Gear review

Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR (again)

So, I did a new model shoot with my friend and favourite model today, using only the Fujinon 90mm f/2 R LM WR and never changed aperture from f/2 (I mean why should I). 

It is sharp, it really is and I really like this lens. It handles well on my Fujifilm X-T1 especially now when I’ve got the VG-XT1 battery grip on while doing portraits. It’s got a nice balance and for being Fujifilm, a pretty fast autofocus with only a little bit of hunting now and then (it still has a long way to go before coming anywhere near my Canon 5D MkIII). The aperture ring seems stiff enough, though I have only shot this lens at f/2, so haven’t played around with it. The focus ring is smooth and nice and there’s nothing to complain about there either.

But I think it’s a pretty easy lens to shoot with, with no problem to nail focus (if it’s not hunting which happens sometimes like I said before) which I’ve read others saying. Sure, you can obviously not use a shutter speed that is too slow for the focal length, but that’s just basic knowledge. The conclusion is that it’s an awesome lens.

I mean, I’ve already written a review, I guess this is just some added thoughts. All right, enough of this. 

That’s right, some new shots in my portrait section, with this lens.

F-stop Mountain Series Guru review

Alright, so now I've had this backpack for a while and I've put it through daily use to and from work and for use in an urban environment such as London. This backpack is awesome, end of review.

Not really...

But yeah, it is a really awesome backpack. As my other two F-stop bags, the quality is top notch. The Guru is smaller than the Loka, and pretty much perfect for day trips especially in urban areas where you just need an extra jacket or something similar. As a day pack for use in the outdoors I don't feel that it's quite big enough, if you want to bring food, clothes and things like that. But if you take out the ICU (Internal Camera Unit) it would be, but for me that would be to go against the whole point of buying a camera backpack of this sort, but it's still an option though and easy to do.

For anyone not being familiar with F-stop bags, the following is a summary definition. Kinda...

All bags in F-stop's Mountain Series can be described as being empty shells, and then you use a separate camera unit called ICU (ICU = internal camera unit) that comes in different shapes and sizes.
This means that you can customize how you want your backpack to be depending on how much camera equipment versus other equipment you have or want to bring.
For the Guru I've chosen a Small Shallow ICU for my Fujifilm cameras, because I want to bring other things than just camera gear, bigger one would mean nearly no space left for other things inside of the main compartment.
An ICU has removable inner walls so that you can customize it, like camera bags normally have and are as good as any other that I've tried.
The Guru follows international luggage dimensions, but you can easily take out the ICU and bring it into the cabin if you would need to check in your backpack on a flight.

Well, on with the description of the Guru. In the main compartment (where the ICU goes) there's also a pocket that can be used to store an iPad or a smaller, maybe 13" MacBook or similar laptop (check F-stops website for exact info on that), or to hold a hydration system like Osprey or CamelBak. I have an Osprey Hydraulics 2L, but I haven't tried if it fits, I might do that eventually and update this review, but since I have this backpack for more urban use and not nature hikes, I simply haven't tried that. It should be used with the optional waterproof bag that can be bought and hung inside the backpack (for extra leakage protection). A special opening marked H2O where you pull the hose out and attach to the right shoulderstrap through some mesh and a velcro loop.

You've got an extra (large) compartment with different pockets to keep daily general stuff or extra batteries, cleaning cloths, filters and those things. There's also a key holder in there. On top of that there's an outer compartment to store, well anything, but would hold something like a rain jacket for example. In addition there are two exterior mesh pockets, one on each side where you can have water bottles or put down tripod feet into.

There are compression straps on both sides and also on the back, which can be used to attach a tripod and/or skiing/snowboarding/hiking poles/snow shovel or whatever you need.
In a number of places there are loops where you can attach additional straps (called GateKeepers which is optional) if you want to secure a tent/sleeping bag/sleeping pad or similar.
In addition, on the waiste belt, there are anchor points compatible with the MOLLE system (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment), which for example the police and military use and there are a plethora of bags and other things that you can attach there if you want.
D-rings are also available to offer yet another way to attach things to the backpack.

Adjustment possibilities are many, and the support system is great and I think that it fits most people. The good thing with all but the Kenti backpacks of the Mountain Series, is that the opening to the camera compartment is towards the back, which means that you can put down the backpack where it is wet or muddy without getting it on the shoulder straps or on the back and if you're in an urban area, your precious camera gear is safe from pickpockets. All zippers are sturdy YKK.

If you need something for urban use, or of course in the outdoors, check this bag out. If you need room for more gear, well you could get a slightly bigger ICU for this backpack or maybe you should look at the Loka instead (look to the right for the link to my Loka review) or maybe you need something even a bit smaller, and something that looks even less than a regular photography bag/backpack? Then have a look at the F-stop Millar Series (look to the right for the link to my Brooklyn Sling review) of bags/backpacks.

Even if the Guru and the rest of the F-stop line is outstanding, things could still be improved.
The backpacks doesn't come with a rain cover, though it's probably not very often that you need it, but still. F-stop backpacks are quite expensive and a cover could or should be included in the price, but then again, quality is usually not cheap. And also, it can be quite hard to even get your hands on one of these backpacks. The people at the customer service are friendly, but otherwise the actual service (as in delivering orders to people) still needs to be improved.

But as a conclusion, these backpacks (including the Guru) are as good as it gets. If you're a serious shooter, do yourself a favor and get one.

F-stop website

NBD (New Bag Day)

I ordered and recieved a new backpack the other day, my third bag from F-stop, who makes the best photography bags on the planet.

I needed (wanted) something in between my Mountain Series Loka and my Millar Series Brooklyn Sling, so I got the Mountain Series Guru (with a Small Shallow ICU). I needed something that I can use back and forth from work everyday, where I can bring  (my Fujis) with me and that is big enough to house other things than cameras, but still not too big. The Loka is awesome, but it's too big for every day use in that way.

I will write a review when I've used the bag for a while, but since it's an F-stop bag it is obviously awesome and nothing else has to be said really, but still I want to use it for a while before writing something like a review.

I mention this since I see too many reviews of gear where people are "omg omg omg, I've bought this (insert gear) today and this is my review after using it for an hour and a half and it's so awesome (as in 'I-want-it-to-be-totally-awesome-because-I-paid-a-lot-of-money-for-it') and bestest evah!!!!11!!", and I'm not joining that club. So, I will be back with a review later.

F-stop Millar Series Brooklyn Sling review

So, american camera bag manufacturer F-stop, makes THE best camera bags on the market (that's my opinion but also the truth). I've had their Mountain Series Loka for a while now and it's an amazing backpack, though a little too big for walking around in the city with a smaller kit like my Fujifilm X-T1 + lenses so I was looking for something smaller.

And since I've already established that F-stop makes the best camera bags on the market, why look at any other brand? F-stop also has another line of bags called the Millar Series which has just undergone a face lift. The Millar Series is a line of bags more targeted for the urban photographer and I found a sling bag called the Brooklyn Sling. This bag so far seems as well made as the Mountain Series, just a bit different. It's made of weather proof Cordura Nylon, with a padded inside with movable dividers (like any other camera bag I know of). There are also two small compartments on the inside of flap that closes the bag, where I keep spare batteries, cleaning cloth and memorycards, These are rather small, but holds the things good. There is also a compartment on the outside of the flap where I usually keep my iPod. On the outer side of the bag there's also another just a little bit bigger compartment to keep other things. The shoulder strap (or whatever to call it) is wide at the upper end and then gets more narrow further down and on it, there's a compartment for a phone or small compact camera or similar. On the backside of the bag, the bit that's resting on your back, there's a compartment for an iPad or 11" tiny laptop.

Is there anything more, well, not really. There's an extra strap that can be attached or removed that will prevent the bag from sliding to the right while on a bike for example. The bag in itself is very light and holding my Fujifilm X100T, Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4, Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2, spare batteries, memorycards, lens cloth, weighs around 3 kilos and with such a light setup it's easy to walk around the city for a whole day.

So, for more information, to do yourself a favour and order your own F-stop bag, check out their website at:

BTW, I'm not paid by F-stop (unfortunately) I just find their stuff being pure awesomeness...

3 Legged Thing Brian review

3 Legged thing (3LT) is a British tripod company, based in Stagsden just a bit north west of London. 3LT is a pretty new company, but they have already put quite a mark on the tripod market with their well thought designs, awesome quality and quirky/cool image. Their "Rock Legend" range of tripods, monopods and multipods all have names coming from English and American guitar legends such as X1 Brian (May), X2 Eddie (Van Halen) and X4 Eric (Clapton).

And the one I've had for a bit more than a year now is the X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System which is a travel tripod and also the first and original model they made (it's been modified and refined a bit from the first version). Brian is extremely versatile and can extend from only 125mm above ground up until 2040mm (2,04 meters). These are the specifications directly from 3LT's website:

Tripod specifications:

Kit Weight:     1605g
Tripod Weight:     1325g
Monopod Weight:     278g
Monopod min Height:     377mm
Monopod max Height:     1310mm
Tripod Min Height:     120mm
Tripod Max Height with column removed:     1265mm
Tripod Max Height with column retracted:     1342mm
Tripod Max Height with column fully extended:     2000mm
Folded Height:     420mm
Load Capacity:     8kg
Maximum Leg Tubing Diameter:     26mm
Leg Sections:     5 - (26, 23, 20, 17 & 14mm)
Leg Angles:     23°, 55° & 80°
Column Sections:     3 - (26, 23 & 20mm)
Leg Locking Mechanism:     Evo 2 Double-Break Friction Dial

Ballhead specifications:

Ballhead Control:     Pan, Lock & Clutch
Ballhead Height:      87mm
Base Width:          48mm
Ball Diameter:           37mm
Ballhead Weight:      336g
Load Capacity:         35kg
Plate Size:        52mm x 50mm
Plate Weight:        46g

To put it very short, Brian is awesome. The tripod can be very compact while folded, though I have taken away the centre column which means that it can't be double folded and therefor it's a bit longer, but still compact. And very light, but at the same time sturdy, much sturdier than I ever thought. Though obviously a travel tripod of about 1,5 kilos can never be as sturdy as a tripod weighing in at 4-4,5 kilos, I don't think that has to be said, still this tripod is really sturdy. I've had it out in rather windy conditions with no problems. Brian is a delight to carry around while hiking anywhere thanks to it weighing in at around 1,5 kilos and being really compact, and now I don't hesitate to bring it anywhere with me, which I did with my old Manfrotto (which was great, but big and heavy). Though I have to add that I will eventually buy Frank, the biggest model in the whole range for when I just walk from a car down to a really windy beach and where the extra weight and sturdyness of that one will be even better for long exposures. But back to Brian.

The legs can be set in different angles, depending on if it's macro photography or landscape or anything in between. The leg section locking mechanism is really good, it's the twist type and after having other types before, I much more prefer this type. It's fast and easy and does not need much of a turn to loosen/tighten. The center column are also in sections which is great if you need it to be really tall if you want to use the tripod as a lighting stand, but for photography I don't need it and that's why I've taken it out (saves a little bit of weight), which is really easy.

One of the legs can be taken off and be used together with the ballhead as a monopod, which can be really handy. I've never used it yet, but I'm sure I'm gonna do it at some point. And then we come to the actual AirHed1 ballhead. It is smooth while moving it around and also sturdy (since it can hold 35 kilos) and it's compatible with the Arca-Swiss standard of quick release plates. I use a Sunwayfoto L-bracket on my Canon EOS 5D MkIII and it works like a charm with the AirHed1.

Brian comes in a nice padded bag, with some cool stickers and I can only come up with one thing that is not that good. And it's that they're always out of stock and hard to get your hands on. That says something about how wanted these tripods are. I got mine very quickly but I know that they have some problems with stock (just like f-stop). I just have one more thing to add, and that is that if you're out for a new tripod, try and get your hands on a 3LT, you're not gonna regret it.