Leica cameras are my workhorse tools for all types of photography, both digital Leica cameras and Leica film cameras. I also use medium format cameras such as Hasselblad and Mamiya (+ 4×5 large format cameras) and develop my film in house. The majority of the blog content is either Leica camera related or film photography. I photograph people; portraits, models, fashion, lifestyle, wedding photography so most of my photography is portraits, experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films. The digital Leica M240 camera is my do everything digital M camera but I shoot film whenever possible.
I used to write technical articles for UK photography magazines so I just share the same information here. I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as I find it is to document.
Using the Leica M240 vs Leica CL on my latest trip to Poland for model photography. Article also discusses me shooting the new Kodak Ektachrome vs Fuji Provia film, testing a new lens for the Nikon F5, finally taking the 4×5 Intrepid camera overseas and having fun with the GoPro Hero 6 like new Yi4K+ action camera.
Back from another few days in Poland. My last overseas model photoshoot of 2018. I couldn’t resist the cheap flights! What an amazing trip it was. I saw more in 3 days than all my past years visits put together. I took my 4×5 Intrepid camera overseas for the first time (at last) and it didn’t disappoint. I shot my first roll of the much anticipated Kodak Ektachrome slide film and I took my new lens for the Nikon F5 to play with. On top of all that I also had my new GoPro style action camera (Yi4K+) with me to record some of the fun / sights.
8 Model photoshoots in 2.5 days
As with every trip I spent a lot of time before traveling to Poland organising the models to work with. 12 models across the 2.5 days, 5 a day on the full days and 2 on the first afternoon. A few models cancelled but luckily the 8 photo shoots I did do more than made up for the models that didn’t show.
I tried to work with as many new faces as possible to keep it interesting and feel this was one of the most successful visits to Poland so far. I was really pleased with how the photos were looking on the back of the camera to the most part. Thanks to Theo, Ania, Maria (x2 shoots!), Claudia, Anna, Teresa and Julia.
Cameras for Poland (& lenses)
Digital Leica M240 & CL cameras
My digital cameras were the Leica M240 and Leica CL. On the first afternoon I used the CL as it has just become habit to pick up this camera first. I found manual focusing too slow and not accurate enough when working quickly with fast moving models. For day 2 and 3 I used the Leica M240 almost exclusively and was more than happy. I noticed the Leica M240 limited dynamic range to be clipping the highlights in the bright light but the more I photograph the less I’m fussed about pixel peeping. It’s the moment or expression that matters more.
Leica M8 comparison
As a quick reality check, the Leica M8 only has a few shades of grey – black, grey and white (smiley face) and yet it still makes awesome photos with with limited dynamic range. I miss my black blacks and blow out white B&W JPEG images of the Leica M9 and M8. I find myself trying to retain all the detail in photos while editing which gives grey images if i’m not careful. I’m a high contrast kinda guy at heart so I often edit my photos with more contrast added, both film and digital images.
Leica M lenses
For once I tried to be good and packed less lenses. The truth was it allowed me to carry more running apparel and was me attempting to balance my obsessions! Most digital photos were shot with a Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens and the rest with the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens. I wanted to use the Summicron on the Leica CL to be able to share the resulting images as I hadn’t tried that setup yet.
Film and film cameras – testing
My last few overseas model shoots have all been about the Leica CL. Now the CL honeymoon period is over it was back to the real stuff! Film. I wanted to test and compare various film photography related products in Poland.
Kodak Ektachrome vs Fuji Provia
It seems ages now since I ordered and received my first roll of Kodak Ektachrome pre-release date. Life flies by so fast and I hadn’t yet had the right oppotunity to use it. In Poland I wanted to try the new Kodak Ektachrome slide film for portraits and shoot Kodak Ektachrome vs Fuji Provia to compare the results. The conditions were often too bright for slide film but I shot both rolls of film anyway and will share the results once the film is developed. For anyone interested I shot the Kodak Ektachrome in a Leica M2 (with 35mm lenses) and the Fuji Provia in a Nikon F5.
Leica M2 film camera
My most used focal length for Leica cameras is 50mm but some of my favourite images were shot on 35mm. For this reason I took the Leica M2 camera for the purest form of 35mm photography in Leica camera terms. No camera hot shoe so no flash photography and a clean viewfinder with the single 35mm frameline. I wanted the photos to be about the colours rather than super shallow depth of field so 35mm helps in the regard also. The new 35mm Kodak Ektachrome slide film is not cheap so I used this camera over 3-4 photoshoots. The Nikon F5 was my main film camera for the trip this time.
Nikon F5 film camera
For the Nikon F5 I took mostly black and white film plus half a roll of Fuji Provia to finish (unloaded from my Olympus Pen F). Normally at this point I write I wish I had shot more film but for once I did actually shoot more film. A big thanks to the models for this as good models = Matt shoots much more film! I will share a new blog post for the film images once I have time to process them.
4×5 Intrepid large format film camera
To date I’ve not used the camera as much as I’d like to mainly because I can’t find the right models to shoot in the UK. It is not a camera for every photo session. Luckily for me in Poland I got to work with multiple models that were just perfect for the 4×5. I just pray (and I’m not religious!) that I didn’t screw up all the images. See the Intrepid post for example images (link below) and yes I did screw up some but now know the reason so i’m all good for next time! (Intrepid ground glass was not sitting flush to the camera)
As the day finished earlier than planned on the last day due to cancellations I shot some 4×5 to finish the roll. The light was fading so they were longer exposure shots so I will wait to see the outcome. Once it was dark I was quite getting into the night photography (on film) so pulled out the Nikon F5 to shoot a few frames too. I’m not sure if they will come out ok or not but I enjoyed the process.
Running – Off topic (ish)
In the blog intro I mentioned I saw more this trip than ever before. Why? I have been starting to run more often in the last few weeks and this training allowed me to run further, for longer and more regularly. I ran each morning and loved every minute. The running can be fun in itself but for me it gives me access to a much wider area to explore and photograph. Buying the Yi4K+ action camera before flying to Poland was possibly my best timed purchase to date. Such amazing scenes on my morning runs that I would normally not be able to capture as I don’t run with my iPhone 6+. I was grinning ear to ear on every run I think and the only limitation was usually time (getting back to the hotel for the first model arriving or to get back ready to fly home!). If you need inspiring to get out and about get yourself a little action camera!
Yi4K+ photos from Poland
Model photography – Leica M240 vs Leica CL
As mentioned above I used both the Leica M240 and Leica CL. The Leica CL makes me try to work faster with fast models so I miss shots. The Leica M240 focuses quicker but always has the risk of calibration issues (so it looks in focus in the viewfinder but the focus is slightly out on the final image). Both cameras capture great photos. I do love the Leica CL for size and dynamic range and high ISO when needed and focsuing is fine for most subjects. As mentioned in the past I like the Leica M240 as there is no black out between photos compared to looking through the Leica CL EVF.
Selection of Leica M240 and Leica CL photos
Click the image see the camera used –
From day one I felt lucky in Poland. The first run I found an awesome new forest trail to play on. The first breakfast the waitress came and sat with me asking if I could email her some beach photos from my run, followed by giving me a pile of food and some cake to enjoy. I felt lucky to meet such great models and to make some new friends for future trips. The weather for the end of November was amazing, cold yes but bright blue skies much of the time. Monika who owns the hotel kindly gave me the biggest room in the hotel again (thank you!). Teresa had a late evening shoot but brought with her some homemade Polish soup in a Thermos flask, some Polish bread and a spoon from her Mum! Thanks Teresa’s Mum, so kind! Finally the icing on the cake as they say was the last morning. I went out before sunrise to run and was greeted by a crisp snow covered beach and clear skies. It became the battle of obsessions! Stop and take photos or keep running. Quite possibly the best run ever and I had the action camera to capture the magic! It just showed to me it’s not the camera that matters it is being in the right place at the right time. Running is now giving me that vehicle to get myself in such situations.
Happy New Year!
Looking forward to sharing more adventures in 2019!
Detailed Intrepid 4×5 camera review (large format film camera). Article covers 4×5 camera basics, common mistakes to avoid with 4×5 cameras, 4×5 camera checklist, how to load 4×5 film, 6×7, 6×9, 6×12 roll film backs, 4×5 portraits & more photos shot with the Intrepid.
Large format 4×5 Cameras
4×5 Photography Intro – My existing 4×5 film cameras
Although I haven’t used them enough I’ve owned a couple of 4×5 large format film cameras for a little while now. My first 4×5 camera was a modified 1940s Pacemaker Speedgraphic which I imported from the US. It is a custom build Speedgraphic with a Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 lens attached and revolving cambo film back. My next large format film camera purchase was a 1980s Sinar F2 monorail camera. I bought the F2 as the Speedgraphic very has limited lens movements options (tilt and rise etc). Both of these 4×5 cameras are lovely but neither are very mobile/ portable. These cameras have rarely left the studio (a few occasions only) and neither have left the UK for overseas photoshoots.
I stumbled across some 4×5 film camera videos on YouTube last year when researching landscape photography ahead of my first cycling-photography trip to Fuertventura. Although I’m not a landscape photographer I am a big fan of some of the large format film photographer on YouTube. My favourites that come to mind are Nick Carver (brilliant and funny/ yet still techinical) and Ben Horne (Alan Brock is also a good guy).
Ben Horne landscape photographer
Ben shoots with 4×5 film cameras and more often 8×10 film cameras for his landscape photography. I appreciate more the film aspect of Ben’s work than the landscapes themselves but some of his images are truly stunning. (Why? I’m not a landscape photographer). On one of Ben’s videos he reviews a film camera called an Intrepid 4×5 camera (Mk2)(see the end of this review and I will link to Ben’s video).
A new 4×5 film camera!?
After watching Ben’s Intrepid camera video YouTube lead me to another bunch of Intrepid camera videos (as it always does!). Before I knew it I was on the official Intrepid Camera Co website. It turned out that the Intrepid Camera Co is a small startup company (at the time of buying my Intrepid camera) based in Brighton, UK and they specialize in making a very affordable very lightweight wooden 4×5 (*and now 8×10 also) folding film cameras. It sounded just what I “needed” and it was an exciting unplanned discovery for me.
Intrepid 4×5 Camera cost
The cost of the Intrepid 4×5 camera Mk3 (latest version – Dec 2018)(mine is the previous Mk2 version) new is less than the cost of most 4×5 camera lenses. The Intrepid camera is much more affordable than the more well known 4×5 camera brands such as the likes of Ebony, Toyo, Arca Swiss, Chamonix, Shen Hao and others.
You will also need a lens, film holders, tripod..
*Just as a note. The Intrepid 4×5 camera doesn’t come with a lens so that will be an additional cost. You will also need 4×5 film holders or a roll film back, a tripod and a few other essentials for 4×5 photography. Those “optional” (but most people have) extras include a magnifying loop, dark cloth and shutter release cable.
The latest Intrepid 4×5 camera (Mk3) spec can be reviewed (and purchased!) on the official Intrepid Camera Co website – £250. Once you start to research 4×5 camera lenses you will realise this is a bargain price for a brand new 4×5 camera! (I’m not being paid to say this it’s just fact!)
Intrepid 4×5 Mk3 vs Mk2
Since I bought my Intrepid 4×5 camera which was the Mk2 version the guys at Intrepid have now brought out the latest Intrepid 4×5 Mk3. The Intrepid 4×5 Mk3 is a more refined version of the Mk2. One of the key improvements that may tempt me to upgrade are the the tilt and swing movements on the back of the camera. On the Mk2 version the back of the camera can be tilted forward slightly but nothing else. The new Intrepid Mk3 is more similar to my Sinar F2 camera that allows for a lot of movement both at the front and the back of the camera. There is a sturdier base plate on the Mk3 but i’ve had no issues with my Mk2. The Mk3 has new improved double dials on the front of camera and a new improved low friction slider (I read). I have no complaints with the Mk2 but it is great to see that Intrepid continue to push forward striving for near perfection at a budget price.
Waiting patiently – Intrepid camera lead time
After placing my 4×5 camera order on the Intrepid camera Co website I then had to wait patiently wait for six week lead time to pass. (*Due to high demand I believe it is a now 6-8 weeks lead time). As soon as the package arrived I could tell the Intrepid 4×5 camera was going to be lightweight and compact. The box was not so big and very light considering there was a 4×5 camera inside!
Intrepid 4×5 camera – Arrival and first thoughts
Once my Intrepid 4×5 camera was unwrapped I was able to inspect it more closely. Being a Leica photographer and user of many different film camera brands I tend to know what I like and don’t like. I was really impressed by the simple Intrepid 4×5 (Mk2*) design, the light weight wooden construction and compact form when folded down. If you own other 4×5 cameras I think you really appreciate these portability aspects of the Intrepid. The small lightweight form of the Intrepid was the only reason to buy the camera for me as I already had my two other 4×5 cameras. Once I fitted a quick release tripod mount the Intrepid 4×5 was good to go and I shot a little teaser video for my Instagram feed. (If you’ve not seen it already it can be found in my Instagram saved “4×5” stories (@MrLeicaCom).
4×5 Intrepid lens boards
When I ordered the Intrepid camera I also purchased two Intrepid camera C1 lens boards. The 4×5 Intrepid lens boards are black anodized aluminium and come in 3 sizes to fit most lenses. C0, C1, C2. (The C# sizing relates to the size of the hole in the lens board. Larger lenses need a larger diameter hole in the lens board with C0 being the smallest). The Intrepid camera and lens board measure smaller than my existing Sinar F2 lens boards . (The Sinar F2 is a larger camera at the front end). I ordered two new Intrepid lens boards to mount my existing Sinar F2 4×5 lenses. As soon as the Intrepid arrived I transferred the Schneider Symmar-S 180mm f5.6 lens and Rodenstock Grandagon 90mm f5.6 lens from the larger Sinar F2 lens boards to the new smaller Intrepid lens boards. Now I was ready to shoot!
Intrepid camera – main lens
The Schneider Symmar-S 180mm lens from a Sinar F2 monorail camera will be my go to lens for the Intrepid. It is small enough to travel light(ish) and has all the sensible/ standard controls like shutter, aperture and pc sync port (for flash). (This statement lasted a few weeks maximum! I will share a follow up post with the different lenses I now use on the Intrepid 4×5!)
More Intrepid 4×5 lens boards!
Soon after getting the 4×5 Intrepid camera I was beginning to plan my next overseas photography adventure. The plan was to take the 4×5 Intrepid camera as I had never owned a portable 4×5 film camera. I used this plan as an excuse to buy more 4×5 camera gear and in particular find a smaller lighter lens. (See follow up 4×5 lens post).
Once the new 4×5 lens arrived I noticed it didn’t fit the Intrepid C1 lens boards I had purchased. Even after owning two 4×5 cameras already I still had a lot to learn! The new lens was a smaller design and required a smaller diameter hole in the lens board. Smaller than my C1 size Intrepid boards. I spoke to the lovely guys at Intrepid and ordered some smaller diameter hole C0 Intrepid lens boards for the new lens.
Intrepid camera – Quick setup
The Intrepid 4×5 camera sets up very quickly from a folded position (such as when packed away in a backpack for transportation). Once the 4×5 lens is clipped into place on the front of the camera you will be able to start focusing and composing your shot. I use the Intrepid camera with standard 4×5 film backs (slotted between the camera back and the ground glass) and 120 roll film backs. The Horseman 6×7 back utilizes the Intrepid graflok back and clips into place once the ground glass has been removed. The Cambo 6×9 roll film back is slimline design so fits onto the Intrepid camera the same as a 4×5 sheet film holder. The latter means the ground glass can stay in place when the film is inserted and is slightly faster to use for me.
4×5 Intrepid camera – Focusing / Ease of use
After using other 4×5 cameras previously I found focusing the Intrepid 4×5 camera via the ground glass very easy. Straight from the get go and usually without a dark cloth over my head I can get a subject into focus. With a portrait I can see every eye lash when working up close with a model which is much better than many 35mm and medium format cameras I use. To begin with I just focus by eye, viewing the ground glass at a slight distance. Once the focus is almost there I then use a 8x magnifying loop pressed against the ground glass. If there is no glare on the ground glass I can then fine tune the critical focusing without a dark cloth. Much of my 4×5 photography so far has been with models (and indoors) as that is what I photograph the most.
4×5 Intrepid camera – Blurry Photos
Talking from experience here are some of the reasons why I didn’t get sharp in focus photos using the Intrepid 4×5 camera
5 reasons for blurry Intrepid camera photos
Subject moves after focusing and before taking the photo (ie. models)
Camera moves after focusing – often when inserting film
Ground glass is not flat – ensure glass in flush to back of camera before focusing (my most common loss of images until I realised)
Motion blur – on a windy day a lightweight tripod can move if using slow shutter speeds
Tripod can move when forcefully inserting a roll film back behind the ground glass.
5 top tips to maximise the chance of sharp 4×5 photos
Use a large heavyweight sturdy tripod and ideally not fully extended
Lock down all the tripod dials and knobs once the photo is composed and in focus
Lock down all the camera dials and knobs (front and back) before taking a photo
Use a cable release to release the shutter/ take the photo to avoid touching the camera and introducing possible camera shake
Always double check the ground glass is flat before your begin to compose and focus an image (The elastic strings and metal clips can both get jammed between the glass and the back of the camera).
4×5 Intrepid camera – Common Mistakes
Again speaking from experience I think there are a few common mistake to try to avoid if you are new to large format photography. In addition to the how to avoid blurry images above my most frequent oversights have been –
Large format photography – Check list!
Is film loaded in the 4×5 film holder!? (Mark the film holders once they have film loaded)
Avoid double exposure images (Use the black/ white sided dark slide indicator to indicate if film is exposed or not (I use white side as unexposed / black side as exposed)
Close the shutter before removing the dark slide! (If you don’t the film will be blank (completely overexposed) from all the light hitting the film before you press the shutter to take the photo
Shutter doesn’t fire correctly (If you are using older 4×5 lenses it is worth test firing the lens before taking the actual photo)
Flash doesn’t fire (dry fire the lens before taking the photo to ensure the flash fires as desired)(flash is triggered from the lens pc sync port via a cable)(not an issue for most 4×5 photographers until you use flash like me!)(for portraits)
Testing the Intrepid 4×5 Camera
On the night the camera arrived I stayed up very late playing with my new “toy”. I opened my last pack of discontinued Fuji FP100C instant film to make a test shot. I used my Hasselblad camera as the first test subject but seem to have misplaced the resulting photo! (I used a 4×5 Polaroid film back which I use on the Speedgraphic and Sinar F2 cameras. The Intrepid 4×5 camera has a graflock back so accepts both Polaroid backs and roll film backs. Here is a later Intrepid 4×5 test photo using Fuji FP100C film –
4×5 Sheet Film
When I bought the Intrepid I already owned three 4×5 sheet film holders – Fidelity Elite and Fidelity Delux versions. Each holder is double sided so I can load six sheets of 4×5 film at a time for any one shoot without reloading. As you will see below that wasn’t enough for a good model photoshoot so I ordered another three Fidelity film backs so I can now load up to 12 sheets of film for a single shoot. My 4×5 film of choice based on the best value with pleasing results is black and white Fomapan 100 4×5 sheet film which I buy in boxes of 50 sheets.
See Fomapan film current prices on Amazon – UK / US
Large format film model photography
As my photography “matures” I find i’m getting more and more selective when it comes to shooting models. Multiple that ten-fold and that is how picky I am using medium format or in this case large format film with a model. If I can’t see myself using the final image in my portfolio (if it’s a keeper) then I won’t shoot film. 35mm is the middle ground between ‘disposable digital’ and medium format film for me. In addition to looking for nice models I also need a model that is suitable for film. Some models look lovely but if you ask them to hold a pose they tend to ignore you and keep moving in their own little world. Medium format film ideally needs a model to pause briefly while I take the shot, especially if using a wide aperture to blur the background.
Large format photography requires a model to keep still for perhaps 20 seconds while I focus the image on the ground glass on the back of the camera, then load film, open the dark slide and take the shot. Large format photography is certainly not for every model. Currently I shoot a lot less in the UK than I used to. Instead try to organise overseas models shoots every few months and shoot up to 5-6 girls a day while i’m there. (*Poland trip Dec18 to follow!)
For 4×5 portraits I try to work as fast as I can so not to keep the model waiting. The quicker I can focus and take the shot the better for me and the less chance the model will have moved.
6×7 Horseman 120 roll film back for 4×5
Soon after getting the Intrepid camera I managed to organise a shoot with Aneta. At the time I only had the three 4×5 film holders (giving 6 shots) so also packed my 4×5 Horseman roll film back. The Horseman 4×5 back lets me use standard 120 roll film to shoot 6×7 images on a 4×5 camera. It was the first time I had used the roll film back on the Intrepid so it doubled as a test run. I penciled the 6×7 crop markings on the 4×5 ground glass to help me compose the photos. Here are a few samples using the 4×5 roll film back on the Intrepid camera, loaded with 120 Fomapan 100 film.
6×7 Film back portraits
Cambo 6×9 roll film back
After starting out with the Horseman 6×7 roll film back I wanted something wider so I looked online for potential options. I found the Cambo 6×9 roll film back. The design is slightly different to the Horseman 6×7 film back as it can be inserted between the camera back and the ground glass like a regular 4×5 film holder. (The 6×7 Horseman roll film back requires the Intrepid ground glass to be removed to attach it). I’m loving the process of focusing a 4×5 camera but equally I enjoy the ease of shooting 120 roll film. Colour 4×5 sheet film is very expensive so shooting 120 film opens the doors to lots of exciting film stocks at more affordable prices!
6×9 Film Portraits
Some 6×9 film portraits shot in Poland recently –
As a comparison here are some 4×5 sheet film photos with Aneta using 4×5 Fomapan 100 when I first got the camera –
Intrepid First Thoughts – Summary
The Intrepid 4×5 camera very easy to setup from folded and once setup it is easy to focus. When photographing models I am focusing on the closest eye on the ground glass using a magnifying loop and I found it very easy to see each eye lash. The camera is very portable for a large format camera so I want to use it on location as much as possible going forward. It is early days but I’d like to think you will see much more 4×5 photography from me in 2019.
Below is a preview of my first 4×5 camera photo walk and getting to try the Intrepid camera on location for landscape photography.
Intrepid Camera Experience – Conclusion so far
As a guy who is already obsessed with photography and experimenting with lots of different analogue film cameras, I was quite surprised at how much I have taken to the 4×5 Intrepid camera. It has become my new favourite camera that I want to learn to master for almost every kind of photoshoot / genre of photography. I’ve even started photographing the occasional building which was unheard of for me before. I’ve done 4×5 macro, 4×5 still life, 4×5 portraits (in the studio and on location), and my wish list of other photo styles to try with the 4×5 Intrepid is equally as long again.
New 6×12 film back!
Quick preview shot of me trying out my new 6×12 roll film back!
4×5 YouTube Videos
Ben Horne Intrepid camera review (Mk2)
How to load a 4×5 film holder
Get inspired to shoot 4×5 film!
Poland Trip (Model photography)(Dec18) – To follow
Qu. Need a small camera to take with you everywhere!?
First thoughts Yi4K Plus review! – The cheap GoPro alternative action camera for photos and videos. Yi4K vs Yi4K+, Yi4K Plus vs GoPro Hero 6 & 7, Yi4k essential accessories, sample photos and sample videos. My new toy!
Yi4K Plus action camera
If you are a regular reader you probably know I enjoy model photography but also cycling and running (triathlon training). When I’ve been exploring in new places before I’ve always wished I had a small camera to capture some of the amazing experiences. I have taken film cameras on various cycling trips abroad – Voigtlander R3A in Fuerteventura, Leica M3 in Fuerteventura and Mamiya 6 in Mallorca (blog to follow). They were great but were too big to use while running and required me to cycle with a backpack. The smart phone is the obvious camera choice for such situations but I use an iPhone 6 Plus and even that is a faff to carry handheld (and I find it awkward to use for photos).
Inspired to get an action camera
I had been watching lots of ultra marathon running videos on YouTube and the camera footage with small action cameras really inspired me to try doing some of the same. It lets me combine both my passion for photography and for exploring on 2 wheels or 2 feet. In the past I would visit a new country and perhaps have some model headshots against a plain hotel white wall to show for it (as an extreme example but it’s true!). To date I usually have very little to share of the sights and experiences that make up my overseas trips.
GoPro Hero 7 / GoPro 6 vs Yi4K+
At first I looked at GoPro cameras as I knew nothing about the subject of action cameras. GoPro is the brand everyone has heard of and perhaps think of. I looked at GoPro Hero 5, 6, and 7 and GoPro Black vs Silver vs White. It was all very confusing for a newbie. From watching YouTube GoPro review videos I discovered Yi4K action cameras. I’d never heard of this camera brand but it seemed widely regarded as a cheap GoPro alternative and has been nicknamed by some as the “GoPro killer”. The main advantage of the GoPro Hero 6 is the camera is fully waterproof without needing an additional waterproof camera case. This is true for the GoPro 5, 6 and 7.
GoPro Hero 7
The latest GoPro Hero 7 camera has the best built in electronic anti shake of all the cameras I looked at. The correct term is “EIS” (electronic image stabilization) but I didn’t want to pay almost double the price of the Yi4K Plus for this nice feature. I think a lot of my work will be photos more than videos as I can share them easier via the usual social media channels, Flickr, Instagram etc. I have a YouTube account but have not used it since experimenting with video years ago (Nikon D800 video mostly).
Yi4K vs Yi4K Plus
The Yi4K older model is cheaper (roughly half the cost on Amazon) than the newer Yi4K Plus version. That said I wanted to find a balance between camera spec and camera price. The newer YiK4+ is comparable to the GoPro Hero 6 in some regards offering 4K video at 60 FPS. Both Yi cameras are 12MP sensors but the Plus model shoots 4K 60FPS vs 4K 30 FPS for the older model. The main advantage to me is the Yi4K+ has image stabilization for 4K video (30 FPS) vs only for the 1080P video on the older Yi camera.
Yi4K vs GoPro – Accessories
The great thing about the Yi4K action cameras is they are fully compatible with the GoPro camera accessories. The Yi4K cameras also have the advantage of a standard 1/4 thread tripod socket so will fit any standard studio tripods / accessories. GoPro cameras require an adapter. The Yi4K+ camera also has a standard USB-C socket to use for charging, data transfer and to use with an external microphone.
Yi 4K+ Micro SD card
The Yi4K plus camera takes micro SD memory cards rather than the larger SD cards I use in the Leica cameras. I already had a San Disk 16GB class 1 micro SD card but the Yi4K website recommends faster memory cards. To be specific the micro SD card needs to be minimum UHS speed class 3 (U3) to be able to utilize all the functions of the camera. I ordered a San Disk Extreme Plus 64GB Micro SDXC card but it wouldn’t arrive immediately.
Yi 4K Plus review – First thoughts
I bought the Yi4K+ camera on Amazon just before my latest trip to Poland earlier this month. A big thank you to Amazon Prime for their unbelievably quick next day delivery (<18hrs door to door)(I used a free Amazon Prime 30 day trial!). I didn’t have time to buy any GoPro accessories so my first experience with the Yi4K+ is the bare minimum, camera only. I used my old 16GB memory card which was fine for photos but for 2.7K and 4K video the clips stopped and buffered after around 15 seconds. I was just thankful I could use the camera at all while waiting for the new faster Micro SD card to arrive!
5 Likes of the Yi4K Plus
1. Tiny camera size! (65mm x 30mm x 42mm)
It’s amazing how small this camera is! It is truly a portable camera and is much smaller and lighter than my iPhone 6+. The Yi4K Plus 65mm x 30mm x 42mm dimensions are comparable to a GoPro Hero action camera but i’ve never really taken any interest in a GoPro before. The light weight (96g/ 3.4oz) and small size means I can carry it with me literally everywhere. Running with the Yi4K camera in my hand was no chore at all.
2. GoPro accessories for Yi4K
There are endless GoPro accessories on the market so I love the fact I can use all of them with the Yi4K+ camera. For running I plan to use the GoPro head mount, chest mount, selfie stick and backpack strap clip as potential ideas. For cycling I will use the GoPro handlebar mount to make the camera hands free.
3. Yi4K+ voice activation
The Yi4K camera can be voice activated so I can take a photo with the camera mounted on the bike or my head for example without needing to touch the camera. A pretty cool feature!
4. Yi4K Plus app
The Yi4K camera can be easily operated from a smart phone device. The mobile phone can display the view the camera is seeing so I can compose a photo without looking at the Yi4K+ camera LCD. I can take the photo or start recording video straight from the mobile device. The Yi4K phone app connects to the camera via WiFi and then photos can be exported from the camera, edited if needed on your phone and shared straight to social media. A seamless application that works brilliantly for my simple needs. (*I would say after using the Yi4K phone app more that it is better to transfer photos than video. With video clips sometimes the WiFi connection fails and you have to start again).
5. Yi4K Plus photo quality (and video!)
I’m no expert when it comes to video quality but the Yi4K plus 4K video footage looks pretty crisp and the slow motion footage can look really cool if shot at 60FPS/ 120FPS (and then slowed down). The true test for photo quality (for me only perhaps!) is to post a photo on my Flickr feed and see the reaction. Yi4K Plus photos were posted next to those shot with the modern digital Leica CL camera and film photos taken with the 4×5 Intrepid (blog to follow!) and other well regarded cameras. I didn’t mention the camera used on purpose as I am guilty in that I judge a photo partly by the equipment used.
For example if there were 2 near identical photos, 1 film, 1 digital I would be much more impressed with the film photo (for me)(as I know what is involved in “making” film images). Likewise if a photo said “taken with cheap GoPro camera” I would try to pick fault at it somehow (with my thought process being well it’s nice for a P&S photo). If I see a nice photo on someones Flickr film feed I would think woo I wonder what lens/ equipment was used. If I then see that it was shot with an iPhone (for example) i’m somehow disappointed even though it was a great image. (I just appreciate the people that master the craft of using old cameras in the modern day as anyone can pick up and use a digital camera). From the reaction on Flickr to the Yi4K Plus photos most people are luckily not as narrow minded as me (smiley face) and just appreciate the end photo regardless of what camera was used. I guess I should remember that i’m an extreme gearhead but most people really don’t care what camera was used!
More Yi4K+ sample photos
After Poland – Yi4K Plus
Since Poland I have been planning ahead for my next photogenic trip to take the Yi4K+ camera on. I’ve played around with trying different video settings and used it for a few clips i’ve shared on my Instagram account (@MrLeicaCom). I think the Yi4K+ is best suited to the GoPro style advert amazing locations – skiing with blue skies, surfing with the clear blue water and action sports (as the name suggests!) For me I think I will use the Yi4K camera the most when abroad but it is great to have for when I need it.
Pimp your Yi4K – Essentials (+ Nice extras!)
If you buy a Yi4K plus action camera you may ask what are the top 5 essentials to get you started. Here are some of the items i’ve now purchased on Amazon for my Yi4K camera. It took countless hours of research (my usual before buying anything) but i’ve been happy with my setup and nothing is crazy expensive. (A GoPro setup would cost a lot more as you have to pay extra for GoPro branded products).
5 Essentials for your Yi4K camera (that I bought on Amazon!)
San Disk Extreme PLUS 64 Micro SDXC memory card – UK / US
Yi4K waterproof protective case (Rhodesy) – UK / US
To see the Yi4K Plus specs in full visit the YiTechnology website Yi4K page
Yi4K Plus videos
Sorry I have not shared any Yi4K video footage here. There are some video clips on my Instagram feed (@MrLeicaCom) if you want a taster but the best bet is view others work on YouTube. Going forward I will try to get organised to share some videos via the blog.
Yi4K Plus YouTube Sample Video!
This Yi4K plus video impressed me enough to buy the camera. Pretty cool for such a tiny device!
Here is the Yi4K+ action camera I bought on Amazon (link below). I managed to get a great deal on mine so keep a look out for discounts. These small action cameras offer excellent value for money for the amount of fun they offer whether for action sports, vlogging, travel camera or just to capture family life.
*The free LR presets are not listed on the blog so are only available during this 4 days limited period.
Leica M8 presets for any JPEG / any camera!
The digital Leica M8 is only a 10.3MP camera. As such I developed the LR presets differently to modern camera LR presets. In the past I used my camera specific presets for the named camera (ie. Leica CL preset for Leica CL photos). My latest craze is applying Leica M8 presets to Leica CL and Leica M240 photos. It renders the pictures differently and I like the look.
Leica M8 preset applied to Leica CL photo – example
Happy shopping this weekend and try not to buy too many new cameras / lenses/ lights / accessories! (A note to myself as much as anything!)
London Photography Workshop (Leica Workshop)(Client from the US!)
Write up for one of my London Photography Workshops (Leica Workshop) to give more detail as to what is included + plans for a download
Leica photography workshops
If you have searched around on my MrLeica blog pages you may have seen that I teach Leica photography workshops. My photography tuition is not limited just to Leica cameras but that is what is requested the most. I don’t post a write-up after each photography workshop as the day(s) often follow a similar plan for each client/ student. In the UK I run London photography workshops but overseas I teach where ever I’m invited.
Overseas photographers that book me for photography tuition
I’ve decided to document a Leica photography workshop that I ran earlier this year as it was a bit different to the norm. Clients (photographers) visit me for my photography tuition from all parts of the world and as far as Alaska. Often these people are travelling on business and arrange to meet me for a day while passing through the UK. This eventually became the assumed norm for any overseas photographers requesting one of my 1-2-1 photography workshop.
Client flew in from Boulder, Colorado (America)
Following a chain of emails back and forth, in April this year Shaun flew into London from Boulder, Colorado (USA). After approximately a 10 hour flight Shaun landed into the city and I arrived to London to meet him. He had booked me for my usual 6 hour 1-2-1 photography workshop so it was time for us get started!
*MrLeica Photography Workshop Cost? 6 hr in London = £250
Here is a map of Shaun’s travel to the UK!
Meet and greet – time to grab a coffee!
Once Shaun and I met we sat down with a coffee and got chatting. It soon came to light that Shaun had flown in to the UK just for 2 days and wasn’t here on business. I was a little surprised! There must be other guys with a Leica camera in the US that offer a similar photography workshop experience I thought? Shaun said he liked my work and followed my blog and that was the reason for his trip.
Shaun had requested in advance (via email) that he was interested in a model photography workshop specifically and using mostly natural light. I rallied around before the day arrived and organised 2 models for us, one for the morning, one for the afternoon.
Photography workshop model #1 – Valerie
For the morning session we met up with fellow American Valerie who I had first worked with in Florida. (I had flown to Florida for a few days to photograph a Leica wedding (a fellow Leica photographer’s wedding no less who found me on DPreview if I remember correctly!) Val was now living in the UK and was keen for some new photos so met us in London. I can’t remember exactly but I think we photographed 2-3 clothes changes with Val shot in a few different locations. This allowed us to use different backdrops and different types/ qualities of available light.
In addition to my usual digital Leica camera I also took a few other film cameras. I had my Intrepid 4×5 large format camera (made of wood)(I still need to finish this camera write-up, sorry!) with me so I shot a few frames on that and even some Fuji Instax photos (making the most of the blue skies we had.
Lunch – Time to compare notes / images!
During a workshop we normally stop for something to eat roughly half way though the day and I try to answer any questions a client may have. Shaun also had a digital Leica M camera so we were able to compare photos on the camera LCD displays. I was using my Leica M240 at that time so explained how I see photos and why I chose my compositions etc.
Photography workshop model #2 – Miriam
For the afternoon shoot we met with Ukrainian model Miriam that I found on Instagram. We had not worked together until now but had spoken online before the day. As with the morning session we photographed a few different clothes changes and worked with a range of lighting conditions.
Workshops are always fun!
Shaun and I were lucky to have both Val and Miriam join us for the workshop. Everyone seemed to get along really well and it was an enjoyable day for all involved (I think!?). Shaun felt like a good friend that I’d known for ages after a mere 6 hours of working together! It was a bit sad when it was time for everyone to go their separate ways at the end of the day. Great people with the common goal of having fun and creating the best possible images!
Thanks to Shaun for being crazy enough to fly all the way to London just to have a photography workshop with me. I hope it was worth it Shaun if you are reading this! Great to meet you! Thanks to Val and Miriam too for modelling!
London photography workshop – An insight into my Leica photography tuition
General plan for the day
My London photography workshop days usually follow general similar plan yet each day is 100% tailored to the photographer I am teaching. The beauty of 1-2-1 photography tuition and the reason why I stopped teaching group sessions is I can give one person my 100% attention. I found it more difficult when teaching a mixed group when everyone had varying degrees of experience and knowledge. For my 1-2-1 photography tuition I recommend that clients prepare a list of questions to ask me (mentally or written!) in advance. The day itself then works like a Q&A session where I try to share all I’ve learnt with regards to their topic(s) of interest.
Photography workshop days are broken up with coffee shop stops so there is always plenty of time to ask questions and compare cameras/ lenses etc. I’m quite fortunate in that I have collected quite a number of Leica M mount lenses since starting to use Leica cameras. If a photographer is looking to buy a particular camera lens or focal length I bring the lens with me for them to try for the day (if I have it).
Doesn’t need to be Leica
Although I use Leica cameras for my digital photography and some of my film photography it is not a must that clients bring a Leica camera to a workshop. Often there might be a dotted line to Leica such as a Sony photographer than uses Leica lenses via an adapter or a Nikon digital photographer that also owns an old Leica M3 film camera and so on. I normally bring both Leica and non-Leica cameras to workshops if a client wants to see a Hasselblad in action or some 4×5 photography for example.
Available light or Artificial light?
Some photographers would like to learn how to work with available light and others want to learn how to master a speedlight (or experiment with the basics). Most of my own photography is portraiture or “model photography” as I often write in my blogs. Generally photographers approach me to learn how to use light for portraiture but I have taught street photography and other genre also. I explain how I see light and why I would choose to photograph in a certain location.
If the client would like to learn how to light a portrait I try to get one (or occasionally two) models to join us for part of the day. Some photographers may be a master at nature photography or landscape photography and have all the best gear yet have never experimented with photographing people (other than perhaps fun shots of friends and family). I let the client see how I work with a model then switch over so they get to direct the posing if they would like to.
Start building your portfolio
For anyone looking to get into portraits or photographing models the workshop can work well towards capturing some professional looking images to start building your portfolio. (When you first start out as a photographer and are looking to collaborate with a model having some portfolio images is a must. The model(s) will want to see example photos before committing their free time to test with you).
Photographers often ask how I edit my photos. During the workshop I share my thoughts on editing photos (Lightroom, my MrLeica Lightroom Presets and Photoshop) and how to get the best from different Leica cameras. (I also talk about my film developing for those shooting film).
Not everyone is able to travel to me (or fly me out to teach them)
Not everyone is able to travel for one of my Leica photography workshops or can to fly me out to them. I have been fortunate enough to be flown to New York (twice)(NYC1, NYC2), Zürich (twice)(Zurich1, Zurich2) and Amsterdam in the past to teach. Thank you if you are reading this! Amazing experiences that I never thought I would be doing, especially the NYC and Zürich trips that were all multiple day workshops! Meeting in London for a photography workshop is probably the cheapest way to have photography tuition with me. You also get to see the city while you are in the UK and London is easily accessible from most places .
That said it is not always financially possible.
Mr Leica photography workshop download!
With the above problem in mind, and with some people not able to meet me face to face for a workshop I am considering documenting a Mr Leica photography workshop (in writing and with photos)(behind the scenes and resulting photos from the workshops). It would be a very detailed document that might take me 3-6 months to write (on and off). My aim would be to try to capture everything I can from a workshop day excluding the face to face interaction.
If this is something that might interest you I would love to gauge the potential uptake to understand if it is worth me taking on the mammoth task of writing it up! If you think it could benefit you a short email or comment with your thoughts would be gratefully received. You can also include any content requests you might like and I can do my best to please.
Waste of money?
My idea is if you purchase the downloadable Mr Leica Photography workshop document (price still to be determined) and then you later book a 1-2-1 workshop with me (face to face) I will give you a discount from the workshop cost. That way it will be like buying the download for a much cheaper price.
Faceless download only offers half the experience?
I appreciate most photographers want to attend a photography workshop to work face to face with a model or see me working face to face with a model. This download file is aimed to fill the gap for anyone that can’t attend a workshop yet wants in on some of the Mr Leica “tips and tricks”. For anyone that later does what to travel for a workshop I hoped the discount mentioned above will help avoid the thought of paying out twice for essentially the same “experience”.
Sorry for the recent slow down in new blog posts. I have increased my triathlon training quite a bit in the last few weeks so I’m going to bed earlier (not a bad thing!) and up early. (For anyone interested I’m enjoying my running at the moment so building up the weekly mileage)(32 miles this week + swimming & cycling).
I have a lot of film in the fridge still to develop, colour and B&W, the Epson V800 scanner has developed a hardware fault so I can’t scan colour and am organising another model trip overseas this side of Christmas. At least I’m never bored I guess!
Blogs on my todo list
Intrepid 4×5 camera -(still waiting to shoot the right model to get more sample images)
New lens for the Nikon F5 – (need to develop the film in the fridge to see sample images)
Leica CL with M lenses round-up post – Still need to test more lenses
New Godox flash – need to finish write-up
Leica wedding highlights (not posted any for this year yet!)
…the list is endless but those are a few that come to mind!
Thanks for reading (and let me know if you ever want to book a workshop!)