The Golden Circle, Iceland.

Today, we took an organised trip around the well trodden path of The Golden Circle, which included a stop at Geysir, Gulfoss Falls and finally, and most interestingly to me a stop at Þingvellir National Park, which is one of the few places on the planet where you can see the Mid Atlantic Ridge above sea level.

 

 

New Photo Project

I’ve been fascinated by a series of cottages that I pass every day on the way to work since I moved to Bearwood a couple of years ago.  The cottages I pass are at at Longham, near Ferndown, and comprise two sets of semi-detached cottages, one of which was the old Longham Post Office, and a terrace of three cottages.  All are built in the same style, and looked like they might have been estate cottages, but I didn’t know any more than that.

Recently, I discovered that these cottages are locally known as “Lady Wimborne Cottages” when I discovered a book entitled “Lady Wimborne Cottages – The Story of the Canford Estate Cottages” in the local library.

The book suggests that there were 111 cottages originally built together with a number of other properties built in the same style.

I’ve decided that over the course of this year that I’m going to track down each of the remaining cottages and photograph them.

Apart from the above book, there is little information available on where the cottages are located, and I’ve managed to get quite good at identifying the buildings using Google Earth and the general location published in Pat Clark’s book.  So I’ve decided to write a separate page on this blog which is dedicated to the Lady Wimborne Cottages, and I also intend to pull together a custom Google Map showing the location of all the remaining cottages to help other hunters to locate them more easily.

Watch this space.

 

Canon EOS-M – One Month On

I’ve now owned my Canon EOS-M for about one month and thought that it was time I included some of the best shots I’ve taken and give a bit more of an opinion about this little camera.

Since getting the EOS-M, I’ve picked up the following pieces of equipment:

  • Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens
  • Viltrox EF to EF-M Adaptor
  • Canon FD to EF-M Adaptor (Unbranded eBay)

I’ve used the EOS-M with each of these pieces of equipment and have had enough time to form some proper opinions on the camera.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the image quality that this little camera delivers, and after basic processing, the results are virtually indistinguishable from the results I’m getting from the much more expensive EOS 70D.

Its true that the AF system is never going to give an SLR a run for its money, it is a bit sluggish and does struggle in low light, but with either of the STM lenses attached or even an EF lens with full time manual focus, it is easy enough to adjust the focus to roughly the right distance and the camera then normally locks on, failing that you can tweak the focus manually if the camera fails to lock on to the subject.

Manual focussing is a bit tricky, as there are no focus aids to assist you, and although you can zoom in by 5x and 10x this requires you to tap the magnifying glass logo on screen, which I don’t find all that easy to do when I’m trying to hold the camera steady. There is a way around this, although this involves installing the Magic Lantern firmware which adds a couple of focussing aids to let you know which parts of the image are in focus, but that does involve hacking the firmware, and will invalidate the warranty.

The EF-M 20mm f/2 STM lens is a real beauty, I’ve been very impressed with the results I’ve got from this lens, and the setup is really small, compact and unobtrusive, which is what I wanted from this camera. Since I’ve owned this lens its rarely been detached from the camera.

On the other hand, I have to confess to being rather disappointed with the Speedlite 90EX which is supplied with the kit. On a positive note, the flash is tiny, will act as a wireless Master Flash and is fully compatible with the standard wireless ETTL II and therefore works with my other Speedlite units. However, when it comes down to it, the flash is somewhat unpowered, only having a guide number of 9m.

In use, I’ve found the Speedlite 90EX to be insufficient unless you’re really close to your subject. It doesn’t have sufficient power to provide adequate fill in flash in daylight, and I find myself leaning towards a Nissin i40, though I need to save up for a while first. I have used the EOS-M with both both my Speedlite 550EX and 430EX, but both units are rather large for the EOS-M and make it rather top heavy.

An alternative I’m also considering is the Meike MK-310C, which is rather smaller than the Nissin i40, but has a fixed head, so is not quite as flexible as the i40 but for a price of about £50 it’s about three times more affordable than the i40.

After using this camera for a couple of full days of photography, I have found the battery life to be a bit on the short side. I guess this is only to be expected as its a relatively small battery, and unlike with an SLR, there is no alternative to using live view. The battery is rated at only 750mAh, but a quick search on Amazon revealed batteries by Opteka which claim 2000mAh and seem to get positive reviews and at only £15 each they’re affordable enough, so I’ll be getting a couple of them in the near future.

Overall, I have to confess that I’m falling for this little camera, and am feeling confident that when Manda and I go to Iceland in March that I’ll only be taking the EOS-M, though I’ll probably have a few of my EF lenses with me.

 

New Year Walk to Golden Cap

After going to the LeROC Axminster NYE party, Manda had to work on the 2nd Jan, so I took the opportunity to get out and about and decided to walk up Golden Cap.

I have to confess to carrying quite a few extra pounds after Christmas, and so I opted for the Cheats Route.  If you want to climb Golden Cap and don’t have the time or stamina to walk from Seatown, then you should park at the Langdon Hill Car Park, which I think costs 40p per hour, and walk south along the Gravel Track.  The footpath to Golden Cap is obvious and is much less strenuous than climbing up from further along the coast.

From Golden Cap, I’d recommend that you head west towards the ruined church in the secluded valley of Stanton St Gabriel. This secluded little contains a large thatched farmhouse called St Gabriel’s House, now split into a number of holiday cottages named after trees and called Ash, Beech, Elm and Oak Cottage and can be booked through National Trust Cottages., and the pretty whitewashed and thatched St Gabriel’s Cottage.

From Stanton St Gabriel you can walk back towards Langdon Hill without having to climb Golden Cap again and take a leisurely stroll around Langdon Wood and back to the car park.

From Langdon Wood, I headed to Charmouth for lunch, then back to West Bay via Whitchurch Canonicorum.

Visit to Arne

After a few days of enforced Christmas Cabin Fever, I managed to persuade Manda to come outside, and we took an afternoon trip to the RSPB Arne Nature Reserve near Wareham.

I decided to go armed just with the EOS-M, three lenses and the EF to EF-M lens adaptor.

I took the EF-M 22mm, the EF-M 18-55 and the EF 28-105 lens with the EF to EF-M adaptor.

I have to day that apart from the less than adequate battery life, I’m really growing to love this little camera. Here are the best of the photos from today.

Now that I’ve processed the images, I am very impressed with the quality that this little camera kicks out.

Canon EOS-M & EF-M 22mm STM Pancake Lens – First Shots

I’ve had the EOS-M for about a week now, and haven’t really had chance to play with it much.

I have to confess that with the 18-55mm kit lens attached the setup is still a bit bulky for my liking so I managed to get a EF-M 22mm f/2 pancake lens, which really brings this setup into its element.

Today, I spent my lunchtime at Titchfield Abbey, and fired off a few shots to test the setup.

I’m really pleased with the 22mm pancake lens, it’s lovely to use, really compact and light and judging from the shots below, really nice and sharp, see what you think.

Canon EOS-M – First Impressions

A few days ago, I made a bit of an impulse purchase of a Canon EOS-M kit from Argos.  I’ve been thinking about getting a CSC camera for a while, as although I’ve been carrying a Lumix TZ30 as a backup camera, I have to confess that I’m still reluctant to leave to SLR at home as I’m a bit of a control freak and don’t like not having the backup of shooting RAW files.

The EOS-M was released in 2012, and the camera with the original firmware was widely slated for having incredibly slow AF, though the image quality was impressive, and an adaptor was available to allow the use of EF or EFS mount lenses, although this makes the camera considerably more bulky.

When I last looked at the EF-M kit with 18-55mm lens and Speedlite 90EX flash, I’m sure that it was retailing for around £450 meaning that I just couldn’t justify investing in it.

However, lately I’ve been getting fed up with the bulk of the SLR kit when I go away on holiday or travelling, and seeing the same kit for £199 made me think about it again.

I did a fair bit of research beforehand and discovered that Canon issued v2.02 of the firmware which provided a considerable improvement to the AF speed, but also found that the Magic Lantern Firmware was available for the EOS-M (see separate post on Magic Lantern Firmware) so I decided to get myself one.

As stated above, the kit comes with the following:

  • Canon EOS-M Body;
  • Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens; and
  • Canon Speedlite 90EX.

I’d have preferred the kit version with also included the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens, but this wasn’t available at the time.

Although since purchasing this kit, the weather has been really dull and dreary, I’ve had a bit of a play around with the camera, and first impressions are good.  The camera body and lens feels solid, I was particularly surprised by the kit lens, which actually feels really nice, especially when compared to the rubbish kit lens that was supplied with the EOS 400D.

The flash is absolutely tiny, it has a guide number of 9, which is smaller than the pop-up flashes built into the EOS40D and EOS70D, but the hotshoe is compatible with standard Canon, and I’ve tested it with the Speedlite 430EX and 550EX, and both work well, though the look slightly ridiculous on such a small body.  What was a real surprise though was that the Speedlite 90EX acts as a master flash and will control other Wireless ETTL flashes, I also tested this briefly and found it to work well.

Overall, my first impressions have been good, and I am looking forward to testing the camera properly when we get some better light.  However, it is looking like I might leave the SLR behind when I next go on holiday.