Murrays’ Mill, Ancoats, Manchester – December 2019. 11mm f333 Pinhole Lens 0.4s, 51,200 ISO – Handheld



Happy New Year 

It’s that time of year again to wish all insunderary a happy new year. So consider yourself wished from me!



New Viltrox fast prime lenses with Auto Focus for APS-C sensors

Viltrox has ventured into the market with a range of fast prime AF lenses for Fujifilm X, Canon EOS EF-M and Sony E mounts.

As far as I am aware, the only current offering of compatible Fuji X Mount lenses essentially with autofocus is from a Chinese company called Viltrox. Until recently they have been manufacturing lens adaptors. Samyang / Rokinon, 7Artisans and Laowa are well known for their manual focus lenses with a Fujifilm X mount. Sigma and Tamron do not make AF or MF lenses with a Fuji X fit.

The company intends to sell a 23mm f1.4, 33mm f1.4 and a 56mm f1.4 each with an aperture ring and a 52mm filter thread.


New Name and new Auto Focus fo Fuji X Mount

The only current Viltrox lens with a Fuji mount that is on the shelves in the UK is the 85mm f1.8 AF that is being stocked by One Stop Digital £267.58 and for £320.00. If you think you might be tempted by a low cost 85mm f1.8 prime lens as far as I can see is the only drawback for me is the lack of aperture ring on this particular lens. The 33mm f1.4 lens has been priced at $255 in the US, but I don’t think this lens is available for sale in the UK yet. More later about this lens.

The widest of the three new autofocus lenses is the 23mm – which offers an equivalent focal length of a 35mm when used on an APS-C mirrorless camera.

Viltrox 23mm f1.4 Lens Specifications 

The lens is constructed from 11 elements in ten groups, including two ED lenses, and it benefits from an HD Nano multilayer protective coating on the front element. Weighing 260g, it measures 65x72mm and has a minimum focus distance of 0.3m with a 52mm filter ring. 

As with all three lenses, the 23mm has a metal structure, and offers a wide manual focus ring and internal focusing, along with a noiseless STM motor to power the autofocus. 

The Fuji Rumours website claims to have an 89.4% Accuracy Rating for the 2019 rumours. According to Fuji Rumours the 23mm f/1.4 AF lens will go on sale in December 2019 with an anticipated price of around $250. The price is probably correct but the date is now at the end of the December holidays, more than suspect. As an aside, there are now question marks over the release dates of the 33mm and the 56mm lenses.

Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester – Looking South. December 2019 11mm f333 Pinhole Lens, 1/3s, 51,200 ISO – Handheld 

My RPS – a guide by an idiot

Many of the readers of this blog will be members of the RPS who as they will know, has a shiny new website.

As with the old website as a member you can add a profile and pictures to the site. In order to do this, you will need your login details. I just added my email and password from the previous site. This takes you to the Welcome page where you can edit your profile, join a group and do a member search.


Not so obvious

What is not obvious at all, is how to add pictures to your personal portfolio. I use a 32” monitor so you would have thought if a link or button was there to add pictures, I would have seen it? But no, the webpage designers have made a serious booboo by putting the link to add pictures below the fold line. You have to scroll down to see what should be next to editing your profile. I searched ever every page I had access to but to no avail. Then by chance, I scrolled down on my welcome page. I am only telling you this so you can benefit from my poor experience. It only took about an hour to find what should have been far better placed.

Murrays’ Mill, Ancoats, Manchester – December 2019. 11mm f333 Pinhole Lens 0.4s, 51,200 ISO – Handheld


Photo Spec

When you eventually get to the add images page the upload process is quite straight forward. There is no guidance to the size of a file to be created for these pictures. However, I always use the following picture specification – Jpg, 8-bit, 850px on the long side @72ppi. My preference is to use the Lightroom Export Dialogue to create the Jpegs. If you are using Photoshop you could Duplicate the file, make it smaller then, do a “Save As” to create the Jpeg file. Once the pictures are in your Portfolio there is the facility to rearrange the order, name and delete.


Profile writing 

When writing your profile, you will notice that the included software does not allow for paragraphs. Spooky, but true. The text is presented in one large block. The only way to make grammatical sense of the text is to physical insert spacers as I have done. This must be bad if a dyslexic like myself thinks it looks a mess!


The important bit

You will not be able to see your Profile and Portfolio until you make your page public. By default, the profile and portfolio page is set to private.

Here is a link to My RPS Portfolio page as an example of the look and layout.

Vulcan Mill Ancoats Manchester December 2019 11mm f333 Pinhole Lens 0.6s, 51,200 ISO – Handheld

Reducing single use plastic coffee pods – towards a slightly more sustainable world

If you are feeling guilty about single-use plastic coffee pods (as you should be) when you have a caffeine intake then there are several alternatives to consider. About a year ago I stopped using pods in favour of a cafetiere instead. The grounds are left to dry in a bowl before being put in my food waste box for collection by the council.

Most alternative coffee pods are Nespresso compatible.

Refillable /reusable Pods 

The first and least useful alternative to me are refillable coffee pods because washing and refilling negates the ease, speed and convenience of a pod. These pods are either made from plastic or stainless steel. Also, the quality of the coffee made from refilled pods is variable at best. Prices vary widely for either material.

See a review of resuable pods from Coffeegeek.

Compostable Pods 

Next, comes compostable pods. For a material to be compostable it needs to fulfil the requirements of EN 13432 and breakdown within 12 weeks. This specific timescale adds to cost of up to three times over a non-compostable pod. Some compostable pods are up to £1 each, the price of a normal pod is usually 25p-30p each. Compostable pods fall into two types home and commercial composting.

See the Halo website

I have tried the Lavazza Espresso Deciso Intensita | 10 Eco Caps from Tesco that are commercially compostable. The authentic strength of a real Espresso is missing for me, unfortunately. 


Biodegradable Pods 

For me, if I were going for pods, I would choose the biodegradable variety because they are not sold as compliant to the said European EN standard and therefore do not have to decompose in a specified time. This will hopefully make them cheaper. However, it is not always clear from sellers’ websites if pods met the standard or not.  

The Moving Beans Classic Expresso Pods are fully compostable and biodegradable plant-based materials priced at £2.80 for a pack of 10. The postage remains at £2.99 for up to six-packs of ten after that it’s free.

I tried their Classic Espresso Blend. Described as having the following qualities – Dark Chocolate, Strong Citrus and Floral. To my taste, the Espresso was not a strong blend at all and rather disappointing given the packaging notes. The chosen pod material did not make any difference to the quality of the final product.  My machine can make an Espresso with more or less water so I might try that for a stronger brew next time. Bearing mind that no home coffee machine will make what I call a good Espresso that is thick, oily and extremely strong.


A Google search for something like “Biodegradable coffee pod review” should give you all the info you need to make an informed choice.

Photo Exhibitions in London to see in the new year

Go out and grab yourself some inspiration and knowledge at the start of the new year. Most of you will have easy access to photography exhibitions that are on in London. I gathered this information from Black and White Photography Magazine that has a two page spread every month of the current exhibition not only in London but also around the North, South East and West of the UK. For a small number of my readers the US is also included as well.


Life Magazine Photographers – Atlas Gallery 49 Dorset St W1U 6TA

Pentti Sammallahti – When Winter Reigns – Photographers Gallery, 16 – 18 Ramillies St London W1F 7LW

Tim Walker – Wonderful People – Michael Hoppen Gallery 3 Jubillee Place SW3 3TD


Be sure to check the dates, opening days and times.

Get a head – get a Bluetooth hat! 

You may know the body loses 25% of its heat through the head. Keeping yourself warm in the chilly and bleak mid-winter is a must if you want to concentrate on taking pictures rather than being distracted by feeling cold and miserable. I recently bought myself a novel invention, a woollen hat with bluetooth speakers built-in. Wearable tech is a growing market. I have never had to plug my hat in to charge the battery before now! The sound quality is quite acceptable to me. The Xikezan Bluetooth Beanie hat came via Amazon.   

I use an app called Rocket Music Player on my phone because it does not automatically assume you want to stream (and pay for) music. I have over 4000 music tracks on my phone that will play continously for over 14 days!