Tag Archives: RRS

Lincoln LCE Photo week thoughts

LCE Photo Week 2014

Last week was the Lincoln LCE Photo Week, I visited both stores most days of the week and during that time I spoke to most of the reps as well as the LCE staff. Here are my miscellaneous notes and thoughts from the week.

Tuesday (High Street Store):
I spoke to the Fuji rep first and you can read my separate blog post about that here. Thanks to being linked by Fujirumors, Scoop IT and nearly every other Fuji rumour and Fuji forum site I had the most visits to my site ever, it’s a pity that it has almost dropped back to normal levels again. 😦

I had a nice chat with the Manfrotto rep about their bag range he did suggest that I try a tripod but decided not to bother when I told him I already had a nice Carbon Fibre Gitzo. I remember hearing somewhere that Kata bags are actually made by Manfrotto and this was confirmed. In fact as the bags are renewed (might only be the Pro bags though) they are going to be re-branded as Manfrotto. I would have liked to have seen one of the Pro series 20/30 bags as I might get one but at £189 is too much sight unseen, I need to gauge the bulk which I cannot do online.

Tuesday (Silver Street store):
I spoke to Nikon the rep and he does not see a successor to the D300/D300s, his reasoning was that the model numbering no longer fitted in – I have never heard a more strange reason than this before. I suggested the D9000 series which he nodded to. I pointed out the D610 and D7100 had their microphone and headphone jacks in different places, on the D610 they are under the same flap on the D7100 under different flaps. He thought this was due to legacy reasons (i.e. the D7000), I said it was because it was a Nikon and they do strange things for no reason – that didn’t go down too well.

On a different note, by handling the cameras (particularly the D610 with its 24-85 f3.5-4.5 VR lens) I was reminded why I use Fuji although having access to a D7100 with the 80-400 MkII lens from time to time would be nice for the wildlife when far away – if I could stand the weight.

Wednesday (High Street Store):
The Tamron rep was fun to talk to as he was representing lots of different firms. They had the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 SP Di VC USD Lens and I tried this on a D700 – boy was this heavy. The lens was very nice and the extreme focal length was impressive. The rep was showing photos of the quality and how low you could go hand-holding the lens with the VC. We spoke for quite a while about their nice lenses the 24-70 f2.8 VC and the 70-200 f2.8 VC as well as their 105mm VC macro lens – they are all weather sealed.

He mentioned that Tamron have opened a new factory that is specifically for the smaller sensor camera bodies. It also came out that Tamron makes lenses for Sony, the Sony 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 OSS LE Lens that I used to own was a prime example, but they make a lot of Sony’s other (non Zeiss) lenses too. He didn’t see why Tamron might not start to make lenses for the Fuji and micro 4 thirds (MFT) market going forward as he agrees that most photographers are looking for light weight & smaller cameras with lenses to go with them; at least this is the case in Europe and the Far-East.

He was representing Samyang but had no Fuji mount versions to try but he did show one of their new Cine lenses and the build quality was impressive.

The Metz flash system was discussed, I asked why it that their “Metz 44 AF-1 Digital Flashgun” supports all of the camera manufacturers except Fuji (they support Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Samsung, you read that right – Samsung!!!). He mentioned that Metz will have a lot to show at Photokina in September so you never know.

Thursday (High Street Store):
Popped in to see what Panasonic had to offer and they didn’t have the GH4 so not much to see there – I was given a free pen though.

Sigma were there with some of their nice glass as well as some of their telephoto lenses too. I got to try out the new version of the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM Lens and again like the Tamron it was very nice but very heavy too and my arms ached after a while.

Friday (Silver Street store):
Spoke to the Sigma rep again who remembered me which is nice. Also had a quick chat with Lee who I don’t see as much as I used to as I visit the High Street store more often as they stock more of the Fuji range than the Silver Street Store does.

Final thoughts:
I was planning to visit the Silver Street store on Saturday to see the full Canon range Consumer to Pro but there is nothing new to see. I have already played with their newest member the PowerShot G1 X Mark II Digital Camera and I wasn’t really impressed. It shows that marketing have been designing this camera and there are a few “why have they done it that way” features that have hindered what might have been a really fantastic upgrade. Also (rhetorical question time) why is it that Canon and Nikon insist on removing Electronic View Finders from their top end mirror-less and high-end compact cameras?

Now the photo week is over and I would like to pass on my thanks to all of the staff at both of the London Camera Exchange Stores as well as the company reps (particularly the Fuji and Sigma reps).

If you have a local camera store make sure that you support them as these kind of events are not easy to arrange. They make it easy for us to try out some of the more non-stocked items to see what they are like and can really help when it comes to purchasing items to have tried them out which isn’t possible using Internet based stores. I certainly do purchase certain small things from Amazon and WEX as well as more specialised stores such as PhotoMadd and Really Right Stuff but most if not all of the large purchases are through my one of my local London Camera Exchanges:

  • High Street Store details can be found here.
  • Silver Street Store details can be found here.
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Really Right Stuff L Plate for VG-XT1 in Stock

RRS-Shipping

The long awaited Really Right Stuff (RRS) Arca-Swiss compatible L-Bracket for the Fujifilm XT-1 and VG-XT1 (battery grip) is now in stock so should be shipping soon.

BVGXT1L-03-B-Z-1

This is the only L-Plate for the XT-1 and Battery grip that I aware of. It really is remarkable that RRS have made the investment into producing one of these for this combination. The Fujifilm X-T1 is not the only mirror-less camera that can have a battery grip fitted; there are also the following models:

  • Sony A7, A7R and A7S
  • Panasonic GH3 and GH4
  • Olympus OM-D EM-10 and OM-D E-M1

Although RRS (as well as others) have created Arca-Swiss compatible brackets and L-brackets for these cameras, they have not produced L-brackets for these models when fitted with a Battery-Grip; from what I can gather they have no plans to do so either as there are no pre-order options.

The cost of the bracket is $175 which when you factor in delivery, customs duty and 20% VAT equates to about £175; I pre-ordered one of these some time ago, hopefully it will be shipped soon.

BVGXT1L-07-I-Z-1

For the uninitiated, Arca-Swiss is the most common standard mounting mechanism to attach photographic equipment (typically camera bodies and lenses) to a tripod-head that is usually on a tripod. The system comprises two parts: 1) an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod head such as the RRS BH-55 and 2) an Arca-Swiss “plate” attached the photographic item. When the item is the tripod collar of a telephoto lens, you can change from landscape to portrait orientation by loosening the collar and then rotating the body.

However, when you have a lens that does not have a collar and you want to change from landscape to portrait orientation what do you do? In the past you had to adjust the ball head’s position but this meant that the juxtaposition of the lens axis would be down and to the right or left from it prior position. If the tripod was not positioned right then the head/camera combo could hit each other meaning that the tripod would have to be re-positioned too. So the idea of the “L-Bracket” came about and now most DSLR cameras (with and without battery grips) have L Brackets not only made by RRS but others such as Kirk Photo. The “L-Bracket” allows you to mount the camera (and grip) in the “Portrait” or “Landscape” orientation whilst keeping the lens axis in approximately the same position; there would be no-need to adjust the ball-head or tripod.

Please see my video for the RRS bracket for the Sony NEX-7, this shows how the bracket works:

For more information, please visit Really Right Stuff’s website here.

Fujifilm and Arca-Swiss

In the past I have spoken about using Arca-Swiss compatible plates and tripod heads when using a tripod (or any mounting system that uses a ball-head). For the un-initiated, the Arca-Swiss system is a standard that any plate or tripod-head manufacturer can adhere to and thereby work with other manufacturer’s plates and head.

For example I have a ball-head a “BH-55” that is made by Really Right Stuff (RRS) mounted to a tripod made by Gitzo. I have plates made by RRS, Kirk, Joby and PhotoMadd that attach to a variety of devices.

BH55LR
So if most photographers know and use the system (if they are using tripods) why is that no camera/lens manufacturer bar one (that I am aware of) seems to be unaware or unwilling to make Arca-Swiss compatible items? I am not talking about making the base of a camera mount directly to an Arca-Swiss head; I am talking about items such as the feet on tripod-collars (on long lenses). These can still offer the standard tripod quarter-twenty (1/4” diameter, 20 threads per inch) tripod socket so are not mutually exclusive.

Kirk PZ-3 Plate

The sole manufacturer who seems to be aware and willing to do something about it is (you guessed it) Fujifilm. When Fujifilm released their first wave of cameras (X-100, X-Pro1 and X-E1), they provided probably the most essential (and at the same time the dumbest) hand-grips. The grips enhance the handgrip of the camera for all users (except those with small hands possibly) and also “moved” the tripod socket so it is now at the central axis of the lens. However, they also blocedk the battery/SD-Card door.

Fuji X-Pro1 Grip

But then, Fujifilm after the release of the X-E2 and X-100s released new versions of the hand-grips, whilst they still provided the advantages of the former models, the major disadvantage (access to the battery/SD-card door) was removed by simply providing a cut-out in this area so that the door could be opened un-hindered and either the SD-Card or battery removed/replaced, etc. However they added another advantage, the bottom of the plates had a wedge added to them that was Arca-Swiss compatible. Although this may sound a bit clunky, this is the best way to describe the bottom of the plates, see the picture below:

Fuji X-Pro1 Metal Hand Grip

Since this time all of the new-hand-grips released by Fujifilm now have cut-outs for the battery or battery/SD-Card compartments and also have the Arca-Swiss compatible bottoms too. The only exception to this is the battery grip for the X-T1 camera (VG-XT1) but as this isn’t technically a hand-grip and doesn’t have a metal base isn’t surprising.

Later this year Fujifilm will be releasing two lenses that will have tripod collars (the 50-140 f2.8 R OIS WR zoom lens and the 120-400mm OIS telephoto zoom). Whist we don’t know much about the 120-400mm (what is the aperture range and is this a WR lens) we can be pretty sure that the “feet” of the collars on these lenses will be Arca-Swiss compatible (I hope I’m not wrong on this one). This is a slight leap of faith as the mock-up of the 50-140 lens I saw at this year’s UK Photography Show did not have an Arca-Swiss compatible foot, in fact the tripod collar kept falling off 🙂 .

Fujinon-Roadmap-Cut-down

Footnote:
Whilst Fujifilm should be commended for providing something that users actually want there is still room for innovation/improvement here. When you use your camera in portrait orientation an “L-plate” is a better proposition and this is where some of the third-party companies such as RRS or PhotMadd come into play. For example I now have a couple of PhotoMadd combo-L-Plate/Hand-grips for my X-Pro1 and X-E1 too. When I started writing this article I didn’t have one for my X-E1 but in grabbing the URL for the PhotoMadd shop I noticed that there was a single one at a reduced price available, I love a bargain.

xp1-product-only

xpro1-front1

However although PhotoMadd will be releasing an L-Plate for the X-T1 in the future I would like one for my X-T1 and VG-XT1 combo. I have been looking around and to my surprise RRS are going to be releasing one (I have already pre-ordered one of these for myself). RRS don’t usually release L-plates for cameras that they think will be low-volume or cameras considered very consumer-based i.e. Nikon D3300 or D5200, Canon’s EOS xxxD series of cameras. This is a real pleasant surprise; when they eventually ship these I will be provide a video overview.