Peter Flower

In the build-up to the Photokina event, scheduled for 26-29 September, there have been a number of significant new camera announcements. In addition to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras which we reported on in the previous Newsletter there has since been significant news of new models from Nikon, Canon, Sony and Fujifilm. We report on these in following articles. Instant cameras are increasing in popularity in some market places. The new Polaroid camera and printer are evidence of this, although it has to be said that the Zink printing model is just another variation on a number of these that have been previously available.

The society activities for the new season kicked off with the Saturday Natter and Nick Roger's talk on a trip to Alaska to witness the brown bears enjoying the salmon run. The following meeting was targeted at familiarising members, and prospective members, with the organisation of the society, how to obtain information and assistance, and plans for the year ahead. Following the presentation of awards for previous competitions there were a number of brief talks by members on topics such as competition rules and the events programme by Paul Renaut, finding information from the web site by Jill Flower and details of additional events by Stephen Hewes. In the second half there were presentations of photographs by Les Dyson, Modesto Vega and Jill Flower.

Reinforcing the guidance from Jill Flower about web site information, remember that you can find details of forthcoming events in the Current Events section on the right-hand side of the Home page or by clicking on the Programme tab. These details can be downloaded to your own calendar.

Saturday Natter – Denbies Vineyard – 1 September 2018

Peter Flower

Another sunny day for our meeting, but just a hint of cooler weather to come and slight signs of autumn colour in the the surrounding vineyards. There were just nine of us at this meeting, but with just two tables occupied this meant that there was greater opportunity to converse with one another.

Initially it appeared that a mini committee meeting was taking place at one end of the table with plans being discussed for events at the early part of the new season, including two exhibitions which Colin Hodsdon is planning. Sitting opposite me was Don Morley, sporting a Canon-branded camera bag. Needless to say the contents were in fact two Leica camera bodies and some lenses. Don explained to the group of us sitting nearby that he had found it very difficult to find a bag that satisfied his detailed requirements. Although the two bodies fitted neatly into two of the internal compartments it was rarely possible to store them with the lens hoods fitted. He liked to be able to have the cameras with controls pre-set and ready for quick action, complete with lens hoods in position. One of the cameras that Don had with him was this Leica Q model that I photographed.

Leica Q, showing the fixed Summitar f/1.7 28mm lens and controls (Photographs by Peter Flower)

This is a beautiful full-frame camera to handle, solidly built and with well-designed controls. The electronic viewfinder with its 3.68 million dot resolution was, at the time of the camera's release in June 2015, the best available. The shutter speed dial on the top, together with the aperture and focus control rings on the lens, provide for quick and easy settings to be made. We discussed this aspect of the Leica and expressed regret that so many modern cameras do not provide this same level of intuitive control; instead requiring the use of buttons or menu selection.

Stephen Hewes had brought along his newly acquired Pentax DFA 50mm f/1.4 lens, mated to his K-1 camera body. The combined weight is 1920g. Both Don and I were able (just!) to handle it. Although Don's camera only had a 28mm f/1.7 lens, not totally matching that of Stephen's outfit, it nevertheless highlighted the immense disparity between two full-frame cameras, both of which are solidly built. Stephen took a number of photographs, including this one of me. I must say that I was disappointed with the quality of the image from this expensive lens – it didn't make me any better looking!

Photograph by Stephen Hewes

In answer to my query after the event Stephen sent me the following comments - 'My previous 50mm is about 25 years old so I thought it would be good to replace it – the old one's gone onto my old K-r body to be my equivalent of a compact – only 820 grammes combined weight (less than the new lens on its own) and fully amortised so I can take it anywhere!'

In a previous Saturday Natter report (Newsletter 108) I reported on Rosemary Callinan's imminent plans to move to Edinburgh and that this might be her last attendance at one of our events. Due to slight delays in those plans she is still living locally and we were happy to greet her at this latest Natter.

Comment: Referring back to the new 50mm f/1.4 lens that Stephen had brought to the meeting and subsequent comparisons with Don's Leica camera, I thought that it would be interesting to research details on a Canon A-1 camera, complete with 50mm f/1.4 lens, that I still own. Although the A-1 is a film camera it is comparable in the image size recorded (being 35mm or what we now call full-frame). Admittedly we are not comparing like with like (camera bodies being 1010g for the Pentax and 620g for the Canon) but it is the disparity in weight and size of the lenses that is most surprising. Compared to the bulk of the Pentax lens (620g and dimensions of 106mm long, 80mm diameter) the Canon FD lens is minuscule at 235g and approximate dimensions of 52mm long with 65mm diameter.

Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother image

Peter Flower

In Newsletter 110 Jill Flower reported on a visit to the Barbican to see an exhibition of Dorothea Lange's photographs. In that article the famous 'Migrant Mother' image was reproduced. Stephen Hewes had also visited that exhibition and emailed me to comment on the fact that the image normally featured had in fact been edited to remove a finger on the post in the bottom right-hand corner. Jill and I were already aware of this but I followed up on Stephen's suggestion that this would make an interesting item for the Newsletter. I have carried out further research and found an image of the original version. Both images are reproduced below to illustrate the minor but significant editing that had been performed.

Acknowledgement to Library of Congress – the second image is annotated - '(b&w film copy neg. of an unretouched file, showing thumb)'

It is interesting to speculate on the thinking that went behind the decision that such a minor distraction in the image needed to be covered up.

Alaska, Brown Bears (and other things) - 3 September 2018 – Nick Rogers

Report by Peter Flower

Society member, Nick Rogers, got the new season off to a flying start with his talk about a recent trip to Alaska to photograph the wild life and in particular the brown bears salmon fishing. He had brought some of his camera equipment that he had taken on the trip. Most of the photographs had been taken with his Nikon D850 and Tamron 150-600 f/5-6.3 lens, although he also had a D810, Tamron 24-70 f2.8 and Tamron 70-200 f2.8 lenses in the kit that he took with him. He explained the technique whereby he used underexposure of his shots in order to preserve the highlights. It should be said that the lack of stabilisation, either in-body or with the lenses, required careful choice of camera settings to capture movement in the sometimes dim lighting conditions. He stressed that he deliberately did not use a tripod because this would have hampered quick changes of viewpoint to react to the rapidly changing scenes before him.

Nick set the scene for his visit by displaying maps of the area, showing where he had initially flown into Anchorage. There followed various internal flights, mainly by floatplane, to the remote region where the bears were gathering to feed during the salmon run. The principal area of interest centred on Brooks Falls Trail.

Access to the viewing platforms overlooking the falls required a lengthy trek from the visitor centre along tracks with no rangers and where bears might be encountered. The viewing platforms had limited capacity and visiting times could be restricted. The following two images show the viewing platforms and the unusual sight of men fishing in the river in close proximity to bears.

© Photographs by Nick Rogers

Talking about the internal flights by floatplane, Nick showed the following image of one being refuelled. Explaining the reason for its inclusion in a section which was largely devoted to images of brown bears he said that shortly beforehand they had made a landing where the fuel had run out!

© Photograph by Nick Rogers

We were shown a large selection of photographs that Nick took at the falls from the viewing platforms. These included close-ups of bears actually catching the salmon as well as fights that took place.

© Photographs by Nick Rogers

The weather was changeable and Nick showed this image of a particularly wet bear, one of many that he photographed on another day.

© Photograph by Nick Rogers

However, perhaps the most interesting, and scary, shot was this one. In the Newsletter 109 feature 'And finally . . ' I posted a picture of photographers racing away from an angry bear with a text that I hoped Nick would not encounter something like this. He did! His own close encounter is illustrated below.

© Photograph by Nick Rogers

Nick also included some shots of the local scenery, including that of a beautiful flower meadow and a glacier.

© Photographs by Nick Rogers

In the second half of the evening Nick presented a variety of photographs including some from the remainder of his trip via San Francisco with visits to Monterey Bay and the giant redwoods forests. He also showed more photographs from this country and earlier visits to the countries of south Africa. (As reported in Newsletter 102) A particularly humorous story concerned an attempt to photograph a kingfisher. The photograph shown was just of a stream in the lower part of the picture, no kingfisher and a slim branch arching above it, where the kingfisher was expected to perch. Despite the fact that the stream concealed some fish in an underwater container, designed to attract the kingfisher into a dive, several hours of watching proved fruitless. The following images are just a small selection of the African pictures shown – a beautiful night shot, a hippo showing why it is such a dangerous animal and touching affection between two monkey siblings.

© Photographs by Nick Rogers

In my earlier report I commented that Nick should learn from the travelogue films that were so popular at one time. There would be a typical cliché ending 'And as the sun sinks slowly in the West we say farewell to the wild life and glorious scenery of South Africa'. Nick obviously took my advice. The following is one of two images that he showed at the end of his talk!

© Photograph by Nick Rogers

It is not possible within these reports to cover all aspects of the talk which in Nick's case provided us with a variety of superb images and an entertaining commentary, but this should provide a flavour of the excellent talk by one of our own members.

Comment: This evening was exciting for another reason. We saw the first use of our new microphone and speaker system. Both Stephen Hewes, who did the introductions, and Nick were equipped with the light head-mounted microphones. The system was very effective and should overcome the complaints levied at some speakers that their voice is difficult to hear towards the back of the audience.

Nikon D3500 camera


Nikon D3500 camera

Nikon has replaced its entry-level D3400 DSLR with the new D3500. The main change is that the body is similar to that of the even-smaller D5600, minus the articulating touchscreen display. The new model has increased battery life, up 30% to 1550 shots per charge, despite using the same processor and battery as the D3400. The new model has the same 24 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, 11-point AF system, easy-to-use Guide Mode, 1080/60p video and Bluetooth-only connectivity as the D3400. The D3500 is also cheaper than its predecessor, priced at £499 with an 18-55mm lens AF-P DX VR or £479 with an 18-55mm lens AF-P DX. Availability is anticipated in late September.

Sony HX99 and HX95 cameras


Sony HX99 camera

Sony has announced these new HX compact models in a series which it claims to be the world's smallest camera with wide zoom range. These are similar to previous models, currently featuring the BIONZ X image processing engine, front-end LSI and 4K video recording. Both models are nearly identical, each sporting a 180-degree tiltable LCD, OLED Tru-Finder, and 1/2.3" Exmor R 18MP CMOS sensor. They are fitted with a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-720mm High Magnification Zoom lens, Optical SteadShot image stabilization, Zoom Assist, and auto focus speeds as fast as 0.09 seconds. Both models support 4K video recording at 3840 x 2160.

The Cyber-shot HX99 camera differs from the HX95 in a few ways, one of which is an OLED Tru-Finder with a control ring versus the HX95's retractable viewfinder. The HX99 also features a control ring for customized camera functions, Touch Shutter, Touch Focus, and a focus point shifting function called Touch Pad.

The HX99 at £449 and HX95 at £429 will be available in October 2018.

Canon EOS R mirrorless camera


This exciting new camera was formally announced by Canon on 5 September 2018. Unlike the Nikon Z6 and Z7 models there were no previous 'teaser' releases on the web, although there had been what appeared to be very informed rumours circulating for some time. This included a copy of a PDF file containing the full camera specifications.

Canon EOS R camera

Canon makes it very clear that this is merely the first in a new system. The EOS R has a 30.3 effective megapixel CMOS sensor incorporating its Dual Pixel CMOS AF feature with an impressive 5,655 selectable points. Significantly, unlike its Nikon and Sony rivals it does not have In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS). Other features include a DIGIC 8 processor, ability to focus down to -6EV (though this is rated with an f/1.2 lens) and a native ISO range of 100-40,000 that expands to 50-102,400. It has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 3.69 million dots, a magnification of 0.76x and a 23mm eye-point. The fully articulating 3.2" LCD screen is touch-enabled and has 2.1 million dots. A customizable touchpad to the right of the viewfinder allows for quickly changing ISO, white balance, movie shooting and more. In common with the new Nikon models the EOS R offers just one memory card slot, which supports UHS-II media, regarded as a shortcoming by professional photographers. It uses RF-mount lenses, four of which will be available at the launch date, but also supports existing EF and EF-S lenses via one of three optional adapters. In addition to a basic adapter there is another with a customizable control wheel and a third with support for drop-in filters. The adapter with control ring allows operation in much the same way as compact cameras like the Sony HX and Panasonic TZ range cameras. The ring is customisable and easy to find without taking the camera from your eye offering tactile manual control over various settings.

The lenses initially released in the RF range are all of premium quality, ranging in price from £519 for the 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro to £3049 for the 28-70mm f/2L USM at £3049. This last lens lacks in-built I.S. and so is completely unstabilised on the Canon EOS R. It also weighs in at a hefty 1430g and requires a massive 95mm filter.

In many respects the camera is similar to the EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR, having the same-sized 30 megapixel sensor. However, it weighs in at 660g compared to the 890g of the 5D. It is also cheaper than that model which is priced at £2999.

The EOS R will be available in October priced at £2349 (body only) or £3269 for the kit with 24-150mm f/4L IS lens.

Fujifilm X-T3 camera


Fujifilm X-T3 camera

On 6 September 2018 Fujifilm announced this new model which introduces further enhancements over the popular X-T2. These include a new 26 megapixel BSI X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor that can shoot at up to 30 fps (in crop mode) and capture 4K/60p video. The T3's X-Processor 4 is three times faster than that of current X-series models. The camera also has a native base ISO of 160, down from 200 on the X-T2. The autofocus system is a big improvement over previous X-series models.

Comparisons of improvements between the X-T2 and X-T3 include increase of sensor from 24 to 26 megapixels, more focus points, 325 up to 425, EVF definition up from 2.36 to 3.69mp and faster frame rate, 14 to 20 fps. The autofocus system has been improved over previous X-series models, with 2.1 million phase detection pixels providing nearly 100% coverage. The system checks focus and metering 1.5x faster than the X-T2 and is capable of focusing in light levels as low as -3EV. Face and eye detection have been improved, with the latter now available in AF-C mode. Fujifilm has also added a 'Digital Microprism' focusing aid, simulating the view through an old-school film SLR finder. There are even apparently minor improvements such as the ability to lock the EVF diopter setting, which can easily be disturbed when handling other cameras.

The new models is priced at £1349 (body only)

Polaroid 2-in-1 camera and printer


Polaroid has announced two new devices that utilise Zink print technology to provide instant prints. The first is the Polaroid Mint 2-in-1 instant digital camera and printer. As can be seen in the following image this is available in a range of colours.

Polaroid Mint 2-in-1 instant digital camera and printer

The device features a 16-megapixel digital camera 'for snapping memories of everyday life'. Photos are stored through a MicroSD card slot that supports up to 256GB of storage.

It has automatic LED flash and self-timer. You can select one of three shooting modes (colour, sepia, or black and white), use the integrated selfie mirror and produce prints using the built-in ink-free Zink printer.

Polaroid Mint Instant Digital Pocket Printer

Also available is the Polaroid Mint Instant Digital Pocket Printer in the same range of bold colours. It pairs with the Polaroid Mint smartphone (iOS and Android) app via Bluetooth and can create 2×3-inch full-colour glossy photos in less than a minute. The app offers editing, filters, frames, stickers, and more. The printer has a battery life of 50 prints per charge via the USB port.

Both models should be available in October.

Comments from Ian Hunt on Nikon Z

I was very excited by the prospect of the mirrorless Z Nikons but in my opinion Nikon will fail to capture the Pro market with it. Only one slot and around 300 shots per battery charge. EVF is all very well but consumes current.

The reason why I moved from Nikon Bridge cameras were the EVF consuming power and slow warm up and reaction times. DSLR was a revelation after that!

OK, so the D610 has the weight of a housebrick and is more wieldy than the 850 so I cannot see myself being tempted by the new toy in it's current form. I can also take in excess of a 1000 images and use the second card as overflow. Battery is always charged to 100% before I go to an event.

When the Sony A7 came out I was uncomfortable with it's ergonomics and it's price. When it came out at 2,200 quid that seemed steep to me so three and four grand on the Nikon...I think not. Yes we can use FX lenses with the adaptor which should have been thrown in with the camera for free.

Sales trends


The following sales graph from CIPA is interesting. Speculation goes on about the potential for interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras to replace the conventional DSLR, especially since the entry of Nikon and Canon into the market. The most significant aspect of this graph is not just the trend for increasing sales of mirrorless cameras, climbing relatively slowly, but the dramatic drop in DSLR sales over the past 5 years.

Acknowledgement to CIPA

Panasonic to unveil a Full Frame Mirrorless Camera?

This is the latest rumour on certain web sites. If it happens, remember that you read it here first!

And finally . . . . . . . . .

Photographer checking the weather-proofing of his camera.

Acknowledgement to Veselin Malinov. Image from boredpanda.com



Stop press

by Jill Flower 


We went to a superb exhibition at the museum of London called London Nights. This has some very good and interesting photography covering London at night from the 1930’s to current day. Names such as Bill Brandt and Bert Hardy featured strongly but someone you may not know, who was a Reigate photographer killed by a bomb in Reigate in 1944, Harold Burdekin, has some pictures of sinister London streets in this exhibition. These particular pictures reminded me of some we attempted to stage on a previous extra event to shoot London at twilight. We are going to do this in Greenwich this season, so if you are thinking of going on this event, or even if not, I can recommend this exhibition as a wealth of ideas for city night time photography.

on until 11/11/18