Yi4K Plus Review (& Yi4K+ vs GoPro)

Yi4K Plus Review (& Yi4K+ vs GoPro)

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 Review (Blog)

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.

 

Wide Angle Landscape Photo

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.

Yi4K+ Photo

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.

Wide Angle B&W

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!

Sopot Fishing Boats

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

Postcard from Poland

 

Wide Angle Landscape Photo

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!)
  1. San Disk Extreme PLUS 64 Micro SDXC memory card – UK / US
  2. Yi4K waterproof protective case  (Rhodesy) – UK / US
  3. GoPro accessories pack – UK / US
  4. Yi4K batteries (x2) & charger  (Newmowa) – UK / US
  5. Yi4K selfie stick tripod & remote – UK / US
More nice things for your Yi4K (that I bought on Amazon!)
  1. CNC Aluminium Yi4K case (with hotshoe) – UK / US
  2. Rode VideoMic Compact microphone – UK / US
  3. Yi microphone converter  (USB-C to 35mm cable) – UK / US

 

Yi4K+ photo of 4x5 intrepid camera photoshootSneak preview Yi4K+ photo of me using the 4×5 Intrepid camera in Poland!

 

Yi4K Plus – Specs

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!

 

 

 

Treat Yourself!

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.

  • YI 4K+ Action Camera Ultra HD 4K/60fps – UK / US

 

Yi4K Plus Review Action Camera RunnerPano crop sample photo of me running in Poland using the Yi4K+

 

Yi4K+ video review (vs latest GoPro 7)

If you want to see what the Yi4K action camera looks like here is an excellent video review to provide some visuals with the Yi4K+ vs GoPro Hero 7

 

 

 

Related Posts

 

 

My Leica Portrait Photography Gear Essentials + What I Recommend

My Leica Portrait Photography Gear Essentials + What I Recommend

Part 2: Here I list my Leica portrait photography gear essentials and what I recommend for different camera setups *See Part 1 for my recommended Leica portrait photography lighting kit

2013 REPOST: Samyang 85mm f1.4 Portrait

  1. MEMORY CARDS
  2. LIGHT STANDS
    1. Professional C-Stands
    2. Lightweight Light Stand
    3. GorillaPod
    4. Compact Light Stand
    5. Carbon Tripod
    6. Mini Tabletop Tripod
    7. Carbon Monopod
  3. LIGHT MODIFIERS
    1. Umbrellas
    2. Softbox
  4. CAMERA BAGS
    1. Small Camera Bag
    2. Camera Bag for Carry on Luggage 
    3. Hiking Camera Bag
  5. REFLECTORS

(Summary of my gear list)(Excl. lighting kit)

Leica Studio Photoshoot

 

WHAT I USE

Following on from my Part 1: Leica Portrait Photography Lighting kit blog post where I talk about my favourite 3 speedlights and 3 wireless flash trigger options, in Part 2 I list more of my essential portrait photography gear that I recommend to others.

As written in part 1, when you buy a new camera the first thing you need to get is a decent memory card (and as a portrait / wedding photographer the next thing  is a speedlight!).  Once you have a flash you then need to mount it on something, then you will want to modify/ shape the light and as your photography equipment expands you will need a new camera bag.  Talking 100% from experience!

So as summarised above, here is my top 5 portrait photography equipment essentials once you have bought a flash / wireless flash triggers (part 1).

Large Format Wedding

1. BEST SD MEMORY CARDS – SANDISK EXTREME

SD Cards – SanDisk Extreme 32GB

For all my digital cameras I now use the same memory cards.  When I started my photography I used lots of different memory card brands but the only ones that didn’t fail me were the SanDisk Extreme SD cards.  From my experience the best SD memory cards are the SanDisk Extreme range, whatever the capacity you chose.  I used to use the cheaper SanDisk cards also but after one corrupted I now only use the gold label “SanDisk Extreme SD cards”.  All the SD memory cards I buy are 32GB SD cards as I think it is a good balance between not to low capacity yet not to big that you have a 10 photoshoots on one card (a lot to lose if you misplace the SD card!).  Also in recent years the price of SD cards has come down so much.  I remember paying nearly £100 for just one 32GB SanDisk Extreme memory card some years ago! Ouch!

Portrait Photography Equipment

I have used the SanDisk Extreme 32 GB SDHC cards in my Leica M8/M9/M240/CL cameras (for photos), Nikon D800 (photos and video), Lumix LX100 (photos and video).  I generally buy the SD card size version as that is the size accepted by most digital cameras.  I also have some SanDisk Micro-SD card versions that I used to transfer between my cameras and a tablet (Using a Micro-SD – SD card adapter in the camera).

If you need a new memory card I recommend these –

> SanDisk Extreme 32 GB SDHC (90 MB/s, Class 10, U3, V30)

2. BEST LIGHT STANDS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY (x7)

Hasselblad Studio Shoot

In this section I talk about the best light stands for photography and 7 different stands I use.  They include Manfrotto light stands (full height and small), cheap lightweight light stands, best portable light stand for easy use out of the studio, best travel light stand for overseas trips, ultra compact light stands when you only have limited space in your camera bag

2.1 Professional Heavy Duty C-Stands

If money is no object or if you use heavy weight light modifiers professional C-stands are the way to go.  If you will use a light stand every day and want durability and reliability then this is the best option.  The disadvantage of C stands is they cost more than the cheaper lightweight stands (see 2.2) and are relatively big and heavy if want to transport, say for location shoots.  I think C stands are best suited to the studio.  I don’t own any but have used them and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.  If I was starting out fresh today I would have purchased a couple rather than trying to do everything on the cheap.

> Professional Heavy Duty C-Stand

2.2 Lightweight Light Stand

Lightweight light stands are the more common design with 3 diagonal black legs and a pole in the middle.  They come in different sizes, load capacities and as a result costs.  Perhaps like many people I started out with the cheap smaller ones from Amazon for about £15 and then as they broke I replaced them with larger higher capacity versions.  These cheap lightweight light stands are more than adequate to mount a bare speedlight or with a small light modifier attached but they tend to bow and eventually break if using large light modifiers or heavier studio lights.  If you don’t overload them they are probably the best portable light stand option without spending lots of money.  I guess as with everything, you get what you pay for.  There are so many light stands available that all do a similar job.  Here is the most popular £15 style light stand which is perfect for beginners and pros alike.  Just check the height and load capacity before buying baring in mind what you plan to use it for.  (I think I have maybe 5 of these cheap lightweight stands then more heavy-duty ones too).

> Lightweight Light Stands (Aluminium)

 

2.3 GorillaPod

Almost SOOC

(I can’t find a photo of me using my GorillaPod but it is mentioned in the details of how I took this photo!  Flash lit bird photography – 2011!)

One of my earlier light stands / camera tripods was a Gorillapod when they were first released. At the time I used it for everything, both holding my Panasonic Lumix G1 and to mount a speedlight on.  The Gorillapod is good as it can wrap around things so you can suspend your light from a tree branch or curtain rail.  I moved away from the Gorillapod when I started using my Nikon cameras and huge 200mm lenses but I should probably start to use it again now I use mostly Leica cameras.  I tried cheap Chinese copies of the Gorillapod brand but they break quite quickly. (The balls  pull out of the sockets under load and or they just flop under any weight). If you buy a branded Joby Gorillapod tripod and ensure the load capacity is sufficient for your largest camera plus lens combination it should function without problems.

> JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

2.4 Best Light Stand For Travel – Manfrotto Nano

As you can see in my photo below, light stands come in various shapes and sizes.  A light stand is what I use to hold my off camera flash units.  The £15 light stands (2.2) are great to use if you don’t need to travel by air.  These stands are too long to fit in a permitted carry-on bag which is how I travel. If you are travelling with checked in luggage you might be ok if have a bigger case (I used to carry these light stands diagonally in a large suitcase if was flying with checked luggage).  I searched for the best light stand for travel and after much research bought the Manfrotto Nano light stand which was the smallest full height light stand I could find. The Manfrotto Nano stand is probably the best light stand for speedlights as it only has a load capacity of 1.5kg.  This Manfroto light stand is not suited to use with a large softbox but a mini softbox or umbrella is fine (if using inside).  I think an umbrella on the Manfrotto Nano light stand outside would only result in a bent or broken Manfrotto Nano!  Good quality light stand as I would expect from Manfrotto.

> Manfrotto Nano Stand Black

2.5 Best Travel Tripod – Zomei Carbon Tripod

Light stand size comparison
(Left-Right: Large heavy duty stand, Lightweight aluminium stand, Manfrotto Nano stand, Zomei Carbon tripod

If you are looking for the best travel light stand then the Manfrotto Nano stand is great to use when travelling with a large camera backpack but it can still be too long for smaller camera bags.  To fit this requirement I bought a Zomei carbon tripod which was the result of reading lots of reviews and it seems to be the best travel tripod for my needs.  Full height, lightweight and very compact and portable when packed down.   There are lots of very similar Zomei tripods available, both carbon tripods and aluminium ones; the Z666, Z669, Z699 and many more. I have two Zomei carbon  fibre tripods but the more compact version is my Zomei Z699C.  I have heavy-duty Manfrotto tripods and a few other brands but my go to tripod for travel is the Zomei Z699C as it packs the smallest and is the lightest.  The Zomei Z699C tripod comes with a ball head and has a clever design where one of the tripod legs unscrew to use it as a monopod.  I use the Zomei tripod as a light stand by screwing a speedlight “foot” onto the ball head quick release plate.  I also attach umbrella mounts and other studio accessories.  I find the Zomei Z699C good to use with an umbrella as the wide legs gives more stability in a breeze.  There is a hook below the Zomei tripod where you can hang your camera bag for extra stability too.  When I was using my cameras on the tripod during my San Francisco trip this summer I found hanging the bag on the tripod helped keep it steady in the wind. For San Francisco I was hiking and cycling with my photography equipment so having a compact carbon lightweight tripod was a real help. I used this tripod with a Hasselblad XPan, Fuji GF670 and Nikon F4 + 180mm lens. I find Zomei tripods off great value for money but if you pay more you will find higher quality.  That didn’t stop me buying two Zomei tripods (both still working*).  They do all I ask of them.

> ZOMEI Z699C Carbon Fiber Portable Tripod with Ball Head

 

2.6 Ultra Compact Light Stand / Tripod – PIXI EVO

Hasselblad 500CM film camera

I discovered the Manfrotto Pixi EVO mini tripod when planning my cycling photography trips to Fuerteventura.  I wanted an ultra compact light stand / tripod to use with my Hasselblad 500cm for landscape photography.  As I was looking to do mostly cycling and some photography I needed just a small portable lightweight tripod to support the camera. The Manfrotto PIXI EVO is very solid and since buying it I use it as a table top tripod even on model shoots.  The ultra compact design packs so small you can carry it with you all the time.  Being a Manfrotto tripod it is super high quality and looks like it will last forever. I also use the Manfrotto PIXI EVO as a light stand as it has a ball head that I can use to angle a speedlight in a particular direction. The PIXI EVO version has extendable legs so I prefer it to the slightly cheaper model, the PIXI-B that doesn’t have this feature.

> Manfrotto PIXI EVO 2-Section Mini Tripod – Black

2.7 Best Carbon Fibre Monopod – Sirui P-326

Hasselblad on Duty

When first buying my Hasselblad 501C I wanted the best carbon fibre monopod I could find (for a reasonable price) to use as a camera support.  I found the Sirui P-326 carbon monopod does the job perfectly.  Super lightweight and sturdy too.  I almost always use a monopod with my larger film cameras (Hasselblads and Mamiya RZ67 especially).  The Sirui P-326 carbon monopod replaces my metal Heavy Manfrotto monopod which I used to use all the time for weddings when using my huge Nikkor 200mm f2 prime on the Nikon D800.  The Sirui P-326 monopod also works great as a voice activated light stand.  By this I mean have a flash mounted on the Sirui monopod and ask someone to hold the light for you.  I tend to prefer to work alone for my photography but for occasions like this an assistant is handy.  Some locations don’t permit tripods or light stands so having a friend hold the Sirui P-326 with a light on it is a great solution for off camera flash. I would say the Sirui P-326 is easily as good as products from Manfrotto and should last a long time. I have also used the Sirui monopod with a light attached when working alone and I just lean it against a wall or tree or even wrap my arm round it while holding the camera in my hands. For this reason I’ve included it within light stands though most people probably don’t use it for this purpose.

> SIRUI P-326 Carbon Fibre Monopod Height 155 cm

 

3. BEST LIGHT MODIFIERS

There are so many light modifiers available it is probably possible to start an entire blog  just reviewing the latest light modifier releases!  The best light modifiers for speedlights or even studio lights are the most common ones. I would say if just starting out the best light modifier to start off with is a simple and very affordable photography umbrella.  Once you have mastered speedlight photography with an umbrella you might next want to look at getting softbox so I have reviewed those two products.

3.1 Photography Umbrellas

Portrait Photography Workshop

Photography umbrellas are commonly silver, gold or white colour on the inside and all produce a different quality of light.  Silver, gold and white (“translucent”) umbrellas are used to bounce light off (flash is pointed at the inside of the umbrella surface and the light bounced back onto the subject.  White or translucent umbrellas are multi-purpose as they can also be used as a “shoot through” umbrella where the flash is pointed into the umbrella but the subject this time stands on the opposite site of the umbrella.  Umbrellas are so inexpensive on Amazon and eBay you can find umbrellas in every size and quality to suit your budget.  Larger photography umbrellas create a softer light but are less manageable and cost more when they break!  I find white translucent umbrellas are the most useful.  Something like this –

> Neewer Professional 33″/84cm White Translucent Umbrella

 

3.2 Photography Softboxes

Studio Photography Workshop

(Old photo of me teaching portrait photography with the 60×60 softbox)

Once a photographer has mastered the umbrella the second most common light modifier is a photography softbox.  Softboxes are good as they help control the spread of light whereas with an umbrella it just sprays light everywhere.  As with umbrellas, softboxes come in every shape, size, quality, and cost. I find a Godox softbox offers good value and adequate quality for my needs.  I’ve bought Godox softboxes in various sizes, 20×20, 40×40, 60×60.  The mini version is good for overseas travel but the 60×60 offers the nicest quality of light (as the bigger the light modifier the softer the light). Godox softboxes come with 2 white diffusion panels and fold down for easy transportation.  The Godox softbox also comes with a Bowen S-mount adapter meaning the softbox can be used with most studio lights as well as on a speedlight.  I try to buy all Bowen S-mount light modifiers so that my light system is fully compatible with each other.  If you need a softbox that does what it is designed for at a low-cost I recommend Godox but I’m sure other brands are similar (Neewer for example).  I buy Godox modifiers mainly as I love the brackets. Well made and I use them all the time without concern.  In the past I used to buy cheap umbrella mounts but I broke so many of them.  The Godox softbox brackets can be used with studio umbrellas or other light modifiers (any Bowen S-mount modifier will fit). Great system.

> Godox 60x60cm Foldable Universal Softbox with S Style Speedlite Bracket for Flash Bowens

4. CAMERA BAGS

4.1 Small Camera Bag

Billingham Hadley Digital

As a Leica photographer the camera bag I use the most is a Billingham Hadley Digital bag.  It is designed really for 3 small camera lenses (Leica size) and a Leica size camera body.  In reality I have fitted 3 Leica M bodies and 3 Leica M lenses or perhaps, 1 Leica camera, 3 lenses and a folding medium format camera like the Fuji GF670 which just fits nicely on top. Very well made and functions well.  The Hadley Digital is my most used camera bag even though it is only small.  This Billingham camera bag would work well for any small mirrorless camera brand or small 35mm film camera but they also make bags in many shapes and sizes if the Hadley Digital is not quite right for your setup.  The Billingham Hadley Small is very popular but I have not tried it.  The tan colour Billingham bag I have looks nice but the black version will probably stay looking clean for longer!

> Billingham Hadley Digital Canvas Camera Bag

4.2 Best Carry-On Backpack (For Photography)

I wore out quite a few camera backpack bags before deciding it was time to pay more for something of higher quality.  I wanted to find the best carry on backpack I could get for photography.  That being a large camera bag that was within the maximum dimensions allowed for UK low-cost airlines carry on luggage.  I fly mostly with WizzAir and Ryanair and the Lowepro Pro Runner BP 350 AW II bag lets me carry both my camera gear and clothes for a long weekend overseas of model photography.  The Lowepro Pro Runner BP 350 backpack dimensions are 31.5cm x 14cm x 46cm and I carry a Zomei carbon tripod, speedlights, film, cameras and clothes in it.  This large carry on backpack has heavy-duty comfortable straps so for wedding photography when I load the Lowepro BP 350 to the max with cameras it can still function well under load.  If I want to carry additional cameras when working overseas I travel with priority boarding and take the Billingham Hadley Digital bag and this larger Lowepro Pro Runner backpack. I put all the heavy items in the Billingham camera bad as this is not weight restricted. The Lowepro BP 350 is made of very high quality materials like the Billingham bag and it should last me quite a while. A great all-purpose camera bag / backpack where the inside layout can be customised to fit you specific camera system.  One trip I might be carrying a large high power light such as the Godox AD-360 together with say a Hasselblad camera then for the next shoot I might carry 2 small Godox TT350 speedlights and smaller Leica film cameras.

> Lowepro Pro Runner BP 350 AW II Bag Carry on Backpack

4.3 Best Hiking Backpack for Photographers

My go to backpack for cycling or trekking with a larger (DSLR size) camera is a Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II. Brilliant backpack that is a hybrid between a normal rucksack and a small camera bag. This is often the bag I use as carry on luggage for flights. There is a small well padded compartment in the side of the backpack to hold you camera and a lens (I would say the size is big enough for a pro level DSLR body (like my Nikon F5) and a normal lens, say my Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8). I have used it several times to carry my Mamiya 6 rangefinder medium format film camera together with both a 50mm lens and 150mm lens. Leica camera gear is obviously much smaller so you could easily fit in two Leica M bodies and 2-4 Leica M mount lenses. The rest of the bag acts like a generic high quality sports rucksack with a small top pocket for wallet and keys (or filters and lens cloth etc if a photo trip!). The straps are well padded so it’s very comfy to wear for a full day of trekking / exploring. There is also a space to insert a Camelbak bladder so you can keep hydrated while you shoot. (I use this option, adding it to the bag more recently).

Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II

> Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II – An Outdoor Sport Backpack

5. BEST REFLECTORS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY – 5IN1

5-in-1 Reflector

NPhoto Magazine - June 2013 - MatthewOsbornePhotograpy

(Old photo from a magazine article I wrote but evidence of my reflector!)

When it comes to the question of the best reflectors for photography I would always reply a 5in1 reflector.  Although I list the common 5-in-1 reflector 5th I would say this is the most important item here after a memory card.  A photography reflector is a low-cost essential that has so many useful applications for portrait photography. I will have to do a post just on how many ways I use a 5-in-1 reflector when I get chance!  I use quite a few different light reflectors of different shapes, sizes and cost but the 43-inch one recommended here offers by far the best bang for the buck, as they say.  My original 5-in-1 reflector looks quite beat up these days but I still use it on shoots from time to time.  (Some of my large light reflectors are often to big to take to a shoot if I am travelling light).

> Neewer 43-inch / 110cm 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector with Bag – Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black

Photographing Men

SUMMARY

I hope this was of some use to you.  Feel free to comment below if you think I forgot something!?  I was struggling with what to call this article but thought as 99% of my work with this equipment is portrait photography that would be the most suitable title.  I do the occasional landscape too I guess!

Portrait Lighting

THE BLOG IS CHANGING

I realised that this blog has always been all about me. For many of the diary style articles (especially my overseas trips) I just ramble on about what I get up to.  It probably comes from years of writing a daily diary in my earlier years.  I enjoy documenting things but it might not be a great read!

As I love to teach photography I thought I would try to write a few more general photography articles in addition to the very niche Leica lens / Leica camera / film camera specific posts so that the MrLeica site can be of more use to more people.  It is very much work in progress and there is a lot of old low value “reviews” or articles I need to update or delete.  I start with over 400 blog posts (that I have written since starting MrLeica.com in 2013) and I hope to cull them down to maybe 200-300 by Christmas.  I will do my best anyway! Watch this space!

Thanks Matt

Leica S2 Colours

RELATED POSTS


Tokina 100mm Macro – Best Nikon Lens!?

Tokina 100mm Macro – Best Nikon Lens!?

Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8 AF lens

Tokina 100mm macro

Qu. Is the Tokina 100/f2.8 Macro the Best Nikon Lens?
>>  Here I explain why I use the Tokina 100mm Macro lens more than any other lens on my Nikon cameras (Portraits)

 

Best Nikon lenses

When I used a digital Nikon D800 DSLR I enjoyed using the typical dreamy lenses like everyone else, giving that super shallow depth of field.  Some of my best Nikon lenses / favourites were the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, Nikkor 200mm f2 and Samyang 85mm f1.4 (I prefer it to the Nikkor 85mm f1.4 D that I also have).  All these lenses were manual focus but that was fine as most of my Nikon D800 photography was done with manual focus only.  I just preferred having full control.

Nikon film cameras

One of my earliest film cameras was a Nikon FM.  I then bought a newer Nikon F4 camera and more recently a Nikon F5.  35mm film to my eyes renders much softer than the 36MP Nikon D800 digital files.  As such lenses like the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 wide open was now too soft for my taste on film.  Perhaps it was because I had got used to the sharp Leica lens look now that I had moved to Leica.  Regardless, I needed “better” lenses for the Nikon SLR film cameras if I was to use them.  Macro lenses are usually regarded as some of the sharpest in a lens lineup so that is where I looked first.  My first Nikon camera macro lens was a Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro and I was really impressed.

Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8

The Nikkor 60mm is nice but I liked the idea of a longer focal length to use for portraits.  I settled on a Tokina 100mm macro f2.8 AF lens.  It has been one of my most used Nikon lenses ever since.  I love it and I highly recommend it to any Nikon (& Canon) users.  Rather than try to praise the Tokina 100mm macro lens in words I think it is easier to show it with real photos.  See below.

 

Grab yourself one before the price goes up!

I guess what I can do with the Tokina 100mm Macro lens, being a current product (unlike nearly everything else I review!) is give you a direct link so you can go and treat yourself to one.  An absolute bargain when you consider that this lens seems to out perform nearly every other Nikon mount lens I use and seems easily on a par with my best Leica lenses.  Get one before they put the price up!  Amazon UK / Amazon US 🙂

Tokina 100mm Portrait Photos

Sorry if you have seen some of the images before, perhaps in film reviews.  I use the Tokina 100mm lens a lot!  Click any photo to see more details.

 

Tokina 100mm Portraits – 35mm Film Photos

 

Kodak Double-X Portrait

35mm Kodak T-Max 100

Nikon F4 + Kentmere 100

Nikon F5 Fashion

Ilford Pan 100 Portrait

Nikon F4 Portrait

Tokina 100mm Macro Bokeh

35mm Kodak T-Max 100

35mm Kodak T-Max 400

Fuji Acros 100 + Nikon F4

Nikon F4 Studio

Nikon F5 Camera Review

Tokina 100mm f2.8 Portraits – Digital

Nikon D800 Fashion

Tokina 100mm Macro

Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro

Summer Fun

Tokina 100mm Wedding Film Photography

Kodak Ektar Film Wedding

Film Wedding Photography

Related Nikon Posts

More Nikon Lens / Film Camera Reviews!

 

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 (Best Nikon Pancake Lens!)

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II

– My Favourite Nikon Pancake Lens + 40mm Portraits

Nikon mount Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens photos - Nikon mount - pancake lens

Qu.  Looking for the ultimate small lens for your Nikon camera?
>>  Here I recommend my Voiglander 40mm f/2 pancake lens & share some 40mm portraits

My Favourite Nikon Pancake Lens

As “Mr Leica” I use Leica cameras for my photography but I also enjoy other film camera brands too.  For each camera I try to discover the best lenses I can and here I cover my favourite Nikon pancake lens.  The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II that I bought to use on my Nikon film cameras.

Small Lenses for Nikon Cameras

Are you looking for a small lens for your Nikon camera?  Previously I used Nikon cameras before moving to Leica so I have collected quite a few nice Nikon F mount lenses, both Nikkor brand and other from other manufacturers.  After getting used to the often very compact Leica M mount lenses, when I came to packing lightweight for a Nikon camera it was not so easy.  My smallest Nikon F mount lens at the time was the Nikkor 50mm f1.4D. When I bought this Nikkor lens in my Nikon D800 period I liked the lens and used it a lot for wedding photography.

Leica M Mount Lens Effect

A few years later I bought my first Leica camera, a Leica M9. Having got accustomed to using various Leica M mount lenses and at the time none of the lenses were actually Leica brand I as couldn’t afford Leica glass!  Instead I opted for Voigtlander and Zeiss Leica M lenses and loved the results. Coming from these lenses back to the Nikkor 50/1.4D lens, the 50mm Nikon lens on the D800 suddenly seemed too soft to use at f1.4.

The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 Pancake Lens

After wanting to find a replacement for my 50mm f1.4 Nikkor I started my online research.  I was looking for a small form decent optics Nikon mount lens in the ‘normal’ focal length range (usually around 50mm).  After much reading I discovered the Nikon mount Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II prime lens. It is a pancake lens so makes a Nikon DSLR / SLR look very compact when compared to standard lenses. I had a Nikkor 35mm f1.4 G lens which I had bought for wedding photography but it was huge in comparison.  From day one I loved the super sharp results of the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 lens, even at f2.  The poor 50mm f1.4D has never been used since!  Please note that Voigtlander lenses like the Zeiss lenses for Nikon are manual focus.  Don’t buy a Voigtlander 40f2 Ultron if you are hoping to use autofocus mode.

Nikon Film Cameras

Although I rarely use the digital Nikon D800 camera now I do enjoy the Nikon film cameras. My oldest is a Nikon FM SLR followed by the more automated Nikon F4. My most recent purchase is the later Nikon F5 model (see F5 review posted yesterday).  Owning these cameras means I still get to enjoy the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 pancake lens.  It is great if I want to pack light or perhaps want that slightly wider 40mm focal length.

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm Portraits

Digital Photos – Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL

Voigtlander 40mm f/2 SLII

Voigtlander 40mm f/2.0 Ultron SL II

Nikon D800 + Voigtlander 40mm

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL Flare

Film Photos – Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2

Kodak Vision3 50D Fashion

BMA Models

Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Nikon FM Portrait

Dusty Film Scan

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm F2 SL II

Film Scan Portrait

Nikon F4 Portrait

Nikon F5 Fashion

Recommended!

If you are a Nikon photographer happy with manual focus and are on the market for a compact sharp lens, look no further!  I rate the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens (and I use nice lenses from the likes of Leica APO/ ASPH, Zeiss, Fujion and others)

Related Posts

Nikon F5 Review (Best Nikon Film Camera?)

Nikon F5 Review (Best Nikon Film Camera?)

Qu. Is the Nikon F5 the Best Nikon Film camera?
>>  In this review I explain why I bought the Nikon F5 & why it is the Best Nikon Film Camera for me
Nikon F5 Photographer

Nikon F5 SLR Camera

I bought the Nikon F5 35mm film camera last (2017) year but I didn’t get a chance to write about it. I won’t write a detailed Nikon F5 review here as I will only be duplicting the work of others before me.  (Check Ken Rockwell’s website if you want camera specifications).  Instead I will focus on a few key facts, some of my thoughts so far and finish off with a few of my Nikon F5 Flickr photos to show what the Nikon F5 can do.
1996 Nikon F5 – Brief History
The Nikon F5 SLR (“Single lens reflex”) camera was released in 1996 and replaced my Nikon F4 that was first released 8 years earlier.  The Nikon F5 was one of the last professional spec Nikon film bodies (the last was the Nikon F6 I believe) before they switched to digital. When I look at the Nikon F5 it always reminds me of a Nikon D4 or something of a similar pro level today.
Nikon F5 Pro Level SLR
The Nikon F5 oozes quality and is a fine-looking camera I think, even coming from the Leica camp (where people think we can only appreciate other Leica cameras)(Not me). The Nikon F5 is very different to a Leica but still built well build.  I would say a Leica is more of a precision tool, which is built to last but needs more care.  I think the Nikon F5 could survive a drop down a flight of stairs and still work (my Nikon F4 survived this and it is less rugged than the F5).

Nikon before Leica (My history with Nikon)

I used digital Nikon cameras before I discovered Leica cameras and owned first a crop sensor Nikon D90, then a full frame Nikon D700 camera and finally a Nikon D800 that I bought on pre-release. It was not until a few years later that I bought my  first Leica, a Leica M9.  Having come from having digital Nikon cameras I still own some very nice Nikon F mount lenses.  I can now use all of these lenses on the Nikon F5 so I’m glad I kept them. I also own two other Nikon film bodies, a Nikon FM and the aforementioned Nikon F4.  I will compare my three Nikon film cameras in a separate article.

Nikon F5 Camera Review

Nikon F5 Review – Top 3 features (for me)

1. Nikon F5 – Well built
As mentioned above it feels like the Nikon F5 is built to last and feels less fragile than a Leica.  (By this I mean the Leica  rangefinder calibration can be knocked out of alignment if easily if the camera is knocked). The Nikon F5 is not a light camera with the camera body alone weighing 1.2kg (without the 8 AA batteries) A Leica M3 bodies weighs less than half that of the F5 at 580g (and it still feels quiet weighty for it’s compact size). The added weight of the Nikon F5 gives a good solid sturdy feel but doesn’t suit packing light for overseas trips and model shoots!
2. Nikon F5 – Fast autofocus
I bought the Nikon F5 specifically as the Nikon F4 auto focus is unusable for moving subjects (for me). The F4 is so slow I missed almost every photo. I can focus a manual focus Leica much faster than the F4 autofocus. In addition to this, I wanted to enjoy using telephoto autofocus lenses on the F5.  One example lens is the Nikkor 180mm f2.8 AFD which I bought in my Leica ‘era’.  Using an SLR camera and long lenses is a different photography experience to using a Leica camera. With a Leica I tend to use shorter focal length lenses, often 21mm-90mm.  My eyesight is not good enough to use a long lens without AF at a distance on an SLR camera so I appreciate the fast auto focusing of the Nikon F5.
3. Nikon F5 – Bright viewfinder
Lastly I enjoy the modern looking big bright viewfinder with focus confirmation. I use manual focus lenses on the Nikon F5 too so it is great to confirm if I have a subject in focus and can see accurately enough with just my eyesight.

So.. Is the Nikon F5 the Best Nikon Film Camera?

The answer is it depends on what camera features are most important to you when you think of the best Nikon film camera.  If for you the smallest lightest Nikon SLR is best then you would prefer the Nikon FM (from the cameras I use).  Perhaps you want your Nikon SLR camera to have autofocus and you mostly photograph static subjects then the Nikon F4 SLR offers autofocus in a smaller lighter camera body (vs the F5).  If however you need a film camera to photograph fast action photography such as motorsport then the Nikon F5 could well be the best Nikon film camera for you.   It is not small nor lightwight but it the Nikon F5 shoots 8fps vs only 4fps for my Nikon F4.  Not only that the Nikon F5 focus seems much advanced that the Nikon F4, focusing faster, hunting less and seems to nail focus regularly.  So for me yes the Nikon F5 is the best Nikon film camera when size is not an issue (even though I shoot portraits, fashion and weddings and not motorsport!).

Nikon vs Leica

I wrote a lot more for this review (over double the length) but it was going off topic comparing Nikon to Leica rather than the F5.  Instead I have cut this post here and will share the less Nikon F5 specific part another time. On to the Nikon F5 photos!

Nikon F5 Flickr photos

*(Click any photo to see the lens/ film used)
B&W Portraits
B&W Film Developing Nikon F5 Studio Shoot Nikon F5 Portrait Voigtlander Ultron 40mm F2 SL II Kodak Eastman 5222 Double-X Nikon F5 Camera Review Tenerife Photoshoot Nikon F5 B&W Fashion End of the film
Nikon F5 Colour film
Nikon F5 Camera Kodak Portra 400 Portrait

Nikon F5 Camera Review – Note

I appreciate you probably didn’t learn anything new from this mini Nikon F5 camera review and I only cover perhaps 1% of the Nikon F5 features. Hopefully the sample images will give a taster of what the Nikon F5 can do using the most basic F5 camera setting.  For me the final image is the reason I buy a camera. The 2 comparison posts to follow will help cover more of the specifics and will help when deciding between buying a Leica or a Nikon and a Nikon F4 vs Nikon F5 (for example).

Wait! Do you have film?

After reading this article hopefully you are now ready to get out and start shooting!  Have you got film ready to load?  Here are some of my favourite / the best films that I use in the Nikon F5 camera for portraits.
Colour film
Black and white film

More Nikon Blog Posts!

Nikon mount lens reviews
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE
More Film photography posts Nikon F5 Test Photo The National Gallery, London