Issue 111 of Photography News is a bumper one that you can’t afford to miss. We’ve launched our annual awards - don’t miss your chance to vote for your favourite products and services - plus there’s a host of tests, guides and advice. Find out how Sony’s A6700 performs, marvel at winning images from global competitions and learn how to master your camera’s advanced video settings - it’s all here!
ISSUE 111 26 Sep-20 Nov 2023 photographynews.co.uk
Pg17 Prize winners / Competition images that are sure to inspire
Pg22 Big test: Sony A6700 / Powerful APS-C camera tested and rated
Pg31 PN Awards 23 / Time to vote for your favourite kit and services
© Chester Hall-Fernandez
Fujifilm ups the ante with GFX100 II PN among the first to get hands-on with the successor to the GFX system flagship, which delivers for both stills and video
FUJIFILM HAS UNVEILED the GFX100 II and, in doing so, has produced something really rather special. Not only is it cheaper and more richly specified than its predecessor, the GFX100, it also feels like it’s the first GFX that truly delivers on all fronts. There is no compromise, whether you want to record static or moving subjects, in bright sunlight or near-darkness, using stills or video. Nor is there any compromise on image quality; this is a 102-megapixel camera that delivers truly outstanding results. With a sensor area 1.7-times larger than full-frame, image quality is next-level good.
We can make these statements with impunity because not only were we at the camera’s launch in Stockholm, we’ve also used it for five days, creating both stills and video, pixel-peeping until our eyes got blurry. We’ll have a full test in the next issue but – spoiler alert – you may want to start saving now. A 102-megapixel sensor is not new to the GFX system – it’s already going great guns in both the GFX100 and GFX100S, but the II gets a reworked version – the GFX102MP CMOS II HS. This is allied with the X-Processor 5 imaging engine to deliver up to double the signal readout compared to GFX100S. In practical terms, that means a major performance gain. The new sensor/ processor combo makes it possible to bring in the AI-based subject- detection algorithm currently on show in the latest X-H2S, X-H2 and X-T5 for faster AF. The continuous shooting rate also jumps to 8fps. The gains don’t end there. Video can now be recorded at up to 4K/60p using the full width of the sensor, while 8K/30p is seen for the first time in a GFX-system camera. And the 9.44-million-dot EVF offers
“There is no compromise, whether you want to record static or moving images, in bright sunlight or near- darkness, using stills or video”
1.0x magnification, plus a maximum refresh rate of approximately 120fps – it’s almost indistinguishable from an optical version. The sensor’s pixel structure has been improved, with a boost to the saturated electrons, while the microlenses have been made
SUPER SENSOR The GFX100 II has a brand-new 102-megapixel sensor that’s twice as fast as the GFX100
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Brand-new GFX lenses and grip
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Stockholm for the launch of the Fujifilm GFX100 II (see cover story). My only other visit to the city was for another launch – for the Nikon F5. In 1996. Consequently, I’d completely forgotten what the place looked like. So when I got a spare morning, I used it to explore with the new camera and see the city with a fresh pair of eyes. The Swedish capital is nothing short of stunning. I spent much of my time in the Old Town, which has a photo opportunity on every corner, but split my photo foray into two parts. Initially, I walked around and took pictures of anything and everything that took my fancy. As I say, there’s plenty to go at. But I then did a second circuit only photographing things that I felt truly summed up the location. The first part is easy, the second much harder, but ultimately more rewarding. It’s an approach I intend to replicate in other previously visited locations. It’s so easy to go somewhere and simply take pictures of stuff you like the look of. But then looking deeper and photographing how the place feels is more of a challenge. I think that’s the difference between taking and making images. To the issue, which is a bumper one. The key reason it’s so chunky is because we’re kicking off our Roger Payne
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The IBIS is a real star performer – offering eight stops of compensation, it allows real versatility. Typically, as megapixel counts climb, so too does camera shake, but here, with the IBIS system at full tilt, capturing handheld images at less than 1/15sec is completely viable. Body design has been improved too – full weather resistance remains, but a new texture has been added to improve grip, and the top-plate is now gently angled from front to back, making it easier to check settings. Three customisable function buttons now sit at the top of the grip to provide rapid access to the features you use more than others. To
more light-efficient at the edge of the sensor to improve image quality and AF accuracy. In practical terms, these changes have also delivered a low sensitivity of ISO 80 and a new Film Simulation mode – Reala Ace – essentially a higher-contrast version of the standard Provia option. The Pixel Shift Multi-Shot function makes use of the camera’s IBIS system to generate a 400-megapixel image. 16 images are created with one press of the shutter release, with each frame shifted by half a pixel. The resulting files are then run through the free Pixel Shift Combiner software to deliver the final image.
GET A GRIP A new battery grip grants better portrait-orientated ergonomics
mimic normal handling when using the camera in portrait orientation, a new battery grip – the VG-GFX II – will also be available, which has the added advantage of taking a further two rechargeable NP-W235 batteries. Alongside the camera, Fujifilm also announced three new lenses, and a further two have been added to the GF lens roadmap. The three lenses are the GF 55mm f/1.7 R WR and two tilt-shift optics – the GF 30mm f/5.6 T/S and GF 110mm f/5.6 T/S Macro. The 55mm is a fine all-round option and is the first GF lens to feature 11 diaphragm blades. The tilt-shift lenses forego weather sealing, but do open the system up to new users who crave straight verticals and front-to-back sharpness. Finally, the two roadmap additions are the GF 500mm f/5.6 and a Cine Power Zoom, although the focal range is to be confirmed. The GFX100 II and new grip will be available from late September for £6999 and £479. The 55mm arrives at the same time for £2249. The 30mm tilt-shift will follow in October for £3899, while the 110mm tilt-shift arrives in November for £3499. fujifilm-x.com
Photography News Awards 2023. As with previous years, we’ve collated a list of what we consider to be the finest photographic products and services. You just need to tell us which ones you like best. (photographynews.co.uk) – head there and get voting! There are lots of categories, and you can choose to either vote in them all, or pick a few. Either way, I’d love it if you could have your say and help us understand what products are the real standouts for you. Right, back to going through my Stockholm images – hopefully all those 102-megapixel Raw files will have copied across by now! See you next time. Voting takes place on the Photography News website
What’s inside 03 News It’s been a busy few weeks, with massive names launching some big products. We round up the details on the key announcements that matter. 13 Samsung word search 20 words listed, only 19 can be found. Find the missing one and you could win a 256GB Samsung memory card. 17 Prize-winning inspiration Stunning images from the Bird and Astronomy Photographer of the Year competitions. 22 Big test: Sony A6700 Will Cheung takes a look at Sony’s latest and most powerful APS-C camera yet. Is it the camera you’ve been waiting for?
43 Buyers’ guide: turning pro If you’re looking to break into professional photography, these products can help! 51 Making movies: keeping your options open The advanced camera functions you should master to take your videos up a notch. 55 Buyers’ guide: don’t break the bank Make your money go further by hiring kit or buying used. We round up the key players. 60 First tests Tamron’s 150-500mm superzoom and a travel- friendly backpack from Lowepro are put to the test. Get our expert verdicts here.
31 The Photography News 2023 Awards We’ve put in the hours to pull together a shortlist of the best photo and video products and services around, now it’s over to you to tell us which you think are the best. Head to the Photography News website to get voting.
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Beautifully styled and packed with contemporary tech, read on to discover this impressive all-rounder Nikon Z f: a classic made new again
SHARING TECHNICAL DNA with Nikon’s top-of-the-line Z 8 and Z 9 mirrorless cameras, and a design that harks back to the manufacturer’s Z fc from 2019 and the FM2 film camera from the 1980s, the new full-frame Nikon Z f holds appeal for photo professionals, enthusiasts and content-creating vloggers alike.
Another first here, not just for Nikon, but for any camera, is focus- point VR (vibration reduction). While we’ll need to review the camera to test out exactly how well this feature works, it involves tilting the sensor and concentrating stability on one particular point. Commercial photographers will also want to make use of the camera’s pixel-shift shooting feature, which can deliver up to 150-megapixel images when used in conjunction with Nikon’s NX Studio software. Portrait shooters have image- enhancing modes to choose from too, including a portrait impression balance function, skin softening and Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control options. Capture formats include HEIF files as well as JPEGs, and, interestingly, the camera records to a choice of SD card or microSD. Of course, like any contemporary camera, video capture is integral to the Z f. There’s the ability to shoot 4K-resolution clips at up to 60p, as well as Full HD at 120p, with 8-bit or
Featuring a fully articulated LCD touchscreen, a new grip, an embossed artificial leather finish and a magnesium body, the camera is reassuringly chunky and rugged but relatively lightweight. Its classic styling includes manually operated brass dials on the top-plate for controlling shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. It’s not all old-school though. At the heart of the camera is a 24.5-megapixel full-frame sensor, wedded to a latest-generation Expeed 7 processor. Native ISO tops out at 64,000, but is expandable to ISO 100,000 – while, impressively, the autofocus detection range goes as low as -10EV. There’s two new black & white capture options here too, in Flat Monochrome and Deep Tone Monochrome. In terms of burst shooting, this starts out at 7.8fps for continuous Raw/JPEG shooting and rises to 30fps for JPEG capture only. On top of this, the camera boasts a pre-release capture function, which shoots up to 30 frames.
TACTILE TOP The newly released Nikon Z f concedes neither form nor function
As we went to press, the Z f had a release date of October 2023, for a suggested price of £2299 body only. A couple of kit options bundle the Z f with a 40mm f/2 SE lens for £2519, or with a 24-70mm f/4 for £2849. The camera will be widely available in black, with different colour variations – such as Sepia Brown and Sunset Orange – exclusive to the Nikon store. nikon.co.uk
10-bit recording offered. And there’s up to 125 minutes of recording time, even in 4K mode. Other features to enhance the experience for videographers include a red recording border that’s displayed via the LCD, so users can tell when they’re shooting, with the video-info display akin to that of the Z 8 and Z 9. The new camera also has 24-bit professional audio recording.
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Alpha mail from Sony “The five-axis IBIS
camera’s five-axis IBIS system is said to be so accurate it can detect slight blurring in a single pixel and correct for it. A Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode and 8fps continuous AF shooting are significant inclusions. Available this October, retail price is £3199. Both cameras offer 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video recording up to 60p and support Sony’s S-Cinetone colour science to deliver rich, cinematic-looking video. The new lens is the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II, described as the world’s smallest and lightest high-resolution f/2.8 wide-angle zoom, at a weight of approximately 547g and length of 111.5mm. Features include fast and precise AF, while the operability and reliability of the lens is said to make it as adept for shooting video as capturing stills. Operability is said to have been improved for this iteration, which features an aperture ring that can be clicked on or off via a switch, two focus-hold buttons that can be assigned a function from the camera body, plus a fluorine coating applied to the front lens, so any adhering dirt can be easily removed. The manufacturer’s suggested cost for the lens is £2399 and it’s also available now. sony.co.uk
The electronics behemoth has been in touch to tell us two new compact and relatively lightweight Alpha cameras will be available by the time you read this, along with a new G Master series premium lens. Key features of the second-generation A7C II include a 33-effective-megapixel, full-frame, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor. The camera’s core sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 51,200 for photo and video is expandable to ISO 50 and 204,800 for stills. It also boasts the same AI processing unit as the A7R V. Compared with the Alpha 7 IV, meanwhile, the newer camera is 22% lighter and has up to 45% less volume, with the body weighing a manageable 513g. Available now, suggested retail price is £2099, while a kit bundle with a 28-60mm lens costs £2349. A full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor and the same Bionz XR processor also feature in the second new Sony, the A7CR, except this time the priority is resolution, with up to 61-megapixel images achievable. Compared to the A7R V, the new camera is approximately 29% lighter and has roughly 53% less volume. In terms of light sensitivity, a core range of ISO 100 to 32,000 is expandable from ISO 50 to 102,400. The
system is said to be so accurate it can detect slight blurring in a single pixel and correct it”
We’re more used to seeing firmware upgrades than new hardware from certain manufacturers these days, but Panasonic has defied our expectations by announcing a new Lumix G9 II mirrorless camera body and two accompanying lenses. Notably, the second-generation camera is claimed to be the first in its Micro Four Thirds Lumix G series to feature phase-detection autofocus technology. It also incorporates what we’re told is a new 25.2-megapixel Live MOS sensor and new high-speed processor, along with AI-powered recognition technology capable of recognising vehicles and animal eyes, while it’s said to be able to shoot at up to 60fps in continuous AF mode. Panasonic suggests the new launch is aimed at providing videographers with flexible framing options to suit social media formats, along with slow-motion recording and active IS technology to counterbalance camera shake when filming on the move. As well as the impressive AF-C burst shooting credentials, the Lumix has pre-burst recording that can begin shooting up to 1.5 seconds before the shutter is released and take approximately 113 consecutive shots. Built-in image stabilisation provides eight stops of correction, while new modes include a real-time LUT function, enabling customised colours through the use of LUT files, plus a new Leica Monochrome mode for deep-contrast black & white and a handheld 100-megapixel high-resolution mode and Live View Composite mode. Up to 5.8K, 4:3 format full-sensor video recording is achievable here, or it’s 5.7K at 17:9 aspect ratio. Alternatively, 4K recording at a choice of 120p/100p enables slow-motion video footage. Arriving this November, the Lumix G9 II has a manufacturer’s suggested price of £1699. The new lenses are a pair of high-spec telephoto zooms – the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 35-100mm f/2.8 Power OIS, plus the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 100- 400mm f/4.0-6.3. The former delivers the equivalent of 70-200mm in 35mm terms, while the latter provides 200-800mm. The lenses are also available this November, at a suggested £1099 for the 35-100mm and £1499 for the 100-400mm. Lastly, the electronics giant has announced a new compatible battery grip for the Lumix G9 II in the DMW-BG1, which also works with the previously available Lumix S5 II and S5 IIX. panasonic.co.uk Panasonic’s new phase
STABLE MATE The new Sony A7CR has a 61-megapixel sensor and seven stops of IBIS
NEXT-GEN The Lumix G9 II has a brand-new sensor
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Canon expands home-printing solutions
Those of us looking to print pictures at home this autumn have some fresh options. Landing this October is a pair of flagship printers – the Canon Pixma TS7650i and TS7750i, described as compact, high-quality all-rounders. The latter has a 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF). But both feature a 2.7-inch colour touchscreen and LED status display light. A borderless 6x4-inch photo can be delivered in 19 seconds. The third new option is the multi-function Canon Pixma TS8750, described as a premium three-in-one, six-ink photo printer for home and family use. Features to note include a 4.3-inch tilting screen and customisable Switch UI touch interface. It supports wireless printing, with the ability to print a 4x6-inch borderless photo in just 13 seconds. It can also print on different types of media thanks to a two-way paper feed, create disc labels with the multi-purpose tray and save money with two- sided printing. Alongside the printer, we’re told the Canon Print App has been improved to make daily print tasks and routine maintenance much more seamless. Home office workers are also being targeted with the Canon Maxify GX1050/GX2050 refillable ink tank printers, while the GX5550 is pitched at small businesses. The GX1050 is compact, high-volume three-in-one device with a 350-sheet feed capacity, while the GX2050 is a four- in-one model with an added 35-sheet ADF unit. Finally, the GX5550 is a professional printer promised to work to a high standard for a low running cost, with a 600-sheet paper capacity, 2.7-inch colour touchscreen and status bar. canon.co.uk
PAPER PUSHERS The Canon Pixma range can offer good savings on ink through the Pixma Print Plan
The Photography Show back with new format
Barely a month goes by without a new Tamron lens either being released or announced – this issue we have news of both. The latest development concerns the Tamron 17- 50mm f/4 Di III VXD for the Sony E-mount. This optic is being trumpeted as the world’s first 17-50mm wide-angle zoom lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras and will offer photographers and videographers maximum versatility. The build incorporates the brand’s exceptionally quiet, agile and precise VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear motor focusing mechanism. The lens is said to be easy to balance, even when attached to a gimbal or other equipment. Close focusing is 0.19m at the wide end and 0.3m at the telephoto end. It’s expected to land with us this autumn. For those who hate to wait, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2- 2.8 Di III VXD is available now for Nikon Z mount, described as the world’s first mirrorless zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/2. It’s ideal for travel and portrait photography and also incorporates a VXD linear motor focus mechanism. Lens construction incorporates four LD (low dispersion) and three GMA (glass-moulded aspherical) elements to deliver superior optical performance throughout. The recommended price is £1799.99. tamron.com Tamron lenses worth looking into
be announcing ‘exciting changes and developments’ over the coming months. “We’re delighted to have the big brands back with us for 2024 and also to be engaging with many we’ve not seen on the show floor before,” says interim event manager Hazel Soper. “We’re changing the format of the show next year to build on our inclusivity objectives. The plans to enhance visitor interaction with our exhibitors and speakers are well underway.” photographyshow.com
After taking a sabbatical this year, the doors to the UK and Europe’s largest photo show – The Photography Show – are being thrown open again at Birmingham’s NEC next 16 to 19 March. With a fresh logo design, organiser Future has been back in touch to provide an update on what’s been happening behind the scenes and what we can look forward to in 2024. This includes over 250 exhibitors and an extensive programme of live demos, interactive tutorials, intriguing discussions and debates featuring a global panel of creators across photography and video. Those logging on to the website from 1 October will be able to see the list of exhibitors so far, as well as the initial speaker line-up. While it’s not giving much away yet, we’re told the team will
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Sigma lens has X appeal The lens manufacturer has made its Sigma 100- 400mm f/5-6.4 DG DN OS Contemporary series lens – previously released for Sony E-mount and L-Mount camera owners – available for Fujifilm X Mount. Twinning the lens with the APS-C sensors of the X Series provides an equivalent focal length of 150-600mm, with the effectiveness of its optical stabilisation increased from four to five stops. Sigma says that due to the difference in camera software between Fujifilm, Sony and L-Mount systems, the AF/ MF switch and AF-L button have been replaced with a new AF function setting switch and AF function button on the X Mount example, with the switch swapping between AF and AF-L modes. Available now, the X Mount version of the lens is priced at £899.99. Sigma has also given us a price for the X Mount version of its 23mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens. Available now, it’s priced at a suggested £449.99. sigmauk.com
The action cam specialist has unveiled its Hero12 Black. The new model not only has the expected durable design, but also serious upgrades to its performance and usability. These include run times up to twice as long, with the ability to capture 70 minutes of recordings at 5.3K/60p, over 95 minutes of 5.3K/30p, or a whopping 155 minutes of continuous 1080/30p video – all with its HyperSmooth 6.0 video stabilisation feature engaged. There’s also an eight-times slow-motion feature and wireless support Bluetooth-enabled audio devices. The camera is compatible with standard mounts and accessories. Speaking of which, a Max Lens 2.0 modification is available for £99 that enables what it claims is the market’s widest 177° field of view at 4K resolution and 60fps. This accessory features glass that’s up to twice as scratch resistant as its predecessor along with a hydrophobic lens coating that ensures water drops fall away. Suggested pricing for the latest GoPro camera is £399. gopro.com GoPro is back in black
Bokeh glory from Meyer Optik
The German lens specialist has announced a new edition of what it’s calling one of the most sought-after bokeh lenses in the world. The Biotar 75 f/1.5 II is an update to a lens that was developed in the 1930s, of which there are now a small number of well-preserved original units. Happily then, the new version is available now. Its characteristics include high image sharpness in the centre with swirly bokeh at open aperture. The lens aims to capture the historic imaging capabilities of the original Biotar 75 while optimising the design using the latest technologies. With extremely high demand anticipated, direct delivery
time is two weeks, and the price has been set at €1,399/£1213. meyer-optik-goerlitz.com
MPB has announced five inductees into The Photo and Video Kit Hall of Fame for 2023. The entrants were selected based on more than 146,000 votes cast around the globe, with the 25 nominees over five categories initially put forward by industry experts. The 2023 inductees are the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, the Sony A7 IV, the Fujifilm X100V and the Leica M6. mpb.com MPB’s famous five
HIT THE STREETS The Sigma 23mm f/1.4 with the X Series’ Film Simulations make for a potent combination
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A Samsung memory card! WIN!
LBSGUCCANON BXAZCABHXPO EJMZELPTPRK N Q S T W I R T E O W RQUKEBWZRFR OTNMCRFAMOO J X G J H I E W A T T W F E V K T I S J O O S E N N H E I S E R L S I F I O T G H T N I E W M L I F I J U F G R Z I Z O N E R D R H I NCFFNORMAT FHROLOCATAD M B N J C N I K O N A P S I G M A V H S M P BQFDRAUGNAV L L A W E T I H W L H With the need for superfast, high-capacity memory greater than ever, the Samsung 256GB Pro Plus microSD card could be just the ticket – and here’s your chance to win one. Boasting up to 160MB/s read and 120MB/s write speeds, the card is ideal for expanded mobile device storage and capturing quality photos or 4K UHD video. Complete the word search below, comprising names of some of the nominated companies from this year’s PN Awards, and you’ll find one word in the list that’s not in the grid. Email us on email@example.com with that word in the subject box by 20 November 2023 and the winner will be drawn at random from all the correct entries received. Only entries from UK residents will be accepted. Congratulations to John Saner, who was our winner from issue 109. The missing word from issue 110 was ‘Codec’. samsung.com/uk/memory-cards
A spotlight on Nanlite Readers seeking enlightenment are directed to a new pair of Nanlite FC-series LED spotlights in the FC-500B and FC-300B, which offer 500W and 300W of power respectively. Features
include lightweight heads with built-in controls and separate power adapters, while the FC- 500B features dimming in 0.1% increments. Extra control is provided via locking 3.5mm DMX ports, Bluetooth and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. The FC-series comes supplied with a Bowens mount as standard, thus ensuring that a host of light modifiers can be used. Also included are integrated umbrella mounts to enable further creative light shaping. An integrated yoke allows for 360° rotation. The new lights come in foam-packed cases, which have been engineered for fast packing or unpacking. The FC-300B has a suggested price of £545, while the FC-500B retails for £795. nanlite.co.uk
AS YOU LIKE IT Precise controls let you dial in the exact warmth and brightness you need
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Issue 111 | Photography News 13
Ultra-sharp black & white printing is on the horizon
Acclaimed for its gallery-quality prints, photo lab WhiteWall is now deploying ultraHD sharpening technology on black & white images
ON THE WALL Make magnificent monochrome prints in all kinds of shapes, sizes and formats – including frames, borders and rails
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Established in 2007, WhiteWall is dedicated to combining state-of-the-art technologies with traditional development methods. Its award-winning quality is achieved through first- class backing materials, high- quality photo prints under acrylic glass and handcrafted frames. All products are manufactured at its lab in Frechen, Germany, which spans over 9000 sq m. WhiteWall also has four flagship stores in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich and Berlin, as well as an in-store presence in galleries around the globe and furthermore its products in selected Leica Stores. A winner of six TIPA Awards in total, this year it received the accolade of ‘best photo lab’. If you need advice on which photo lab to choose to ensure your monochrome images look their very best, the answer is here in black & white!
THE CHOICE IS YOURS WhiteWall’s specialised black & white printing methods allow for a variety of papers – including genuine baryta
& white photography professionals. As well as the ability to order prints, here you’ll find interviews with its creative partners and ambassadors. Featured is professional French photographer Alexandre Souêtre, creative director and WhiteWall partner, who notes: “What I really like about black & white photography is its timelessness. It’s a great tool for conveying very subtle emotions. This can be something dark and menacing on the one hand, as well as something soft and bittersweet on the other. That’s a palette that’s very interesting to play with in photography.” This is why a passion for monochrome photography is at the centre of the new black & white section on the website specially created by WhiteWall, a company for whom this style of photography has always had a large following. Fellow black & white enthusiast, artist Natalie Oberg, adds: “I believe that the visual aesthetic of black & white film is very well suited to highlight the drama of landscapes and stories in nature.” Finally, WhiteWall ambassador Phil Penman, acclaimed internationally for his black & white photographs, echoes the collective excitement about WhiteWall’s new direction: “Black & white takes me back to my beginnings; that’s what I love.” Head to the below URL now to find out more about how WhiteWall ultraHD sharpening can boost the presentation and visualisation of your own black & white prints to an unprecedented degree – and celebrate our combined passion for black & white photography.
PHOTO LAB WHITEWALL, present in 13 countries and with 200 employees, is world renowned for its gallery-quality prints. Just this spring, TIPA bestowed WhiteWall with the accolades of ‘best photo lab’ and ‘best frame design’ in its 2023 World Awards. Now, it’s seeking to win the custom of photographers working in monochrome by ushering in a new era of black & white printing. Launched at the end of August, its new service is ultraHD black & white prints. This is described as sharpening technology that’s precisely matched to the output process. It’s used in combination with increased production resolution to ensure results that are ‘absolutely perfect’. In fact, the lab suggests its technique results in unprecedented levels of clarity, meaning every detail and nuance of the photographer’s monochrome images are brought to life. This extra sprinkling of magic afforded by ultraHD sharpening is available in conjunction with three types of Ilford photo paper: PE
photo paper with a glossy or matte surface, plus genuine baryta prints. With WhiteWall black & white having been launched on its own specially created homepage, simply select the ‘WhiteWall ultraHD sharpness’ option when ordering. You baryta believe it WhiteWall claims to be one of the few labs still offering photo prints on baryta paper. This was added to WhiteWall’s black & white range in 2013, and was inspired at the time by the Leica M Monochrom. A decade later, the pioneering photo lab is now extending its ultraHD sharpening option to black & white prints, promising to provide monochrome photographers with a level of quality ‘never seen before’. To achieve this, the lab has invested in a new imagesetter, which it suggests guarantees extremely accurate reproduction of detail, with strong contrasts. With the ultraHD sharpening process selectable for Ilford prints with a glossy or matte surface, or with a baryta surface as a special highlight, prints are available in a customised format up to a maximum 240x122cm in size. Whether laminated behind acrylic glass, framed or presented as a classic print, these are promised as black & white prints in their purest form, free of colour casts. Photo prints on Ilford black & white paper can be finished with a white border if wished, which lends them a museum-like or decorative quality. Head to the WhiteWall black & white homepage now to enjoy its new dedicated community for black
“The sprinkling of magic afforded by ultraHD sharpening is available with three types of Ilford photo paper…”
DISPLAY PIECE WhiteWall’s services promise a print you’ll be proud of
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Astonishing winning images from recent competitions to inspire your creativity. Some of these photographs are (quite literally) out of this world!
Feast your eyes on the amazing winners from the recent Astronomy and Bird Photographer of the Year. They showcase feats of extraordinary photographic endeavour that we should all strive to achieve, and give you something to aim at if you want to take on the best. If you fancy having a go yourself, head to the respective website and who knows, next year it could be one of your images that we’re venerating on these pages.
WHERE DO YOU get your photographic inspiration from? Fellow photographers? Books? Everyday life? One surefire way to get those creative sparks flying is to look at the results of photographic competitions. There seems to be a plethora of ways to win prizes with your work, and some of the first steps to take towards success in competitions is to study the images that have won before. And have we got two crackers for you this time!
WORDS BY ROGER PAYNE
Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Now in its 15th year and run by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, this competition produced some simply stunning images. An exhibition of the winning photos and some of the shortlisted shots is now on show at the National Maritime Museum and looks well worth seeing. Entry is £10. While many of the images are created using high-powered telescopes and other specialised equipment, more conventional camera set-ups aren’t excluded. Nikon D850 owner Vikas Chander, for example, tasted success in the people & space category.
HAVE A GO! › Open to All levels › 2024 closing date TBA
› 2023 prizes £10,000 (overall winner), £1500 (young winner), £500 (runners-up) › Website rmg.co.uk
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Bird Photographer of the Year
Fieldcraft, dedication and razor- sharp responses are just a few of the skills needed to be a great bird photographer and they’re all on display in this outstanding collection of winning images. Over 20,000 shots were submitted by photographers all over the world with Jack Zhi from the USA taking top spot with this image (right). “For four years, I attempted to capture the rare sight of the female falcon attacking large brown pelicans with incredible speed and agility,” says Zhi. “I love the eyes of the pelican in this image – surprised and scared. The action was fast, and over in the blink of an eye. But I’ll remember that moment forever.” Zhi scooped the £5000 overall prize as well as a gold award in the bird behaviour category. He took the image using a Sony A9 II with a 600mm lens. The youth category, meanwhile, was won by 17-year-old German photographer Anton Trexler for his atmospheric image of a blackbird silhouetted against the moon (below, right). He used a Nikon D3S with a 300mm lens to get the shot.
HAVE A GO! › Open to All levels › 2024 closing date 10 December 2023 › 2024 entry costs
Scaled charges from £10 for one entry to £60 for 50 entries. Youth entries (17 or under) are free › Website birdpoty.com
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Issue 111 | Photography News 19
ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE FUJIFILM GFX100 II: a giant leap forwards for the GFX System Professional still-life photographer David Lineton tells us how Fujifilm’s newest 100-megapixel medium format camera delivers the exceptional results that his commercial clients expect
While capture speed and battery life are less of an issue for Lineton, as he typically works in a controlled environment, he adds: “My clients are always amazed by the quality and detail the GFX System offers. While I always shoot tethered so my clients can see my workflow, the camera’s EVF is my way to ‘sculpt’ my compositions, thanks its super- high resolution. The camera also has a lovely ergonomic feel, which on this latest generation feels even more defined.” Back to life, back to reality A clever feature of the GFX100 II, and particularly useful for those working in still-life photography, is a four-image Pixel Shift Multi- GFX100 II SPECS › Sensor 102-megapixel GFX CMOS II HS › Lens mount Fujifilm G Mount › Engine X-Processor 5 › ISO Auto, Stills: 80-12,800 (expandable to 40-102,400) › Image stabilisation In-body sensor shift with eight-stop improvement › Screen 3.2in three-angle tilting touchscreen, 2.36m dots › Shutter speed 60 mins to 1/32,000sec › Autofocus Intelligent hybrid AF, phase and contrast detection with 425 points › Frame rates Up to 8.7fps (electronic shutter), 8fps (mechanical shutter) › Recording media SD/SDHC/ SDXC, CFexpress type B › Dimensions (wxhxd) 152.4x117.4x98.6mm › Weight 948g with battery and memory card
SINCE THE LAUNCH of its GFX System back in 2016, Fujifilm has been all about bringing medium format photography to those who might not have previously considered or been able to afford it. Its latest iteration is the FUJIFILM GFX100 II, a direct upgrade to 2019’s GFX100 – which at the time was a generational step change of its own, thanks to its generous 100-megapixel resolution. On sale now, the second- generation GFX100 II keeps that same high resolution while introducing a brand-new back- side illuminated sensor built on the X-Processor 5 platform. The battery grip incorporated with the previous model is now an optional extra, while its eye-level viewfinder boasts an improved 9.44 million dot resolution. Autofocus has been drastically improved, with AF performance now similar to the X-H2, X-H2S, X-T5 and X-S20. There’s also been a 30% increase in dynamic range, and the GFX100 has a new base setting of ISO 80. Fujifilm’s built-in Film Simulation effects are one of its unique features, and newly added to its arsenal here is Reala Ace – known to most photographers in the west as Fujifilm Reala. It’s described as having a very similar look to Provia film, albeit slightly less saturated. Given the above, it’s no wonder the GFX100 II is already proving a godsend for pro photographer David Lineton, who shoots still-life photography for a host of big-name brands, and regularly sees his shots reproduced at billboard size. With a reputation built on quality and detail, even in the six weeks he’s had the new model, Lineton has noticed the upgrade. “Everything about this camera feels more advanced. The EVF is so rich and sharp. I’ve loved Fujifilm Reala, which really boosts the contrast. The Film Simulations are a great way to create a different aesthetic.” Thanks to the GFX100 II’s new high-speed sensor, maximum shooting speed is 8fps, and AI face and subject detection is quicker and more reliable than before. For those shooting handheld, in-body image stabilisation has likewise been improved to an eight-stop equivalent. Battery life, meanwhile, is good for 540 frames or 90 minutes of continuous video recording.
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Shot mode. This delivers what Fujifilm describes as ‘real colour’ in a combined 100-megapixel image, rather than simply a 400-megapixel equivalent file. The huge resolution also provides oodles of options when it comes to delivering different crops of the same image. “As a commercial photographer, you’re often required not just to deliver the one image crop, but multiple versions,” Lineton reveals. “The client needs variants that match with all the social media channels. This camera’s sensor allows the client and I to ‘jump around’ an image and fulfil those crops. I might shoot a little wider knowing I need to allow space for all the required crops, while still delivering exceptional detail, which is beneficial to my clients.” Video now forms a parallel element to Lineton’s photography, and he can see commercial demand for the format is on the increase, especially for shooting accompanying stories for social media. Here, the GFX100 II again comes up trumps, offering users the
Even more notable because they are a first for the system are two much-demanded tilt-shift lenses. These are the GF30mm f/5.6 T/S and GF110mm f/5.6 T/S, with the former coming with its own lens tripod mount. Both are manual-focus lenses, which is the way Lineton prefers to work. The photographer had been shooting with the 110mm when we spoke, noting: “The ability to shoot video with tilt-shift lenses now provides me with so much more flexibility for projects. It also allows me to capture photos in-camera that don’t require me to focus stack as much, and a plethora of options that wouldn’t have been possible without the lens.” Ultimately, notes Lineton, the new camera and lens combo “reaffirms the GFX System’s place in my kitbag”. Head to the URL below to find out more.
option of 4K/60p movies or up to 8K video resolution at either 24 or 30p. With headphone and microphone slots, full-size HDMI output and the ability to add timecode to files via third-party systems like AirGlu or UltraSync Blue, it’s clear the camera is as suited to video as stills. “The GFX100 II’s 8K at 30fps is exceptional quality, which also allows for cropping, while 60fps at 4K is phenomenal,” marvels Lineton. “In terms of connectivity, USB-C has been excellent and I can use the HDMI port to display a live view of what I’m shooting on a larger monitor, for the client and stylist to see the shots I’m taking in real time. The Ethernet facility allows you to upload straight to the cloud, which is an advantage if the client isn’t on- site and wants to see results quickly.” Three new GFX100 II-compatible lenses on the Fujifilm roadmap have arrived alongside the new body. The GF55mm f/1.7 R WR is the equivalent of 44mm in the 35mm format, weighs 780g and features a construction comprising 11 rounded diaphragm blades.
LARGER THAN LIFE
The GFX System’s huge sensor size makes it capable of astonishing photography
Issue 111 | Photography News 21
WORDS & IMAGES BY WILL CHEUNG Sony A6700
With an awesome AF system, portable body and very long list of photo and video features, Sony’s APS-C workhorse is almost certain to be yet another success. PN finds out if the performance matches the spec
also a contoured grip. It’s all very workmanlike, though if there’s any downside to this design it’s that the shallow body means the little finger on my average-sized right hand has nothing to grip, so comfort does suffer a little. With all key controls on the right, including the camera’s on/off switch, general handling was sound – despite the small body and busy rear control layout. I found a hand adjustment was needed to get at some controls – the C1 function button on the side of body was especially awkward. One control that’s lacking is an AF joystick. Though, if it was fitted, it would probably mean displacing the AF-ON button, and this is ideally positioned. Moving the AF point around is handled by the four-way control dial, or by the touchscreen when your eye is away from the EVF. Sony’s menu structure has evolved over the years and the A6700’s is more usable than older A series cameras. However, to counter that, the A6700’s menu has a lot of pages – 54 to be exact, with potentially six more My Menu pages. It can be quite a test of memory to set up camera features if you’re in a hurry, though the My Menu option will make life easier, with seven items per page that you can populate to suit your needs. Time spent setting up these pages is time well spent, and to save you going through the whole rigmarole again in case of a camera reset, your settings can be saved to a card. For those who like to customise their camera, the A6700 doesn’t disappoint. With three buttons on the rear, two on the top, a four-way
SONY IS COMMITTED to both full- frame and APS-C formats, although it has been quiet on the latter for a few years. The last enthusiast APS-C camera was the A6600, which was announced in 2019 – while in that time we have seen notable full-frame models including the A7R V, A7 IV and the incredible A1. It was about time for an APS-C launch then, and the A6700 is it. A body price of £1449 means the A6700 is pitched against the Canon EOS R7 (£1350) and Fujifilm’s duo, the X-S20 (£1249) and X-T5 (£1699). We also shouldn’t forget that there are options in Micro Four Thirds and full-frame at that body price level. The A6700 is a 26-megapixel camera based around a back-side illuminated sensor with superfast processing skills thanks to its Bionz XR processing engine. It boasts an extensive array of autofocus and video features, and you get all this packed into a small body which has a single SD card slot. While there are design differences between A6 series cameras, they have a familial appearance, with the EVF eyepiece on the left – which might not suit everyone – and the main controls on the right where there’s
SPEED MATTERS If you need to push up ISO, the A6700’s Raws react very well to noise reduction. This was an ISO 12,800 Raw processed through Lightroom using denoise at a level of 85, with white-balance corrected to taste. Taken at 1/640sec at f/2.8 with the camera set to continuous drive and AF tracking sensitivity at 3 (standard). All 11 frames in the sequence were spot on
FROM THE BACK Given the camera’s compact nature, the rear is dominated by the three-inch articulating touch monitor, with controls tightly packed in
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SPECS › Prices £1449 body only,
£1549 with 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS, £1799 with 18-135mm f/3.5- 5.6 OSS › In the box A6700 body, NP-FZ100 li-ion battery, body cap, shoulder strap, eyepiece cup › Sensor APS-C Exmor R CMOS sensor, 26 megapixels › Processing engine Bionz XR › Sensor format APS-C format 23.5x15.5mm, 6192x4128 pixels with options of M 4384x2920 (13MP), S 3104x2064 (6.4MP) › File formats Raw, JPEG, HEIF › Lens mount Sony E › ISO range Stills range ISO 100-32,000, expansion to ISO 50- 102,400 equivalent. Movies range ISO 100-32,000 › Shutter Mechanical with electronic front curtain shutter/ electronic shutter › Shutter range Mechanical shutter: 30secs to 1/4000sec, flash sync 1/160sec, Bulb; Electronic shutter: 30secs to 1/8000sec, flash not an option › Drive modes Hi+: 11fps with AE/AF tracking; Raw burst: 59 frames, JPEG Extra Fine L: 143, JPEG Fine L: >1000 › Exposure system PASM modes, 1200-zone evaluative metering with multi, centre-weighted, highlight-weighted, average, spot › Exposure compensation +/-5EV in 0.3EV steps, exposure bracketing available › Monitor Vari-angle tilting 3.0in LCD, 1.036m-dot touchscreen › Viewfinder 1cm 2.359m-dot OLED EVF › Focusing system Fast hybrid phase detection/contrast AF, detection range -3 to +20EV › Focus points Centre, multi- area, single point, touch AF, face detection; Stills: 759 AF points; Movie: 495 AF points; Recognition targets: Human, animal, insect, car, train, airplane; focus bracketing available › Image stabiliser SteadyShot, five-axis in-body image stabiliser with 5EV benefit › Video 3840x2160 (4:2:0 10-bit and 4:2:2 10-bit); 24, 30, 60, 100, 120p (with 1.58x sensor crop) › Movie format XAVC S: MPEG-4, AVC/H.264; XAVC HS: MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 › Connectivity USB-C 5GB/s 3.2 compatible, wireless LAN, HDMI micro type D, 3.5mm audio in, 3.5mm audio out, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth › Other key features USB-C charging, three custom modes, S&Q setting, soft skin effect, USB streaming, Creative Look, time- lapse, video auto-framing for vlogging, My Image Style › Battery NP-FZ100 li-ion battery, 550 shots with EVF › Storage media One slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC, UHS-II › Dimensions (wxhxd) 122x69x75.1mm › Weight 493g with card and battery › Contact sony.co.uk
CATCHING THE MOMENT The A6700 suits candid and street photography with its small body, silent shutter option, articulating finder and fast, accurate focusing, assisted by human and eye detection. Exposure was 1/80sec at f/4.5 and ISO 800 with the FE 24-70mm lens at 50mm
“WHEN IT COMES TO OUTPUT, THERE WASN’T MUCH TO MOAN ABOUT. IN FACT, THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL TO LIKE”
until you get to know them – plus the shallow body takes getting used to in terms of handling – but when it comes to output there wasn’t much to moan about. In fact, there was a great deal to like. For the test, I took around 2000 frames in a wide mix of lighting situations, and autoexposure and auto white-balance systems proved accurate and dependable. Most of the time I shot in aperture-priority mode with the evaluative metering pattern, and rarely did I have to dip into exposure compensation. I took a few straight-into-the-sun shots from Heathrow’s perimeter road of planes taking off and the planes were nicely silhouetted, yet the Raws had enough exposure latitude for good shadow recovery in the foreground. I tested the AF system on a variety of subject modes and zones. Human detection was excellent, and eye detection equally competent even when the person was quite small in the frame. I used these for some fast- grab candid stills in not great light and rarely did it let me down. For video, eye detection proved sticky, tracking the subject well, and latched onto the eye as soon as a subject entered the frame.
control and three dials, there’s ample opportunity to fine-tune the camera. Each of the three rear and two top buttons have a total of 134 individual assignable functions. You wouldn’t think there’d be much latitude for setting up functions on the three dials, but you’d be wrong – you get six pages and 16 features to choose from. The big news here is that there are three dials, as previous models in the series have lacked a front dial. Having it for quick adjustments – as well as it being customisable – helps handling a lot and brings the A6700 to the level of rival cameras. It’s worth pointing out that, for Sony full-frame owners considering the A6700 as a backup, their E-mount lenses might not balance so well. For this test, Sony sent the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II, a top-end lens that sells for £2099, and you won’t be surprised to hear that this optic on the A6700 made for a very front-heavy combo. A compact zoom or fast prime such as one from Sigma’s DC DN collection would be a considerably more user- friendly partner. The A6700 performed seriously competently in this test. It’s true that it takes a bit of setting up and the deep menus can slow you down
NO FRILLS The on/off switch on the right is always a good thing, and while there are no locks on the exposure mode or stills/video dials, I managed to avoid accidentally moving them while in use
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