Cambo Actus and the Fuji X-T1

This afternoon I got to do some preliminary testing with the Cambo Actus fixed to the Fuji X-T1.

This, I believe, will be a great addition to the landscape photo kit I travel with. I tested the Nikkor 75mm and Schneider 90mm and discovered that the Schneider 47mm would not focus to infinity, but as a macro or even close portrait lens, this lens will work superbly.

There was not much difference between coverage of the 75 and 90mm lenses, and I liked the results with the latter quite a bit better.

The images (on the linked page below) with the proprietary Fuji and Zeiss fixed focus lenses at 12mm, 23mm, and 35mm.

The 90mm Schneider comes close to the coverage area of the 35mm lens. Although not very wide for landscapes, the Cambo Actus will provide for some incredibly sharp images in many instances.

Tomorrow morning I will go to one of the few scenic spots in town and see how it does in the field. This way I can test the system including a Lee polarizer and some graduated filters.

Here is the link to the test images shot.



Digital photography opened the door to millions of new hobbyists who had never considered the craft when there was a need to learn metering, composition, aperture, or shutter speed before you could take a decent photo in the “old” film days.

Today, just like in photography, Kickstarter has given tens of thousands of people a peek into the world of R&D, prototyping, and manufacturing.

What used to be a simple click of the mouse or a visit to a retail location to pick up a new, cool gadget, Kickstarter has allowed these same consumers to get in on the ground floor of a gadget’s introduction to the market.

It is funny to read all the notes and comments that are being left by “investors” who provided seed money for a new project.  Okay, maybe not funny from the consumer perspective, but quite funny from a manufacturer’s or designer’s perspective.

No gadget, car, pillow, deodorant, plastic spoon, or you name it comes to market without the engineering, tooling, and most importantly retooling of molds, dies, etc. that always precedes the final “perfect” item shipping to a store near you.  The only difference is the consumer was never made aware of this timeline until now.

In many cases, the next irritation is already in the design stages when the preceding version is shipping to their distribution points for the very first time. And, no, most companies will not divulge this to their own salespeople. So, don’t bother asking when the next big thing is shipping; the salesperson is usually the last to find out! That is why we now have rumor sites that try to get this data from (likely unethical) vendors, designers, or partners.

I got in on two gadgets that I think will make my photographic life much more fun. There was no actual need for any of these, but there was a “want”.  So, as long as there is no dire need, there is no rush.

This cool gadget, ought to make landscape panoramas a lot easier, but that is all.  Looks like a neat toy to add to the camera bag, but it is not a lifesaver.  I am looking forward to receiving my all-black version sometime next year.  Is there a rush? Heck no, I want it to work. And work well.

What photographer does not have a gazillion camera bags that never get used, all in the name of finding the perfect bag!  Although two come close, this belt is a brilliant idea. The heck with bags, just carry the lens on a mount attached to a belt. How cool. Again, it is not a life changer but a cool gadget. Let’s be patient and get it right before it is shipped. I am sure neither the creator nor I want a $4,000+ lens to drop to the ground.

What are my 2 near-perfect bags?  One is the Kiboko 30L that handles all my gear on a safari or birding trip.  Yep, it will take the 500mm, 300mm, 24-70mm, two camera bodies and much more AND still fit in the overhead of a small regional jet. The other is a small bag that doesn’t weigh a thing and still holds enough for any photo shoot or short trip – plus a 17” Macbook Pro.  It is the ThinkThank Shape Shifter. Both bags have straps for my tripod.

So, just as digital technology has done an incredible job for relatively small camera manufacturers, Kickstarter will do the same for many small companies trying to launch the next big thing. But, unlike using your camera in “P” mode*, getting in on the ground floor of a great idea doesn’t mean all will be easy or smooth sailing! Kickstarter will make many thousands of investors a much better consumer by finally learning the ins and outs of launching a product.

*  The “P” stands for Program. I like to think it stands for Pray your image will be what you intended it to be!


Metz 58 AF 1 or 2 review

For  a couple of decades I have been a Metz flash fan.  The consistency of the light produced by the mecablitz is unparalleled.

Unfortunately I never took the plunge from the monstrous flashgun (mecablitz 76 MZ5 digital being the last one) to the more manageable hot shoe mount.

This past weekend I finally got myself a new in the box 58 AF-1 that was already phased out 2-years ago.

I never expected the smaller hot shoe mount to perform the same way as the big gun, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the beautiful and very consistent light.

The secret of both units is their dual reflectors. The large reflector that you can swivel to bounce the light, and a much smaller reflector in the base of the unit.  The latter is the key to incredible portraits or event shots.

I always use a bounce card or more recently the large Rogue FlashBender to soften the light directed on my subject.  The issue that always required some time in post-processing was the weird “raccoon-like”shadows under the eyes caused by the light coming from above.

Metz has had that second reflector on their flash for a couple of decades at least, and when set at its lowest power, provides wonderful and even illumination on the face of my subject(s).

For the past few years I have had a 3/4 CTO filter taped over the secondary reflector to make that direct light a bit warmer than the 5600K of the flash unit.

Doing the same on the small unit works just as good, and makes the faces appear a bit warmer.

The Metz 58 is priced well below the Nikon SB910 (and I presume the Canon equivalent). The only difference between the 1 and 2 is the mounting foot; it is plastic on #1 and metal on #2. Internally the guts are the same.  What is surprising is that the 58 AF-1 is still being sold at close to its original retail price some years after it was replaced by the new 58 AF-2 .

I am now retiring my 76 for the 58.

I always felt like apologizing for the huge camera that really wasn’t.  My Leica M9 and D800E were often a small attachment to this flashgun! Metz manufactures a simple SLA adapter base to allow true TTL operation with just about any camera.

The Metz 58AF-1 and 2 both work through the camera’s TTL and high speed sync systems, and can be switched from full power to 1/64th power (+3 to -3) in 1/3rd stops. I am looking for a few more and will then have completely switched from Nikon light to Metz.

If you are considering a new flash for your camera, I would highly recommend you try out the Metz series of lights. You cannot go wrong.