Sirui P-326 Carbon Fiber Monopod

Nikon D3s and Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary above. This monopod is sturdy and very compact. Just not sure on the locking rings, locks well but doesn’t feel like a manfrotto or sachtler obviously.

I’ve used it to support a Nikon D5 and D3s with a newest Nikon 600mm f/4 FL VR and 400mm f/2.8 VR FL as well. Yes, it supports them without any problems. Baseball, soccer and MotoGP. Still going sturdy.

Micro Four Thirds – 5 Generations

I was one of those who rushed in 2009 to get an Olympus E-P1 camera. It looked vintage, was small and offered great image quality compared to others in the size category. In fact, the photos were sharper than what I was getting with my Nikon D100. Seems the lenses were sharper than the Nikon lenses I had at the time. Fast forward to 2017 and I am mostly a Leica shooter but many times find myself wanting that portable autofocus system and 5 axis IS. I’ve shot with the EPL1, E-P2, E-P3, E-P5 and two of the Panasonic Lumix cameras such as the GX8 and GX85. As always, if camera manufactures just merged techs and menus to create the ultimate camera, we would probably still want more changes. So, how does a camera from 2009 compares to one in 2017.

 

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Olympus 2009 vs Panasonic 2017

As far as highlights, I get almost the same range but when it comes to shadows, I cannot recover more than 20% from the Olympus E-P1 otherwise I get pretty bad noise and almost no detail.

In the real world, there isn’t any technical reason why anyone would not be able to create impressive images with an old $50 USD Olympus E-P1 and a nice Prime Lens. Well, unless is very bright outside and cannot compose your shots by using the LCD.

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Panasonic Lumix GX85

Been using the Lumix GX85 for two weeks. I’m a Leica shooter, so the viewfinder style on the left of the camera makes more sense to me. Using Leica glass with an adapter makes it easy to focus and preview what the shot is going to look like before I push the shutter button. The back of the camera has a button to magnify a section of the frame to achieve critical focus, this option can also be changed in magnification ratios and can also make use of the whole screen. Having a touch screen speeds up the need to change some basic settings. I really enjoy the Electronic Shutter, I take a lot of photos at meetings and snaping shots silently without distracting people relaxes me. When focusing micro 4/3 lenses manually, the camera recognizes this and instantly magnifies a window (if enabled) to help you achieve spot on focus. The sensor doesn’t have a low pass filter, your images appear sharper than traditional sensors with the same mega pixel count. I can shoot 4k Video at 30fps and HD Video at 60fps. The Image Stabilization is finally 5 axis just like Olympus cameras, it helps a lot!

I will be posting more interesting functions of this camera as I familiarize myself with this super portable cam.

Came-TV Boltzen 55w LED Zoom vs Arri 650w Fresnel

Focusable LED Battery Powered video light. This is a very affordable good option compared to a Dedolight. Works on FP Sony type batteries and can also run on AC power. Everything is included in the 2 piece kit, even a plastic case to travel. I tested it at 4800K instead of the advertised 5600K. All the LEDs I have tested usually run around 4500k to 4800k. The only one I have used so far that really runs at the advertised color is the KinoFlo Celeb. I assume the Arri LEDs should also run like a Kino.

Here are some shots of the Boltzen kit:

 

Below, we have a shot comparing sunlight coming from the window on top left and the Boltzen with a gel at 3400K.

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Came-TV LED Boltzen 55W Gelled at 3400K

 

In the next section I compared the Boltzen with an Arri 650w Fresnel. First thing to notice is the Boltzen is rated at 5600K while the Arri is at 3200K. Both units can run in Flood or Spot. The intensity of both units is very similar from .5 a stop to 1 full stop in luminosity. For example, at 9ft projected to a wall we measured the following:

Boltzen – Spot: 16EV        Flood: 15.5EV

Arri 650w – Spot: 17EV         Flood:16EV

Here are some shots of those two.

 

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Came-TV Boltzen 55w

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Arri 650w Fresnel

 

 

So, I see when LED technology can really replace traditional tungsten lighting now at much better prices. Those Boltzen are $288 USD each at B&H. The Arri 650w Fresnel is $484 USD.

Something to keep in mind, the Arri is very neutral for 3200K while the Boltzen will need some Gels to get it closer to 5600K and no tint shift to green or magenta, which will decrease the intensity of the light. In the same line, the Arri would require CTB in order to achieve 5600K in case you wanted to work in that spectrum. In all, I would still go with the Boltzen for its price, relative low heat components, performance and compactness.

As a final note, I’ve read some people are afraid of the built in fan on the Boltzen lights, well…  the AC vents in your studio are louder. The fan on a Red Epic Dragon Camera is louder as well.

 

Camera Backpacks

I currently have 5 camera backpacks. All have gear in them, but I switch the contents depending on the trip I take. At this time, I’m traveling through out the USA and simply need to carry a 13″ Macbook Pro, 2 bodies, 4 lenses, one portable flash, carbon fiber tripod, memory cards, batteries, chargers and other small accessories as well as a rain cover just in case. All of the gear I described fits in a canvas backpack that looks closely like an ONA a Backpack.

I’d recommend this backpack but the inserts that came with it are too soft, the inside needs to be more rigid so your gear doesn’t go everywhere. The point is to keep your gear safe and secure. So I replaced the original inserts with LowePro inserts and now its great.

Summicron M vs Elmarit M 90mm

I keep reading on the forums that everyone loves the Elmarit M because its smaller and sharper. I simply wanted to find out for myself and share my findings to those who want to know.

My version of the Cron feels much better made than the Elmarit M, it feels more precise but yes it is a bit heavier, not by much though. It feels good in my hand. Maybe I’m used to the weight of the Summilux 50mm Asph Chrome and thats why I don’t feel the weight like some users that are used to a Cron 35mm.

These lenses are difficult to focus properly and nail it. I keep focusing one inch behind or so, I never have problems with my 50mm or smaller but the 90mm always seems difficult. This is why is not a great lens for a range finder. Its better to use the EVF on lenses like these.

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Elmarit M on Leica M

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Summicron M 90mm on Leica M

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Shot at f/8 cropped lower left of image and notice the edges on the Summicron M are much sharper.

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f/2.8 on both Almost no difference, Cron on the right side.

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Elmarit M on Left seems colder but maybe almost equal sharpness in the center at f5.6

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Leica SF26 with Off-Camera Flash set to TTL bounced on right reflector.

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Size Comparison

Leica SF 26 Pocket Speedlight for Digital

Just got this unit for on-the-go photos, sometimes I want to shoot at slow speeds and use auto flash in case I change my distance, especially during events where everything changes. Normally I shoot manual with speed lights triggered remotely. Will see how this units works with the M.

The unit is very light weight, small, and packs a punch, slow at recycle but you always have a balance of power vs weight.

Some product shots here and a full review in the future. So far, this units works perfectly fine on the M Typ 240 but not well at all on the X Typ 113, it over exposes everything on that cam. Not sure why, because I actually get a Flash Signal on the LCD of the Leica X that confirms a flash is mounted. Not sure why because Leica’s official flyer has the SF26 mounted on a 113 and it specifically says it works on the X series. Probably not fully compatible with the Typ 113? Confused.

Anyway…

 

 

The following is an image taken with the flash attached to a Nikon Off-Flash cable and the unit set to TTL, it was bounced to camera right.

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Leica SF26 with Off-Camera Flash set to TTL bounced on right reflector.