Monday, 5 February 2018

K&F Concept KF13.026 V4 Camera Backpack

K&F Concept KF13.026 V4 Bag

Following on from my review of the K&F Concept TM2324 tripod the brand contacted me again and  wanted to send me some more items to test out - another tripod - the KF-TM2534T (review to follow) and this KF13.026 V4 camera bag. Man, that model name just rolls off the tongue.

Rain cover is a handy addition that most camera backpacks have

My Bags/Cases
I have a few different camera bags and cases to hold my gear - Sony LCS-SC8, Lowepro Flipside 400AW, Lowepro Flipside 500AW and a Peli 1510. I use all of them for different reasons. I mainly use the Peli 1510 to store my main cameras and lenses as I know it's safe and secure in there with its foam interior, watertight casing and crushproof outer shell. Depending on what job I'm shooting I sometimes also take the Peli with me. The frustrating thing for me is that I just hate that I can't fit the lenses and camera bodies that I need in there alonside my laptop, hard drives and a bunch of other things. Plus when it's fully loaded it weighs a tonne. I may need to get a bigger and lighter Peli case like the Peli 1615 Air but these come at a considerable cost. The Sony is a very small bag only capable of holding a camera body and one or two lenses depending on which camera body and lenses I'm carrying so I tend to only use this for trips out for casual shooting. I use both Lowepro bags quite heavily as they can fit a lot of gear, have padded compartments inside, are comfortable to carry and just look pretty good in terms of aesthetic design. I'm yet to test out whether the bigger Lowepro Flipside 500AW would qualify as cabin baggage, I guess this is a risk that I'm not willing to take so when travelling abroad I always take the smaller Flipside 400AW and it's served me very well on trips to New York, Miami, Göteborg and Spain.

Bonus lens cleaning extras included with the bag

The K&F Concept bag sits between the Sony mentioned above and the Lowepro Flipside 400AW in terms of size so it's not the biggest of bags by any means. The design is quite sleek and minimal, it packs quite a lot of features and even comes with a lens cleaning kit (comprising of a lens pen, air blower, lens tissues, a microfibre cloth and a small spray bottle to fill with lens cleaning solution). A very handy addition in my eyes. The bag has a small zipped pocket at the front for storing things like a passport or keys. Behind that is a bigger, zipped compartment which has 3 small pockets, a large mesh pocket and another larger velcro fastened pocket which can fit a standard 9.7" iPad. Batteries, memory cards and other miscellaneous items can be stored here. Additonally, in this area of the bag you will find a small pouch attached via a plastic buckle - inside the pouch is a waterproof cover for the bag to save your equipment from a heavy downpour. Also on the front of the bag it has a small rubber hole where you can pass a headphone cable through - a decent feature. The main section of the bag can be accessed via the two zips at the top of the bag. It's worth noting that these zips join together and have a hole that a small padlock can fit through to keep your equipment secure. Inside this comparment there is room for one camera body, several lenses and other miscellaneous items such as batteries, cables and a lens cleaning kit. On one side of the bag there's a mesh pocket to hold a water bottle. On the opposite side there is a pocket and a strap to secure a small tripod to the bag. I was just about able to attach the relatively small K&F Concept TM2424 tripod to the bag. This pocket would only be suitable for tripods of this size or smaller. There's a handle at the top of the bag which isn't padded. The shoulder straps are padded with a breathable mesh and feel ok. They also have two support straps - one that goes across you collarbone area and the other that would go around your abdominal region. The area of the bag which would come in contact with your back is quite thickly padded again with a breathable mesh for comfort.

A 9.7" iPad fits nicely in the front pocket.

Filled with Mirrorless camera body and lenses

Filled with DSLR camera body and lenses

Water repellent outer
Build quality of the bag itself seems pretty decent - it's made out of a water repellent Nylon and has padding throughout to help protect your lenses and camera from getting knocks. The cost (at the time of writing retails on Amazon for £42.99) is pretty inexpensive for a camera bag with so many features. Due to the size of the bag it's not something I would use as regularly as some of my other bags but it is a welcome addition as I can see that I would use this for casual shooting on short trips where I don't need a lot of kit. All camera bags come with certain caveats, my gripe with this one is that it's just slightly too small to fit my 13" Sony Vaio laptop. Perhaps it might fit a newer 13" laptop like a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13. Other than that it's a fairly respectable bag which offers good value for money.

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to check out my other reviews and blog posts.

I'd like to once again thank K&F Concept for sending the bag out to me for testing.

For more information on K&F Conecpt products please take a look at their page on Amazon.

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Monday, 15 January 2018

K&F Concept TM2324 Tripod Review

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod

K&F Concept recently contacted me and asked me if I’d like to test out one of their tripods - the TM2324 tripod. This was good timing for me as I found myself needing a compact, lightweight tripod that I could carry with me for work which required me to travel via trains or planes.

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod with Sony A7R attached

My go to tripod for the last few years has been the relatively inexpensive but sturdy and reliable Manfrotto MK294A3. I depend a lot on this tripod. It extends pretty high (a lot taller than me), I love the 3-way tilt and pan head and it’s quite substantial in weight so feels rock solid. With all these plus points it does have its disadvantages - it doesn’t pack up very small making it difficult to transport. Also, while I’ve mentioned it’s heavy weight as an advantage as it makes sure to limit any vibration, the hefty weight is also a disadvantage as it makes it a nightmare to carry around on long journeys or even pack into luggage for flights.

Enough about the Manfrotto, let’s talk about the K&F Concept tripod. Straight out of the box I could see that this tripod would give me a nice compact option for travelling. It’s lightweight (weighing just 1.13KG), folds down pretty small (46.5cm) and even comes with its own carry case (which my Manfrotto does not). This tripod comes with a ball-head - a different system to manoeuvre the camera than what I’m used to. It took me a while to get used to this and I think that I still prefer the 3-way system of my Manfrotto. I guess I could always look at replacing the ball-head with a 3-way system on this tripod for future use.

TM2324 tripod's ball head

Build quality of the K&F Concept tripod is what I would describe as decent but not ground-breaking but at this price point (at the time of writing this - £53.99 on Amazon) you're not going to get carbon fibre or other high quality materials instead you get a magnesium aluminium alloy frame and plastics. Fully extended a camera can be mounted at 156cm which isn't the loftiest of heights but I guess a tripod marketed as being compact isn't going be among the tallest on the market. Having said that, 156cm will probably be tall enough for most situations. The centre column of the tripod can be reverse mounted for macro photography. Similar to all tripods I've ever used, the K&F Concept tripod comes with a quick release plate system where a plate is mounted to the bottom of your camera, this plate has a corresponding part on the tripod which securely attaches the camera to the tripod. The tripod takes a maximum 10kg load which is heavier than most camera body and lens combos.

TM2324 tripod folded to it's smallest size
During my testing I liked how small and lightweight the tripod is for carrying around. I have to carry a lot of gear with me to shoots so lightening the load a little is always good in my book. Having said that due to the lightweight I wouldn't say that this tripod would hold up well in windy outdoor conditions when shooting landscape photography. For my main uses it performs well and the carry case is a very handy addition. For the price it's certainly a decent option for a photographer that travels a lot.

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod with Sony A7R attached
For a limited time (16/01/2018 - 28/02/2018) you can get 10% off K&F Concept products using code - UKF09007 at the checkout on Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

I'd like to thank K&F Concept for sending the tripod out to me for testing.

For more information on K&F Conecpt products please take a look at their page on Amazon.

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Monday, 18 December 2017

Samyang AF 35mm F1.4 FE (Part 2 - Autofocus & Performance)

Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE mounted on my Sony A7R

I recently had the opportunity to test out the autofocus and overall performance of the final production version of Samyang’s new AF 35mm f1.4 FE lens while shooting the current Cage Warriors Middleweight Champion, Lee 'The Butcher' Chadwick during a brief training session at a local boxing gym. The lens while mounted on my Sony A7R provided me with some highly detailed action shots despite being shot wide open at f1.4.

Sports photography is something that I'd like to shoot more of but just haven’t had the opportunity to dedicate much time to so this was my first time shooting boxing. It quickly became apparent how fast a shutter speed is required to freeze the action. As such I had to use a higher ISO than what I would have liked so some of these images have more grain than what I'm used to seeing.

Size comparison - (from left to right) Samyang AF 50mm f1.4, Samyang AF 35mm f1.4, Samyang AF 35mm f2.8

Now, I know that the Sony A7R (mk1) is pretty much renowned for its slow AF speeds due to its lack of phase detection autofocus technology so I guess shooting sport with this camera and whatever lens I had was going to be a challenge. What has always frustrated me when using my A7R is the slight delay between when you press the shutter release button and the shutter actually closing. Timing my shots was pretty difficult but I quickly got used to it and managed to capture some great action shots with this lens. Attached to a Sony A9 or the brand new Sony A7RIII I'd imagine that the autofocus performance of this lens would be very fast, reliable and accurate.

The focus system is ‘focus by wire’ which means that the manual focus ring is not physically coupled with the focusing mechanism. Instead, rotating the focus ring sends an electronic signal to the focusing mechanism.

Autofocus on this lens is near silent - something which will please a lot of video makers after they were left a little frustrated with the slight noise emitted from the AF motor of Samyang’s inaugural AF lens - the AF 50mm f1.4 FE (review here).

The focus ring has been made larger in the final production copy I received from Samyang making it a little easier and more pleasant to focus and compose a shot manually. I love using this lens as it is capable of capturing stunning images with a shallow depth of field, beautiful bokeh and sharp details and punchy colours. Since Samyang sent me this lens I've used it on quite a few food shoots with superb results as can be seen at the bottom of this short review. It's frequently becoming my go to lens for a lot of different types of photography.

Check out my test images below.

1/2000th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/500th sec, f1.6, ISO 1000

1/1600th sec, f1.4, ISO 1000

1/1250th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/800th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/2000th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/1000th sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

1/4000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100
1/1250th sec, f2.2, ISO 100

1/1250th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/800th sec, f2.5, ISO 250

1/320th sec, f1.6, ISO 250

1/1000th sec, f1.4, ISO 100

1/60th sec, f2.2, ISO 320

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to check out my other Samyang lens reviews throughout this blog.

I'd like to once again thank Karin and all involved at Samyang Korea for sending the lens out to me for testing. Thanks also to Gary at Forge Fitness Rainhill and Lee Chadwick for allowing me to shoot him while training. Food image taken at Dim T in London.

For more information on Samyang products please take a look at their website - and subscribe to their newsletter to keep up to date with product news.

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Check out further reviews of this lens by Australian photographers Hanna Saba and Daniel Gangur

Hanna Saba – Samyang 35mm f1.4 AF for Sony E Mount – First Impressions

                       Samyang 35mm f1.4 AF vs Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4 AF         

Daniel Gangur – Samyang AF 35mm f1.5 FE – Lens Review