As I mentioned, Wednesday was the Lincoln Photography Show organised by the London Camera Exchange. On the Monday I had had a tipoff that they had a medium format PhaseOne digital back coming in and I managed to pop in and leave them my phone number as I wanted first refusal. The digital back was a bargain so with that purchased this week I had no intention of buying anything at the show. The manager of London Camera Exchange told me that it would be very worth while me visiting the show anyway as they may have something I would be interested in.
Wednesday came and I first popped to Hartsholme Park to test the digital back. It was a windy day so while the shots are nice there is a lot of subject movement, shooting at f/22 and at ISO50 will do that!
With my testing done it was time to pop into Lincoln and meet up with Mike and Chris for some lunch, where we tried out the Burger restaurant on the waterside, it was good but I think the homemade burger in the Pub The Horse & Groom on the waterside is better.
So what about the show, well we did a quick circuit round then looked at some of the gear in greater detail.
I am still on the search for the perfect compact (yes I know, one does not exist), and compacts are getting a lot better now. Many now have viewfinders and often have the larger one inch sensor that is in my Nikon V1.
One of the more interesting compacts we saw was the Sigma Quattro. The image quality from this rivals many full frame SLR’s and some claim medium format cameras. It uses the Foveon sensor so can see real colour not like the RGB Bayer sensor in traditional sensors. Its issue has always been its noise performance above 400 ISO and the very slow performance. If you take a shot its several seconds before its ready to shoot again.
If your after stunning image quality at base ISO and can put up with the cameras quirks, its a good camera.
With its odd ergonomics and size its hardly a compact camera, next up I had a look at the Panasonic range. There has been two cameras thats been attracting my attention. One is the GX-7, this is a great little micro four thirds system camera with interchangeable lens. Basically a better Nikon V1, and very flexible. The other is the new Panasonic LX100, this camera was jointly developed with Leica and there is a Leica version as well. Its a large compact with a cropped micro four thirds sensor, this gives multiple format options. Its a nice but not small compact.
Next was the Fuji stand, the X100 still appeals to me but I am still not sure about the Fuji sensor. But I had a closer look at the new X30, their small compact. They have now dropped the optical viewfinder and replaced it with an EVF. Its again slightly larger then some compacts but feels good in the hand and the EVF is one of the better models of the current compacts with viewfinders.
On my second circuit of the main hall I tried out the Sony RX100 MkIII, now this is a tiny compact, also with a functional if not brilliant EVF, still any EVF is better then none. If your after a pocketable compact with viewfinder I feel this is it, very small but very powerful.
At the show they had a number of fantasic deals, we spend some time at the Olympus stand. Chris was buying the Olympus OM-D E-M1, I have to admit this is a stunning mirror-less camera, and I can see why Steve Huff thinks so highly of it.
Many people think the Sony A7 range is the current cream of the crop of mirror-less cameras, and if you get it right the image quality is right up there with the best, but I do have concerns about Sony, I don’t like their RAW file implementation and they always come across as a bit cheap, not giving battery chargers, or hoods with their lens. Then there is the fact that another new model is always round the corner making a purchaser of a new Sony having some of the fastest depreciation around. Still I love the A7R and the full frame compact RX1.
Fuji is also well thought of, and if you don’t mind the X-Trans sensor the X-T1 is another killer camera and a rival to many SLR’s.
With Sony putting in so much effort to full frame and with their range of DX (1.5 crop) cameras, and Fuji now having a good selection of DX crop mirrors cameras, one may think Panasonic and Olympus are falling behind, but there is still a lot of life left in micro four thirds.
The laws of physical unfortunately still cannot be broken, and if you want a fast lens with a field of view of 300mm, you pay for it, in size and weight. My full frame Nikon 300mm f/2.8 is huge and heavy, it always gets used on a heavy Gitzo series 5 tripod.
Now this is where the smaller formats have an advantage. I have two zooms with my little V1, and they fit into a coat pocket but give the range of 28-300mm. This is the big advantage of smaller formats.
The micro four thirds system is an excellent compromise on image size, giving more then acceptable quality in a small package. The current top of the tree micro four thirds cameras, are the Panasonic GH4 and GX7, and the Olympus OM-D E-M1.
So if you are after a high end mirrors-less camera, you have the Sony A7 range, and the old NEX now rebranded Alpha range, Panasonic’s GH4 and GX-7 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1. If your after small then the GX-7 is your camera. If video is your thing then its the GH4, but if your after a pro weather sealed camera with some of the best autofocus of any mirrors camera plus class leading image stabilisation then its the Olympus.
As I said the show offers were very tempting and Chris purchased the Olympus while I was very tempted by the little OM D E10, a tiny smaller version which could be used as a compact, and at under £600 with a good lens was a real bargain.
So what did I buy, well the intention was to buy nothing, just enjoy the day and play with the latest gear, but there was a very good reason the manager of LCE said I should come.
They had managed to get hold of four boxed Nikon reconditioned as new D800’s and were selling them at a price that just could not be refused. So yes I purchased a ‘as new’ D800 and will be testing and developing a suitable workflow for it over the next few weekends.
As well as playing with the latest gear and spending too much money there was also a few seminars and one of the stands advertising lighting even had a real live owl to photograph.
This was a quick snapshot with my Leica M8.
For Chris and for myself the highlight was seeing Damian McGillicuddy work. He did a quick impromptu fashion shoot using Olympus equipment and two flashes.
As you can see a few of us took the opportunity to grab a quick shot of the model.
While there we also had a good look at camera bags. The perfect camera bag does not exist, I have several big hard cases, and several soft camera bags, but the search for the perfect bag still goes on. I was after something that could take an SLR body with a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached, basically a small ruck sack which I could walk with when on remote Scottish Islands.
I also had a look at the flash accessories, I am after a radio studio trigger for my Hasselblad as I dislike running cables. I think I may have found what I want and London Camera Exchange are ordering it in so I can have a look in closer detail.
Its a great little show and its very good that LCE arrange something like this. I like supporting local stores as good service is something I appreciate. If you have a good local camera store then support.