Photography Gear Reviews

New Lens Vs Old Lens

We compare the Canon 16-35mm F/4 IS against the older Canon 17-40mm F/4 in a landscape photography setting to see if the upgrade is worth the money.

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After a recent video some said I should get the Canon 16-35mm to replace my 17-40mm. So I have. But I’ve been talking recently how the gear doesn’t make the photographer so I’m not totally convinced this purchase was required. So I thought I would put it to the test, possibly prove myself wrong, and help you when it comes to making your next lens purchase decision.

Sharpness

There are certain things important to me in a lens when shooting landscape photography. Sharpness is important up to a certain extant. Once an acceptable level of sharpness is reached then I am happy. Most photographs are viewed at a reasonable distance and a normal viewer is not looking at minute details or pixel peeping an image. The overall story is much more important.

Lens Distortion

When working with super wide angles like 16-20mm, distortion can become a real problem and is extremely distracting and prevalent in cheaper lenses. The Canon 17-40mm handles distortion reasonably well so I was interested to see if Canon 16-35mm F/4 IS would be better.

Chromatic Aberration

The coloured soft edges in high contrast areas of an image look extremely unpleasant and can make an image look cheap. Also known as chromatic aberration, one major benefit of a high quality lens is the ability to control it. These days, it can be controlled in post-processing but it results can be hit and miss depending on the image. The Canon 17-40mm can be susceptible to chromatic Aberration, can the 16-35mm improve matters.

When conducting a camera lens review I am also looking at build quality and extras such as IS. Image stabilisation is not important to me for stills. For video, it is much more important so it is still something I look for.

In the video I pit the two lenses against each other at Ribblehead viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales. The Limestone pavement provides some big foreground interest for a shot, something I really wanted to include in the lens review.

Photo and Video Editing Setup with the iMac Pro

We take a look at what’s in my photography and video editing setup for 2018. It includes the iMac Pro with an amazing 10 cores to take productivity and creativity to the next level.

Check out all the gear:

A really important part of any photo editing setup is your workspace. This has nothing to do with size but having a place to sit, edit and to be comfortable is going to let you be more creative and productive whatever level you are at. In the past, my spaces have been the corner of a room, I had a full blown home studio in the last place and now that the kids need more space I have this office. I am really happy with it. I have worked hard to get it right, I’ve got a new desk and it feels productive.

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, on top of all this, I had been maintaining a part time job to give the family a bit of security. About 3 weeks ago I quit that part time job so I am now full time at this……whatever this is…….photographer, filmmaker, youtuber. I’m going to be doing lots of different things, both on and off this channel but virtually all of it with be around photo and video production.

So right at the centre of my new setup is a new iMac Pro. The workhorse that is going to be pumping out content on a daily basis. It’s a stunning machine…..frighteningly expensive but I have invested back into all of this so I have a machine that will speed up everything I do. No more waiting for Lightroom and Premiere Pro to catch up. It is expensive but I recently sold my 2009 iMac for £500 after I bought it for £1500 nearly ten years ago. If I get the same kind of value out of this machine then it will have been well worth it.

I’ve then got the iMac driving this second monitor. This is the Viewsonic VP2785. It’s designed for photographers and covers 99% of the Adobe RGB colour space and comes colour calibrated straight from the factory. It’s a stunning monitor that will act as my main editing screen for photos and also the play window when editing video.

Next up I have storage. The iMac has a built in 1TB SSD which is very very fast but is by no means big enough to store all my image and video files. So for that I have this Drobo 5D3 that connects via thunderbolt. It’s fast, it currently has an 18TB capacity and it should keep me going for at least the next couple of years as I add in extra drives when required.

Since this is now my livelihood I have invested in a battery backup. Just after moving in we had a few issues with the power repeatedly going off. I thought at one point I had lost everything off the Drobo which would have been annoying restoring everything from backups. I managed to get it going again but it’s not a problem I want to face again. Now if the power goes off the battery kicks in an keeps me going for another hour or so giving me the chance to shut down safely.

Next is the printer. The beautiful Canon Pro 10s. I’ll be doing a video about printing in the next few weeks so we’ll discuss that a bit more then.

Post processing wise I am using Adobe Lightroom. I use this for virtually all my editing these days and am going into Photoshop less and less. I use Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing and I just love the Adobe package. It works seamlessly across all your devices and just keeps you productive.

How to Choose a Vlogging Camera

What is the best vlogging camera for 2018? We look at everything from a phone up to the Canon 5D Mark IV to help you decide what is the best camera for starting your vlog.

  • Check out the gear here.

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In this video we’re going to look at several cameras and decide which is the best for vlogging.

First we need to decide what we are going to shoot and the level of production quality required. I am a photographer so I feel an extra level of pressure to get high quality images but it’s absolutely not required. The story you tell is absolutely the most important thing……and you, of course…we need to give our audience a reason to watch, and provide them value. 

Once we have that nailed we need to start looking at the gear. At the moment there really isn’t a perfect vlogging camera. There isn’t a camera out there that strikes the right balance between image quality, features, focusing and weight.

Budget also comes into it so we’re gonna take a look at a few cameras and discuss the pro and cons of using them for vlogging.

4K is not really required for vlogging. When you look at the Youtube analytics a growing majority of people are watching content on their phones and tablets and they are far from having 4K screens. 1080p is the sweet spot at the moment and it makes post processing easier and quicker and storage is much less of an issue.

The cameras we discuss in the video are:

  • A phone
  • Compact cameras like the Sony RX100v and Canon G7X
  • A GoPro
  • An Entry level DSLR like the Canon 800D
  • A top of the range camera like the Canon 5D Mark IV. 

At the moment I am using all of these for my vlogging in addition to the drone. It makes shooting very complex especially when I am trying to capture some nice landscape photographs at the same time. It’s more than reasonable to vlog with just one of these solutions but the perfect vlogging camera really doesn’t exist yet.

If you are going to start a vlog then good luck. Film your first video and upload it and forget about it. Then do that again and again and again.

Stay to the end for a peek at my very first video.

Out.

Irix 11mm f4 Blackstone Lens review

A review of the astonishing new Irix 11mm f/4 ultra wide angle lens.

This Irix 11mm wide angle lens that is designed for full frame cameras. The lens comes in a variety of mounts including Canon, Nikon and Pentax. When mounted to a full frame camera the 11mm 126 degree field of view is astonishing and opens up new realms of creativity for landscape, architecture photographers and even some scenes close in.

Low Distortion

iris 11mm f4 review
iris 11mm f4 review

The Irix 11mm f4 lens is not a fish eye. It is rectilinear with minimal distortion thanks to the '4 high refractive lenses, 2 ED lenses and 3 aspherical lenses that guarantee minimal distortion'. Irix claim distortion is as low as 3.13%. If you want a full technical breakdown of the lens there are some excellent channels out there. I am more interested in practical applications of gear and I can say that distortion handling is excellent, particularly across the centre of the image. Horizon lines remain perfectly straight and vertically down the middle as well. There is some distortion towards the corners of the image but if used correctly this can compliment the image. Its not ideal if you have people in the corners but this is not really a portrait lens.

Image Quality

iris 11mm review
iris 11mm review

The lens is nice and sharp but does produce a small amount of vignette and also Chromatic abberation. This was within perfectly acceptable boundaries for me and is very easily removed in post processing using Adobe Lightroom. The vignette is also reduced by stopping down a bit.

Blacktone or Firefly

The lens comes in two varieties to suit the style of photography you are doing. The Irix 11mm f/4 Blackstone is the flagship version. There is also a cheaper and lighter version, with the same high quality optics that may be more suited to photographers wanting to travel light. This is called the Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly Lens.

Build Quality

irix
irix

The build quality of this Blackstone version is excellent. The metal body is well constructed and feels so solidly built that it could survive some serious punishment. The focus barrel is reassuringly stiff but rotates smoothly and accurately. There is a focus lock to ensure there is no slippage in focus and the engraved markings on the Blackstone glow in the dark.

The lens is manual focus. I am sure if you're looking seriously at this lens that will not be a concern for you. The distance markings are there to assist but I did the majority of my focusing using the camera’s zoomed live view function. Quick and easy. The lens is so wide that most things are in focus anyway.

Weather Sealed

The Irix 11mm is weather sealed on all parts apart from the front element. It is splash proof and I used it in the rain without any problems. The lens hood is permanent and protects the bulbous front element.

The Firefly is built using high quality plastic to save weight and bring cost down but is still weather sealed the same as the Blackstone.

Alternatives from the much more expensive Canon 11-24mm F/4 lens and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

Conclusion

I have loved using this lens. It has allowed me to get shots that I otherwise would not have been able to achieve. The wide angle rectilinear perspective gives you a really interesting point of few and opens up new creative possibilities. It is not a lens I would use for every shot but it is relatively unique and having it in your arsenal is a real benefit that will allow you to get shots that other people cannot.

11mm is very wide and captures a large portion of your field of view. The amount of bokeh you get will be limited so it really forces you to think about every single area of your frame and you need to carefully compose your shot. This is a good thing and can result in some really exciting shots.

Cost

At the point of release.

Irix 11mm f/4 Blackstone - $799 / £771

Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly - $599 / £567

You can find a list of dealers at - http://en.irixlens.com

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