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The Photography Show 2021

The Photography show turned out to be a great event.  I was worried prior to the event as what it may be like especially as it had been put back after a few false starts due to Covid19.  The show was held in Halls 1 and 2 at the NEC and when you walked in you noticed that the stalls were set more apart than normal providing a feeling of space.  There were wide walkways and amble space to pass people.

Sunday was my first day and it appeared relatively quiet.  This gave me the opportunity to linger at several stands and return to take several looks at the cameras on display.  I had not booked into any talks, and those that I did attend for did not live up to their titles.  The quality of the PowerPoints was surprisingly poor. One talk that I did enjoy on the Sunday was by Claire Luxton.  Her artwork was spectacular with wonderful attention to detail.  The way she produced the photographs involved a great deal of planning.  She was also a very enthusiastic speaker, and I enjoyed her presentation style. 

The Photography Show 2021
Models at the Fujifilm stand

On the stands, I handled several cameras, fell in love the Canon R5 but it is out of my price range and unlikely to be a camera that I would use that much to justify the price.  I liked the new Z fc series from Nikon with its retro design but it would have to do well to be a better buy than my Fujifilm X100V.  The Nikon is an attractive camera and as the person who was demonstrating the camera moved it around, the dials caught the light and it did look very attractive.  There were also some very nice Fujifilm cameras that I was able to pick up and try out.  The Cewe book stand display was lovely to browse through and I will use them for my 365 printed project. 

The Photography Show 2021
Walls of Pictures

during the show I met up with Photography friends Martin Kelly and Ian Lewis.  We found a quiet spot and did a recording of the Photo show.  It was different undertaking a live recording and not having to do a zoom.  After it was finished, I went and looked at the action area where there were displays of Bike jumping, juggling and breakdancing.  Once again my FujiFilm camera did a great job.  The evening finished with a few drinks in a local pub and then a get together meal at a local hotel.

On Monday I was back at the show, this time to take part in a Digital Camera magazine walkabout.  I had been long listed in a Garden flower competition on the Digital Camera Facebook page.  Although I was not a winner, Niall Hampton the editor of the magazine inquired who was going to the Photography show.  I mentioned that I would be there so he dropped me an email and I was selected for a walkabout around the NEC taking pictures for a feature in the magazine.  I will cover this more in a future blog. 

Walking around the National Exhibition Centre
Walking around the National Exhibition Centre

Whilst I was waiting, I took the opportunity to walk around the lake and was taken in by the attractiveness of the place.  It did surprise me that such natural beauty existed within the concrete jungle of the NEC.  I also did a walkabout in the NEC itself covering the skywalk to the far reaches of the Exhibition Centre.  I have some examples of the pictures that I took. 

All Monday’s pictures were done with my Canon D5 with the 24-105 lens except one picture that was taken with my iPhone.  This one picture made the picture of the day on BBC Midlands today. In summary the Photography show was worthwhile, I enjoyed the two days as each was different in what I saw and participated in.  There were a few big names missing but the ones that were there such as Canon and Nikon more than made up for it.

Walking around the National Exhibition Centre
BBC Midlands – Picture of the Day

Gas Street Basin, Birmingham

Welcome to my series on cameras, lenses, advice and taking those all-important pictures.  So which camera do you use?  This is a common question that I am asked when someone sees one of my pictures.  It is if the camera took the picture not the photographer!  There may be an element of truth in this, although there are a lot of factors that go into taking a picture and the camera is only one of them. 

FujiFilm x100v
FujiFilm x100v

To kickstart this series, I am going to talk about my ‘go-to camera’ which is the Fujifilm x100v.  The story is that I wanted to buy myself a new camera to replace my Sony RX100 V.  My requirements were many.  Simple to use but requiring the level of complexity below the surface when needed.  Weather resistance was a desirable feature.  I have had several compact zoom cameras over the years, and they have worked well.  Often the zoom mechanism has not been robust despite the camera quality with grit getting into the zoom mechanism.  Therefore, a fixed lens appealed to me.  As I grew up on 35 mmm cameras, like many reading this blog, I love the idea of owning a Leica, but the cost is prohibitive.  More realistically, I looked at alternatives and in early 2020, the release of the Fujifilm x100v came with positive reviews.  I did my homework and researched it. My decision was made after I looked at pictures people had posted and read reviews on the camera in the photographic magazines.

FujiFilm x100v buttons
FujiFilm x100v buttons

The Fujifilm x100v was waiting for me on Christmas day morning.  I unboxed it and started taking pictures.  With a new camera, I oscillate between starting to take pictures and reading the camera manual.  There are a few internet articles and YouTube videos that got me started.  One of the first differences was the position of the buttons compared to my Canon and Sony.  The tactile feel of the buttons gave me more control of my picture taking.  The buttons are traditional analogue designs and not digital.  Gradually I got the hang of the camera and then starting to use it in serious mode.  I read the manual more and more discovering even more buttons! 

I tried out the different colour settings and settled on the weak chrome colour.  Using the camera in aperture priority, I worked through the options.  My first pictures were a little hit and miss but the jpg quality began to impress me.  My confidence grew and it started to come most places with me.  In the morning whilst walking the dog, it proved to be a useful camera to record details on the high street especially during lockdown.  It is not a replacement to the big camera (Canon D5-mkIV) but it certainly does its job of delivering remarkable pictures.

What I like
In no particular order, here are my favourite things about this compact camera. 

  • The flash settings are easy to use and understand.  It gives good portrait pictures with the flash on.  This is quite something considering it is a camera mounted flash.  I use a manual setting of 1/64 sec often for a fill in.  The flash does not create many red eyes either.
  • The exposure compensation button is easy to understand and is set up next to your thumb.  I found this very useful and quick to select.
  • Some may consider it a gimmick, but the selective colour is so easy to set up and use.  If there was one fun element to the camera then this is it.
  • The double exposure is straightforward and offers three settings depending on which picture you choose to be the main feature of the setting.
  • The jpgs are stand alone, high quality and need little adjustment.
  • The back controls are easy to use and the tilted screen allows for flexibility in the framing of the pictures you take.  This includes being able to get down low.
FujiFilm x100v
FujiFilm x100v weather proofing at a price and convenience.

Customisation
The camera is also cool to customise.  I added a thumb rest and changed the strap.  I did add a shoot button but then found it much better for my shooting technique when the button was clear. The pictures also show a half case for the lower half of the camera body.

What I do not like

  • Connectivity is poor over the wireless and the app design is poor.  So one is reaching for the iPhone if you wish to quickly upload pictures to BBC weather watchers or want to get that picture sent to family and friends as soon as possible.
  • It required an extra £100 to add the weather proofing and then I could not use the Fujifilm lens cover that came with the camera. So ended up having a black plastic cover! I wish I had brought the NiSi weather proofing as then I could have used the original silver camera cap that came with the camera.
  • It took time to work out the focussing and the switching between the settings.  This is maybe the learning curve that I have got to get through including using the manual more.

Best Pictures

Canal bridge at Acocks Green
Canal bridge at Acocks Green

My first picture that I published with the camera.  It is a canal bridge in Acocks Green, Birmingham.  Catching the two people under the arch added interest.

Hatton Locks
Hatton Locks

Hatton locks – All the lines caused by railings around the lock made for an interesting pattern in black and white.  I did have the traditional picture of a boat going through a lock, but this was more intriguing.

Takeaway reflection
Takeaway reflection

Takeaways are doing well in the Pandemic and here is one customer on their way home.  I was able to get down low for the reflections (the picture was published in the Amateur Photographer letters’ page)

The Night Train to Birmingham
The Night Train to Birmingham

The night train to Birmingham taken on a very cold night on the Dorridge footbridge.  There is much to see and discuss and the colours and light add to the atmosphere.  All picked up by the camera. The picture reminded me of the following song.
Down on the night train,
feel the starlight steal away,
Use up a lifetime looking for the break of day
Night Train – Steve Winwood 1980

family portrait
Family support bubble

The Support bubble of daughter and grandson and the camera produces some good details on portrait pictures

Dandelion Clock
Dandelion Clock

I was going to take a landscape photograph and came away with this dandelion clock.  This is cropped from a much larger picture and then edited in Black and White.  The effect is quite nice but the detail that remains after heavy cropping is amazing.

Detail of the Low Lighthouse at Burnham on Sea
The red stripe of the Low Lighthouse at Burnham on Sea. Love the colours and the details.
Gas Street Basin, Birmingham
Boats in Gas Street Basin, Birmingham

This picture is of the boats in Gas Street Basin and processed to bring out the colour. It is not designed to be a landscape camera but it manages such a scene very well.

Where did I buy it from WexPhotoVideo and their service is good. I am not receiving anything for saying this either!