Category Archives: viewpoint

The Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 Lens Hands On Preview

Seven Weeks With The Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 (Pre-Production) Lens

Pre-production Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 L-Mount Full-Frame Lens, attached to a Lumix S1 camera. London, UK. August 27, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
A self portrait, showing a pre-production Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 L-Mount full-frame lens, mounted on a Lumix S1 and a Uniqball ball head. London, UK. August 25, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

“Mmmmm, this is going to be special”. This was what I said to myself as soon as I looked at the the very first test frame I shot with the lens on my Lumix S1R. Followed by, “Its so sharp!”. This was a very good way to start shooting with a brand new lens. In fact, a pre-production model at that, with early, pre-production firmware.

Eunsley Park, award-winning British, South Korean violinist, with a Lorenzo Storioni violin, from the 1800s (from the Beare’s International Violin Society). Walkway by a construction site, Ealing, London, UK. July 29, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO
Eunsley Park, award-winning British, South Korean violinist, with a Lorenzo Storioni violin, from the 1800s (from the Beare’s International Violin Society). Walkway by a construction site, Ealing, London, UK. July 29, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

I felt rather honoured when Panasonic Lumix UK got in touch to see if I’d like to test out the unreleased S Pro 24-70mm f2.8, ahead of it’s global launch on August 28th, 2019, which was around 1.5 months away. Unboxing the generic brown box, cutting away the bubble wrap, revealed the new lens. I found out the lens had been carried by hand, all the way from Japan! I got out some black tape, covered up all the markings and began shooting.

Entertainer and clown Christina Petre. Armenian Summer Festival, North Acton Playing Fields, Eastfields Road, London, UK. July 14, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

It’s a bit of a special feeling knowing only a handful of people globally have seen the lens and I’ve been asked to test it and make images with it to be possibly used for the global launch. It’s also quite stressful, knowing photographs have to be made to not only showcase, but live up to every aspect of what was already proving to be a spectacularly good lens.

Portrait of Stephen Unwin (theatre and opera director, writer and teacher) at home. London, UK. July 15, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

One of the characteristics that hit me as I begun shooting more and more, was that this wasn’t just a sharp lens, but it had something special. Pure clinical sharpness is ok for forensic type photography, but for being creative, for conveying mood, for sharing a story, one also needs gentleness, subtlety and grace. The rendering from this lens has all of that.

Jan Hellebrand assembles a mechanical clock after a full dissasembly and service. The Clock Gallery, Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, London, UK. July 16, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

Generally, a 24-70mm f2.8, is a bread and butter lens; pretty much everyone will have one in their bag and it’s the standard professional zoom. Versatile, useful and a safe choice. What I found special though, was this wasn’t just a bread and butter lens. Where one may have a standard zoom for safety, one would also have a special prime with nicer rendering, for making those special portraits or creative shots.

In Armenian mythology, the pomegranate is celebrated as a symbol of life and is also believed to keep us safe from evil spirits. It has religious connotations to Christianity and is seen as the blood of Christ. The mythology of ancient Greece regarded this fruit as the symbol of life, marriage and rebirth. The fruit is also used as a holy symbol and respected in zoroastrian worshipping ceremonies and rituals.The pomegranate symbolises the soul’s immortality and the perfection of nature for Zoroastrians. For Muslims, the pomegranate is also a symbol of beauty, it is said to give beauty to those who eat it. Prophet Mohammed has advised pregnant women to eat pomegranates if they wanted beautiful children. Placement of pomegranate trees in the gardens of Eden, brings meaning for Muslims, who as a result believe that it is a holy tree. The Jewish mysticism called Kabbala reveres the pomegranate in many of its rituals. In modern Turkey today, many families throw a pomegranate on the floor and “crack” it on the New Year’s Eve to have a plentiful new year. Pomegranate still life. London, UK. July 16, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

Well, the S 24-70mm f2.8 has all of that. It’s truly special to have all these qualities wrapped up in one lens. Versatility and speed, but also beautiful rendering, colour, contrast, detail and well, a bit of poetry too. I found it captured light and colour beautifully and rendered a nicely soft background in out of focus areas. As much as I hate talking about this and using the word bokeh, it does have beautiful bokeh! (I need to add my dislike is purely based on people who only care about bokeh and nothing else, especially not the craft of photography).

A Piccadilly Ballerina Jonquil timepiece, modelled by Mona Ali. British luxury timepiece creator Backes & Strauss (founded in 1789). 21-22 Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, London, UK. July 17, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

It is chunky though. I felt the same way as when I first picked up the S Pro 50mm f1.4. Although I wished all of the S Series lenses could be a little smaller, just as with the S 50mm, as soon as I started shooting with the S 24-70mm, it justified it’s size and won a place in my camera bag. In fact, I pretty much didn’t shoot with anything else and seven weeks on, it’s always been mounted on either my S1 or S1R.

The horses are cooled down with water after the match. King Power Gold Cup polo match between Emlor and Murus Sanctus. Cowdray Park Polo Club, Ambersham & Brooks Field Grounds, Selham, West Sussex. July 10, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

It just produces beautiful images and no matter what type of subject I point it at, it does as I ask and produces what I want. Fast to react and precise in rendering.

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 ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

Super fast and silent AF, outstanding build quality and stunning optics. I have a feeling the scientific types at DxO Labs are going to enjoy putting this through their rigorous tests.

Hans Staartjes with his hand built indoor free flight rubber powered model airplane, known as an “F1D” class (internationally recognised flight duration competitions since the 1960’s). The model has a wing span of 55cm and weigh 1.4 grams. The model is balsa reinforced by very fine boron filaments and covered in the lightest film available, called OS film. London, UK. July 05, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO
A portrait of German television host Max (Dieter) Moor. Inauguration of Lumen, the Museum of Mountain Photography, at 2275m, perched atop Mount Kronplatz-Plan de Corones, South Tyrolean Mountains and Dolomites, Italy. July 20, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

So please don’t read this small post as a review; it really is a quick preview. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Keep in mind though that this is a pre-production lens with early, non final firmware and so is definitely a pre-release lens. Yet, it helped make these images with grace. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final thing! If you have an L Mount camera, I suggest you try it too!

Italian Alpine (Mountain Troop) soldiers at the top of Kronplatz mountain. Plan de Corones, South Tyrolean Mountains and Dolomites, Italy. July 20, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO
Traditional Armenian Sunday Worship conducted by Rev. Shnork Bagdassarian. St Sarkis Armenian Apostolic church (the Grade II listed building was constructed in 1922 and is the only church in England to have been built in the traditional Armenian style). Iverna Gardens, Kensington, London, UK. July 07, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

I’ll be sharing some pictures in the coming weeks on my Instagram @terakopian.

More S Pro 24-70mm Photographs

You can also find two albums of photographs on my Flickr:

Photographs Shot On The New Panasonic Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 Lens

Panasonic Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 Lens Product Shots and Comparison

The Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, London, UK. July 07, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO
Dancers from the London based Akhtamar Dance Group. Armenian Summer Festival, North Acton Playing Fields, Eastfields Road, London, UK. July 14, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO
A lady photographs her friend using a smartphone. Upper deck of the Snog frozen yoghurt bus. South Bank, London, UK. July 16, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO
Summer Flowers. Ealing Common, London, UK. July 11, 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian ***Photo taken using a pre-production Lumix S 24-70mm f2.8 lens, running early firmware. This lens is not a final production sample*** COPYRIGHT PHOTO

Having just watched the Livestream from Hollywood, launching the Lumix S1H and S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 lens, thrilled to see one of my images shown by Yosuke Yamane-san, the head of imaging at Panasonic.

A photograph by Edmond Terakopian projected during the Lumix global launch event for the Lumix S1H and S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 lens. Dolby Vine Theatre, Hollywood, LA, CA, USA. August 27, 2019. Video Grab: ©Panasonic

RAF Photography Competition 2019

Judging The RAF Photographers’ Best Images

It’s been an absolute honour and a positively stress filled joy, to have been one of the three judges in the RAF‘s annual competition.

Image of The Year; WINNER: Concorde – The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows perform Concorde over the deep blue sea of Greece. On the 21st May, Red 10 and Circus 10 photo chased a full display at the Hotel Datum in glorious afternoon sunshine, whilst deployed on Ex SPRINGHAWK 19 in Greece where they refine the display ready for the Public Display Authority (PDA). Photo: Cpl Ash Keates – RAFAT

The Royal Airforce has trained some phenomenal photojournalists and I would say the top of that list would be Don McCullin, who signed up to National Service in the RAF as a photographic assistant. To be invited back for the second year to judge the work of McCullin’s contemporaries is indeed a special treat.

One certain way of knowing how high the level of photography is in any competition is by looking at how much discussion, heated debate and heart breaking compromise occurs between judges.

Photographer of the Year; WINNER & Image of The Year; HIGHLY COMMENDED: Stargazer – A CH-47 Chinook helicopter rests at night during a training mission in the Arizona desert. The Chinook was being used at a FARP (Forward Arming Refuelling Point) to refuel USMC helicopters whilst deployed at the Marine Corps Air Base, in Yuma, Arizona, USA to take part in the twice yearly training and development programme known as WTI (Weapons and Tactics Instructor). Photo: Cpl Tim Laurence – ACSSU, RAF Halton

Well, I can say that this year, even more so than last year, the debates were passionate. Its also worth noting that Highly Commended places were optionally awarded by the judges, purely because the level of the work was so high and the competition was so close.

Image of The Year; HIGHLY COMMENDED: Split break – Two new XXV(F) Squadron take flight over North Wales. A flight that saw Hawks from both IV(R) Squadron and XXV(F) Squadron, following the Squadrons has split to form 2 squadrons, to meet demands in the UK Military Flying Training System (UK MFTS) and the increase in demand for fast jet pilots. Photo: SAC Chris Thompson-Watts – Photo ACSSU

Judging of the 13 different categories of the RAF Photographer Of The Year Competition 2019 took place at the RAF Museum, in London. Jim Hedge (Picture Editor at the Guardian), Martin Keene (Press Association Group Picture Editor) and myself spent a day looking through hundreds and hundreds of prints. For the video category, we had access to view the entries beforehand and then spent around an hour together viewing our favourites and discussing the merits of our chosen favourites.

Image of The Year; HIGHLY COMMENDED: Goose – The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team; The Red Arrows, deployed on Ex SPRINGHAWK 19, perform Goose on a still morning whilst fisherman watch on from their boat at Chalkoutsi, Greece. Photo: Cpl Ash Keates – RAFAT

The Image Of The Year (Category L) was a great illustration of the skill of the RAF’s photographers. The winning image by Cpl Ash Keates, titled Concorde, grabbed my attention the second I saw it after entering the judging hall and it stayed with me. I later found it had had the same effect on one of my fellow judges too. A strong sense of composition, colour, technical perfection married to the subtlety of capturing the shadows left by the Red Arrows on the water, raised it from a great picture to a winning photograph.

The four images I’ve shared here show an absolute mastery of craft; bringing not only fast reflexes, but an art of composition, a deep aesthetic sensibility and layers of subtlety. Our task was to choose just one winner, but the work was so good that we decided to also award six Highly Commended places too.

Photographer of the Year; WINNER: Centurions of The Night – A pair of RAF Typhoons wait to taxi out and depart from RAF Akrotiri on an Op SHADER night mission. RAF Typhoons are now upgraded and equipped with a new ‘Centurion’ weapon configuration that now includes Brimstone missiles. Photo: Cpl Tim Laurence – ACSSU, RAF Halton

The Photographer of the Year (Category K) was won by a superb portfolio of six images by Cpl Tim Laurence (ACSSU, RAF Halton). Another showcase of mastery of craft, with a varied set of images which worked extremely well together, yet each in their own right shone. Another extremely difficult category to judge with much debate and discussion as the level of work was so high. Cpl Laurence also had his phenomenal photograph titled Stargazer (of a Chinook at night) highly commended in the Image Of The Year category.

Photographer of the Year; WINNER: Centurion Sundown Ð A RAF Eurofighter Typhoon rests on the pan at RAF Akrotiri Airfield, Cyprus at sunset. Deployed to RAF Akrotiri as part of 903EAW the jets deploy daily in support of Coalition troops on the ground in the Middle East offering valuable target acquisition and fast air support with deadly precision in the fight against Daesh. Photo: Cpl Tim Laurence – ACSSU, RAF Halton
Photographer of the Year; WINNER: Heavy Metal – This image shows a Weapon Systems Operator (WSOP) from 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham, looking out of the front crewmanÕs door of his CH-47 Chinook as the setting sun disappears at MCAS Yuma, Arizona and marks the beginning of a night time training sortie. Photo: Cpl Tim Laurence – ACSSU, RAF Halton

First place in the Video (Category D) section goes to SAC Ed Wright (Photo ACSSU) for Fortune Favours the Bold. Finland will be the host nation of Bold Quest 19.1 held in April-May 2019. Bold Quest 19.1 is a multinational joint fires interoperability demonstration and assessment event sponsored and facilitated by the United States Joint Staff.

The People’s Choice-Vote Now!

During the judging process, these nine images made it to our People’s Choice board. Have a look at the stunning photographs and make your vote (It’s a quick, one click vote).

Behind The Scenes

It really is a joy talking about great images, championing favourites and being treated to so many great images. Many congratulations on all the winners, all who were highly commended and my best wishes to all who entered their fantastic work. I’ve only shared some of the winners here, but do pop by the RAF Photographers’ Instagram to see more work. You can also find them on Facebook.

Judging the 13 different categories of the RAF Photographer Of The Year Competition 2019. (L-R) Jim Hedge (Picture Editor at the Guardian), Edmond Terakopian (photojournalist) and Martin Keene (Press Association Group Picture Editor). RAF Museum, Hendon, London, UK. August 20, 2019. Photo: SAC AMY LUPTON / RAF
Judging the 13 different categories of the RAF Photographer Of The Year Competition 2019. Edmond Terakopian (photojournalist) looks through some of the entries. RAF Museum, Hendon, London, UK. August 20, 2019. Photo: SAC AMY LUPTON / RAF

Here’s a video prepared by the RAF, part of which is a behind the scenes look to the work done by their photographers and also gives a glimpse of the judges at work.

Don McCullin in conversation with Fergal Keane

Probably the most moving, revealing, honest, soul shaking and tear jerking talk I have ever been to, was last night’s event at Kings Place. Photojournalist Don McCullin opened his heart and shared his soul in a way I’ve only ever known from the very closest of friends. To say it captivated every ounce of my being would be putting it mildly.

Photojournalist Don McCullin in conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, UK. 24 April 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Photojournalist Don McCullin shares a story from the Vietnam War, during his conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, UK. 24 April 2019. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Without doubt, Don McCullin is one of the very greatest photographers of our time. He was in conversation with foreign correspondent Fergal Keane OBE, as they discussed McCullin’s 60 year career, covering his extensive work in war zones across the world, his documenting of poverty throughout Britain, as well as his more recent, therapeutic landscape photography.

The evening though was made unforgettable by hearing, nay, feeling, the inner most thoughts and emotions of a journalist who has dedicated his life to showing the injustices suffered by many.

The Preoccupation With Gear

As the talk came to an end and I collected my emotions, it came as the biggest shock to hear the first question:

“What’s your favourite film stock?”…

Astonishing that the whole emotional and intellectually challenging rollercoaster ride of pure, uncensored heart felt emotions, dotted with the very best of the “stiff upper lip” humour as a temporary escape, a member of the audience’s only question was about the type of film used.

To think that the power of McCullin’s images have anything to do with the brand of film used was as astonishing as it was infuriating. McCullin of course answered patiently that it was Tri-X, but followed with his own question of “Let me ask you something; why did you come here tonight? What were you expecting?”. There was no cruelty in the question, just a genuine wonderment of why after his outpouring of emotion about the human condition, that the only thing thought worthwhile asking was about film. Of course there was no answer from the chap and the questions continued, thankfully about the actual work, not film, aperture, shutter speed or cameras.

Don McCullin’s words, on the wall in his retrospective at the Tate Britain.

Don McCullin’s words, on the wall in his retrospective at the Tate Britain.

During the talk, McCullin did share that sadly he felt that none of his pictures made a difference. Decades of wars continued, captured by his mastery of seeing and he moved onto wars which he didn’t cover. The futility in his voice was exceptionally moving. Thankfully, the final question of the night was as wonderful as it was powerful. A lady thanked him for his dedication and work. Saying that whilst when he was at school studying history, he didn’t have the advantage of seeing pictures by Don McCullin, she had the tremendous advantage of studying history and seeing the photographs by Don McCullin.

Some Thoughts

Anyone who knows me, knows that I take a huge interest in the equipment I use for my work, be that professional assignments and commissions, or personal work. However, this equipment is the tool which helps me create. Its part of the beginning process and not the be all and end all in my photography.

Photography has, what I think is a unique peculiarity about it. When some people look at an amazing photograph, they immediately jump to asking what camera and lens is used, or in the case of this chap from last night, what film was used. However, if the same person has a great meal in a restaurant, they would never ask the chef about the make of pans used, and the model number of the cooker used. When has anyone asked a great author about which pen, typewriter or word processor they used?

Its great to have nice gear. For me, when I started out as a photographer, I had an aperture priority only camera called the Nikon EM. It was great and I loved it. However, I outgrew it relatively quickly and I would miss photographs or not be able to craft them the way I had envisaged, because of it’s inadequacies. My second camera, a second hand, original Canon F1, had a terrible focusing screen and a stiff lens, which meant focusing became an issue when speed was of the essence. At that stage, as I began my career on my first local paper, the Ealing Gazette, I vowed that I would as much as possible, buy the best equipment I could, as I never wanted to miss a picture because my equipment wasn’t capable enough. I never wanted to blame my tools. I should take the blame, learn what I did wrong and improve.

Looking at photography, especially for those who enjoy this as the most wonderful hobby, or even those about to take the road to becoming a professional, I have one piece of advise; recognise the camera as a tool, for making wonderful imagery. Invest your money after having bought a decent camera and lens, at the beginning stages, into learning about photography. Books, exhibitions and articles written in proper, established photography magazines as well as magazines and newspapers which use great photography. Blogs and YouTube videos by self appointed gurus and influencers will do nothing for improving your photography. Search out workshops by real, proven photographers with real track records, not fake robot followed Instagram accounts by self appointed ambassadors. Photography becomes so much more joyous and interesting when one starts to invest time and money into the craft, rather than just the gear. The gear will always be there and once you know how to craft an image, then getting better gear and more lenses will elevate and not hinder your photography.

Mindfulness, intelligence and emotion, mixed with an aesthetic, a sense of timing and an understanding of the situation, makes the photograph. I’ve found that when a photographer genuinely starts to understand photography, then they truly appreciate the ability of their tools and this then elevate’s their imagery. It’s a long term thing and results in a life long love of photography. Those who just see the gear as being the important thing, will get lots of kit, get disillusioned quickly and leave photography. Play the long game is my advice.

Incidentally, if you haven’t yet seen his retrospective at Tate Britain, I can’t urge you strongly enough to catch it before it closes on the 6th of May 2019.

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

 

Discrimination In Journalism

Seeking Diversity In The Media Industry

Press Card Mosaic

It’s a very sad truth that sexism and racism is rife in the media. As a British photojournalist born in Iran and off Armenian descendants, I have lived in the UK since the age of eight. It’s very much my home and I’m extremely proud to be British and to contribute to society through my work, both professionally and in various volunteer basis, as well as numerous charitable contributions.

Through various publications, competitions and awards over the years, I have proven my ability as a photojournalist, yet sadly have never managed to make it past being a casual freelance photographer (meaning being commissioned daily) for the newspapers and agencies. I have several talented colleagues who are of various ethnic backgrounds who have the same struggles. The same discrimination is shown towards white, English female colleagues when contracts and big projects are filled. It is indeed rare to see someone of ethnicity or female photographers in good contract positions, the recipient of the top commissions or in possession of staff jobs (even when these were more abundant).

It truly is a shame that one’s ability and skill is often overseen, in place of one’s ethnicity or sex. After all, the reader or viewer sees the work, not the author. Its quite bizarre that over the last year, I decided to grow a long beard. Instead of this being seen as a trendy or hipster type thing, because of my slight tanned complexion, I could see a lot of people were judging me as some sort of religious extremist. Since shaving it off a couple of months ago, the reaction of the same people when seeing me is the polar opposite. Its quite sad really. Ignorance is most often not bliss.

Picture editors, editors, publishers and media owners need to look at the quality of work and ability of the photojournalist, not their ethnicity, sex, cultural background or religion. I’m definitely not one to condone positive discrimination either; quotas shouldn’t be filled based purely on one’s ethnicity or sex. I just think that the best person for the job should always get the job regardless of the colour of their skin or their sex.

The NY Times has this excellent article, which is well worth a read: Seeking Action — Not Just Talk — About Diversity in Photojournalism. Even more importantly, at the end of the article is a link to a survey for working photojournalists. Please put aside five minutes and fill in this Reclaim survey. Hopefully it’ll benefit the industry and our readers too.

Christmas Wishes

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2016 has certainly been a rough year. The worsening refugee crisis, mass killings in Syria, extremists of all sorts (both in the Middle East and the West), political upheavals like Brexit and Trump, the rise of racism and far right ideologies, the loss of many great and gifted people, have made 2016 one of the most terrible years in my living memory.

I hope that on those things which we have control, we learn lessons and vow to make 2017 much better. On those things we have no control, let’s be hopeful that it will be a better year.

I’ve personally had a very mixed year. Very saddened by world events both far and close. Very annoyed by politicians who blatantly set out to lie and fool the population of their respective countries. I’ve met some very interesting new people; talented, genuine and with depth and substance and been let down by a couple of people whom I felt had these qualities.

I’ve been fortunate with my work being recognised by various institutions, publications and competitions around the world and had the honour of the Daily Mirror naming me as the author of one of the world’s most iconic photographs. I’ve had the absolute joy of being back at the Royal College of Music to continue my project with an extremely talented group of people; it’s an atmosphere which makes me buzz with creative energy. It’s been wonderful continuing many bespoke one on one workshops throughout the year, both for established clients and new clients. I’ve also had the absolute joy of being a tutor on Philip Bloom and Nino Leitner’s Film Makers Masterclass, where I had the joy to meet some amazing people and produce some great work.

Words of thanks to all who follow the blog, my Instagram, Flickr and FaceBook. Your kind comments always raise a smile and bring an energy when it’s needed. Thank you.

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year. Keep well!