A first person review of Vangaurds VEO 265AB V1 & V2 tripod being used in the field.

DISCLAIMER: This review has taken over a year,  and was accomplished using an example of the item reviewed that was on loan from the store i work at,  www.southerncameras.co.nz, and completed using an example i purchased at retail prices.  I have not received any form of compensation for the writing of this review and I am not directly affiliated to Vanguard or its associated distributors and this review contains my own thoughts and experiences using the tripod.

First a little background.

Tripods, they are an item most photographers do not really think too much about, unless they are serious about subjects that hand holding is not a practical way of stabilizing the camera. Subjects like Night landscape photography or other subjects where the exposure times can be measured in seconds or minutes rather than fractions of a second.

Those who want a tripod for the majority its an important issue, and most just want a tripod and anything that will hold a camera will suffice, but others it is a pretty major piece of equipment and have high demands, such as it is for me.

I have a tripod already, but it is massive, heavy and pretty cumbersome to move and use. It has a fluid head which is great for video with a big camera on it, but when it comes to moving it around, at 3kg without a payload on it, its bulky and annoying, so many times it gets left behind.

I have some reasonably tough demands for a tripod, it has to be:

Small, compact

Easy to travel with

Have a ball head


and the big kicker it needs to have a big payload rating of 6kg+

Why the big payload capacity i hear you ask, well for those who know me, i have a pretty diverse range of cameras that get used, from small compact cameras to a couple of big heavy  Medium Format Film cameras and lots inbetween.

For me, the Medium format is a major requirement for me, loaded with film, batteries, and a lens, my MF cameras weigh in at around 3kg so having more than double their weight as a payload rating gives plenty of leeway and over capacity so there is not too much stress on the legs, or head of the tripod.

I have been looking for a while now, and most of what i want in a tripod would mean i would have been looking at brands such as Manfrotto and Gitzo so they would be in the NZ$1000+  price range. We recently started getting Vanguard bags and tripods in stock here at Musselburgh Pharmacy/Southern Cameras.  I have a Vanguard bag, and it is fantastic, I have recommended a couple of different Vanguard tripods to friends for their lighter DSLR’s and they have been impressed with the quality and usability of their Vanguard models.

The Review bit

One that caught my eye is the VEO 265AB, this aluminium tripod has 5 section legs, with retractable rubber feet that reveal spikes for on soft surfaces such as grass. folded up it measures just 390mm (15.4 inches) with ball head attached, yet at full extension it is 1500mm (59 inches) tall, the legs have 3 positions, for low angles,  and the ball head has a bubble level, and arca swiss type plate for easy attachment and balancing of the camera, and best of all, a light weight of 1.68kg, with a payload of 8kg, all for an RRP of $299

I was keen to see how this tripod would handle a day in the field,  and one  of the cameras to be a Medium format SLR camera.  As luck would have it, i was heading about 140Km from home here in Dunedin, to a little country airfield called Mandeville, which is a little west of the town of Gore here in Southern NZ. The airfield is home to the Croydon aviation company and their world class DeHavilland restoration facility. They hold a small fly in every year, and this year it was the final stop for the great Tiger Moth rally of NZ so the airfield had a number of visiting airplanes, plus traction engines and its always a nice relaxed day with a little flying involved as well.
I borrowed our demo example for the weekend, and took it, with my Olympus OM-D E-M1, and my Pentax 645 Medium format  SLR with me to give the VEO 265 AB a workout and see if it would really hold a big camera like the 645 and be stable.

Transporting the VEO 265 is easy as,  when folded for travel, it is so small and light, it easily fit the pocket on my Vanguard bag that is designed for tripods,  so much so, i actually forgot i was carrying it for a little bit when I arrived on the airfield and left the car parking area. It was only when one of my companions on the trip asked if the tripod was for show or was i going to actually use it.

Setting up is a breeze, the Mk 1 version i tested at the time had click locks on the legs to set heights, which were solid without being a pain to use, and the legs extend out really easily. On the example i purchased early in 2018, the tripod has been upgraded, and now uses a twist lock arrangement for extending the legs which makes adjusting the legs a lot easier in my use.  With the folding center column extended, the tripod is a shade over 1500mm tall which when the 645 was on it made it a little over 1600mm tall. Personally I am 6ft tall so i didnt have to bend down too far to look into the viewfinder.

VEO2265AB2The Legs are multi position, and open out to be nearly flat, this combined with an included short center section give the VEO 2 265 the ability to be nearly ground level as per the image

With the Tripod set up,  the arca style quick release  top plate makes it super easy to mount to a camera and slide the plate into position for balance. The included head is not large, and neither is the plate, it is a small square plate, that measures 1.5×1.5 inches, which on a smaller System like the Micro 4/3 Olympus is a perfect size, but with a larger camera like the Pentax 645, is just a little small and makes balancing a larger camera a little tougher though it is achievable.

One of the good things with this head, is that the arca style plate and grip is a pretty common 1.5″ width,  and with many other tripods out on the market using this plate design, finding a longer plate is pretty easy.

Small details like the little lug on the head that provides a backstop for the plate, so you can slide it front to back to achieve balance and not worry that the plate is going to slide off the head,  there is also a spirit level on the head for getting the head level, but there is no level on the legs, sometimes that would a great thing as you can level the legs, and its easily seen still if there is a camera on the head.

In use with a camera mounted, the ball head is very easily controlled, with TB50H

large locking & Friction tabs so if an adjustment is needed while you are looking

through the viewfinder, its a piece of cake to turn the lock knob, make the adjustment and re-lock in place.

I had the 645 on the tripod for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours, and when i wanted to move places i just simply folded the legs in, picked it up and carried it on my shoulder with everything locked in place the camera didn’t move at all, put the tripod down, reset the legs if needed, take photo, repeat.

Consequently after my own purchase it has been used with great success, even with exposures exceeding 2 minutes and been superb and the handling even at night & in the cold has exceeded my expectations.

Overall, its been a wise decision personally, and i highly recommend it.


The ease of use, great payload capacity and compactness of the tripod make it a great choice for travelers and those who want a light, compact tripod that will handle a DSLR with a largish telephoto lens attached, the  cons are not really cons as they are easily overcome.




Great Payload rating of 8kg

Easy to transport due to the compact folded size

Super low at widest leg settings yet 1.5m tall at full extension.

The ball head is a joy to use with big friction locks an tabs,

Great value ($299.95NZ)


The plate could be a little longer to take advantage of the payload when using  a                       larger body,  no spirit level on the legs


4.5 out of 5  SD cards out of 5


Following on from my last post about the hype that surrounded the Nikon Z system, Canon & Fujifilm have in the last few days released new models as well.

Canon have released their EOS R Mirrorless system, R for Revolution apparently, and on first glance at the specs it seemed ok… 30 Megapixel Full Frame Sensor with 500 of AF points, 4K/30 video,  UHS-II SD Card support,  28-70mm f2, 50mm f1.2, 35mm and 24-105mm lenses on launch plus the R-EF Adapter for using EF lenses… That unfortunately is where the excitement ended pretty rapidly for me.

The Camera sensor is actually the same 2+ year old sensor from the EOS 5D IV, with some new AF Points overlaid on the PDAF.  The 4K/30p video, uses a 1.8x CROP of the sensor to capture the video, so you loose all the advantages of the FF sensor, and drops the CODEC rate from 4:2:2 to 4:2:0 and even then that is only with an external recorder, not internally to the memory card! Video shooters will ‘love’ the fact that the 28-70mm f2 lens when shooting the cropped 4K video have a 50-126mm f2.6 lens NOT what the customer wanted when the lens is $3K USD
AND on the subject of video, where even the low end of camera makers systems like Panasonic’s Lumix G series cameras shoot 1080p at 120fps, the EOS R is 1080p/60fps to get 120fps you have to DROP the resolution to 720p  COME ON CANON its 2018 not 2014!

Heck even Olympus who are a video lightweight offer better 4K video on their models than what the EOS Regression uses…

For stills shooters, things are not all that fabulous either if you want to shoot a little action or movement,  The Continuous shooting using C-AF a HORRIBLE and 5 years ago ok 5fps, turn of the C-AF and it jumps to a ‘blistering’ 8fps.. again, not that great for a 2018 model camera

The other major thing missing is IBIS, In Body Image Stabilization, why Canon do not use it  I do not know,  i guess management are still of the opinion that IBIS is not good, Lens based still better and they are protecting all the EF IS lenses out there, when every, and I mean EVERY other major player in the photography game uses some form of IBIS in their cameras. Heck IBIS has been in DSLR Cameras since the mid noughties with Konica Minolta Dynax, Pentax & Olympus DSLR cameras, Sony pioneered it in Full frame cameras with the A900. Panasonic and now Nikon use it as well.  Panasonic & Olympus have taken the IBIS & Lens IS to the next level by using both Lens IS & IBIS together with certain lenses and bodies to gain even more…

To me the EOS R is Canon reacting to everyone else, releasing a camera that will appeal to some, while at the same time not offering what is available in their high end C series  or EOS 1Dx2 video product.

On the other hand, Fujifilm continue their constant improvement and innovation of their X series with the announcement of the X-T3, this companion model to the X-T2, sits below the X-H1 in the model range, but offers a NEW 26 megapixel, Backside Illuminated X-Trans CMOS sensor, and processor unit. This thing looks really really impressive, with 11fps with C-AF, and upto 30fps using the electronic shutter (although this does apply a 1.2x crop to the sensor) But for video shooters this looks AMAZING!  Full sensor 4K/60fps video with 10 bit readout in a 4:2:2 to the SD card AND External recorder via HDMI,  1080p/120fps, 5 Axis IBIS, and all the modern requirements including a headphone jack so audio recording can be heard while its happening and controlled!

Also the X-T3 will shoot stills at 11fps uncropped and uncompressed, or using an electronic shutter with a resolution reduction up to 30fps…

Fuji have taken the video side very seriously with this new model, and that should worry the likes of Canon, because Fujifilm make some damn good product, and if the X-T3 out performs the new EOS R and others it could be a very very handy camera.
Trust me, this is a seriously good looking camera, and tempting for me personally, as much as I LOVE my Micro 4/3 system,  this looks super impressive, though the downer for me is the price of the Fuji X lenses, while they constantly test and review well, they are expensive, for example, as a sports shooter, i need 300mm+ focal lengths, Fuji only has one lens longer than 300mm,  the XF 100-400mm, but it has an RRP of $3499.. Which by the time you add on a flash, battery grip, extra batteries, and say the 18-135mm lens, the kit is well up into FF territory against the likes of Sony’s A7III where Sony have a 70-300mm alternative that is about $1200 cheaper.

Fuji have a way to go to fill out their lens line, but the cameras look incredible!

This years Photokina is going to be interesting with a lot of rumors starting to fly around with what companies such as Panasonic, Pentax/Ricoh are going to unveil as well….

We see in Photography a massive amount of hype surround product releases

The next amazing lens,  out of this world body,  must have system,  the web is abundant with web pages dedicated to rumors and innuendo about upcoming cameras, lenses, accessories and the next big thing in the imaging world.  Many times sitting here reading new announcements i wonder if all the hype is justified…

Sifting through all this ‘insider’ information and speculation can be tough, there are some very good sites dedicated to the rumor and innuendo about the latest and greatest gear, and their rating of such things from probably wrong to it may as well be announced officially creates much anticipation.

Should we believe the hype or ignore it when it comes to the vast rumor mill of the internet??

With Nikon announcing a few weeks back that they would officially announce the long rumored FF Mirrorless system on August 23rd, and began a series of teasers that have done nothing to hint at specs apart from its full frame, and a new lens mount that the current F mount will work with via an adapter…

This has caused Nikon fan sites to go crazy with rumors and speculation of what the specs on the cameras as Nikon have hinted at a double body release on the 23rd.

I have had a few chuckles about all this noise on the web about finally one of the big legacy companies are going to take Sony down in the FF mirrorless world.  I don’t think it will happen easily, the Sony FE range are fantastic cameras and a lens range that is constantly expanding and showing it is mature will still cause Nikon & Canon cause for concern that they will have to have bodies that are instantly mature and the need to get native lenses out for the system early and regularly to compete with the Alpha series.
Do i think hype around many products is justified, not really, after all, what gear suits one person may not suit everyone else.  While i have been intrigued by all these new models and have thought about upgrades myself, I havent fallen in to the trap of doing so much reading and watching of internet reviews/tests etc that i have HAD to rush out and buy the latest and greatest.

I will wait for the Nikon system to be announced, see the specs, what the lens road map will look like and most importantly what pricing will be to see if it will be a genuine contender.

The Hype game generates so much interest and fuels G.A.S. so much that many new models, especially if the spec’s and initial reviews are really positive can cause problems such as demand exceeding supply because pre-orders are so massive that planned production runs are totally exceeded, or  cause early release of a model that is not fully tested and consequently early adopters find many a problem that pre-release testing should find but is missed due to pressures on getting the new model out of the factory and into users hands.

It also creates a bad thing for companies when products are released to early to satisfy demand, look at Hasselblad and its to early release of the X1D, sure it was firmware updates that have fixed the issues, but  better testing and feedback from field testers should have picked this up instead of Social media and internet chat complaining that the AF is poor or bad battery life etc etc etc.

For me, i think of old school rappers Public Enemy…  “Don’t—
Don’t believe the hype”

What happens when a company forgets about its legacy and what helped build it up.

It happens quite a lot really, most people unless they are users/followers of the companies products or services are not aware of things.

Most photographers have an awareness of photography’s well know brands, but mention to photographers legacy brands such as  Mamiya, Rollei, Minolta, Contax, Yashica, and many of those who are young enough to have only used digital will look at you blankly, but those who grew up and were into photography pre digital, or those young hipsters who have gotten into the analogue photography because it is retro cool to use old film cameras will give you a little wry smile, or lovingly tell you about a camera that got away.

Same goes with film, mention a brand like Kodak,  Fujifilm, Ilford to a photographer and they will have most likely shot one of many many films and have some fond memories or smile when they tell you they still shoot this emulsion that emulsion. Mention other brands like Agfa, Konica, Ferrania, and other smaller companies, and many will have a think and a story about a film they used to shoot and why they liked to shoot it.
Sure the digital revolution in photography has forced mergers, seen many legacy photographic companies disappear entirely. Names such as Minolta,  Yashica,  Mamiya, have all but disappeared due to the fast change of technology and not being able to keep up. Probably the most famous photography company to suffer this was Kodak, who filed for bankruptcy protection in the mid 2000’s because at the time many of the exec’s in the company did not believe that digital imaging would take off and become as common place as it did. Why did they not believe?  Film had been the staple of photographers for well over a century. Heck Kodak engineers are the ones who actually created digital imaging, but the execs did not want to disturb the cash cow of film, most people had cameras, and they put film in it, went and got the film processed at a lab using most likely kodak paper and chemicals,  and replaced the exposed film with a Kodak film. The board at the time felt that this captive market could be jepordised by these fancy digital cameras so Kodak never really pursued it.

Fast forward a few years, and Kodak despite releasing a plethora of cameras, then accessories such as printers and sharing docks, never were really a major force in the digital world, and as film sales plummeted and the new digital cameras never became a major success Kodak’s golden ways turned sour.  Sure Kodak did have some hits during this time, making sensors/backs  for Medium format systems such as Contax, Mamiya and Hassleblad,  and even their own DSLR’s with the Pro 14 series which were pretty good cameras that used either a Nikon F or Canon EF lens mount, they weren’t enough to protect from years of losses.

As Digital cameras took over, especially in the pro world,  Kodak discontinued many popular and well loved film emulsions. Emulsions such as EktaChrome, EliteChrome, AeroChrome and others stopped being produced because the demand for them virtually dried up overnight, or in the case of KodaChrome, the processing method used to develop the film was tricky, and not very friendly to the environment, and as demand for it dried up labs closed the line down and got rid of the equipment to process it. The last lab in the world closed down its KodaChrome processor at the end of 2010 ending a near 75 year run, that was popular with famous photographers, and even spawned a hit record in Paul Simon’s KodaChrome. This left only a few films, mainly consumer grade films such as the popular Kodak Gold range, and Black & White films such as Tri-X & T-Max on the market when Kodak Filed for Bankruptcy.

5 years after declaring bankruptcy, Kodak emerged from Bankruptcy protection, with several different divisions.

Kodak’s film division, although they had stopped producing many emulsions,  kept the recipie’s and as people began to rediscover analogue photography, emulsions such as Ektar and Portra have been reformulated and continued to be produced in a way that retains all the charm of why they were popular films, plus the added value of they are now are easier to be scanned and produce beautiful digital files.

One of the big surprises has been a group of major Hollywood directors, who after shooting some of the biggest movies in memory completely on digital formats, went to Kodak and asked for motion picture film stocks, and lots of it.

Digital motion picture making while fantastic, you get left with masses of data, and in technology where data languages and formats change regularly, the ability to transfer Petaflops of data for a major motion picture from one format to another and from one storage medium to another is always a risk that something will get corrupted.

Film stock on the other hand, offers a well known ability to survive, and with modern temperature and humidity controlled storage facilites, the shelf life of film is measured in decades,  and you just have to look at how many times classic films have been re-released on different formats over the years as technology improves.  Classics such as Gone with the Wind have been remastered and released on VHS, DVD, BluRay and has even been remastered in 4K UHD recently. Lets see if an all digital movie that was shot in Full HD or 4k get remastered in 75 years in a better resolution…..

Recent major motion pictures such as the last 3 Star Wars films, La La Land have been shot on film stock then digitized for distribution.

One of the side benefits of this resurgance in film has been Kodak’s  embracing of their legacy, and as the motion picture makers demand for film goes up again, and the look that a director wants, films are being recreated, Kodak made the announcement in mid 2017 that they are reviving the classic EktaChrome transparency film, and may bring back KodaChrome in the future if they can reformulate it in todays tougher environmental conditions.

It’s not just Kodak bringing films back to market either,  There are numerous small companies who have purchased formulations for classic films, and have started to reproduce films again as well.  Some companies like Lomography, who started producing the Holga & Diana cameras years ago, have expanded to film as well, with Color, Black and white, even transparency films in classic 35mm & 120 PLUS the compact 110 cartridge formats too.  Crowd funding has seen Italian Legend Film Ferrania survive and films are being developed again as we speak. Plus there are a whole heap of small independent companies releasing films such as CineStill,  and popular analogue photographers such as Bellamy Hunt aka the Japan Camera Hunter or Kosmo Photo’s Stephen Dowling have released film under their own brands proving that like Vinyl records, Film Photography is growing again.

On the other side of this coin, the other major film producer left after the digital revolution, Fujifilm,  have discontinued a large number of films in 35mm, 120, 220, 4×5  not only in their pro ranges, but also in their consumer market films.

Well liked film stocks such as Natura 1600, Superia Venus 800,  ‘pro packs’ such as the 5 roll packs of Velvia 50, Velvia 100, Provia 400, Pro 160NH, Pro 400,  most of the consumer Superior ranges in multi packs, leaving single roll packs of most emulsions.

But Fuji have also confirmed rumors that they are exiting Black & White photography with the announcement that by October 2018 they will cease production of B+W papers, and the popular Acros 100ASA B+W film in 35mm and 120 formats.

Fuji’s films have always been well loved, and their heritage and legacy films are still in demand ( i have purchased 110 cartridge film that is discontinued and expired several years ago because it was so nice)  but Fujifilm seem to be hellbent on forgetting their legacy in film and are moving to discontinued as many films as possible to focus on the Instax instant films and Digital lines, and they do not seem to care that people want to shoot emulsions such as Velvia, Acros & Provia.

Its amazing to see what different companies see in their heritage, and the differences in cultures.  Kodak, the quintessential American company, have huge pride and respect for their heritage and want to keep it alive as long as they can, and by listening to their customer bases are doing just that and growing again.
Where Fujifilm, have a completely different view, to me, it seems that while they acknowledge the legacy of their past, they see no point in clinging on to it and keeping it alive, and are laser focused on the the road in front of them and past successes are just that, in the past, and despite the growing rumbles from their customers who use these legacy products, are ending them.
I think that being able to use older methods and use film is a blessing for photographers learning as you have to be careful, and look for things that may not work,. and also be careful with your exposure and aperture settings as it is not so easy to correct in post processing. Plus it also gives a tangible result, you have that negative/transparency that will with care last a long long time.

Personally, I learned photography 20+ years ago shooting film cameras. I went totally digital in 2006 and shot exclusively digital for 8 years. Now I shoot film AND digital. My main film camera is a 1985 Pentax 645 Medium Format SLR camera, it is manual focus, tops out at 1.1 frames a second for speed, its a slow process to make an image, AND i only get 16 frames from a roll of film, but shooting modern film in it, then scanning that negative with a little care, i can generate a negative that is over 100 megapixels in size that i can work with and print beautiful images from.

I have used my film camera while on a paid job, as the client wanted what the film stock delivered and it compliments the digital workflow i use.

I never forgot my legacy while shooting digital, and now that i shoot both, i have embraced it as well as looking to the future, and Many companies in today’s current world should do the same too….



To the R&D teams at Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and other Lens manufacturers.

I am writing with a request/plea that i am sure many others have made in the past when it comes to lenses for users of MILC systems like Micro 4/3, Sony E/FE & Fuji X systems.    WE NEED MORE ZOOM TYPE LENSES AND LARGE TELEPHOTO LENSES!

A little background about me,  I am a passionate sport & action photographer who uses a Micro 4/3 system as my primary tool, i have been toying with the idea of a brand swap, but to Sony FE system and not a Canon or Nikon DSLR system.  Yes i primarily shoot action and sport, and NO i do not want to go back to a DSLR, why?  Well, the primary thing is size and weight of a mirrorless system, my current micro 4/3 setup is a wide angle – short tele zoom. and a tele zoom of 75-300mm, and a small tele zoom of 45-150mm, between the 3 lenses, my 35mm equiv is 24-600mm, which body, lenses, and battery grip combine to weigh 1.6kg and its reasonably compact as well, which means to go and hike or ride a bike into the middle of a forest rally stage or if i am on an airfield for days at an airshow, mirrorless makes a lot easier to carry, and hold for long periods of time as i have back and shoulder issues that to carry a DSLR system that even goes to 600mm would be near agony by the end of the day.  I LOVE my MILC system, but there is one thing that annoys me, lack of lens options for sport, action & wildlife photographers.

To Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, you all produce lenses that are available for this type of photographer, BUT they are all only on legacy DSLR mounts..

Sigma, your Global vision lenses are amazing.

Tamron, your G2 lenses are also in the amazingly good class

and Tokina, you guys have been solid for years

But you have not spent any time to offer a decent selection of lenses for the Mirrorless class of cameras that have rapidly gained popularity in recent years for many users of these cameras we have been left out with new lens announcements from your respected and trusted brands as all of the large zoom/telephoto lenses are Canon, Nikon mount, with Pentax following up at a later date.

Sigma’s offerings for Sony E & micro 4/3 users to date have been pretty poor  in that you have produced 3 lenses to be available in these mounts, all have been wide angle or short primes! Yes you have announced 2 more lenses, but again they are wide angle primes!!!!!!!!   I WANT TELEPHOTO LENSES!!!

I can hear Sigma saying now… Sony users can use our MC-11 adapter with the global vision DSLR lenses..  I don’t want an adapted lens where there is more to fail… I and many others want NATIVE mounts for each… Heck Sigma, you are part of the 4/3 alliance group, AND you used to produce lenses for 4/3 system cameras… including the 50-500mm!

Tamron and Tokina, even worse, a single solitary lens offering from each of you…, Heck even Voigtlander have more lens options than Tamron, Tokina AND Sigma…

I know i want to see a 150-600mm, 100-400mm type lens to be available in Micro 4/3 or Sony E/FE and even Fuji X mounts simply to see more choice for users like myself as we are stuck with so few options its tough.  If a Micro 4/3 user wants a lens longer than 300mm, there is 1… yes ONE a single solitary offering in lenses over 300mm in focal length, and that is the Panasonic  Leica Vario Elmar DG 100-400mm f4-6.3, Sony users have the FE 100-400mm GM lens,  Fuji X users, again a SOLITARY option…

Sigma, Tamron, you both have 400mm + class lenses that i am damn sure that if you made available to Sony E, Micro 4/3 and Fuji X users would clammer for them with such vigour that the ridiculous prices for the solitary options for each group would be reduced rapidly..

I know there are many frustrated users out there wanting such lenses, i just hope other listen, and others join the chorus of hope


Ok,  you have purchased a camera, some film and you have shot a few rolls of film through the camera what next? What do i do with these films now?

First step is to get the film processed. If the film is a Color Negative or Black & White Negative film, this is still pretty easy as most labs still process these regularly. If it is a color transparency/slide film then they are a bit tougher as labs equipped to process this are getting fewer.

Color negative film being the most common film is simple, take it to your local lab or lab agent, and get it processed, most labs will process the film, and give you the option of develop only, develop with prints and develop with a digital file/cd of the negatives.

Personally, because i have a flatbed scanner at home that does a fabulous job of scanning negatives, so i just go for the develop only option and scan the negatives at home.  However, if you do not have a scanner at home, then i do recommend the develop and scan options.  This gives you both the negative, and a digital copy of the negatives, so if you want prints, you can use the digital files and take advantage of digital print specials that crop up, or post the pics online.

One thing about the lab scanning the negs is check what resolution images they will supply.

The lab we use here at Southern Cameras is pretty good in that they offer 4 different resolution scan options from a small scan designed for 4×6″ print output to a super high resolution that will allow prints up to 12×18 inches or the equivalent of a 20 megapixel image.

At home for scanning, I use my Canon CS9000F II flat bed, with the supplied Canon scan masks. The supplied masks allow upto 10 35mm negative frames, or 4  mounted 35mm slides, or a strip of 120 roll film that depending on the format of the camera will allow 4  645 frames, 3 6×6 frames or a couple of 6×9 frames.

When I am scanning 645 negs for example, i set my scanner to scan at the highest possible resolution which is 9600dpi. If i leave the output at 100% that gives me a scan of over 10,500 pixels on the longest side for an equivalent of around 110 megapixels! The down side is that this makes the files extremely large, with a JPEG image being up to 200mb EACH!   But generally i turn the output down to around 75%, this still gives an scan of around 7900 pixels on the longest side of an image and produces enough detail to deliver superb prints at 12×18 and larger if needed.

If you are shooting Black & White film, you can send it in to a lab for processing, or process it yourself at home.

Processing at home does require a smallish outlay of $$$ for some equipment, plus chemicals. But all in all it is not actually a difficult process.

Processing B+W film at home is worthy of a post on it’s own, and i think for the moment i am going to go deeper in to that in a future post.

After the film is returned, or processed,  I add the film to my archive, i have an app for my phone that i record details of the film into, and when i scan the film, i create a separate folder for each film, named with the type of film, and what number of that type i have used. In the folder is a txt document with the film details, number, what camera it was shot with, dates shot, who processed it.

The scanned film is then put into a negative file, and the page number is recorded with the film date, type and code number  on the files index page.

If i need to print i go to the computer, get the file and send it to the lab to be printed, or if needed i edit the image, or re-scan to a new resolution to print from.



Ok, so you have made the decision to get on to the Analogue photography train, either for the first time or you are getting back on to it after spending time in the digital world, and after much thought and research, a camera has been purchased, lenses (if you have gone SLR or Rangefinder ILC) but now the big thing is what film do i shoot, or for returning photographers, what film is still around?

The latter part of the question is most definitely relevant to many as over the last 15 years we have seen many classic films disappear from basic 35mm colour negative films to legends like Kodachrome.

For probably the best list of what films are still available, check out Kosmo Photo’s blog for the list  PART 1 and PART 2    Though i am sure that the list is not complete yet…

Colour or Black & White?

The age old question among photographers.. do i shoot colour or black and white?   This is a question i have never been able to fully answer myself, so personally, i shoot both because a lot of things i like are in colour, but some things also look amazing in black and white too,  quite often i will carry a couple of cameras, one loaded with B+W and one loaded with colour film.

Colour film is the standard, it has been now for so many years, why? because it is still easily processed commercially by the majority of photo labs.


Troops on Tank, Colour negative film scanned,


P-40 at rest,  Lomography 400ASA B+W film

Black and white film gives that gorgeous look that can be moody and intense, or light and playful, plus most labs can still process it, or you can process it at home with reasonably basic facilities.

In the colour film world, Fuji films are known for their punchy/vibrant greens and blues,  whereas Kodak had gorgeous Yellow and red tones, even among one brands range of films, looks can be different. For example, Kodak Portra is well know for really nice pleasing skin tones, but Ektar is bright and vibrant, and the legendary Kodachrome film had a look all its own that even spawned a hit song by the famous songwriter and photographer Paul Simon.

Black & White films are generally regarded on their grain structure and also the tonal range,  some films have gained legendary status, while others do not get the recognition that is deserved. The other reason B+W film  is so popular, it’s easy to develop at home!

Films like Ilford PanF have a following among landscape photographers with its 50ASA rating, it has super fine grain, and allows massive prints to be made with excellent tonal range that will deliver deep rich blacks, but still deliver crisp whites. I personally have used PanF 50 and printed 20×24″ prints from a 35mm negative that looked stunning.PanF

Yet also from Ilford the HP5+  is a 400ASA film that delivers superb tone, with a bit more grain, but still very well controlled for printing.

Kodak’s Legendary Tri-X and T/Max films give black and white shooters fine grain production, but superb tonal ranges that street and portrait shooters love.TriX

One other Black & White film that deserves a mention here is the Ilford SFX200, this 200ASA film is an extended red film,  this gives some gorgeous effects, especially when combined with filters can deliver some stunning images

Another film type is Transparency Film, aka Slide film.. Slide film reproduces images as they are colour wise, they are not a negative like normal film, so this means instead of reversed colours, the colours are as they should be. The big thing with Slide film is that it requires a different process to develop them, and this process is a bit more complicated and expensive than a traditional colour film, and here in NZ at least, there are few labs that can process it in house (our lab service is one though) although you can cross process many slide films for a different look…

Among the well known Slide films, Fujifilm produce Velvia in 50 & 100ASA speeds, and Provia in 100ASA, and there are others by small companies such as Lomography, Rollei and others.

Kodak currently have no Slide film available, but have had some of the most well known slide films in EktaChrome and Kodachrome, Kodacrhome was discontinued in the mid 2000’s as it was pretty difficult to process and by the early 2000’s there was only one lab in the world who processed it. Ektachrome on the other hand, was more easily processed and the main process is still available in labs around the world.  Ektachrome was a staple of National Geographic photographers for many many years.
Motion Pictures were shot using transparency films, and even now a number of major motion picture directors still shoot film and have committed to shooting the medium even for major Hollywood pictures.Ektachrom12

As a result of major movies being shot on film, and a revival of analogue photography, earlier in 2017 Kodak announced that they would be bringing Ektacrhome back in 100ASA  for 35mm still and super 8 movie cameras.

The other neat thing is that there are lots of companies out there releasing films as well, companies such as Film Ferrania, Kosmo Foto,  Lomography, Rollei, Agfa, Godox , Revolog, Cinestill, JCH and Fomopan to name  a few.
So as much as people say Analogue photography is dead, i personally beg to differ, not only is it still alive and kicking, but it is getting stronger again!

My best advice on choosing film, buy lots of different film, shoot it all, process it and see how it comes out and if you like it, shoot it again!



Ok, you have made the decision to go and shoot film, now the question is what camera do i want to use??  This makes decisions rather tough, as there are so many different cameras out there that do so many things and so many legendary cameras.  Rephrase the question & it will help your decision making.  Also what film format will also dictate camera choice too..

A better question to ask yourself, what sort of photography do i want to use this camera for?

The Choices:

SLR, TLR, Compact, Rangefinder, Interchangable lenses… Just some of the choices

Personally, when stepping back to film, i had decided to shoot medium format film, but then i also decided i wanted to shoot either 6×6 or 6×4.5,  and use it for landscape and or portrait, this narrowed my choices quite a bit.

The next  question would be do i want to have the ability to change lenses? Have changable film packs?

for me, i wanted Interchangable lenses, and the ability to have swappable film packs, again this narrowed down my choices, and took out cameras like Pentax 67, Fuji GX. Roleiflex & YashicaMat TLR’s.

This left me with still a large range of cameras to choose from, including Mamiya, Bronica, Pentax 645, Hasselblad.

The other major question to ask yourself, budget.. How much do i want to spend?

This is also a critical question, as setting your budget will also eliminate particular models and or brands from the search field.

For me, when i set my budget, it took out late model Pentax 645N & 645NII cameras, late model Mamiyas with AF,  and RZ cameras, plus pretty much every Hasselblad.

I ended up getting super lucky when a customer offered a Bronica S2a kit, it had everything i was looking for, multiple lenses, multiple backs and the price was right where i was looking.


Bronica S2a

The big thing with the Bronica, its a big heavy camera that while portable, still took a bit to move around.
Asking yourself questions about how you want to do things, what specs you want to have, all make searching for cameras easier.
If i wanted to get into street photography, a big MF camera would not be a good thing as they are pretty conspicuous,  so a 35mm camera can be a much better option, and again going down the 35mm route, there are plenty of questions, Changeable lenses? built in metering? Auto Focus?  Auto wind? SLR or Rangefinder or Compact? do you want to be discrete or not?


Minolta Dynax AF SLR

Answering these questions, in any combination could give you a really good camera, and again the budget thing will play a critical part in the decision making,  no point in looking for something like a Leica M6 and Summicron glass when your budget is in the low to mid hundreds range. ( a quick look on ebay revealed M6’s sell anywhere from around $1500NZ up! and good summicron glass is similarly price) but if you are wanting a rangefinder and prepared to hunt around, then take a look at Voigtlander Bessa cameras? many were built with the Leica Screw mount or even the Leica M mount,  and prices are not as expensive as the Leica’s.m3

wanting a 35mm SLR, then the choices are massive, but you generally cannot go wrong looking at classic’s like the Pentax K1000, Pentax ME Super, Pentax LX, Nikon FM2, F2/F3/F4, Original Olympus OM-1/2/4/10 Canon AE-1,  Minolta X300, XG or any number of other cameras.


Pentax K1000

Compact cameras are the same, the choices are vast, everything from Olympus Trip to compact Leica’s and Contax’s  it all depends on what you want to use it for, and how much you want to spend.

Personally, i started looking for a discrete camera but didnt want to shoot 35mm, luckily i discovered 110 cartridge film was back in production, so i started looking, and found a Pentax Auto 110, this is cool, it is a proper interchangable lens SLR and the kit i eventually found had 2 lenses and a flash…  this is the ultimate in discrete cameras as the whole camera with 24mm lens fits in the palm of my hand, i can put it in a pocket, and shooting with 2 lenses and the whole kit weighs under 500g.

There are heaps of choices, many many many good ones, it all comes down to the questions you ask yourself for what you want out of the camera, what style of photography you want to try.

So ive made the choice of what i am looking for, found the camera and its here…

What film do i use?



PART 1: Making the decision


For many shooting film is a part of photography that has gone the way of the Moa, its extinct.  But I love to tell people that it hasn’t become extinct, in fact, here at Southern Cameras we like many are seeing a revival of analogue photography, much like the Music industry is seeing a revival of Vinyl records. This is in thanks to a lot of photographers like myself who grew up using film, went digital, and become bored with digital, and the hipsters who have never shot a roll of film in their lives, and think it is cool to shoot retro film and fall in love for the slow pace and charm of film.

Hopefully this series of posts will help a little with making some decisions about getting into analogue photography. I will explain using my own experiences of getting back into film photography after a number of years shooting digital exclusively, and how i complement my digital work with my analogue work

For many who have never used film cameras, or thought about it, but do not know where to start, but another way to think about it, is what do i want to get out of shooting film, and what format do i want to shoot mainly?


For me when i started shooting film again, it came about because i became uninspired with the always perfect look of digital, the fact that i spent more time at airshows/motorsport events looking through the viewfinder or chimping and missing action, only to get home and spend way to much time sorting through thousands of frames and then spending hours in post processing to correct things and make it look perfect. (my record so to speak was capturing 7500 frames in a single day at an airshow and over 3 days a total of 19,500 frames)

The idea of shooting film for me, was to slow down and go back to my basics of photography which are to get as much right when shooting the image so i don’t have to spend hours in front of the computer.

What format do i want to shoot?

This got me thinking about what format of film i wanted to shoot mainly,  and after a thought process that i toyed with going to mainly 35mm film, i discounted it because i would be tempted to by a CaNikon or Pentax and buy a DSLR body as well which was not the aim for me.

This pretty much left Medium format, but here is where medium format gets a little tricky, unlike 35mm where the frame size is standard, Medium format offers flexibility the most common frame sizes are 6×9, 6×6, 6×7 or 6×4.5cm,  there are many cameras out there in Medium format land,  a few offer the ability to shoot a couple of those sizes, but they are rare and expensive. Most will stick to one frame size, and the same roll of film, depending on camera will give a photographer between 8 & 16 frames per roll.


Medium formats vs 35mm negative size

Why medium format, the negatives..  a small medium format negative is 6×4.5cm, this makes them approx 2x larger than a 35mm negative, and can provide some incredible detail and resolution when scanned  that will be larger than even the highest resolution 35mm DSLR sensor. That and there are LOTS of 120 roll films from many different manufacturers still available at reasonable prices, and most labs still process both color and black and white negs, plus a few can still do slide film as well.Ektar100TMAX4120

Another reason for going down the Medium format step instead of 35mm, well the big thing is i wanted to slow down my photo taking, no using machine gun like frame rates to capture 40 of 50 frames in 5 seconds, and 35mm felt too much like the mirrorless & DSLR cameras i have been using for the best part of a  dozen years. And most medium format cameras are manual, sure they have a light meter, but settings are still made manually, film is advanced manually on a large number and those that do have auto film advance do so at the not so rapid pace of 1 frame per second or even slower!

So decision made, i was returning to analogue/film photography, and going medium format, but what camera do i want to shoot with… this opened up another rather large question for me..

Next post… choosing a camera for you

Yes that is true, another legendary photographic name is now consigned to the history books..

Bowens,  the studio lighting company that produced some amazing lighting systems for studio, and on site portrait/product photographers has been shuttered by its investment group a little more than 1 year after they purchased it, thus ending 94 years in the photographic industry…..