Tag Archives: review

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7

The Perfect Camera Bag?

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Shown with two Leica M cameras; L-R: Leica M9 with 50mm Noctilux ASPH and M9-P with 35mm Summilux ASPH. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

As photographers we spent our years searching for that perfect image. Any photographer who has been in the industry for any length of time has most probably spent a sizeable amount of time also searching for the perfect camera bag!

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Front view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Firstly, I would say that no such thing exists as “the perfect camera bag”. It’s taken me a couple of decades to come up with this conclusion. I would say though that the perfect camera bag system does exist. One type of bag simply will not work for all situations, types of equipment or types of assignment, therefore having a system of bags is the answer. I’ve been a user of Think Tank Photo bags for many years now and was so impressed with them that I even joined the design board a couple of years ago, for a year. (I hasten to add that I’ve had no input into this bag, so it is a straight forward review). I now use a system of roller bags and backpacks which allow for transportation of gear to an assignment, and then a selection of belt pouches, chest bag (the Change Up) and shoulder bags, to work from (I choose what suits the assignment best).  I choose what will suit a particular assignment as carefully as I choose my camera or video gear. This way I can work both comfortably and quickly, with the equipment not getting in the way of the job at hand.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been actively using the Retrospective 7 on assignment for several weeks now and must say I am very, very impressed. It now houses my Leica M outfit, comprising of an M9, M9-P, 21mm Elmarit, 28mm Summicron ASPH, 35mm Summilux ASPH, 50mm Noctilux ASPH, 90mm Summarit, SF 58 flash and various accessories. The main thing with this bag though was that it was designed to take an Apple 11″ MacBook Air or iPad too, so depending on what I’m doing, I will slip the appropriate computer in the rear zipped and padded compartment.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple 11″ MacBook Air in the rear pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Like the other Retrospective Bags, it’s lightweight, unconstructed and soft, with a moving base (made up of several padded sections that move with the movement of the bag). This makes the range, and this bag too, an extremely comfortable shoulder bag to work with and work from. It also has the genius silent velcro system which comes in very handy in quite press conferences (and will suit every wedding photographer when it comes to working in a church environment).

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple iPad 3. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Although I house my rangefinder outfit in the Retrospective 7, it will also be perfect for any Micro 4/3 system by Panasonic or Olympus and the Fuji X-Pro 1 kit. It will also take smaller DSLRs (without grips), including the 5D MkIII or D800, with lenses up to the 24-70 f2.8s and smaller prime lenses. It’s an extremely versatile size and can be configured to house a wide variety of gear, including a means to edit and send pictures.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Interior shot, with dividers set up specifically for a Leica M outfit. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Is it the perfect bag? Well, I’d say it’s the perfect shoulder bag and it’s now my favourite shoulder bag of all time. Highly recommended.

The Retrospective 7, along with most of that range is available in Black, Pinestone and the new Blue Slate colours. If you’re in the UK, check out SnapperStuff where you can order directly or find your local dealer. Otherwise, check out the Think Tank Photo.

Addendum: Macjim has kindly sent me this picture showing his Retrospective 7 with the Apple 13″ MacBook Air in the front pocket. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal, but appears a workable solution if needs must.

 

The Leica M Monochrom Hands On Review

The King Of The Tones?

Opening of the Leica Studio-S, 27 Bruton Place, Mayfair. Portraits of photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Leica M Monocrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. May 16, 2012. Photo: By Brett / http://www.bybrett.com

I have to admit that when I first read rumours of a black and white Leica M, I thought it would never happen. When I saw the announcements, I was a tad surprised, until I saw the images. Such tonal range and amazing detail at very high ISOs all of a sudden made so much sense.

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 640 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 640 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I was fortunate enough to be able to try out a pre-production Leica M Monochrom today, along with the astonishingly great Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. In my enthusiasm to shoot with the camera I unfortunately didn’t check to see if the camera was set to RAW, so all these test images are from jpegs which I have processed a little in Aperture. Naturally RAWs produce the best files, so take these jpegs, which have been saved again as jpegs and thus degraded the image quality (especially at higher ISOs) as a guide. Even so, they are amazingly good!

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 8000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 8000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 10,000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 10,000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One of the great aspects of the launch event for the press at Leica Mayfair’s S-Studio was being able to discuss the camera with friends and colleagues.

Photographer Ian Berry from Magnum Photos tries out the new Leica M Monochrome. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian (Image shot on an M9-P and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2)

Photographer Ian Berry from Magnum Photos tries out the new Leica M Monochrome. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian (Image shot on an M9-P and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2)

I must admit to being blown away and yearn to be able to work in black and white like the good old days!

The huge thing with this camera is not needing the bayer filter in front of the sensor. This makes the sensor much better at picking up ultra fine detail and a wider tonal range, not to mention it’s ability to produce really gorgeous files at 8000 ISO. Just playing with these jpegs it’s clear to me that Leica have in fact pulled off a master stroke of absolute genius. I can’t wait to get my hands on this camera again, shoot in DNG and process them properly through Aperture. It is going to be lush!

For a full set of images taken with the M Monochrom, visit my Flickr stream.

The B&W Connoisseur’s Camera?

The  Leica M Monochrom

Leica M Monochrom. Photo: © Leica

It does at first glance appear a tad odd; a digital camera that only shoots in black and white. There are two types of photographer who this camera will appeal too though; the high end enthusiast who is into monochrome photography and also the established professional photographer who has made a name for themselves by shooting black and white.

I’m very much hoping to do a hands on review soon, but meanwhile, Andreas Jürgensen from the Leica Forum has done an interesting video review.

The camera certainly appears not to be a Leica M9 which just shoots in B&W. It does indeed have a brand new sensor and it’s ISO range is upped to 10,000. Watching the video and listening to Andreas’ conclusions, the camera produces noiseless images at 3200 ISO and absolutely usable images at 8000 ISO. The sensor also renders massive amounts of micro detail. This camera appears to be an astonishing tool; an interesting concept brought to life with a brave decision making by Leica and also executed in a magnificent way. I really cannot wait to shoot with this camera and make some prints on my iPF6300 and Hahnemuhle paper!

Update: I’ve just read a fantastic piece by Jonathan Slack on the Leica M Monochrom; well worth a read and definitely check out the wonderful gallery of images.

Update: There are some images by Magnum Photos photographer Jacob Aue Sobol on the Leica M Monochrom site that are well worth checking out.

The Canon C300 Review

Hands On With The Canon C300


I recently had the pleasure of shooting some video on the new Canon C300 during the C300 event at New Day Pictures. The aim being to show off the camera’s abilities to the guests by supplying footage for editor and colourist Neil Patience to showcase during the day. Our model for the day was the extremely talented and wonderful Vicki Blatchley.

For this video I used the C300 PL, which as it’s name suggests, has the PL mount. During the shoot I used the RED 50mm and 85mm PL lenses. Lighting was by two LED panels with the main light coming from a Kino Flo Diva-Lite. I also had the pleasure of trying out a Miller tripod for the first time and must say, I was rather impressed. All equipment was supplied by New Day Pictures (whom I highly recommend for any video, lighting and accessory rentals).

An ungraded, straight from the C300 stills capture, using Quicktime. The colourspace on the camera was set to EOS for this clip. Image: Edmond Terakopian

Firstly, I need to clarify that the C300 was a pre-production model; having said this, it performed flawlessly. Having never seen, let alone used this camera, after a few minutes of training by Canon’s staff at the event I was ready to shoot. It’s an amazingly simple camera to get to grips with with a clear menu system and extremely clearly market keys dotted around the camera; I found it ergonomically brilliant. A very comfortable camera to hold and use. I was also surprised that it was lighter than I anticipated. For any prolonged handheld use though, I would probably suggest a shoulder rig. All the shots in their short film where done on the Miller tripod. My only disappointment was the microphone holder needed a spacer and so I couldn’t use my trusty Rode NTG3 to test out the camera’s audio abilities.

Vick Blatchley with the EF mount version of the Canon C300. This image is a screengrab from a Canon C300 video file. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

After the first shoot, I was impressed by the camera but was extremely keen to see what the footage looked like on the editing station. Once the files were transcoded from MXF files to Pro Res 422 (using the free Canon XF FCP plugin) we looked at them in FCP 7. Straight out the camera the files were amazingly lush. Full of detail, vivid with accurate colours and pin sharp. The most astonishing aspect was the dynamic range; the camera has it’s widest range at 850 ISO. Not only was this apparent in all the extreme highlight and shadow detail, but equally apparent was just how clean the files looked. This camera is the available light shooters’ dream. Along with it’s built in optical ND filters, shooting to achieve maximum dynamic range in outdoor situations is going to be a walk in the park. In use, the fold out LCD monitor was an absolute joy to use. For handheld use, the built in viewfinder makes things more comfortable, taking on the form factor of a DSLR and providing another point of contact to steady the shot.

Using the Canon C300 at the NDP open day event. Photo ©

For my edit here, I used FCP 7 and the Canon XF plugin to transcode the files and imported them into FCP X for my edit. Initial grading was done in FCP X and finished off using Magic Bullet Mojo. This workflow is a bit annoying (and is the first time I have used FCP7 since upgrading to FCP X) but I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time until there’s full compatibility).

My half day with the camera was an absolute joy. My nervousness at perhaps jumping in at the deep end having to produce footage on a brand new camera were unfounded. I took to it like it was a familiar piece of kit. Judging by how well it performed (running for around six hours solid) and how amazing the footage looks, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the C300. The only snag is the £10,000+VAT asking price. If I find my video work increasing as it has done over the last few years, I won’t hesitate in getting one of these, but until then, alas it will remain out of reach. So far, it is the most capable video camera I have worked on, and that includes the RED One and my beloved Canon 5D MkII. In fact, why not rent one from the folks at New Day Pictures and see what the fuss is about!

Peter Macdiarmid

Year in pictures 2011

A superb selection of images, showcasing Getty Images photographer Peter Macdiarmid’s favourite shots from 2011.
 

Fuji X100

Test Images From The Fujifilm X100 At High ASA

I had the opportunity to have a quick play with the new Fuji X100 over dinner and took a series of images inside a dimly lit restaurant and it’s surroundings during Focus on Imaging in Birmingham. My full and proper review will follow once I get a review sample, but wanted to share a few images. These images can be found on my Flickr Page.