographically different location. Ideally, a final layer of safety would be a Cloud backup.

My previous OWC ThunderBay, 4 Bay Storage Enclosure, which has now been retired. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

OWC Aura Pro X2 SSD Preview

The OWC Aura Pro X2 1.0TB NVMe SSD Upgrade for the Mac Pro 6,1 (Late 2013)

The Mac Pro (Model identifier: MacPro6,1, late 2013) is a frustrating machine in some professional environments. On the one hand, it’s a genius piece of design, with a radically revolutionary cooling system which works wonders, very quietly, in a form factor which is truly unique.

The Mac Pro (model MacPro6,1 – late 2013) with the outer case off, showing the standard 256Gb Apple SSD. August 27, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

On the other hand though, it’s an extremely limited machine that allows for extremely little internal expansion; something which frustrates many professional users, myself included. Around five years ago though, I had to take the jump and reluctantly got a middle specced machine. My two previous Mac Pro machines had been the affectionately known as the cheese grater chassis. Hugely expandable, with four internal hard drive bays, several expansion slots and dual optical bays that many, including myself, converted to housing SSDs. However with the need for more video and larger raw files, the time came and I got my Mac Pro (3.5GHz 6-core Intel Xeon).

I these expandability terms though, the 2013 Mac Pro though, is extremely limited. One of the big problems is single internal hard drive; in this case, a blisteringly fast NVMe SSD, which is tiny in physical size, and unless you have sizeable funds, is also small in capacity when bought from Apple.

I made do with the built in 256Gb SSD for around 4 years. Moving my Desktop and Document files to my iCloud kept things manageable, but I could only ever have around 22Gb of free space, which would occasionally fill up with cache files (no idea from where, as everything configurable was always assigned to an external SSD attached via Thunderbolt 2 for scratch disk purposes) and constant system messages telling me to clean up my Macintosh HD. Super frustrating, a time waster when on deadline and impossible to do as there was nothing to throw away or configure differently.

I’ve been a huge fan of OWC, having used their various SSDs, RAM and external drive boxes for probably over a decade. In fact, this very machine’s RAM was upgraded as soon as I bought it from the standard 16Gb, using the 64.0GB OWC Memory Upgrade Kit.

The OWC Aura Pro X2 1.0TB NVMe SSD (heatsink attached) for Mac Pro (Late 2013) with some of the supplied tools. August 27, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

In the end, my frustrations pushed me to looking into upgrading my Mac Pro 6,1’s internal, Macintosh HD, SSD. After a few days of thought, I realised the sweet spot, both for usability and financially, would be opting for the 1Tb size. I also decided to go for the kit, which includes an external case called the Envoy, to house the Apple 256Gb SSD and use as an external drive. So I headed to OWC’s European shop and ordered the Aura Pro X2 SSD for Mac Pro 2013 1TB Kit. The other capacities available are 240Gb, 480Gb and 2.0Tb.

The Apple SSD has been removed and the OWC Aura Pro X2 1.0TB NVMe SSD for Mac Pro (Late 2013 – on the right) is ready for insertion. August 27, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

As with everything from OWC, all the specialist tools you need are supplied, along with superb instructions on their website. Upgrading the SSD is very straightforward and most should be able to do it. One crucial thing to check is that you’re running macOS High Sierra 10.13 or later. This is an absolute must, as with High Sierra onwards, the firmware of the Mac Pro 6,1 is updated automatically, which will allow for support of the OWC SSD.

Although I have a Time Machine backup that runs constantly, for extra safety, I formatted a Samsung T5 SSD and made a fresh Time Machine backup onto this (you can have multiple Time Machine drives). I also got another external drive and using Carbon Copy Cloner, cloned my Macintosh HD. Always better to be safe!

As with anything computer related, switch everything off and never touch any part of any circuitry. The static charges that we can build up can fry circuitry, so take your time, be careful and don’t touch anything that’s a circuit or a connector. Once the outer case is remove, you simply unscrew the one retaining screw for the Apple SSD and slide it upwards and out. You need to carefully attach a small heatsink onto the OWC SSD to allow it to cool properly. Whenever attaching a heatsink, its always paramount to make sure you don’t touch the surface of the chip, to ensure it’s clean of any grease or debris. This allows the heatsink to adhere fully and properly, aiding in removing heat to maximum efficiency. Then install the OWC SSD card (firmly yet gently, making sure it’s seated completely in the socket on the motherboard), secure it with the supplied retaining screw, put the outer case back on, lock, attach your cables and you’re almost ready.

OWC Aura Pro X2 1.0TB NVMe SSD for Mac Pro 6,1 (Late 2013) is fitted and the retaining screw is in place. August 27, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

I opted to use the Time Machine backup on the Samsung T5 to restore my Mac onto the new OWC SSD. On power up, I held down the Cmd-Opt-R keys until a startup screen appeared. Then formatted the drive using Disk Utilities to APFS. Once done, I chose the Restore From Time Machine Backup option. Chose the Samsung T5 as a Restore Source, then chose the new OWC SSD as the destination, which I had named Macintosh HD in Disk Utility on the previous step and clicked on Restore. There are full instructions for formatting the OWC Auro Pro X2 SSD and the various ways of installing or restoring your data on the OWC website. With every step, you have a helping hand. Just make sure you make a couple of backups as I did, as a safety and peace of mind measure.

I went off to get some dinner, but I think in under an hour the “new” Mac was up and running. As always after a restore, you may need to log back into a few things, but apart from this, everything was running smoothly and perfectly.

OWC Aura Pro X2 1.0TB NVMe SSD for Mac Pro 6,1 (Late 2013) is fitted and the retaining screw is in place. August 27, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been using my Mac Pro with my new 1Tb OWC Auro Pro X2 SSD for thee days now. I haven’t switched off the machine and it’s been purring along, speedily and without any errors or space issues. With the mightily impressive new Mac Pro (2019 model, MacPro7,1) being so ridiculously expensive and priced well out of the single creative professional’s budget, many of us will be looking at upgrading our current machines to get more out of them. Apple Macs have in my decades of experience, shown that they work well for many years; much longer than one would expect a computer to work. However with more demands from us with bigger raw files, heavier bit rates and ever larger video pixel sizes, our machines need the occasional boost.

Even with the upgradeably challenged form factor of the affectionately called Dustbin Mac Pro, changing simple things like the SSD and upgrading the RAM to 64Gb (128Gb is possible, but from my research for most workflows won’t bring much if any improvements over 64Gb – your needs may vary though, so do your research), can bring a new lease of life and usability. Plus, it comes with a five year warranty. Its a no-brainer!

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.

Panasonic Lumix S1; Hands On Preview


Three and a half weeks with the full frame mirrorless Lumix S1 Camera

Red rose of love. Daily life, Barcelona, Spain. January 27, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian *NB Test shot with a prototype Lumix S1* **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final) Processed from in camera jpeg**

Story telling. That’s what my reason is for picking up a camera. As a photojournalist, a street photographer, a portrait photographer, a commercial photographer, my need for a camera is to capture the essence, subtlety and feel of my subject, tell their story at that moment.

Portrait of violinist Asia JimŽnez Ant—n de Vez. London, UK. January 18, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian *Test shot with a prototype of a Panasonic Lumix S1. Copyright Photo* **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final)**

The Lumix S1 has been with me for over three weeks and I found myself not shooting with anything else. The birth of a new system for Panasonic Lumix, and the start of a fresh new camera system. Yet the camera feels completely accomplished. My prototype camera, with pre-production early firmware, behaved impeccably, never letting me down. It didn’t matter the subject matter, the level of light , the speed, the cold; it just worked. 

Edmond Terakopian at the Lumix S1 Launch Event, shooting in a chocolate factory using a Lumix S1R with S Series 50mm f1.4 lens. Barcelona, Spain. January 29, 2019. Photo: Yoshie Nishikawa **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final) Processed from in camera jpeg**

To sum up, in a nutshell, the S1 is extremely impressive. The quality is just stunning, in every aspect; image quality, camera handling, system design and build quality.

Lumix S1 Launch Event. Barcelona, Spain. January 30, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian. *Shot on a prototype, pre-production firmware Lumix S1R* **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final) Processed from in camera jpeg**

The ergonomics are spot on. The camera just fits and within minutes I was already taking pictures. The button layout, joystick positioning, the placing of the AF button on the back (something crucial for my way of working) is spot on. One superb new feature for this Lumix is the lock button at the back, which can lock the rear buttons. Anyone who runs around with their cameras knows how easy it is to inadvertently find they have set the camera to monochrome HDR mode with bracketing on long exposure! The menu system is also a joy to use; its very well thought out, laid out and the design behind it means there is very little need for referring to the manual. 

Panasonic Lumix S1 full frame mirrorless camera with Lumix S Series 24-105mm standard zoom lens (L-Mount). (NB- Lumix S1 camera is a prototype). London, UK. January 09, 2019. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The build quality and finishing on the camera and lens are sublime. This is definitely a premium, high end camera. One made for serious, daily use, in all sorts of environments. Most professional photographers refer to their cameras as tools; they are the beginning of the journey as it’s only the photograph that matters. These tools are expected to work in all sorts of conditions and never fail; ever. I have a feeling the philosophy behind the design and build of the S Series is going to fit that bill fully. The camera and lenses just inspire confidence in every respect.

I was initially a bit worried at having one camera battery during my testing; I made sure to always pack two USB battery power banks (one wonderful aspect of the top end Lumix cameras is USB charging, which is not only a great convenience when home, but is an indispensible feature for when in the field). It turns out, even with the camera set to sleep after 10 minutes and leaving the camera on constantly, I was managing to still have around 50% battery after close to 1000 photos. All this, in relatively cold conditions.

For most of my initial test period of three weeks, I only had the Lumix S Series 24-105mm f4.0 lens. I’m definitely a fan of faster aperture prime lenses, as I tend to shoot in very low and difficult light. With the lens and body stabilization, married to astonishing high ISO performance meant that I was never really left wanting a faster lens. I didn’t miss any shots. Having said that, I had heard many great things about the S Series 50mm f1.4, so couldn’t wait to make some photographs using that.

Daily life, Barcelona, Spain. January 28, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian *NB Test shot with a prototype Lumix S1* **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final) Processed from in camera jpeg**

One thing that can’t be denied is that the S 50mm definitely has presence. It’s a big and heavy lens. Initially, I was disappointed with the size and weight. I had wished for a smaller lens. Within 15 minutes of having it on the S1, I had shot a couple of test shots under some arches of a member of the Japanese team from Panasonic; the quality was stunning. The sharpness, tonal rendition, shadow and highlight detail, soft falloff of the background. This lens completely impressed. It has character and perfection at the same time. After seeing the results, the size no longer became an issue and the lens almost never came off my camera during three days of shooting with it at Panasonic’s launch event for the S Series in Barcelona, Spain. As a nice icing on the cake, the 50mm is also certified by Leica.

Lumix S1 Launch Event, Barcelona, Spain. January 29, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian *NB Test shot with a prototype Lumix S1* **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final) Processed from in camera jpeg**

The S 24-105mm also definitely impressed me. I have to admit to being a bit of a lens snob; I’m used to shooting with Leica, Leica DG, Zeiss and in earlier years, Angeniuex lenses. I was absolutely bowled over. Not only is this lens sharp, it’s perfectly contrasty and has a phenomenal tonal range. It dealt with shooting in low light or having bright lights without issue. Build quality and feel of the controls match the craftsmanship of the camera.

One thing that has surprised me completely is the level of subtlety I’ve been able to photograph with the S1 and the new S Series lenses. Darker scenes with very subtle gradation and tonal differentiation have been rendered perfectly. The shadow detail and highlight detail have been amazing, even when the same image has had both extremes. It’s also worth pointing out the auto white balance (AWB) worked extremely well, in all but the very mixed and extreme extreme artificial light. I’ve managed to get this level of subtle micro detail and tonal differentiation using a raw converter which is new to me; whilst Silkypix worked and it was a joy to be able to shoot and process raw files on a preproduction prototype camera, I can’t wait for when my preferred imaging software, Adobe’s Lightroom, supports the raw file from the S1. Using software I know intimately is sure to bring a bigger smile to my face when I’m processing images shot on the S1 and extracting even more detail, character and subtlety.

Lumix S1 Launch Event. Barcelona, Spain. January 30, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian. *Shot on a prototype, pre-production firmware Lumix S1R* **Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final) Processed from in camera jpeg**

Alongside my eagerness, with almost childlike enthusiasm, to shoot with the S Series 50mm f1.4, I’m was also super impatient to shoot with the larger megapixel cousin, the S1R. In every aspect, the cameras look and behave identically. It’s the sensor and some settings which differ (mainly the highest ISOs and certain video functionality). I only had the S1R for a few hours during the launch event, so my impressions are based on a brief encounter, which left me breathless at the results this camera produces. The size and detail of the images are simply mind blowing, producing a 47.3mp image, which in high resolution mode produces a mid blowing 187mp image. This is truly top end medium format territory, in a smaller and much more dynamic package.

Unique in the full frame market, is the union of Panasonic Lumix and Leica, two camera manufacturers, collaborating around the L Mount, along with Sigma (which I would assume will bring some of their superb ART lenses in the L Mount). This is great news for the Lumix S Series as well as the existing Leica SL community. Panasonic Lumix’s three lenses (24-105mm f4.0, 50mm f1.4 and 70-200mm f4.0) joining an already available portfolio of Leica SL lenses. By 2020, Panasonic Lumix is due to release a further seven lenses. 

Lumix S1 Launch Event. Barcelona, Spain. January 31, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian *NB-Image taken with a Lumix S1 preproduction sample (Image quality not final). Images processed from in camera fine setting jpeg*

It’s a truly remarkable to be so enthused about a new camera system after 30 years of professional photography. My excitement for this system reminds me of when I picked up my first SLR, 34 years ago. Roll on March 2019, when these will be available in the shops!

Alongside the S Series, Lumix Pro service has also been rolled out to support professional photographers: https://lumixpro.panasonic.com/

To see an album of test images, please visit my Flickr album Panasonic Lumix S1 and S1R

I also have an album of product shots and comparisons: Lumix S1 Camera Comparison Shots

Once final production cameras are available, I will be writing a full review. In the meantime, do keep an eye on my Instagram where I will be sharing more images.

Leica CL – Hands On

Hands On Preview Of The New Leica CL

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Photographer Edmond Terakopian with the newly announced Leica CL. Leica CL Press Launch. The Den, 45 St Martin’s Lane, London. November 21, 2017. Photo: Robin Sinha

I used to really like my Leica X1; superb quality, large sensor compact camera, with a fixed Leica lens, capable of professional results in a small body. It was with me at all times and I used it on assignments as well as my personal work. Alas, it needed to have a proper electronic viewfinder and equally as importantly, interchangeable lenses. The radically conceptual and interesting Leica TL and TL2 addressed the interchangeable lens issue, but to my dismay didn’t have a built in viewfinder. Although I do sometimes shoot using the rear screen, I’m definitely a viewfinder user and a slide on viewfinder (be it optical or digital) whilst useful, isn’t the answer. They’re inelegant, get in the way, add bulk, come off and can easily be lost.

The rumour mills started showing leaked images of the Leica CL. An interchangeable lens, compact mirrorless camera with a built in viewfinder. Of course, one can never trust these rumours, but when I received an invitation by the lovely folks at Leica UK for a press launch, I realised this may just be for real. I’m delighted to say, it is a reality.

It’s a truly beautiful and elegant design, sharing a look very reminiscent of it’s great grandfather, the Leica III. Even without the red dot, it is instantly recognisable as a Leica and carries this heritage forward. The design, craftsmanship and build quality are really top notch. This is definitely a “real Leica”. It feels right in the hand.

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A portrait of Arteh Odjidja at the Leica CL Press Launch. Test shot using the Summilux-TL 35 f/1.4 ASPH. The Den, 45 St Martin’s Lane, London. November 21, 2017. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The mark of a well thought out design, one crafted by engineers who are passionate photographers and not just very clever folk, is that when you pick it up, you can just start to use it. Without looking at a manual or much fuss at all, I took to its beautifully designed and elegant switchgear; ergonomics which have been thought through just make the camera a very natural and comfortable extension of the photographer. The twin dials with push down control clicks and a small screen between them means that modes and settings can quickly be navigated not only without fuss, but very naturally. My only gripe here is that in manual mode, it would be nice to be able to change the dials’ functions so that shutter speed and aperture can be swapped around if needed. Hopefully a firmware upgrade can take care of that.

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A portrait of Robin Sinha at the Leica CL Press Launch. Test shot using the Summilux-TL 35 f/1.4 ASPH. The Den, 45 St Martin’s Lane, London. November 21, 2017. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

When other camera manufacturers look at the simplicity and elegance of design with a perfect layout of buttons, dials and screens, they’ll hopefully realise that shoving extraneous buttons all over their camera’s isn’t really necessary and is in fact counterproductive to photography. The same can be said of the menu system, which essentially includes a favourite’s page and is very elegantly done. No PhDs needed to operate this menu system!

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the specifications online, but the main points are:

24.2mp APS-C CMOS sensor with a 14 stop dynamic range

ISO range of 100 to 50000

10 frames a second on continuous drive (with three speed settings for continuous) with a 33 frame buffer (jpeg and raw DNG)

Flash sync speed of 1/180th

EVF has 2.3mp with an eye relief of 20 mm (superb for spectacle wearers)

The autofocus system is contrast based and has 49 points

The files lend themselves beautifully to the monochrome treatment; the lenses and sensor being matched nicely to get a smooth and wide tonal range also produce a phenomenal dynamic range. All the key ingredients for beautiful black and white photography are present.

I had the camera for around 20 minutes, so of course this post isn’t an exhaustive test. Some colleagues whose opinion I value have had more time with the camera, and I will post some links at the end of this article. However, one thing I can usually tell in the first few minutes of picking up a new camera is if it’s going to work for me. The Leica CL gave me the feeling that it definitely will. It’s right in the hand, focuses quickly and accurately, has a decent amount of AF points spread across the frame, has a fast drive when needed, intelligent menu system and of course, has Leica lenses. The main reason for me choosing Leica, by far, is the Leica lens. I made this decision back in early 90s when I bought my first Leica (an M4-2) after having tried an M3 for a few weeks back in 1989. Another wonderful thing about the CL is that with an adapter, Leica M lenses can be fitted and used (with a x1.5 crop factor).

I do wish it had a few things though. I would have really liked to see a joystick on the back for moving the AF point around quickly with he camera to the eye. I feel any serious camera needs to have a joystick. A built in stabiliser would have also been most welcome. Although the video specs are good, I didn’t even bother to shoot video as there are no microphone or headphone sockets, so perhaps having these would have been a nice touch, making the camera more usable, but I assume it would have added bulk.

As with any conversation involving Leica, the price always comes up. I’ve already had several conversations about pricing with friends and colleagues on my social media. Leica have always been more costly. No compromise lens design and low quantity manufacturing has always meant that price wise they will never be on par with the gigantic Japanese manufacturers. However, if the look and feel you get from your images is important to your work, then a Leica will help bring out that much more from that moment when you decide to press the shutter release.

The full frame bigger brother, the Leica SL, was of course Leica’s first mirrorless, interchangeable lensed, built in EVF camera. Some very impressive specs, beautiful image quality and absolutely stellar lenses, alas never convinced me to get one. Simply because the lenses were huge. Smaller lenses are rumoured to be on their way though, so perhaps I may reevaluate my stance in the future. Until that moment, for me, the CL is Leica doing mirrorless correctly. It ticks so many boxes and feels absolutely right in the hand and in use. Dear Santa……

 

My Leica CL Flickr Album

Some atmospheric photographs of the Leica CL from Leica Camera.

Further Reading about the Leica CL:

Sarah M Lee puts the new Leica CL through its paces; TENDER ARE THE NIGHTHAWKS

Testing The Leica CL, by Jono Slack

Leica CL Review by Andy Westlake

 

RODELink Review

My Review Of The RØDELink Filmmaker Kit

The new Rodelink wireless setup. May 19, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The new Rodelink wireless setup. May 19, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Easy. That’s the surprise when you first setup the new RODELink. So easy to setup and start shooting with. One button pairing, digital wireless and a distance of up to 100 meters.

The RodeLink Film Maker Kit on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. May 16, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The RodeLink Film Maker Kit on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. May 16, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Rode’s first wireless system works a treat; fast to get going with and great audio too. The Filmmaker Kit comes with a transmitter receiver, the excellent Rode Lavalier mic and also a minijack cable for attaching the receiver to your camera or audio recorder.