equipment

How not to choose a new camera

©Neil Turner

Please accept my apologies. This post starts with a short rant.

Every time I read an opinion about which of the many utterly superb cameras that are on the market produces the best colours, my heart sinks. When the writer gives their opinion on the colours or the contrast that this or that model produces I know that I can safely ignore them but I also know that others listen. They often sound convincing because what they say has some small foothold in reality. I find it unbelievable but some people actually base their selection of equipment on how they perceive a camera model to render colours using the factory settings and often under conditions over which they have little control. Even worse; others actually allow the opinions of these short-sighted and wildly ill-informed folks to influence their purchasing decisions.

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Apple MacBook Air M1

Ten years ago I bought an 11″ MacBook Air. It went everywhere with me because it was so portable, so useful and did the job that I needed it to do. Four years ago I tried really hard to find a way to use an iPad to do the same sort of on-location quick edits that the small laptop had been so good for but I never really made it work. I kept the rapidly ageing laptop in service for longer than I should have and carried my 2017 15″ MacBook Pro on more jobs that I would have wanted to. When Apple released the M1 powered 13″ laptops earlier this year I thought that I might finally have found a solution and the reports coming from other photographers about how good they were helped me make my mind up to invest in one.

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Camera timeline & nostalgia trip

A colleague of mine, Edmond Terakopian, put a post on a Facebook groups a few days ago talking about the Nikon FM2 cameras that he has owned for many years. From there lots of people agreed with what he had written and a few others moved the conversation on to some of the kit that they’ve owned through their careers.

Most of the comments were about how good and how reliable the earlier kit was and how bodies and lenses from the 70s, 80s and into the 90s are still working and still able to run out quality pictures. Lots of nostalgia for the way things used to be!

Personally speaking I wouldn’t want to go back the shooting and processing film – even if that meant you could get a complete professional kit (two FM2s, two motor drives, 24mm, 35mm, 85mm and 180mm lenses and two flashes) for under £2,500. I was never as big a fan of the FM2 as so many of my colleagues were. The much more expensive and robust F3P/MD4 combination was my favourite of all of the manual focus film cameras but the arrival of the EOS1N made me realise that auto-focus was the way to go.

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FTP and the Canon EOS R5

ftp with the Canon Eos r5 tutorial

A little over three and a half years ago I made a video showing users how to do a simple set-up to transmit images directly from the Canon EOS 5D MkIV camera using the built-in FTP feature. Recently a chap who saw that video asked if I could do the same with the EOS R5. At that time I didn’t have access to an R5 so I made a note to get around to it ‘one day’.

Last week I needed to get my hands on one to make sure that it was able to transmit into a server that some of the photographers that I work with use. Thanks to Canon UK and CPS (Canon Professional Services) I have had the camera for a few days, ironed out any issues we had and so I thought that I’d go ahead and make a quick walk-through tutorial and comparison video.

The video is now on YouTube and you can use this link to watch it. Spoiler alert; (more…)

Two set-ups at once

Bill Cockburn at the School Teachers Review Body. ©Neil Turner/TSL

From time-to-time I repost one of the fifty technique examples that were posted on the original dg28.com website between 1999 and 2008. I have timed this one to go with uploading this particular frame to my Instagram feed as one of the series of archive portraits that I’ve been putting there for well over five months.

The idea here is to have two separate lighting set-ups for one interview portrait without having to constantly move around the room adjusting lights. This interview was with a senior businessman who chaired a body that decided how much teachers’ pay rises will be each year. The reporter wasn’t all that comfortable with me shooting through the interview but it was what the picture editor wanted, so that’s what I did. This job required a bit of quick thinking so that I could get two different set-ups in place. (more…)

Failed hard drives

It is generally accepted in the world of information technology that there are only two types of hard drive; those that have failed and those that haven’t failed yet.

Evidently that is true but as part of my COVID-19 tidying-up, sorting-out and archiving I have dragged out my plastic box full of “failed” hard drives (some of which date back over twelve years) to see if there’s anything that I can drag off of any of them that I don’t have elsewhere. I didn’t think that there would be because I have been almost anal in my backing-up and backing-up the back-ups for many years now.

I’ve powered them up and connected them to a couple of different Macs and a PC to see what there is – if anything there. Of the old 3.5” drives only one out of nine actually mounted and was accessible but that was a bare drive that I had put into a housing as part of an experiment to see if that was actually a good way to go. It turns out that it is – or at least it would be if USB2 wasn’t so slow. I can stick that bare drive into a faster housing but there’s no useful data on it that I don’t have in at least three other places. (more…)

More about archiving

Interview portrait of Lady Helen Brook, founder of the Brook Advisory Centres which gave advice to young women about contraception starting in the in the 1960s, aged 85 at her home in north-west London. 05 May 1993 Photo: Neil Turner

Here we are in day sixty-something of the UK Coronavirus lockdown and I’m still ploughing through my very old work and trying to knock it into a usable archive. There are a number of stages to the process and stage one has been to make a detailed catalogue of somewhere approaching three thousand rolls of negatives from dates on the negative sleeves married up with my old (Filofax) diaries and a few memories kicking around in my head. Stage one is now pretty much finished. There are a few gaps where I cannot work out the exact details of when and where pictures were taken and there are a lot of sheets of negatives missing where the films were processed in newspaper darkrooms and I never got them back.

What I have done as a first step is to create a spreadsheet with columns for the film number, date shot, client who commissioned the job or if it was a self-funded project, a generic caption for the whole sheet of negatives, specific frames where applicable and the digital filename range of files created. From there I can import any or all of that data into the IPTC metadata once I get to the captioning of those images. There will be some rolls of film that will never be touched and there are others which will be given a lot of attention. (more…)

Older than old school…

Equipment and my equipment choices tend to evolve pretty slowly. Way back in the 1980s I was using a lot of off-camera flash on location and that meant either owning and running a lot of extension cables with my Elinchrom mains powered units, buying (or renting) a Norman system or using some basic flashguns (the term speed light hadn’t really entered common usage by then, other than as part of a Nikon model name) to do the job. I came across the Lumedyne range (old school) in the mid 1990s, although they had been around for a while by then. Before that I spent many happy years with my cobbled-together battery powered flash kit which was based around the already long-in-the-tooth Vivitar 285 system. I call it a system because there was a ton of accessories that you could get for it and it had some common connections that meant you could pair it up with almost anything you wanted to.

I mention all of this because I stumbled across a pretty much complete Vivitar 285 kit when I was looking for something else in my many boxes of disused and “may-come-in-handy-one-day” kit. In the box were: (more…)