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.

Fujifilm XH-1 Real World Review

We take the Fujifilm XH1 to the Lake District to put it to the test in this real world review with a landscape photography flavour.

The Fujifilm XH-1 is Fuji’s new flagship mirrorless camera and sits above the XT2 in the Fuji lineup. It has the same 24mp crop sensor as the XT2 so we know the sensor is capable of capturing some great images. 

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Many of us need a camera to be rugged and reliable and that’s exactly what this camera is. The all new metal chassis feels rock solid and it’s weather sealed so when the rain starts, we don’t have to stop. One of the big benefits of mirrorless cameras is they can be smaller and more compact than a DSLR. This in part led to popularity of the XT2, especially amongst landscape photographers because weight and size really matters when hiking in the wilderness.

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It might seem odd then that Fuji have gone in the opposite direction and made this camera bigger than its predecessor, but I don’t think so. It’s still significantly lighter than a pro DSLR body so weight is still being saved over most pro cameras. However the bigger size makes it much more comfortable in the hand, especially with the optional battery grip. The comfort adds versatility and makes this camera a genuine option for photographers working with their camera all day like wedding and street photographers. It seems to be a genuine all rounder.

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One of the big selling points of this new mirrorless camera is the new in body 5 axis image stabilisation. Image stabilisation has never excited me when it comes to stills but it absolutely does when it comes to video. The system works really well to smooth out your shot and also breaths some new life into older lenses you might have lying around that don’t have IS.

This camera is a bit of a beast when it comes to video and I’ve been very impressed. It shoots 4K, it can do 120fps at 1080p and has loads of built in video presets to vary the look of your footage including a log mode. I’ve settled for the new ETERNA film mode that mimics the look of that film but still leaves me with plenty of room for post production if I need it.  Aside from that I’ve just been hugely impressed by the sheer quality of the video image. It looks sharp and punchy and just looks really good and is on a par with the Canon 5D mark iv.

An external microphone can also be attached and a really nice feature is the ability to set microphone gain separately for the built in mic and an external mic so you don’t need to adjust it every time you plug a mic in.

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So will this be replacing my DSLR. To be honest, not at the moment. It’s very close though and I have been very impressed with the Fujifilm XH1. I have absolutely loved shooting with it today and I feel it’s definitely better than the lower end DSLR’s and also better than the Canon 6D Mark ii that I reviewed the other week They are very similarly priced. 

It’s not the perfect camera, there are slight annoyances like the lack of a built in bulb timer and the touch screen is not as useful as it could be but the biggest issue for me is the cropped sensor. It is a good sensor but it’s just not full frame. Like all cropped sensors any noise that is present looks harsh and kills the sharpness and you lose some dynamic range. That might not matter to you but when you think the new full frame Sony A7R Mark iii is just around the corner, at a pretty similar price, personally I would need to try that out first before finally making the leap to mirrorless.

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Anyway this is still a very nice camera and I have had a great time using today here in the absolutely stunning Lake District. If you decided to buy I don’t think you would be sorry.

I’ll put more information down in the description and Please subscribe if you enjoyed this video, I have more reviews coming up and I’ll be out again next week for another landscape photography vlog. leave a comment down below with your thoughts or questions about the camera and I’ll see you another one very soon

Out!!!

Canon 6D Mark II Real world Review

I review the Canon 6D Mark II DSLR camera and head to the Lake District to put it through it’s paces from a landscape photography perspective.

If you have seen my camera reviews before you will know I am not interested in repeating all the specs and obvious elements. I want to get the camera out into the real world and use it exactly like a photographer would. In the video we look at the abilities of the camera mostly from a landscape photography perspective when we headed to Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District.

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Full Frame Sensor

The whole point of the Canon 6D Mark II is the entry into using a full frame sensor. This has a number of advantages. It usually includes improved dynamic range (not so much in this case - read on), better low light ability and least obviously - the potential to use better glass, particularly at the wide end. High end lenses like the Canon 16-35mm L are perfect for landscape photography and on a full frame camera you get the full 16mm wide end coverage. Putting this lens on a cropped sensor camera effectively increases the 16mm to a more narrow 25mm which can be limiting in some situations.

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Build Quality

Build quality of the camera is the usual Canon quality. It is a plastic build but it feels solid and secure and the weight also benefits from this. It has a flip out screen, which is missing from the higher end cameras for the sake of durability, but I find them particularly useful. When the camera is low down near a stream, or close to the ground, having the screen point up towards you is a real back saver. The flip screen means you can also use the Canon 6D Mark II for vlogging. Not a cheap vlogging option, but it is possible.

Image Quality

Next is the image quality. There are not many cameras out there today that provide poor image quality. This camera is no different. Image quality is superb for stills and you can quite happily use the 26MP sensor to create massive prints. Sadly though dynamic range was not as good as I would have hoped, especially at low ISO. This might put off some landscape photographers who might be looking at rivals from Sony and cameras like the Nikon D750. Personally when it comes to stills I am not concerned too much about dynamic range. Using bracketing can easily capture all the dynamic range in a landscape scene.

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Portraits and Focusing

The dynamic range of the camera improves dramatically as ISO increases. Therefore, like many full frame cameras, The Canon 6D Mark 2 is excellent in low light. Any noise that does appear has a film grain type feel rather than the harsh noise often associated with crop sensor cameras. This means the camera lends itself to shooting portraits as well as landscapes. Depending on the lens you attach to the camera it is capable of capturing stunning portraits. However I would be reluctant to use it at a wedding or for any other professional portrait work. The focus system covers a smaller area of the frame than higher end cameras like the Canon 5D Mark IV which can be limiting when you have to focus and re-frame more often that you would like. Having said that, for most, that will not be a problem. The focus system is still very accurate and fast. It also has the dual pixel autofocus system for video. This Canon system is really second to none for video focus and it very very rarely misses including when using face detection.

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Video Quality

Video quality is reasonable but again the dynamic range can be limiting. When I was out in the mountains getting detail across the frame was not easy and I was often left with blown out skies. This could probably be improved by using a flatter picture setting rather than sticking with the built in presets like I did. There is also no 4K option and the 1080p quality is softer than the Canon 5D Mark IV and more in line with the cropped sensor Canon cameras. However the ability to shoot 1080p at 60fps does provide the option of producing some slo-motion footage.

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Conclusion

Overall I had a superb time using this camera. If you were to buy it, you would be very happy. Just be aware it is not a professional level camera. We should not be expecting it to be though given the price point of £$1600. Indeed, the camera only comes equipped with one SD card port. To remove the slight limitations mentioned above you are looking at upgrading to the pro level Canon 5D Mark IV which is more than double the price. The Canon 6D is an all round performer suitable for all different genres of photography and will perform them all to a good standard. In many respects the upgrade to full frame is something many photographers aspire to and this camera allows you to do it much sooner with only very slight downsides. It is a shame the dynamic range is not better at low ISO but that is being hypercritical. An all rounder at a great price point for a full frame camera. A solid 4 out of 5.