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