Fujifilm X-T2 full test by Professional Photo


The new Fujifilm X-T2 has just received an extensive test by Professional Photo Magazine.

X-T2_BK_18-55mm_front_White

Check out the full 6 page test here FUJI XT-2 Full test by Professional Photo Magazine

Make sure you get your pre-order in today! 

Fujifilm Announce the X-T2


Fujifilm have made a very exciting announcement this morning, the eagerly anticipated X-T2 is finally here!

X-T2_BK_18-55mm_front_White

The X-T1 was a huge success for Fujifilm, with many hailing it as the mirrorless camera that finally made them ditch their DSLRs. The X-T2 was going to have a hard time filling the rather large boots of the X-T1 but they have certainly delivered.

Check out our YouTube unboxing and hands-on video now!

The X-T2 combines the sensor and image processing engine developed by Fujifilm for this and the X-Pro 2. The X-T2’s compact and lightweight camera body is also dust-resistant, water-resistant and capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10°C. Its autofocus and electronic viewfinder performance have both been substantially improved, making it more adaptable than ever before at shooting a moving subject under difficult conditions, such as sports or wildlife photography, which had previously been considered difficult with mirrorless cameras.

X-T2_BK_Back_White

For the first time in the X Series, the X-T2 supports 4K video recording. The Film Simulation modes, used for still images, can be applied to video to easily produce premium-quality footage.

The X-T2’s design is modelled after the “central viewfinder style” of the FUJIFILM X-T1, which has been popular since its launch in 2014. This proven stable form factor provides a camera that is perfectly sized with ergonomic dials laid out exactly where they are needed for excellent, intuitive operability. Couple the X-T2 with the optional grip to provide a superior balance, especially when mounted with a telephoto lens. Immerse yourself in photography through the large viewfinder with the magnification ratio of 0.77x. The sense of perfect alignment from the centre of your body to a subject through the lens creates an illusion that you have become one with the camera for the ultimate photographic pleasure.

X-T2_BK_Tilt_Vertical_White

The full lineup of 22 FUJINON lenses covers a wide range of focal lengths from ultra wide-angle to ultra telephoto. The compact and lightweight lenses are all optimally designed for APS-C sensors, and incorporate standout features including large maximum aperture and powerful image stabilisation to meet photographers’ diverse demands.

The X-T2 is to become the X Series’ flagship model along with FUJIFILM X-Pro2, the world’s only rangefinder-style camera with the Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, released in March this year. The two models deliver unparalleled performance in their distinctive fields, with the X-T2 excelling in portraiture, nature and sports photography, and the X-Pro2 ideal for snapshots and discreet documentary photography.

Due to hit our shelves 8th September,

Body Only      –        £1399.00

Kit                      –         £1649.00

Battery Grip –        £299.99

Flash                 –        £449.99

Pre-order now with Castle Cameras today to receive a camera from our first delivery.

 

PRE ORDER NOW

Product Highlights

The X-T2 features a whole host of improvements over the X-T1, lets run through them now:

FUJIFILM’s excellent reproduction of colours and gradation of tones capture premium image quality in both stills and video recording.

The X-T2 features the 24.3MP X-TransTM CMOS III*1, an APS-C sensor with no low-pass filter boasting the highest performance in the history of the X Series, as well as the X-Processor Pro high-speed image processing engine to deliver outstanding colour reproduction and gradation of tones in both stills and videos with high ISO sensitivity and low noise. The Film Simulation modes, developed with Fujifilm’s philosophy of colour reproduction nurtured in over 80 years of photo film research, have further evolved to capture a subject’s textures, three-dimensional feel and even the atmosphere surrounding it.

The X-T2’s video function supports 4K video recording, which is the first in the X Series of cameras. Approx. 1.8 times the amount of information needed to produce a 4K video file (3840×2160) video is packed in to create stunning image quality.

Fast response to capture a decisive moment with any type of subject

Basic response specifications, such as startup time, shooting interval and shutter release time lag, have all been improved to the extreme in pursuit of a camera that operates exactly as the photographer demands.

The high-speed processing power and the use of improved algorithms have significantly improved the basic autofocus performance, improving the focusing performance on points of light, low-contrast objects and subjects with fine and delicate textures such as bird feathers and animal fur, which have previously been the weakness of phase detection AF.

The X-T2 also features AF-C Custom Settings for even higher accuracy in focus-tracking moving subjects. You can customise settings to optimise AF characteristics according to the type of subject movements.

The electronic viewfinder, which is used to continuously track a moving subject, is capable of displaying up to 100 frames per second, while also maintaining the magnification ratio of 0.77x and the display time lag of 0.005 seconds. The duration of the viewfinder blackout, in which the live view display blacks out temporarily while the camera reads picture data, has been reduced by more than half, enabling up to 5fps, instead of 3fps in previous models, during continuous shooting in the Live View mode, a better option to ensure tracking subject movements.

A perfectly balanced, compact, lightweight and rugged body, made possible with the APS-C sensor

The X-T2’s compact and lightweight body, weighing just 507g (including memory card and battery), is dust-resistant, water-resistant and capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10°C. The use of the APS-C sized sensor means the camera body mounts more compact and lightweight lenses, so that you only need a small camera bag to head out for all types of field photography.

Fit the optional Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XT2) to shoot up to approx. 1,000 frames per charge.

Practicality-oriented design that brings back the operability of traditional cameras

Mechanical dials are provided for intuitive operation of all basic camera settings, including the shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation, drive modes and metering modes. The settings can be instantaneously adjusted even when the camera is turned off, so that you can be always ready for the next shot. The rear panel of the camera body features the Focus Lever. This can be moved up / down, right / left and diagonally to make quick changes to the focus area for accurate focusing. The rear LCD screen is the X Series’ first three-direction tilting display, which tilts up and down when shooting in landscape, and upward when shooting in portrait. The screen remains positioned on the optical axis of the lens even when tilted, facilitating easy high-angle and low-angle shooting. When not tilted, it fits flush to the body to maintain its streamlined design.

Supporting an appealing lineup of lenses, and perfect match for Fujinon Red Badge zooms

Of the diverse lineup of FUJINON lenses, the Red Badge zooms, namely XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR and XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, are the perfect fit for the X-T2. Add the Vertical Power Booster Grip to the body for a more comfortable grip, while making additional features available for the entire system such as higher-speed AF and faster continuous shooting.

Product features

(1) Integrating the image sensor boasting the highest resolution in the X Series, the high-speed image processing engine “X-Processor Pro” and image design technology developed from over 80 years of photo film production to achieve ultimate image quality in both stills and videos

  • ・  The X-T2 features Fujifilm’s 24.3MP X-TransTM CMOS III APS-C sensor. Its highly random pixel array effectively reduces moiré and false colours without the use of an optical low-pass filter. The elimination of the low pass filter, which is attributed to loss of image resolution, makes it possible to draw out FUJINON lenses’ true capabilities to the maximum extent. Coupled with the high-speed image processing engine “X-Processor Pro,” the X-T2 produces image quality comparable to that of cameras equipped with a larger sensor with higher pixel count, while also supporting 4K video recording.
  • ・  Fujifilm’s proprietary image design technology, produced through the development of photographic films, helps to reproduce warm skin tones, bright blue skies and rich green foliage in beautiful colors, just as you remember seeing in real life.
  • ・  The Film Simulation function now features the ACROS mode. Using X-Processor Pro’s advanced processing capability, the mode offers smooth gradation, deep blacks and beautiful textures to create monochrome images that far outperform the previous Monochrome mode.
  • ・  The X-T2 also has the Grain Effect function for reproducing distinctive graininess seen in photographs taken with film cameras. The function is available in “Strong” and “Weak,” and can be combined with any of the Film Simulation modes. You can easily obtain the effect of film-based photos, notable especially when the image is printed out.
  • ・  Despite having the pixel count 1.5 times that of the X-T1, the new device and its enhanced signal processing technology have successfully controlled digital noise even further. Improved ISO sensitivity means ISO12800, which was part of extended ISOs in X-T1, is now available as a regular ISO option. Even at ultra-high ISO settings, the camera produces low-noise images, reproducing deep blacks and smooth gradation of tones, capturing beautiful images even in low light conditions.

(2) X Series’ first support for 4K video recording

  • ・  Approx. 1.8 times the amount of information needed to produce 4K video (3840×2160) or 2.4 times required for full HD video (1920×1080) is packed in to create premium image quality with low moiré or artifacts. The X-T2 supports high video bitrate recording of 100Mbps for both 4K and full HD video, enabling high-resolution footage with minimal compression artifacts.
  • ・  The Film Simulation modes, popular for still images, can also be applied to video recording. For example, you can use “Classic Chrome” to add a documentary touch with subdued colors and rich tonality, or “ACROS” to produce stunning monochrome footage with smooth gradation of tones and deep blacks. Nine different modes are available for versatile photographic expressions.Footage in a Film Simulation mode can be further fine-tuned with “Highlight Tone,” “Shadow Tone,”“Color” and “Sharpness” adjustments.

・  In response to videographers’ demand, the X-T2 supports Clean HDMI output for 4K video recording,

and also offers the “F-Log” log-gamma option, which takes advantage of the sensor’s wide dynamic range to record video in wide color gamut, facilitating video production workflow.

(3) Fast response to capture a decisive moment with any type of subject

Basic response specifications have been enhanced to the extreme in the X-T2. A startup time of 0.3 seconds, shooting interval of 0.17 seconds*2 and shutter release time lag of 0.045 seconds*2, ensure the camera operates exactly as the photographer intends.

1. Improvement in basic AF performance

  • ・  The number of focusing points has been dramatically expanded from 49 in previous models to 91 (up to 325 points). Approx. 40% of the imaging area (center area containing 49 focusing points) is covered with phase detection AF pixels to form a fast and precise phase detection AF area that can be used in a variety of scenes.
  • ・  The high-speed processing power and the use of improved algorithm have allowed the camera to refocus more frequently in the Live View mode, enabling predictive AF of advanced accuracy.
  • ・  The X-T2 has an enhanced ability to autofocus on points of light, low-contrast objects and subjects with fine and delicate textures such as bird feathers and animal fur, which have been the weakness of phase detection AF.
  • ・  The performance of contrast detection AF, enabled for approx. 85% of the imaging area, has also been improved. The data read speed has been doubled compared to previous models to achieve AF performance of higher speed and precision. Accurate focusing is obtained even at the low light condition of -3EV.

2. AF-C Custom Settings

・AF-C algorithm has been significantly improved for even higher accuracy when focus-tracking moving subjects in the AF-C mode. According to the type of movement, you can choose individual settings for “Tracking Sensitivity,” “Speed Tracking Sensitivity” and “Zone Area Switching,” or select one of five presets that combine specific settings for these three elements.

Zone Area Switching setup screen Preset selection screen *2 WhenusingtheBoostModewiththeVerticalPowerBoosterGrip

3. Electronic viewfinder that has evolved to continue tracking moving subjects

  • ・  The X-T2’s 2.36-million-dot high-resolution organic EL electronic viewfinder has the magnification ratio of 0.77x and maintains the display time lag of just 0.005 seconds. With the maximum brightness doubled from previous models, the viewfinder features the Automatic Brightness Adjustment function so that it is easy to see even in intense backlighting. It has improved resolution in the Live View mode, and eliminates moiré or false colors to enable focusing with greater accuracy.
  • ・  The EVF refreshes at a rate of 60fps, or as high as 100fps in the Boost mode to deliver smooth display of movements. It can continue displaying a moving subject without interruption. The fast rate of refresh is maintained even in low light for easy framing during night shooting.
  • ・  The X-T2’s blackout time is less than half of that of the X-T1 due to the parallel processing of Live View display and fast shutter charging. This has enabled continuous shooting of 5fps in Live View, giving users the ability to easily continue tracking a moving subject.Difference in blackout times between Previous model and X-T2(4) Compact, lightweight and rugged body in optimum balanceThe X-T2’s body is fully made of magnesium alloy making it not only compact and lightweight, but also solid and highly durable. The body is weather-sealed at 63 points to achieve a high level of resistance to dust and moisture and, coupled with its ability to operate in temperatures down to -10°C, is ready for full-fledged field photography. Similar weather-sealing is applied to the dust-resistant and water-resistant lenses as well as Vertical Power Booster Grip to provide weather resistance across the entire system.(5) Enhancement of basic performance with the use of the Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XT2)

・ The Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XT2) is released at the same time as an optional accessory. It is dust-resistant, water-resistant and capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10°C. It fits two batteries, bringing the total number of batteries to three, including the one on the camera, to increase the maximum number of frames that can be taken per charge to approx. 1,000 (Normal

mode). In the Boost mode, multiple batteries can operate at the same time to give a boost to camera performance in continuous shooting, shooting interval, shutter release time lag and blackout time, while also extending the duration of 4K video recording to approx. 30 minutes. It is an accessory that can maximize the performance of the X-T2.

  • ・  The Grip features the shutter release button, focus lever, AE-L button, AF-L button, command dials, Q button and Fn button to provide the same level of excellent operability in vertical shooting as you get in horizontal operation.
  • ・  The Grip also features a headphone jack to enable audio monitoring during video recording.
  • ・  The Grip itself has battery-charging functionality. Using the AC adapter supplied (AC-9VS), you canfully charge two batteries at the same time in approx. 2 hours.

(6) Practicality-oriented design that brings back the operability of traditional cameras

  • ・  Mechanical dials are provided for key operation, including the shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation, drive modes and metering modes. The settings can be adjusted even when the camera is turned off, so that you can be always ready for the next shot. For the prevention of operation errors, the dials for shutter speed and ISO sensitivity are equipped with a Lock & Release button, and are designed with extra height for operability improvement from X-T1.
  • ・  The rear panel of the camera body features the Focus Lever. This can be moved up / down, right / left and diagonally to make quick changes to the focus area for accurate focusing.
  • ・  In response to requests from professional photographers, the X-T2 comes with dual SD card slots, both supporting UHS-2 for faster write speed. The two slots can be set up for “Sequential,” “Backup,” “RAW / JPG” for recording RAW data in Slot 1 and JPEG data in Slot 2, as well as “Video Destination.”
  • ・  The rear LCD screen is the X Series’ first three-direction tilting display, which tilts up and down when shooting in landscape, and upward when shooting in portrait. The screen remains positioned on the optical axis of the lens even when tilted, facilitating easy high-angle and low-angle shooting. When not tilted, it fits flush to the body to maintain its streamlined design.

(7) Supporting an appealing lineup of lenses, and perfect match for FUJINON Red Badge zooms

The FUJINON Red Badge zooms – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR and XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR – are the perfect fit for the X-T2. Add the Vertical Power Booster Grip to the body to hold the camera more comfortably.

XF16-55mmF2.8 mounted XF50-140mmmmF2.8/VPB-XT2 mounted XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6/VPB-XT2 mounted

(8) Supportingtethering*3

・ Install the Tether Shooting Plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® / Tether Shooting Plug-in Pro for Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® to tether the X-T2 to a Mac or Windows computer for remote shooting. You can automatically transfer and save images on the computer, and shoot while checking Live View images (Pro version only) to accommodate the workflow of professional photographers.

*3 Remote shooting with USB and Wi-Fi connectivity will be supported in a future firmware update.

(9) ”WirelessCommunication”functionforremotelyshootingimagesfromsmartphonesandtablet devices*4

  • ・  Download the “FUJIFILM Camera Remote” app (free) onto your smartphone or tablet device and use the Wireless Communication function to transfer photos and videos to the device with easy one-touch operation, or browse photos and videos in the camera from the device to select and download specific images, without having to enter ID or password. The app also allows X-T2 to download location information from your device and attach it to images.
  • ・  The app’s “Remote Control” function enables wireless operation of X-T2’s shutter, exposure, etc. from your smartphone or tablet device. The Remote Control function allows you to not only handle basic operations such as Touch AF and Shutter Speed selection, but also adjust a diverse range of shooting settings or even record video remotely. It makes it easy to compose and take a photo from a remote location when shooting a group photo, self portrait or even wildlife in their natural environment.
  • ・  Wi-Fi® communication*5 is supported for easy backup of in-camera data on your computer*6.
    *4 AndroidTM smartphones / tablets as well as iPhones and iPads
    *5 Wi-Fi®isaregisteredtrademarkofWi-FiAlliance®.
    *6 Tousethisfeature,thefreesoftware“FUJIFILMPCAutoSave”mustbeinstalledonyourcomputerinadvance.

Sigma MC-11 super test! 24 Canon fit lenses tested


Welcome to our super test of one of the most exciting new products from Sigma, the MC-11 EF to Sony E mount adaptor.

SIGMA-MC-11-1024x576

 

The Sigma MC-11

This great piece of kit from Sigma is designed to allow fully compatible use of the Sigma lenses in Canon EF on Sony E mount cameras, including full frame FE mount cameras like the Sony A7SmkII, A7RmkII and A7mkII.

Greg Thurtle from TP Photography, who helped me complete this mammoth test, joined me in store as we went through many Canon L series lenses and other third party lenses to see how well they perform. As this adaptor is not supposed to support these lenses, the results would be very interesting. If it worked well, the MC-11 could be a much more cost effective alternative to the popular Metabones adaptors. The list of lenses tested is listed below, watch the video to see how well they performed!

Full Frame Lenses

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM MACRO

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L II IS USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 L USM

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro EOS

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di EOS

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro EOS

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC USD EOS

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC USD EOS

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM EOS

Crop Lenses

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM-C

Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM ART

 

As you can see from the video, only two of the lenses we tested failed to work and many of them worked flawlessly. This adaptor from Sigma is an absolute game changer and is a strong contender for our product of the year! The Sigma MC-11 and all of the lenses tested are  available from Castle Cameras now.

Premium Sigma wide and macro lenses for just £399


We are pleased to be able to offer you two fabulous special purpose lenses from Sigma that have had their price slashed to just £399.

Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro EX DG OS

This superb lens offers premium optical quality, a fast aperture, optical image stabilisation and real 1:1 macro close focusing ability.

Sigma’s medium telephoto macro lens incorporates Optical Stabilisation allowing the use of shutter speeds approximately 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible. SLD glass provides good control of aberration and the floating inner focus system ensures high rendering throughout the focusing range. By using Sigma’s APO Tele Converters, it is possible to take photos at greater than 1:1 magnification. HSM ensures a quiet and high speed AF as well as full-time manual focus override. This lens has a rounded 9 blades diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas.

I took this lens out at the weekend to see what it could do. It works with both full frame and cropped sensor cameras. I used a Nikon D7100 here to show you  just how close you can get:

Focused at around 1:5, (approx 40cm)

Then the same setup shot at 1:1 (minimum focus distance) this is a full sized image, not cropped in any way!

This ten pence coin is also shot at 1:1

The detail this lens can render is marvellous, this shot is straight out of camera with no adjustments

It also makes a good portrait lens, with great sharpness and beautiful background blur

This great lens is available in Nikon, Canon and Sony fit all for just £399

Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC HSM

Another premium lens from Sigma, this wide angle lens for cropped sensor cameras offers amazing wide angle shots with superior sharpness.

It’s wide-angle of view from 102.4 degrees produces striking images with exaggerated perspective, enabling photographers to emphasise the subject. ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glass, SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass and Aspherical lenses provide excellent correction of all types of aberrations. The Super Multi-Layer lens coating reduces flare and ghosting and creates high image quality throughout the entire zoom range. The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures fast and quiet autofocus, while allowing full-time manual focus override.

I also took a few shots using this lens and a Nikon D7100. I was out around Poole Harbour for sunset which provides the kind of shooting conditions this lens thrives in. Once again these shots are all straight from the camera with no post production or cropping.

I think you’ll agree it gives impressive results and an interesting perspective over a standard zoom lens. This lens is available in Nikon, Canon, Sony and Pentax fit for just £399

NEW Nikon D5200


The upgrade to the Nikon D5200 is here.

Nikon D5200 18-55mm VR

The long awaited replacement to the D5100 has landed. The new D5200 features a 24.1mp sensor, backed up with an EXPEED 3 image processor and shoots a very welcoming 5 frames per second. Utilising the same auto focus system as the super reliable D7000, the D5200 is set to be a winner. The biggest difference between the two is going to be the body size and functionality, as reflected in it’s positioning.

The D5200 weighs in at just 505g for the body, lacking the weather sealing and advanced controls of it’s older sibling, the D7000. The viewfinder features 95% coverage and the lack of top plate display is over come by a new menu and display layout on the rear LCD. Add a 921k dot, 3 inch vari-angle LCD and you’ve got a camera that is equally functional in a lighter weight package.

Nikon D5200 Red rear

With the same full HD video recording with full time AF and built in stereo mic the D5200 is more than capable for video users. There’s even an in-built movie editor, allowing quick edits without the need for a computer. The D5200 also features some in-built processing modes for HDR shots as well as a host of creative filters.

The D5200 will be available in a choice of three colours, Black, Red and Brown. With an RRP of £819.99 including the 18-55mm VR lens at launch there is a lot to be excited about, with the D7000 currently holding around £850 and looking a bit long in the tooth. The D5200’s biggest competition is still going to be the older D5100, especially over the festive period where you can pick a double zoom kit up for a little over £550.

Follw us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and sign up to the news letter to keep up-to-date with the latest news.

Gear Review: Lowepro Field Station Review


Lowepro Field Station (photo copyright James Coombes)

We’ve got a couple of Spring themed gear reviews and tests coming up for you guys. Themed is the word. We’re kicking off with one of latest releases from Lowepro; the Lowepro Field Station (£79.00 current in stock at Castle Cameras – Bournemouth). The Field Station represents the entry into Lowepro’s Optics range, designed specifically with the bird watcher in mind.

Specification:

Interior size: 8.5W x 4.1D x 9.1H in / 21.5cm x 10.5cm x 23cm

Exterior size: 9.3W x 7.7D x 10.6H in / 23.5cm x 19.5cm x 27cm

Fabric: 210d Nylon, 600d Polyester, Airmesh.

Weight: 1.6lbs / 0.7kg

Overview:

Lowepro have aimed this bag squarely at the light weight birder. The bag is small, neat and organised, with room for the essentials; 1x pair binoculars (up to 8×42) field guide, notebook and (very) small personal items. You can replace your notebook with an iPad or similarly sized tablet device should you wish, more on this later.

The pocket layout is well thought out. To get in the case you use the YKK rear zip entry that allows quick and easy access. The inside of the bag contains a central pocket with foam insert to hold your bin’s nice and central, with a buttoned padded flap to aid security, whilst retaining enough space on either side for a sandwich or similar. You could even fit a small folding umbrella in the same compartment. Behind the binocular pouch is a divider which houses the sliding notepad holder. This section of the bag suits a field guide and notepad to identify and jot down your days sightings, in our test it held a moleskin notebook beautifully and was easy enough to slide in and out for quick access.

The Field Station has 2 pockets either side, an Air Mesh pocket with elastic sealing to hold anything you want easily to hand, about the size of your fist and perfect for an orange or two. The opposite pocket has a sealing flap and is perfect for a mobile phone or compact camera. Both side pockets are neatly covered by 2 extra waist support straps making it a little harder to grab at your gear but also less ‘knickable’. The Field Station finishes off with a zipper pocket on the front of the bag, in this instance the perfect size for a couple of Cokin P series filters and a holder, although once the bag was fully loaded this did become a little trickier to get gear in and out of.

For me, the best part of this bag is the waist strap. Personally I’ve never had much luck with waist straps, they tend to either be uncomfortable, don’t fit (I’m a little on the skinny side) or just haven’t offered the support they’re supposed to. Lowepro have really nailed it on this bag. From either side of the case protrude a padded, yet grippy waist belt that clips together using a plastic clasp. On the outside of each of these straps is another support that uses the same Nylon fabric as the case and is joined to the bulk of the case. Each of the four supports is independently adjustable, allowing you to create a truly custom fit. The genius lies in the outside straps; as they’re connected to the main body of the case they hold the whole thing snug against your body, the case doesn’t flop from the top when loaded nor jump around when empty. The padded straps offered all the comfort found in Lowepro’s popular Street and Field series and the level of finish is excellent. I wouldn’t worry about using this bag over years of birding and many trips.

The bag is finished in a dark olive green that fits in with it’s intended use.

Lowepro Field Station (photo copyright James Coombes)

Real world Test:

I managed to take a sample on a trip to the RSPB nature reserve at Arne, just outside of Wareham, Dorset. The bag handled my Steiner 8×42 Skyhawk Pro binoculars and all the camera gear I’d taken with me; Cokin P series filters, Filter Holder, Lightcraft variable ND filter, Gorilla pod and even a backup Panasonic TZ30. I managed to keep a rain jacket (great british weather expert) attached to the bag by looping it around the waist strap.

All the Lowepro advertising images show the bag worn on the front, like a 90’s bum-bag (think Mr Motivator). I couldn’t bring myself to walk like that so instead wore the pack around the small of my back for comfort. Whenever I needed to dip in and out of the pack, which was pretty infrequent, I managed to ease the waist straps slightly and spin the bag to my front. I was amazed at the comfort of the pack immediately. We got in a fairly quick 2.5km route through the reserve as light was fading and the carpark closed at dusk. I felt no discomfort with the pack, even having enough confidence to go wading gung-ho style through a bog.

It took seconds to adjust the velcro on the binocular compartment to make a perfect fit for the Steiner’s, and getting the bin’s in and out was quick and easy. The rest of the bag held the car keys and a modest wallet with no complaints, as well as making use of the notebook pocket for the purpose of this review.

Summary:

I’m not a twitcher, not even a closet one in denial. I am however obsessed with gear and anything that can carry what I want, when I want it, without me noticing it is a win. The Lowepro Field Station represents on of the most thought out and successful pieces of equipment I’ve used in an age. If you’re a bit of a part time birder, like taking a pair of binoculars on a photo trip or simply want something that keeps your hands free and your stuff safe then this is the bag for you. At £79.00 it’s not the cheapest bag in the world but this is more than offset by the features of the bag and the comfort and confidence it inspires.

Who’s it for:

The part-time or light weight birder. The techno savvy (remember the iPad sleeve?) birder. Anyone who wants a light weight and comfortable carrying system for short treks and walks.

Who’s it not for:

Wildlife photographers would be hard pushed for space unless they don’t mind carrying their body and lens all day. If you prefer using a scope or bigger pair of binoculars then you’ll want to look higher in the Lowepro Optics range.

Rating:

8/10. The bag is excellent, for what it’s designed for it’d be incredibly difficult to better it. The price point is a little tough, but the features and comfort justify it.

%d bloggers like this: