Cinque Terre Photography Tour

I am delighted to announce details of my photography tour to Cinque Terre, one of the most stunning locations in Europe.

With its dramatic coastline, multi-coloured villages, terraced fields rising from the azure sea and breath taking views, it’s no wonder why this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why not join me for a superb photography tour to one of the most photogenic regions of Italy.

For more details click here




Fujifilm X100F

Six years ago the Fuji X100 was launched into a world of DSLR’s, this “new kid on the block” was not only a bold, exciting innovation in its own right, it was the embryo to the incredibly successful range of Fuji X Series cameras that we see today.


Beautiful retro design, compact and delivering stunning image quality that had a wonderful filmic feel it’s no wonder that the X100 was so popular, attracting an army of devotees. Here was a camera company that had listened to the needs of photographers and delivered exactly what they were asking for, a successful strategy that Fujifilm has continued.


Roll on six years and Fujifilm has now launched it’s fourth generation model, the X100F.


Retaining the same gorgeous design principles It’s a fusion of retro, classic good looks incorporating modern hi tech, intuitive to handle and produces that legendary image quality.


User Review

This review is not intended to be a full technical overview of every feature, there are plenty of other sites that will give you this, but more of my impressions after using this camera for a few weeks.


Now I should point out here that I use a Fuji XT2 and XPro2 as my main cameras and that I’m a committed zoomer! As a travel and landscape photographer I prefer the flexibility of zoom lenses in most situations. So when Fuji asked me to be part of the test team for a fixed lens camera I was intrigued to see how I would find the experience.


The first thing that struck me was simplicity. A small lightweight camera that, reassuringly, had many of my favourite features from my other X Series cameras. Now moving from a DSLR to a Fuji system I was well accustomed to the benefits of a smaller, lighter more portable system but this camera took things to another level. I could go out with this in my pocket and a spare battery or two and just enjoy my photography.


I believe that successful photography is about eliminating the variables and the most important question when we are photographing a subject is which

lens do I use. With only three lenses in my bag I typically have a choice from 10mm – 300mm, a daunting prospect and one which can be confusing and result in missing pictures simply because of the options available. On the flipside working with a prime lens or in this case a fixed lens forces you to work with what you’ve got to create compelling compositions. It’s really a question of a mindset change, to think what shots is this lens great for rather than which shots can’t I get. When you make that change it really opens up the creative options and helps you develop as a photographer.


The 23mm focal length (35mm full frame equivalent), gives a similar field of view to our own eyes, so it’s a great general purpose lens, not too wide and not too long. If you want a closer or wider view then you need to use your feet! During my test I used this camera mainly for shooting landscapes so tended to use apertures of f5.6 – f11 and the lens produced crisp, sharp images with good colour rendition. The addition of image stabilisation in the next model would be a welcome feature.


Favourite Features

The X100F incorporates the heritage of the X100 series and the best of the latest Fujifilm cameras.


The layout is clean and simple layout is so easy and intuitive to use with the main controls of aperture, exposure compensation and a new combined shutter speed / ISO dial all easily accessible and controllable. To change the ISO you pull up the shutter speed dial and turn. I did find this a little fiddly and it was impossible to do this whilst wearing gloves.


The X100F features the latest APSC CMOS X-Trans III 24mp sensor the same as in the XT2/XP2 and delivers excellent image quality.

The Hybrid VF offers optical or a bright Electronic Viewfinder with 100% coverage and like other Fujifilm cameras the “what you see is what you get” functionality is awesome. Personally I prefer the electronic viewfinder though for street and social documentary photography the optical viewfinder with manual focusing screen is great and saves some battery power too.

I would have loved to have seen the camera incorporate a flip out LCD screen as this is a feature I use a lot to capture creative compositions and I’m sure it would have been welcomed by street photographers too.

I was delighted to see the inclusion of the AF joystick, inherited from the XP2 and XT2, as it makes shooting so much faster. I’m sure those upgrading from the earlier X100 models will love this feature too.

The Auto ISO options, with 3 presets, is perfect for shooting a variety of situations. I have mine set for landscape, street and interiors.

For pure ease of use one of my favourite features is the Custom Exposure Compensation. Enabled via “C” on the compensation dial it provides +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation which can be simply dialed in using the front wheel, perfect for fine tuning your exposure quickly and easily.

I often use Manual focus when shooting landscapes and find the MF Assist Option of Focus Peaking with Red Highlights invaluable in confirming that critical front to back sharpness.

Another feature that can be very useful In high contrast situations is the ability to use the Extended Dynamic Range function to avoid overexposing the highlights.

For more creative shots the built in 3 stop Neutral Density filter is really useful for allowing wide apertures and minimum depth of field in bright conditions or for slowing the shutter to introduce creative motion effects to your shots, perfect for moving clouds or water.

The ability to immediately transfer images to your phone or tablet, process and upload to social media is sure to be one of the most popular features on the camera.

One point to mention on batteries, the X100F now uses the NPW126S batteries which is a bonus if you own an XE, P or T camera though not if you expected to be able to use your old X100 batteries.

If Fuji want to earn more brownie points then the inclusion of a lens hood would be seen as a positive with the next incarnation, especially as the official Fuji version is pretty expensive.


In Summary

The X100 series has a legion of supporters and is a firm favourite for street photographers where the discreet form factor allows you to blend in to the scene avoiding interest when capturing your images. However it also earns its place in the bag of travel and landscape photographers, especially those for whom weight is a critical factor.


The best camera is the one you have with you and if you want a classic to pop in your pocket and take anywhere, that’s a joy to use and be confident that it will deliver excellent results, then this is the camera for you.


Here is my video from a great couple of days in the Peak District.


Here is my video from a great couple of days in the Peak District.

Read More

Interview : The X Line Podcast

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Marc Sadowski who presents The X Line podcast, a show that features news, views and photography stories about Fujifilm X-Series cameras and lenses.

Here is the interview and link to The X LIne site where you can subscribe to the show. I hope you enjoy it!


Domke F2 Bag Review

Finding the perfect camera bag is like trying to find the holy grail. Talk to most photographers and they’ll recount tales of how many bags they’ve had and how they are still searching for the one that satisfies all their needs. And therein lies the problem. Different photographers are looking for different things from their bag and this is largely driven by the genre of photography they pursue. A street photographer, probably using a compact camera system and a couple of lenses, needs a small lightweight shoulder bag whereas a landscape photographer is looking for a backpack that will hold various amounts of equipment and personal items like rainproofs, clothing and perhaps some food and drink. The problem is that many photographers overlap into different genre so you can start to see the conundrum.

Over the years the number of manufacturers has mushroomed and the styles of bags has exploded in an attempt to help satisfy those needs.

However one manufacturer has a design which has been around for 40 years and which has achieved legendary status. Enter the Domke F2, the original shooters bag designed by Jim Domke himself and introduced in 1976. Sure there have been slight developments in the material used but the basic principles remain.
The bag was used by photojournalists around the world because its ethos was based on a no frills, functional approach which enabled photographers to access their gear quickly and get the shots. And make no mistake the gear was there to be used not cossetted away in a highly padded bag sealed in with a multitude of zips and flaps. The old adage "if it ain’t broke don’t fix it" could have been written for the F2. But in truth it is a bit of a marmite bag, you either love it or hate it.

So what did I think when I tested the bag over five days in Paris?

I guess I should start by stating what I was looking for in a bag. As a travel photographer my first criteria was a shoulder bag. With the need to frequently change lenses a shoulder bag is much more convenient to use, a benefit which I believe outweighs the comfort of carrying a rucksack style bag when walking long distances. I use Fuji X series cameras and lenses and want the bag to hold two bodies, each of which has a lens attached, to save time and always be ready for the shot. In addition I wanted to carry a couple more lenses and other accessories. I have been using a Billingham Hadley bag, which is also a highly reputable bag, and whilst this is a lovely bag and superbly made, I was finding it a tad small and I had to stack lenses in order to fit them in.

My F2 was the Rugged style of waxed cotton which looks lived in from new. One of the key features that you notice immediately is how lightweight the bag is. This is a function of the lack of thick padding which itself divides opinion with photographers. Some will say there isn’t sufficient protection but I disagree. I never felt that after subjecting the bag to airline, metro and bus travel that my gear was in anyway likely to be damaged.


The next thing that is immediately apparent is the sheer amount of gear the bag holds. The F2 is shipped with a 4 compartment divider which can be placed at either end or in the middle of the bag. With two cavernous end pockets and a couple of smaller pockets at the front of the bag there should be ample room for most photographic needs. In my case this enabled me to fit two Fuji X bodies with lenses attached, two further lenses, flash, lens hoods, Lee Seven5 filter kit, cloths, SD cards, cable release and head torch. All this was contained in the main compartment and front pockets leaving the end pockets to hold other items like hat, gloves, bottle of water, snacks, mini tripod and a travel umbrella. There is also a slip pocket at the rear of the bag to hold maps, papers or even a small tablet.
In truth I felt that when the bag was filled like this it was a little long, however I think it’s better to have that facility to fit in those extras when you require them.


The construction of the bag was quality and the Rugged version is supplied with it’s own tin of reproofing wax. I wouldn’t say that the bag is waterproof, perhaps weather resistant is more appropriate, and you would need to fully pull the flaps down to prevent problems in a torrential downpour. 
The wide webbing strap incorporated a non slip feature on the underside and was extremely comfortable to carry. As a user of compact system camera I really liked the low profile (height) of the bag. All too often bags are simply too deep meaning you either stack lenses or you waste a lot of space. The F2 certainly optimized its space and I found that with limited padding the bag seemed to conform to my body. There were however a couple of occasions when I had to turn cameras around because I could feel them digging into my side. But with a quick change that was soon sorted. Another point to be aware of is that because of limited side reinforcement the gear does sag towards the middle of the bag.

The other benefit is that the top of the bag can be used as a lens changing platform without the need to remove the bag from your shoulder.

The bag was certainly very easy to use, deserving of its name the shooters bag. Pull up the cover flap and all my gear was immediately accessible and, when required, the two metal clips simply secure the lid in place, no zips, no fuss, no delay.

If the padded base and compartment section are removed the bag can be flattened to fit in a suitcase should you wish to transport your gear to your location in a roller case.

So my verdict after 5 days use is that I’m impressed. The F2 holds all the gear I need plus some essential extras, though perhaps some might be tempted to carry too much. I felt my gear was protected adequately, it was a dream to work from and comfortable to carry. I did find the bag a little long and the end pockets a little baggy but then it held all those little extras that my Billingham couldn’t. In terms of weather resistance it coped admirably with the showers we encountered on our trip but I would like to test it in a downpour to assess its resistance to water. 
Jim Domke certainly designed a classic 40 years ago and the fact that it’s stood the test of time and still performs superbly means that I would have to rate it as Highly Recommended.
The retail of the Domke F2 Rugged as at today is £139.00