Category Archives: Photo Kit
The SLR market never stands still with Nikon and Canon looking to get as much market share as possible. Canon recently surprised many with the launch of the 7D, a Crop sensor SLR but with many of the features and nearly the same level of Auto Focus as many of the pro models.
So this leaves the 5D Mark II in a tricky spot, yes it has a stunning Full Frame sensor and excellent dynamic range but many complain about its outer focusing points not being up to the job. Now this isn’t a view I hold having used one it seems to do a great job. However I can understand the frustration of those that want a FF sensor and more of the pro level features without needing to get a huge 1D body.
So what are Canon going to do? Well if rumours are to be believed they are going to launch a 3D specifically at the Wedding / semi-pro market in early 2010. Canon Rumors have recently reported the following specs,
7.2 µm pixel pitch
Small magnesium alloy body similar to the 5D2
However there is still no news on the AF or any more of the features. Fingers crossed they add all the features from the 7D onto a FF sensor, the reported 16mp is just about perfect as well. The only worrying thing is the price, it seems that they might pitch it way higher than the 5DII but this would be a mistake. Nikon is close on Canons heals and are about to release a D800 with an updated sensor to challenge the 5DII and it has the full Pro level focusing and remote flash triggers built in.
So come on Canon get it launch oh and with eye focusing please and for not too much money and I might be about to upgrade my 40D to something new.
Firstly I hope they do because its good to have camera shops dotted around the country, but will they survive?
Lets face it most of the stores are very tired and poor by modern retail standards, compare it to the look of the updated Currys Digital stores and you can see a vast difference. Step into the store in the Trafford centre for instance and its dark and poorly lit like they don’t want to replace broken light bulbs.
The lack of strength in the pound is also hurting the premium SLR sales and especially lenses. A canon 70-200f4 IS last year was £700, now its barely below £1000. Thats a big difference thats delaying many potential purchases, certainly from me anyway.
They still insist on charging a small fortune for memory cards but even then they are often very poorly stocked, so when you are in a hurray you are stuck, not great. The ordering system isn’t that slick either, the person in the shop said call us if you want to check stock as he has lost count of the number of times a customer has reserved an item for it not to be in when they arrive.
Fingers crossed the economy starts to free up and Jessops have a good summer and Christmas period, if they don’t sort out their funding problems then we might lose another store from out high street. But if they do survive, put some money into a refresh program hey.
When you had a little compact camera you might have had a little tiny tripod that you used on occasions but have never found anything strong enough when you got an SLR except for a full tripod. Well you can now as Joby has created a couple new Gorillapod models for your SLR.
The Gorillapd SLR is for use with a consumer SLR such as a Canon 350D to 500D (Rebel) or Nikon D60. Its capable of holding up a camera and lens combination of up to 800g. It has the ability to rotate the camera back to level if its attached to a lap post that you can’t do with the Gorillapod SLR. Its only 165g (5.8oz) itself, so not to heavy and should be able to find a home in a corner of your camera bag. But some have complained that it wilts for some SLRs and this is where the SLR Zoom comes in.
Gorillapod SLR Zoom
The Gorillapod SLR Zoom is a whole different kettle of fish for the SLR user compared to its younger smaller brother. The first thing to note is that its rated to a much higher weight 3000g (6.5lb) which should be enough for most SLR’s including professional models. Its main users are most likely to be Pro-sumer users like myself with a Canon 40D or 50D or a Nikon D90 or similar, essentially the magnesium bodied cameras. With that 3Kg weight limit it can also hold a pretty big lens such as a 70-200 F2.8 but probably not that much more.
In use its very easy to manipulate and does exactly what you would hope for, it provides a stable platform for your SLR camera to sit. In the picture below its fixed onto a garden heater, a task that took about 15 seconds and it didn’t slip a inch whilst it was attached. Here in the shot below its holding a Canon 40d and 17-85lens which is about 50% of the weight the Gorillapod SLR Zoom should be able to cope with.
The rubber around each articulating joint and the feet help secure it to any object and I’ve not had any issues with play causing it to sag. Of course you don’t have to use it with your Camera it can be used with a Camcorder or with a compact if thats what you want the screw head can also be used with Pro level kit as well.
It is very useful when doing some work with a Macro lens and you don’t have the space to setup a full tripod, it really does have a lot of uses and is very quick to set up.
Its not perfect though
For starters unlike the other models in the Gorillapod range it doesn’t have a ball joint a the end; so as you can see in the shot above it can’t rotate to be level, for this you are going to need a small head to allow it to rotate. I’ve used it with my Manfrotto 488 RC2 without problem although this does add to the weight that it has to cope with, but it does manage with the head taking the rotational strain.
Also when you use it you need to ensure that you tighten it up to the base well as if you don’t it will sag downwards if you haven’t meaning you have undo it from what ever it was attached, before retrying, not the end of the world but its best avoided.
Gorillapod Focus – New model
So not even the Gorillapod SLR Zoom is enough for you then, you need more? Well how about the Gorillapod Focus. Its rated to an even higher load of 5Kg and its not made out of plastic its constructed with Anodized gunmetal finished aluminium, I have a feeling this one isn’t going to sag much at all if ever. But its not exactly light either as its almost twice the weight of the SLR Zoom at 500g, thats as much as some of the entry level SLR’s. But its meant for the Pro that needs or wants a Gorillipod and is prepared to carry the extra weight and has that 300mm f2.8 we all want. But its more than three times the price than the SLR Zoom, I think the focus name points more to its Movie requirements than people with an SLR, thoughts anyone?
Conclusion – 8/10 Gorillapod SLR Zoom
Overall these are a great little device and well worth adding into your kit back, its uses are endless and who wants to carry a big tripod around if they can avoid it hey. But as mentioned its not perfect either which is why I’ve not given it full marks. But it is strong enough and up to the job even after repeated use which is the main thing. I just need a lighter head to go with it and I’m away. The shot below was taken by attaching the camera to some railings whilst being moored off Kowloon looking onto Kong Kong island, see it works.
Now there is normally a divide between Canon and Nikon photographers I mean we all know Canon is best or is it Nikon, well at the moment that’s just not important. So what is ? the massive price increases on lenses. Now 5% isn’t nice, 10% uncomfortable but a 52% increase on a nice upgrade just plain hurts.
So last year I had my sights set on a nice new 70-200 F4 IS L Professional Canon lens, it could be had for about £650 in June 08 or there a bouts. Fast forwards to April 2009 and what do I find?, you guessed it a hefty price increase to a hardly believable £929 and that’s a 43% price increase on the price of the same lens last year.
Tips to get things cheaper
Needless to say I’m not going to buy at the moment and I’d say unless you really need some new glass I’d wait until things come back down if you can. This isn’t going to be a good time for retailers but maybe the margin’s are pushing the prices so high, maybe but I don’t think its that much of a factor. The biggest issue is the decisions UK plc or should I say Mr Brown is making that is killing the value of the pound and sending the prices of goods through the roof.
If you do need to get a lens then check out the link on the right to Camera price buster or use the links below to pick up some bargains from Amazon, I’ve put some great buys below. They sometimes have some great deals that the other camera shops struggle to match so check it regularly to get the best prices. Fingers crossed things improve.
Also have a look at e-bay as a few people are selling their existing kit whilst the prices are high but do check what you are getting. Also buying from Hong Kong can have its issues and you might still get stung on the high import duty and VAT killing any savings you think you might be getting.
If anyone see’s any recovery then post where it is to help us all.
We all like to keep up with current trends and as an amateur photographer I wanted to update my now ageing Fuji F30. Now when it was launched it had more plaudits that any other Compact Camera before or since really. It had a 6Mpix sensor and a fairly average lens at 36mm to 108mm (35mm equivalent) but that wasn’t the clever bit, it was its low light performance, that everyone was staggered at.
At the time in some forums people were talking it up to almost SLR levels of noise reduction. Now I’ve got a Canon 40D and it can’t come close , but as a second camera it does an incredible job when you consider the size and weight difference. But having joined Alamy up scaling 6meg images from a compact that takes pictures straight to JPEG is tough to say the least, even the very best 100iso images have small artefacts especially when they are scaled up to the resolution Alamy wants.
But Which New Camera To Get?
I had a quick look around and the list below got short-listed. Some are Enthusiast models that can even capture RAW others Premium more lifestyle models. What was I looking for? Minimum 10Mpix, Wide angle Lens 28/24mm, good screen, not too big (I’ve got an SLR for that) and last but maybe most important, excellent high ISO performance.
So to the list and a few reasons why the initial ones didn’t make it.
Canon G9/G10 – G9 didn’t go wide enough really but it is quite cheap at the moment, G10 went to 24mm but they are both too big and heavy and fairly expensive for the little extra benefit overall when you pixel peep. Have a look over to Ken Rockwell to see his comparison with the IXUS 870 / SD880.
Panasonic LX3 – A great little camera, zoom lens sticks out though so not as small as it seem and the lens cover could be a fair hassle for a quick P&S. But the lens is good (Big barrel distortion issues get fixed in software LR or Silkpix) 24mm is F2 and 60mm is F2.8 so a fast lens but not long at 60mm. But they are had to come buy and I wasn’t sold with the sticky out lens to go in a jeans pocket and its quite pricey but then it will also capture RAW. This is the current hit camera for 2008 and I can see why. But its a no from me.
Fuji F100fd – The spiritual successor to the F30d or at least in the same bloodline. Its not the best looking camera to say the least but it just about every other way it ticks all the boxes. High ISO performance is good but not great though. Plus at only £165 from Amazon a bargain really and a recent winner of dpreview.com Premium Cameras in the run up to Christmas. This is a Maybe
Canon IXUS 870 IS / SD880 – Now this could be the one. Its small, has a 28mm lens and its not too expensive (I’m married so budget is important ) Its got a good zoom lens an 10mpix sensor and good ISO performance. At approx £200 its not too expensive either and it looks great. It will also get the CHDK ad on at some point, this will enable extra features and even the ability to capture RAW files.
And the winner is…?
If I am going to get a camera at the moment it will be the Canon IXUS 870 IS, reviewing goodness knows how many reviews its the winner. Some even say why get a G10 when this does the same or better in many situations and with CHDK will be able to capture RAW.
BUT……… what about the F30?
Well I went back and look at some F30 reviews and got a shock. The noise on high ISO images for ALL of the cameras above is worse the higher they go. Sample them at 400iso and you can already see the difference. Have a look at the two images in the links below and see what you think. Yes one is 10mpix the Canon IXUS 870 the other 6m on the Fuji F30 but surely in the last 2 and a bit years it could be beaten even with a higher ISO. But it appears not, even shrinking the picture on some models and running it through Noise Ninja won’t get it as good as the Fuji original.
It begs the question if it wasn’t for the Mpix needed to get into Alamy is it actually better to stay with the F30, I’m still undecided.