To be perfectly honest my very first impression when I lifted the Zeiss from it’s box was not entirely positive. Bare in mind that I had instant buyer’s remorse the moment after I put the phone down confirming my order. The Zeiss is expensive – some would say inordinately so – for what it is. After all, this is a purely manual focus, single focal length lens. So, pulling the lens from it’s foam insert I was not filled with a sense of this being the wisest use of my money.
Kirkjufellfoss waterffall in Iceland, photographed with a NiSi landscape polariser and Lee Big Stopper filter
Many macro photographers interested in capturing the fine detail of small subjects are aware of the Canon MP E65mm macro lens, the only standalone lens thus far capable of achieving up to 5x magnification. This has however changed with the release of a new macro lens by Venus Optics, the Laowa 25mm f2.8 2.5 – 5x Ultra Macro lens. The Laowa 25mm is available in mounts for most of the major camera brands and non Canon users are no longer limited to the use of reversed lenses, bellows etc. for high magnification macro shots. As a long time MPE-65mm user, I was interested in the performance of the Laowa 25mm and was fortunate to get the opportunity to test one recently.
Two years ago I was lent the enormous SIRUI R-5241XL tripod to use in Namibia and subsequently review. I admitted in the conclusion that I had fallen in love with what I had dubbed “The Beast”. If there was one problem with the R-5241XL it was the sheer physical size of it. Every other aspect of the tripod was essentially an upgraded and improved version of the other carbon fibre tripods that are made by SIRUI. Now SIRUI have brought out the significantly smaller R-2214X tripod, which in theory takes all of the goodness that is the R-5214XL and squeezes it into a smaller and lighter package. In terms of competitors it is theoretically most similar to, as Hougaard Malan from landscapegear.co.za claims, compete directly with the more expensive and perennially popular Gitzo GT3543LS.
As part of any landscape photographers kit, numerous filters are used to create different effects. The most popular of these filters is a circular polariser (used to cut out reflective light), but one filter every landscape photographer should have in their kit is a 10-stop ND Filter. A 10-stop ND helps slow everything down, increasing your exposure by 10 stops. For example, if you have a starting shutter speed of 1 second, adding a 10-stop filter will increase the shutter speed to 16 minutes. This opportunity to slow the world down increases the creative potential for the photographer in-field, adding another dimension to your arsenal.
As a landscape photographer, filters are an integral part of my workflow when out in the field and I would highly recommend investing in at least a circular polariser and 10-stop ND Filter.
An example of what can be achieved using extremely long exposures.
Emil von Maltitz was one of the first people to take the dive on Laowa’s 12mm Wide Angle lens when they first launched on Kickstarter. We only started distributing Laowa in South Africa recently – his review is thus entirely objective. For the past year and a half he has used the lens all over Africa for a variety of genres including industrial, agricultural and landscape work and has put it through it’s paces. What makes this lens unique is that it is the widest rectilinear f/2.8 lens and also the only full-frame lens wider than 16mm that accepts a 100mm filter system. Not only that, but it’s priced at a fraction of the Nikon and Canon counterparts, yet beats them in almost every image quality criteria. Keep reading to find an in-depth review with Emil’s findings, a conclusion summarising the 12mm’s pros and cons as well as a promotion.
An example where the extreme depth markers work. Shot in Namibia near Swakopmund, the filter system allowed for the use of a 10-stop neutral density filter. I cropped the image down closer to a 2:1 aspect ratio for compositional reasons.
Every adventure photographer living in South Africa dreams of going to remote locations where few people have ever been, in the search for something special, something to tick off the personal bucket list that you will forever remember. In November 2017 I was asked to join a group of veteran landscape photographers on a trip of a lifetime, a trip that might just be one of those legendary trips I dreamed of. We set out to plan a week long hiking and camping expedition to arguably the most impressive mountain range in Africa, the Drakensberg. The plan was to hike up to the famous Amphitheatre where we would camp on the banks of the Tugela river and hopefully see the river in strong flow which would make for an impressive waterfall. And I’m not talking just any waterfall, the Tugela Falls are said to be the world’s second highest waterfall, and its location right in the middle of the Amphitheatre makes it one of the most recognisable natural sights in the world.
A very big congratulations to Chris Troch, Glen Bradshaw and Bertus Hanekom, who walk away the prizes in that respective order.
Images got a score from both myself and Paul Bruins as below.
Composition – 10 + 10
Light – 10 + 10
Originality – 10 + 10 (e.g. Blouberg scored very low, a location that the judges didn’t recognise scored very high)
Editing – 10 + 10
Relevance to theme – 20 + 20
This earned each image a total out of 120, which we reworked to a total out of 100 to appease the OCD people. The results of the top 10 are at the bottom of the post. You will see that some images did well in a lot of the categories, but got marked down heavily for things like lack of originality or sloppy editing like curved horizons that weren’t corrected, dust spots or areas with no detail.
Entries have closed for our NISI Filters Beauty of Water photography competition. Judging is under way and we have been able to select a top 39 images from all the received entries. We’re not quite sure how we ended at 39, but that seems to be where the cut off was for the final selection.
To celebrate the beauty of our country and raise awareness of our most precious resource, we’re inviting everyone in Southern Africa to enter our ‘Beauty of Water’ competition. SA’s landscapes and landscape photographers always take 2nd seat to our incredible wildlife, but we’re making an effort to change that. This is SA’s first major dedicated landscape photography competition.
In October 2016 I became the lucky owner of a f-stop gear Camera bag. In case you’re not familiar with the brand, they’re crafted with the adventure & travel photographer in mind with a strong focus on high durability and comfort.
The engineers over at Lee Filters have finally addressed the vignetting and blue colour cast issues of their most popular filter, the Big Stopper. They have released a new series of ND filters called the ProGlass IRND range, which are manufactured to a much higher standard than the stoppers. Two years in the making, the ProGlass IRND range sets a whole new standard in high quality glass neutral density filters.
To start off let me give you a quick background into where I started in photography and then I can let you know what I thought of the Sirui lenses and kit that I got to test out. I started on Instagram about five years ago with an iPhone 5, like most people, and I built my account mostly with mobile photography, mainly because it’s the only camera I had but also because it was easy to carry around with me all the time. I have used a lot of mobile lenses over the years and was excited to get my hands on this set of lenses from SunshineCo.
An unedited image captured using the 18mm lens and polarizer.
A few months ago, Durban based photographer Emil von Maltitz acquired a drone from us. Most people buying up DJI’s hi-tech toys are using them exactly for that purpose and not much more – to play around and check out life from above. For photographers, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that and we all ask the same set of questions about image quality, ease of use and legality. Most photographers don’t want to make the investment if it’s not a practically usable tool that will deliver great images. In this review, Emil answers a lot of those questions and explains the complications of drone use as it applies to our species (photographers).
Choosing a tripod can be quite a difficult decision. There is always a compromise that you have to make somewhere. We want stability, light weight, low price and large size pretty much as an ultimate goal when selecting a set of tripod legs. The problem is that we rarely get more than two of those options ticked off. So we have to make a compromise. Good tripods essentially manage to tick off three of those four. Great tripods tick all four boxes with the large caveat that one of those criteria are in relation to its peers (for example ‘well priced’ in relation to its competition does not mean cheap). Aluminium tripods are an attempt to get the most bang for buck out of a tripod, but they come with the hefty (excuse the pun) drawback of increased weight.
In the past panoramic images could be quite tricky to get right. The software that was available tended to be rudimentary at best, and the hardware expensive and difficult to use. For the past few years though professional quality panoramic images have been very easy to create. Adobe’s Lightroom even has a fairly robust ‘merge to panorama’ feature included (although this is just a simplified version of Photoshop CC’s ‘merge to panorama). It really does mean that creating large format stitched panoramics is as simple pressing a button.
A wide angle panoramic taken in Deadvlei – easy work thanks to a good leveling base.
It is amazing how some manufacturers can get one product so right, yet another product so wrong; until late 2016, Gitzo was one of those manufacturers. Their tripod legs are loved by countless photographers worldwide for long lasting quality, easy operation and excellent performance. Despite the success of their legs, they somehow failed to make a decent tripod head, because they refused to conform to the global design standard. If you look at their older range of tripod heads, you’ll see that most of it is just plain weird. While it did work, it was unnecessarily bulky. It is with very good reason that until now, we only sold Kirk and SIRUI tripod heads.
One of the most important investments we all have to make in our photographic journey is buying a tripod. This is especially true for the landscape genre. Unlike the camera and lens market in which the best brands are well known, the tripod market is spammed with brands and it’s difficult to get an objective opinion based on the experience and opinion of many. At LANDSCAPEGEAR, we don’t do the pushy sales approach – we give you honest information and allow you to make the decision by yourself.
We would like to start by thanking every one of the 67 people who entered our long exposure landscape competition. For such a niche field, the amount of entries was impressive and the standard even more so. We had a really difficult time choosing a winner, so much so that we’ve decided to add 2nd and 3rd prizes. You can view the original competition post here.
For myself and those who have been on the waiting list it might seem too good to be true, but all f-stop products are now in stock and ready to ship from our warehouse. The good news doesn’t end there – thanks to a change in our supply chain, we have managed an overall price reduction of 18% compared to last year’s pricing, despite a 30% decrease in the rand.
There was a drastic global shortage in supply of this brand caused by an exponential growth in demand ( a very positive thing with a negative result) and it took the company a while to ramp up production in order to meet demand. We could have given up at any time and shifted our attention to an ‘ok’ brand to keep our sales going, but that’s not the ethos that this business was founded on. Supply is still sporadic all over the world, even from their own online shops, so we’re extremely happy to say that we have a very deep pool of stock right now.
Welcome to the LANDSCAPEGEAR.CO.ZA blog! The primary purpose of the articles featured here is to help you decide which products are ideal for you.
The 'Choosing' articles, listed below, explain what the unique traits of each product are and why one would choose a specific model. I hope that this makes the shopping experience easier and more convenient, while also adding to your knowledge.
In addition, I will post any news and updates on exciting new products or developments in the world of photography.
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