Guy Aubertin Photography http://guyaubertin.com UK photographer specialising in landscape, wedding and family portraiture Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:48:46 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Cloud Bank, Isle of Skye http://guyaubertin.com/cloud-bank-isle-skye.htm http://guyaubertin.com/cloud-bank-isle-skye.htm#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 22:45:07 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=19762 This image was made on pure impulse - I had seen the curious low level cloud along the horizon and thought I should stop to have a more considered view. There really was no one around as I watched the clouds trundling along and as I so often do I waited. Curious to see what would happen. Wondering if Skye would weave its magic.

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Cloud Bank, Isle of Skye

~click to see larger~

I spent much of my time on Skye, driving. Plodding steadily along at an annoying 30-40mph, content to let everyone overtake me as I my eyes drifted towards the skies. During November much of the landscape has become barren, which means to you need to work hard at image making. I made use of the ever shifting light amongst the ebb and flow of the clouds. My days became caught up in the abstract patterns made in banks of cloud.

The bay at Ullinish is not on any map of “must see places” but it is beautiful in starkness and the way the headland on either side opens up into the Atlantic. This image was made on pure impulse – I had seen the curious low level cloud along the horizon and thought I should stop to have a more considered view. There really was no one around as I watched the clouds trundling along and as I so often do I waited. Curious to see what would happen. Wondering if Skye would weave its magic.

As I took the second of just frames here, I looked hard at the back of the camera. There were streaks in the water. It took me a while to notice that all the clouds and light were reflecting across the sea.

This was 2.30pm on a Sunday and I could think of no better place to be

[Tech: Pentax 645z, 80-160 A, F8 1/20sec]

Win this image!

It’s very simple – when my Facebook page hits 1200 “likes” there will be a simple competition to win a mounted and signed print of this or any image. All you have to do is:

1) Share this page using the lovely Facebook or twitter buttons at the top or bottom of this post
2) Like my photography page on Facebook. That’s as easy as clicking this button:

If you already like my Facebook page (thank you!) then you are already “in” so…keep an eye out for details of the competition!

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Winter Storm Light, Glen Coe http://guyaubertin.com/winter-storm-light-glen-coe.htm http://guyaubertin.com/winter-storm-light-glen-coe.htm#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 23:16:41 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=19636 This location in Glen Coe is well known as the A82 trundles through the Glen. There is often interesting light here and I had everything crossed that something would be happening!

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Winter Storm Glen Coe

This is a location that always delivers! I had been tracking the weather for a week without any sign of rain. The problem as winter advances is that there is less and less of interest in the land itself and you start to rely more on the weather to help provide drama. Heading home after a week on Skye I typically encountered rain for hour after hour! This location is well known as the A82 trundles through the Glen. There is often interesting light here and I had everything crossed that something would be happening! The brief flash of light behind the mountain disappeared within seconds of this image and the rain hit me – hard. Not that I cared as a an enormous grin spread across my face!

[Tech: Pentax 645z, 35 A, F11 0.7sec, Lee Hard Grad 2 stops]

Available as a fine art print

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Neist Point, Isle of Skye http://guyaubertin.com/neist-point-isle-skye.htm http://guyaubertin.com/neist-point-isle-skye.htm#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 22:14:30 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=19542 This image of Neist Point taken at the end of a day that had started with sunrise over the Trotternish Ridge. Chasing the light all the way to sunset across one side of the Isle of Skye to other, had been exhilarating.

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Neist Point Sunset, Isle of Skye

This image taken with the Pentax 645z, at the end of a day that had started with sunrise over the Trotternish Ridge. Chasing the light all the way to sunset across one side of the Isle of Skye to other, had been exhilarating. The clouds had been building for most of the afternoon as a steady wind pushed them in from the Atlantic. Unusually gentle the wind only buffeted me slightly as I stood on the cliff staring down at the sea. Normally its an eye-watering gale! Neist Point is a well known and often photographed location, though I am of the view that it doesn’t really matter. These places are popular for a reason! As I was packing down the camera another photographer walked by me “Didn’t think much of that one” he said. I was rather speechless. “You win some and loose some I guess” he muttered as he walked off. You certainly do!

Tech: Pentax 645z, 45-85 FA, F11 1.5sec, Lee Hard Grad 2 stops]

Available as a fine art print

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Sage and Friends Calendar 2015 – Labrador Lifeline Trust http://guyaubertin.com/sage-friends-calendar-2015-labrador-lifeline-trust.htm http://guyaubertin.com/sage-friends-calendar-2015-labrador-lifeline-trust.htm#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:47:55 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=18962 The fabulous calendars, available in both compact desktop and stunning wall hanging, will feature these beautiful images. I chose to make the photographs real - to reflect the animals we all know and love. I hope that you can see your woof in what these energetic, crazy, posing and stunning creatures are getting up to.

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Two lovely dogs, brother and sister that lived in a conservatory, have been rescued by the Labrador Lifeline Trust as neither is wanted by their owners.

MaddisonBut our real concern is Maddison. She is a 9 year old, very sweet choci lab. Sadly she is going blind…let that sink in a little.

It makes me so so sad. The idea of any animal fumbling around in the dark is just terrible. Especially one that should be catching balls, chasing squirrels and seeing her furfriends.

And this is where you come in.

It will cost £4,500 to save her sight. Yes that’s right we can all help to save her sight! This is exactly why Aly, Sage and all the woofs, owners and myself have got together to bring you this fantastic calendar. We need to contribute as much as we possibly can and help to save her eyes.

You can read about the making of here but this is the very last calendar Sage will be doing. She is retiring gracefully.

So for Aly, for Sage and most of all Maddison buy a calendar. Buy 5 calendars. Spread the word. Share this on Facebook or twiiter or by email.

100% of all the profits go to help Maddison!

Just buy and share. Thank you!

The fabulous calendars, available in both compact desktop and stunning wall hanging, will feature these beautiful images. I chose to make the photographs real – to reflect the animals we all know and love. I hope that you can see your woof in what these energetic, crazy, posing and stunning creatures are getting up to.

Aly, Sage and I want you to enjoy having the images in your personal space as much as feeling good from the money that will be raised!

Imagine if Maddison could no longer do any of these things….

About Labrador Lifeline Trust

The Labrador Lifeline Trust is a charity dedicated to rescuing, rehoming and helping Labradors. They are now in our sixteenth year of helping Labradors in need of new homes and our main priority is placing the right dog in the right home.

About Guy Aubertin Photography

To be clear: I am not charging for my time, the use of this website or the online shop. 100% of all of the profits, after the costs of the calendars, are being given to the charity.

Win an image!

It’s very simple – when my Facebook page hits 1200 “likes” there will be a simple competition to win a mounted and signed print from my landscape portfolio. All you have to do is:

1) Share this page using the lovely Facebook or twitter buttons at the top or bottom of this post
2) Like my photography page on Facebook. That’s as easy as clicking the button below. If you already like my Facebook page (thank you!) then you are already “in” so…keep an eye out for details of the competition!

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Maidenhead Family Portraits – Neil, Julie and Gang http://guyaubertin.com/maidenhead-family-portraits-neil-julie-and-gang.htm http://guyaubertin.com/maidenhead-family-portraits-neil-julie-and-gang.htm#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 19:59:59 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=18914 ZAP! POW! BIFF! That's what it was like visiting this amazingly rambunctious household today. Mad mad energy of 3 kids...2 boys!! Taking photographs whilst being climbed on, tickled, pulled and generally used as a climbing frame. I wouldn't have it any other way...

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ZAP! POW! BIFF! That’s what it was like visiting this amazingly rambunctious household today. Mad mad energy of 3 kids…2 boys!! Taking photographs whilst being climbed on, tickled, pulled and generally used as a climbing frame. I wouldn’t have it any other way…

Lego seemed to the peace maker of choice – the studied concentration as spaceships were made and then pulled apart. It came back to me then – how many finger nails I had lost trying to prize those little flat squares apart!

Then off to a wood. The youngest, making her slow but determined way through the falling autumn leaves. The boys running ahead shouting about the monsters, the dens, no this way!!! Wait! A sleeping hedgehog (chestnut case…!)

Mum and Dad so clean to start with but covered in mud in the end. That’s how it should be. A family of five. It doesn’t get more spontaneous or full of love as this.

>>>All the images can be viewed here<<<

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Win an image!

It’s very simple – when my Facebook page hits 1200 “likes” there will be a simple competition to win a mounted and signed print from my landscape portfolio. All you have to do is:

1) Share this page using the lovely Facebook or twitter buttons at the top or bottom of this post
2) Like my photography page on Facebook. That’s as easy as clicking the button below. If you already like my Facebook page (thank you!) then you are already “in” so…keep an eye out for details of the competition!

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Sage and Friends at Frensham Ponds http://guyaubertin.com/sage-friends-frensham-ponds.htm http://guyaubertin.com/sage-friends-frensham-ponds.htm#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 19:59:48 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=18908 It began a while ago. The planning and plotting: Sage's 2015 Calendar. Its an amazingly wonderful idea started a few years back by Aly and all in the name of raising money for charity. We had locations in mind, the make-up artist was hired (I need all the help I can get,) clothing was made (!) and the weather was booked (British.)

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It began a while ago. The planning and plotting: Sage’s 2015 Calendar. Its an amazingly wonderful idea started a few years back by Aly and all in the name of raising money for charity. We had locations in mind, the make-up artist was hired (I need all the help I can get,) clothing was made (!) and the weather was booked (British.)

And then it began to get complicated. We all know that this will be Sage’s last – a girl has to retire gracefully. But, well, she took a turn for the worse. Hundreds of her fans, maybe even thousands have been willing her well. Sending her love and energy. Desperate to see this irrepressibly tough and gorgeous girl get well.

We changed plans. The word went out. It reminded me of the “Twilight Bark” in One Hundred and One Dalmations. Sage needed help – she couldn’t pull this one off on her own. Suddenly 1 became 3 became 6 became 9.

“Sage and Friends” was created!

She must have picked up on what was going on. Saturday morning came – perfectly drizzly and with soft soft light. She bounded at me as I opened the door. Sage was back! And here are some of the images to prove it.

We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. Thank you! Though the next time I have the idea of photographing 9 dogs in 15 minute slots one after the other…give me a bone and tell me to shut up!

The calendar will be coming very soon…but here is a very small selection of the images

>>>All the images are available here<<<

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Win an image!

It’s very simple – when my Facebook page hits 1200 “likes” there will be a simple competition to win a mounted and signed print from my landscape portfolio. All you have to do is:

1) Share this page using the lovely Facebook or twitter buttons at the top or bottom of this post
2) Like my photography page on Facebook. That’s as easy as clicking the button below. If you already like my Facebook page (thank you!) then you are already “in” so…keep an eye out for details of the competition!

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Autumns soft beginnings http://guyaubertin.com/autumns-soft-beginnings.htm http://guyaubertin.com/autumns-soft-beginnings.htm#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:27:51 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=18831 Finally it's that time of year as autumn ever so gently makes its presence felt. Colder, crisper mornings and the landscape caressed with early morning mist.

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Autumn Morning Swinley Forest

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Finally it’s that time of year as autumn ever so gently makes its presence felt. Colder, crisper mornings and the landscape caressed with early morning mist.

If you are lucky, then the sun will make an appearance. Low slanting sun if I am being picky. Checking the weather forecast last thing at night and first thing in the morning now becomes second nature.

At this time of year I seem to spend a good deal of time gazing out of the car window as the landscape rushes past. Surreptitious glances as I travel past “my wood” on the way to work.

This morning was no different and I was parking the car before I had even thought about it. I usually have a camera with me…sadly I had forgotten my tripod. Still in for a penny…oh and 15 minutes to find something worthwhile. Nothing like pressure.

The thought occurred to me as I looked at the webs littering the pine trees…I am so glad I am not potential spider food – how does anything survive!

[Photographed with a Fuji XT1 55-200mm @ 120mm F7.1 1/640 sec. Early morning light and mist meant that the sun was doubly filtered.

I had no hesitation in pointing my camera straight at it, relying on the superb dynamic range of the Fuji to cope with extreme range of light.

This is just a single unfiltered image and the rendering of the soft light in the background to the spiders webs in the front is just wonderful]

Win this image!

It’s very simple – when my Facebook page hits 1200 “likes” there will be a simple competition to win a mounted and signed print of this or any image. All you have to do is:

1) Share this page using the lovely Facebook or twitter buttons at the top or bottom of this post
2) Like my photography page on Facebook. That’s as easy as clicking this button:

If you already like my Facebook page (thank you!) then you are already “in” so…keep an eye out for details of the competition!

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Review of the Pentax 645z from a landscape photographer http://guyaubertin.com/review-pentax-645z-from-a-landscape-photographer.htm http://guyaubertin.com/review-pentax-645z-from-a-landscape-photographer.htm#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:13:16 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=19523 Update November: to view images from my Isle of Skye trip taken with this camera try here   (This is not a technical review – that has already been done brilliantly elsewhere (here, here and here) This article is I hope the start of a rolling users review of the camera – from a landscape…

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Update November: to view images from my Isle of Skye trip taken with this camera try here

 

(This is not a technical review – that has already been done brilliantly elsewhere (here, here and here) This article is I hope the start of a rolling users review of the camera – from a landscape photographers perspective. No walls will be harmed in the making of this review. Or family pets.)

Some background

My love affair with Pentax started just as I was getting into photography, back in 2003, with the venerable Canon D60. As soon as I had bought the camera and a huge 1Gb microdrive CF card (!) I was introduced to a Pentax 67. This large, awkward beast of a camera just had something about it that the small, plastic body of the Canon did not. It looked like a proper camera, it sounded like a thunderclap and the chromes that came out were an eye opener. Using those large, metal and bitingly sharp lenses was a joy. Yet it was a brute. So I moved to wearing the hair shirt of Large Format instead (thanks to Joe C!)

Nevertheless I kept my eye on Pentax, it’s demise and subsequent merger with Hoya and then purchase by Ricoh in 2011. I have always had a soft spot for the brand and several years ago purchased a 67ii with an assortment of lenses.

Sadly it didn’t quite bite me as it had back in 2003. The quality of digital had moved on and I frankly I had become seduced by the ease of the digital workflow. Rumours circulated that Pentax/Hoya/Ricoh would be introducing a low priced (relatively) entry into the full frame market. This quickly moved to being a medium format sensor, formally the exclusive realm of medium format backs. Intrigued I followed the story for 5 years until 2010 when the the 645D was launched. The online world, particularly landscape, portrait and studio photographers were significantly interested in this development. Did Pentax finally have a good value winner? Not exactly.

 

It was dated before it was launched really. The price was high’ish at $10,000 for what you were getting. There were (and still are to an extent) some realistic concerns about the viability of the 645D as a proper platform. Pentax introduced a new 55m (multiply by 0.8 to arrive at the 35mm equivalent focal length) lens to coincide with the 645D launch. In 2012 a specialist wide angle 25mm and a 90mm (with shake reduction, still a first in Medium Format) macro appeared. Legacy glass from the venerable film Pentax 645 existed, yet strangely no new stock of these were made available for the USA market.

There is and was also lack of professional service centres which was also a concern to customers in the USA. This is however now being addressed

By the time Pentax was in a position to start providing any meaningful stock of bodies, Nikon appeared with the D800 in 2012 and sales tanked. As for me, well in all honesty the 645D was just too rich in price and not rich enough in terms of features.

However Ricoh’s acquisition of Pentax was a substantial affirmation that they believed in the brand and its direction. Rumours began circulating (again!) that a 645D replacement would be coming to market. Something had occured to me whilst doing my research into medium format – this area takes years to bring a new product to market. The constant cycle of new new new which exists in DSLR or smaller formats just does not exist. Consequently I new that I had time to save up the pennies and start buying glass. Oh boy is that glass good and (was) exceptionally cheap.

So here we are in 2014. 4 years on from the 645D and the 645Z has been made available for sale. 9 years effectively for 2 cameras to be brought to the market! This time around it felt like a proper product launch and when the specs were announced I was extremely interested. Though it did coincide with my mild flirtation with an A7r.

Why am I interested?

That’s a very good question and tricky to answer. However I will attempt to come at it from a Landscape photographers perspective. I am used to carrying around 15-20Kg of Large Format camera gear – but I have fallen out of love with the hair shirt. Looking over my images I have never fully embraced the use of full compound movements in a way in which say David W has. I was using the Technikardan like a large point and shoot…with tilt! The demise of Quickload probably didn’t help – faffing around with film changing tents – erm no.

I want to print my images so I have digitise! I dislike the digitising process – flatbed scanners are “ok” but it’s not an easy workflow. The idea that a chrome is the final product is completely wrong, especially now when Cibachrome printing is rare and the realm of experts.

Most of all I just don’t have the time to keep up with the craft of using a LF camera. It takes constant practice, otherwise it’s very easy to burn a lot of money, time and effort and end up with nothing.

However I like large cameras – they are tactile objects. I don’t mind the weight at all. Usually they are simpler to operate and you can easily use gloves! (Small cameras have their place and I thoroughly enjoy the XT1.)

I enjoyed the slowing down and the approach that Large Format taught me, I find I speed up the smaller camera gets! I am quite happy to acknowledge that digital makes the capture straightforward (though obviously that is just the start) yet I have been left wanting with the sensors in my Canon gear.

I am loyal to Canon – though I have no real idea why. Yet I have been waiting and waiting for them to reply to the D800/810 and I am sure they are about to (Photokina has come and gone though.) Well I have been thinking that since 2012…

I don’t usually photograph longer than with a 200mm and I find anything wider than 24mm pushing what I consider “nice” to look at. I use perspective control occasionally and generally with a standard focal length lens in LF (150-210 etc.)

I don’t intend to photograph sports or wildlife. I will be retaining my other platforms for other types of work.

So we arrive at me wanting a digital camera with a great sensor specifically for landscape photography. I want something that can provide rich detailed files, which I can confidently print large (A2+.) A camera that responds to the careful craft of Large Format with the luxury of digital. A device that I can depend on when the weather sets in (I love photographing in the rain.)

The A7r came very close. Yet I wanted to invest in a system for the long term (that’s the key here) and I am not totally convinced that the first iteration of anything is something to buy into (645D…)

So medium format back and technical camera then? Sadly not.The 645z makes perfect sense – to me for my needs at least. Well on paper. The biggest omission I can see for me is the lack of native perspective control lenses that fit the Pentax ( I am aware of the ways around this with focus stacking or 3rd party Frankenstein lenses. More on that later.)

Yummy details

We all like lusting over specs and the camera has more than it’s fair share. However I am not going to get into minutiae. There are a few that do stand out though

  • A native 4:3 ratio. I find this to be incredibly important from a composition perspective. My LF experience has taught me to compose in a portrait orientation and I find the 3:2 of a DSLR just too narrow. Indeed it has been noticeable that since using the DSLR more for landscape work, that most of my images are horizontal. One could crop the 3:2 to a 4:3 ratio but for my 5DIII I am loosing very precious MP. The same does apply of course to the D800 etc. Having the ability to compose the image in the way that I want too without compromise is fantastic.
  • The sensor (oh my) is a CMOS version made by Sony and featuring in Phase One and Hassleblad cameras. Testing has shown that the ISO is clean and useful all the way into 6400. Not much use for landscapes you say…unless you factor in how wonderful it would be for aurora work… or indeed being able to increase the shutter speed when it’s windy. High ISO does indeed have its place in the landscape and I am glad I can use it with confidence. I would like an ISO 50 though
  • Live view: true useful live view that we are accustomed to in DSLR land. With the added twist that it can rotated 180 degrees…just like a LF camera.
  • A 3.2 inch flip out LCD screen – on a medium format camera…really!
  • Mirror lock up – on the outside of the camera (which can in two presses be linked to the 2 second timer.)
  • On the outside virtually every single possible button you need to be able to use the camera…no digging in fiddly menus.
  • Double SD cards for in camera backups.
  • Two tripod lugs – no L plates needed.
  • Water sealed (worth watching.)
  • Finally the price. It’s not an inexpensive camera and everyone has a price they are willing or able to pay. I suppose as I own the camera I will justify it! A comparison of sorts could be helpful in showing what one is getting. The Canon 1Dx launched at $6,799 – a very different camera but (at the moment) the top of Canon’s line up and one which many photographers use in the field. I do wonder what they will do when Canon does introduce its higher MP camera…could be an expensive change over. I also wonder what Canon will charge for the privilege. Let’s look at the world of medium format. The 645z comes in at $8489. The 50MP IQ250 launched at $34,990…camera body of your choice and lens on top. A helpful comparison between the two can be found here. For me I wanted a system and will never be able to afford the modularity that the Phase offers. The Hasseleblad h5d-50c is listed at $27,500 on B&H…body only. To me it appears that the Pentax is giving an enormous amount for the price and that represents good, long-term, value. A few things to consider is, that if you are a studio photographer or shoot with flash outside, then Phase and Hassleblad leaf shutter lens selection and higher sync speed knocks the Pentax out of the park. Two things I don’t have to worry about though. Tethering is also supposed to be coming this year to the Pentax

Show me show me

In a very un-OnLandscape way I thought I would add in some unboxing shots and then make some initial observations.

The first think that struck me was how very Apple the packaging is (isn’t everything!) Sleek and minimal. In many ways just like the contents. Couple of interesting items were the extra large eye-cup (very much needed) and the “owners card.” This entitles you to two years worth of free sensor cleaning and general health checks with a Pentax service centre. That’s a nice addition, though I wont be carrying it around in my wallet. A single battery is a bit penny pinching – thankfully there are lots of 3rd party providers on the usual sites. One thing to note the battery does come with very minimal power, so you will have to charge it first before you can dive into the camera!

645Z Rolling Review

 

My immediate reaction was it doesn’t have that new car smell (referencing the price) but it does feel exceptionally well crafted in ones hand. The hand grip is deeply recessed and it allows a full fingered grip. It is very well balanced and the extended depth of the body allows my left hand to easily support the camera underneath. It weighs 1.5kg, compared to an un-gripped 5DIII (c.900g) or a gripped 5DIII (1.6kg.) This camera, with a standard prime lens, can be hand held. After all I used to use my 67ii handheld! It is the same width and height as an un-gripped 5D (each 4-5inches), which means that when planning space in your bag all you have to take into account is its additional length (an additional 3 inches to a total of 6 inches) – a consequence of the larger mirror box. The camera is smaller than say a Phase 645DF without a back on.

645Z Rolling Review

Moving on to the body itself a few things stand out. Generally manufacturers scrimp on the latches for battery covers and memory card slots; Not the case this time as these feel very robust. The mirror up button is in a very convenient position at the very front of the rhs of the body. The rear LCD is large and bright. The D-pad next to it, in contrast with, say, the XT1, is large and the buttons are raised. The viewfinder is large and very bright – it makes looking into my DSLR seem rather cramped. As I mentioned before the large rubber eye-cup is important as without it my eye-lashes kept getting in the way when pressing against the viewfinder

645Z Rolling Review

In the images below I have attempted to show a little more detail on the flip-out LCD screen. It extends out quite a reasonable distance from the camera, though it does not rotate if the camera is used in portrait orientation, which is a real shame! Mind you do any of them? Coming from a high end DSLR this was for me a case of “but why.” However the use of these has been brought home with the XT1 (with which I show as a comparison.) They are so effective when having to photograph at head height (crowds) waist level (discrete street photography) or indeed when on a tripod. The fact that this feature is now on a medium format camera shows that Pentax has really tried to pack as much as they can into the camera. The centre right image shows me trying to angle the camera down into the top of a pine tree. Such was the angle of the ground, tripod head positioning etc that being able to articulate the LCD made focusing and absolute breeze. It pulls out of the back of the camera very easily.

Speaking of focusing, Live View is fantastic. Zebras – yes, zoom in wherever you wish – yes 16x zoom in – yes (though not necessary! Show all the information you want or show nothing – yes. Best of all, coming from LF is the ability to rotate the live view 180 degrees. Fantastic! A few presses and voila – compositional nirvana. I wonder if a firmware fix would allow it to be inverted left to right…all I would need then is a loupe, a dark cloth…some Velvia…oh no I have been there before.

0004-Guy-Aubertin-645z-Review-4

 

Lenses

The lens range for the system is reasonably extensive for medium-format.

To convert from 645 to get the equivalent 35mm focal length then just multiply by 0.8. The lens ranges from 20-480mm (in the 35mm) There are a large variety of prime lenses (including two leaf shutter lenses) a few zooms and 2 tele-convertors. Extension tubes can be used and there is also a 6×7 lens adapter.

3 types are available with the following designations:

A – these are legacy (1980’s), manual focus and manual aperture selection. These are beautifully made and incredibly well priced on the used market. Unfortunately there is no recording in the EXIF data of the RAW file of the focal length used. There are also no automatic lens profiles in Lightroom.

FA – slightly more recently (1990’s) these are auto focus and auto aperture selection. There are some slight differences between these and the A class lenses including weight, minimum focus distance, dimension and the optical construction. These are also well priced on the used market but can also be bought new.

DA / DFA – launched with the 645D optimised for digital, silent focus and weather sealing. The 3 lenses that fall into this category are expensive. The latest lens ( a wide angle zoom) sells for about £3500

Between them all there are 32 lenses – some are easier to get hold of than others. I have purchased all of my lenses used from eBay and Ffordes here in the UK. Prices are, at the moment, fantastic with the most I have paid being £260 for a lens from Japan.

The web is a wonderful place and I have spent much time browsing and researching based on the experiences of others. Some pertinent links are here and here with a repository of reviews for all of the lenses here. Is there a difference between the optical quality of A and FA lenses? Not that I have seen and certainly not for landscape. The one exception would be the 35mm where the A is rated substantially higher than the FA , due to the greater filed curvature in the later lens. Manual focus is such a breeze on the 645Z that using A lenses is simple.

645Z Rolling Review

The lens line up I have gone for is below

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This line up covers my preferred subjects. I am debating adding a 300mm lens (in italics).

It is important to remember that the field of view is different on the 645z versus say 35mm. The native 4:3 aspect ratio also makes a difference. I have yet to find the 35mm A, for example, too narrow – it is about as wide I would like to go comfortably and I find it similar to the 90mm in Large Format. That’s just as well as it is probably the most useful wide angle available. The new Pentax 25mm DFA is the only other wide optic but that comes with a significant problem in that filtering the lens with grads is not immediately possible. Custom mounts are being made but are hard to come by. Plus the rather substantial price tag.

The one glaring admission for me is a native perspective control lens. Sufficient depth of field in near/far compositions is a real issue. Diffraction after F16 is (potentially, subject matter depending) a problem as well. In the meantime where the subject allows I am starting to use focus stacking. As an aside Hasselblad lenses can also be used with an adaptor.

Fitting it all together

The lenses I have listed, the camera (with two one 64GB card for RAW files and 1 32gb card for jpegs) and my Lee Filters (though with 13 stops of dynamic range these may well be used less) all fit into a large shallow ICU that then fits into my Fstop Loka. I have added in a few 3rd party extra batteries, though battery life is very good. An aftermarket IR shutter release and a bubble block (still a traditionalist and I find it much faster than flicking buttons on the camera for its levels to appear.) I have also added one of the Skyeskyns sheepskin chamois that Doug mentioned in his article

 

All together this is a very compact and reasonably light package to carry around. Reducing the lens selection to the two zooms and the 35mm brings the whole thing in at a little over 4kg. Compared to my LF kit or even my 35mm gear this is amazing.

In terms of tripod heads, you can see from the pictures that I am using the rather enormous Manfrotto 405. It is overkill for sure but such a joy to use. The large plates do make the controls on the left hand side of the camera difficult to access and aesthetically they do spoil the lines of the body itself (!). However I have a Markins Q10 on order and some suitable plates.

Images

I have read that sometimes a new tool can be a push into expanding ones creativity. Certainly this camera is giving me the metaphorical push to get out and photograph. It demands a careful approach: m/up, timer, locking everything down, shading the lens, careful focusing and just paying a lot of attention. Apply all of these and the sensor really does deliver. I have never been an ardent pixel peeper. Never used MFD or anything close. I have taken the 100% hyperdrive into 5D III images and have gotten used to mushy details.

The files from the 645z are such a massive jump that 100% viewing now becomes a “WOW” moment. It takes a long time to crawl across a 50mp image. The detail is astonishing. Grass and leaves come alive. Raindrops on far away pieces of bracken….

Yet I am now having to re-learn how to process images. The 14bit files are so full and can take so much “abuse” that extracting and refining is forcing me to re-think Lightroom. For example the RAW files are quite stunningly neutral. I mean really flat. The canned Adobe Standard that come with LR are awful. I have recently found a rather wonderful company that makes profiles for the 645z (and a lot of other models) for the very low sum of $10. They make an incredibly good starting point for image development and really do make greens come alive.

The resulting files have a beautiful painterly quality to them. So much so that I am starting to move away from my standard Fotospeed Platinum Baryta towards the Smooth Cotton 300. That medium (!) just seems to work better with the files. Softer, more subtle.

By way of an example here is a reasonably non-descript image. This is a LR developed image that has been sharpened – so it’s a real world example of a file. It’s a focus stack of two 13second exposures, shot at F16 ISO 100 (I could have used a much higher ISO but old habits…) It will print at 34×25 inches using a 240dpi…

 

0008-Dull-Image

For your viewing pleasure 100% crops starting from the image. I suppose my take, after going “ooooh” are that the details being resolved are things that I never actually saw. The fact that you can make out water droplets in image 3 is mind blowing really given the distance from the camera.

0009-All-crops

Aesthetically I am not quite there with creating images with the camera; I’m still fiddling with it a bit. I just have not had the concentrated time to allow it to “get out of the way”. I have only been out, with images in mind, for 5 hours in total. I thought I’d share a few images (though it does feel like exposing my dirty laundry in such an esteemed publication) and a few technical observations.

0010-First-645z-First-Light-Swinley-Forest

This was my first image with the 645z and I fluffed the live view (had not read the instructions!) What struck me was the dynamic range of the sensor. From the hint of blue in the sky, the suns rays breaking through and the detail in the shadow areas of the heather. This was a single unfiltered image

0011-Pinehead-Swinley-Forest

This image was all about using the macro lens and the articulated live view, to be able to angle camera down into the top of the branch, whilst the tripod was at above head height. It has that dreamy MF look about it.

0012-Still-Pond-Swinley-Forest

Reflections can be difficult for the camera’s auto focus so this was all about testing that – no problem.

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An experiment in establishing the way in which the sensor renders greens and fine or coarse details

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From my second outing with the camera and a much more considered image as opposed to learning how to use it. This was shot in the rain (my favourite weather) and the camera did not miss a beat.

0015-Last-Day-of-Summer-Swinley-Forest

Photographed a few days ago on my third outing this image was all about the colours that one can extract from the sensor. It’s a single image exposure.

Closing thoughts

Where to begin. It’s impossible to close my thoughts when I have only just started to use the camera! I can honestly say that it is a joy to use. It has a more features than I will ever need but it has them all in just the right places. It has been designed with photographers in mind. It features arguably the best sensor on the market at the moment and it will cure any GAS that you are likely to have. This is a long term purchase and with a shutter rated at 100,000 actuations I am hopeful that it will give me many years of image making. It has addressed almost all of my personal requirements for a final move from Large Format. That’s not to say that I won’t miss that practice but the flexibility and benefits that the Pentax brings cannot be overlooked.

It is a fantastic landscape photographers camera and I would recommend it wholeheartedly Supply is an issue at the moment and I did have to wait weeks before my back order was fulfilled. One thing to note: the 645D is now dramatically falling in price. Andrew Nadolski gave his views in a previous issue and if you don’t want the latest and greatest it is now worth a look. It has a CCD sensor so live view is out but it may just be what you are looking for to take a step into medium format digital. If you are almost interested but don’t quite have the funds then…start buying lenses! The used ones are unsurprisingly disappearing quickly. New copies cost almost 30-50% of the value of the body…

My ambition is to be in a position to use it purposefully in everything (I hope!) that nature can throw at me when I visit Skye in November. A follow up article will come from that experience. Any comments or questions please go ahead and ask. I can also be found on Facebook or Twitter where I will be posting images and comments as I travel along this journey.

 This post first appeared in Onlandscape Magazine – for fantastic and informative fortnightly content delivered to your web browser, please consider taking out a subscription

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Bath Family Portraits – Rich, Julia and Cerys http://guyaubertin.com/bath-family-portraits-rich-julia-cerys.htm http://guyaubertin.com/bath-family-portraits-rich-julia-cerys.htm#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:04:06 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=18591 Truly there is nothing so infectious as the gurgling laughter of a baby. That honest and warm chuckle that seems to come from the very tips of their toes. You just can't help but smile and laugh in return. As Cerys pulled back my hands to see my eyes and my repeated "peep-po" the laughter came again.

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Truly there is nothing so infectious as the gurgling laughter of a baby. That honest and warm chuckle that seems to come from the very tips of their toes. You just can’t help but smile and laugh in return. As Cerys pulled back my hands to see my eyes and my repeated “peep-po” the laughter came again. Everything was of interest: my face, what was under the carpet…my camera. Everything was chewed and tasted. It appears that wooden giraffes are especially yum.

When it all gets too much, well time for a sleep, mid photo shoot. Quite right. And what better place to do it then in the arms of your loving parents. Gently rocked by the warm winds of summers last gasp and the slowly turning leaves of the beeches in the Royal Crescent. What a wonderful moment and what a privilege to photograph.

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Winners of my July print give away http://guyaubertin.com/winners-of-my-july-print-give-away.htm http://guyaubertin.com/winners-of-my-july-print-give-away.htm#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:12:22 +0000 http://guyaubertin.com/?p=18270 Did you enter my free print give away? Find out if you have won a landscape print of your choice! Thank you very much to everyone who entered.

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As a thank you for all the support for my photography from customers and followers on social media,  I ran a competition on my Facebook page. The prize was to give away 2 mounted and signed 18×12 inch images from my portfolio. All you had to do was let me know what your favourite holiday location was!

July-winners

 

I was quite overwhelmed by the response with 191 entries in 24 hours or so. Unsurprisingly Scotland seemed to be the most popular holiday location – along with lots of other places that gave me severe itchy feet! I downloaded all the comments from the post, gave each a number and then the winners were chosen completely at random using an online random number generator.

 

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The winners are: Sally Lea and Caz Lorenzo! Huge congratulations to them and I will be getting in touch via Facebook Messenger so keep an eye on your inbox. My message will contain instructions of what to do next. (Prizes must be claimed within 72 hours. If they are not then I will chose another random number.)

If you didn’t win, well look out for my next competition which will be in later in the autumn. Details will be published on my Facebook page as well as being emailed to all customers. Don’t forget there is 30% off all my landscape prints until the end of August!

Thank you very much to all those who entered, as well as your continued support and I look forward to seeing what prints are chosen by Sally and Caz.

 

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