Northumberland Trip with the Chamonix 045F-1

01st March 2013
In: Gear, Blog

Bamburgh Lighthouse and rocks

Last weekend I returned home from a week up in Northumberland with the family. As always it was a pleasure to be up there, the weather was generally dry if not giving us anything special in terms of light. In fact most of the week it was that kind of dull overcast uninteresting light, which is great for certain subjects but for others you’ve got to work really hard to make something of it. I’ve not yet developed any of the film I shot, but here are a few of the digital shots from the GF1. I should get chance to address my film backlog over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for the new shots appearing on the site.

Bamburgh Castle - for once without a rank of 5DMkIIs in the way.

The trip represented the first time I’d really shot with the new Chamonix 045F-1 in anger, and I will be writing a full review in due course. What I will say now is that its everything you expect it to be – well made, easy to use, rigid at all extensions, light, fiddly to set up (compared to my Ebony), and the rear asymmetrical tilt works a treat. There are a few little quirks and issues for me transitioning from a non-folding camera, but still I can safely say its probably all-round the best buy in a large format camera at the moment. Its hard to really find serious fault with a camera which costs less than one fifth what the only other two 5x4” cameras with asymmetric tilt cost new.

The Chamonix 045F-1 with a 240mm lens focussed to about 1.5m for a closeup.

In marked contrast to the delayed gratification of film we had taken the iPad with us on holiday, which meant I could review the digital shots on a decent sized screen which was a real treat. With a Eye-fi wifi memory card in the camera I didn’t even have to remember to take any extra kit, which was just as well since I forgot to pack the iPad’s card-reader! Well you always forget one thing, ususally its my toothbrush but not this time. With the wifi card I just turn the camera on, and the iPad connects with the card and the jpegs are pushed straight to it for review. It’s a pretty smart piece of kit. Of course over the next couple of years we’ll probably see all new digitals having integrated wifi, but for the time being you can add wifi capability to any camera for not much cash. Its also a good party trick for family gatherings, as you can shoot and within a few seconds each shot pops up fullscreen on the iPad. This is also has potential as a cheap faux-tethering option for digital shooting in the field, as reviewing an image on a 9” iPad screen is so much nicer than squinting at the screen on the back of a camera.

Lindisfarne Castle.

The other advantage of taking the iPad was, as anyone following me on Twitter will know, I can post up photos from away from home, and with the fairly-decent free Photoshop Express app I can do basic edits on the jpegs, which although no replacement for something like Aperture or Lightroom its still easily sufficient for posting up photos on Twitter without clogging up your iPad with RAW files.

I did also get a couple of sessions climbing in while I was up in “The County”. Firstly I met up with Kanye and Stacey at a very cold Kyloe-in and we did a good circuit of some of the classics there, always a pleasure. I love the quality of the rock at Kyloe-Inm knarly but amazingly solid, I just wish there was more of it.

Andy West on the classic "Jocks & Geordies" at Kyloe-In.

The other session was at Bowden where I swapped Will’s Lego for a Gitzo and kept him entertained while I climbed by sticking the GF1 on a tripod and letting him fire away. He managed a few decent shots anyway! Not bad for a three-year-old. I managed to close an account I’d opened about 18 months previously, when I had tried Sprung but ran out of time before sealing the deal. No such problems this time, the conditions were amazing, and for once at Bowden it wasn’t blowing a gale. I was about to quit while I was ahead but a local lad called Andy was trying V-Crimps, he gave us some great beta on this and I got it bagged with a crafty kneebar. Its not often (or ever?) that I get two 7cs done in a session, especially having done almost no training at all (and having rather over-indulged at the excellent local butchers and cakeshops all week), so that was a great end to the trip.

My bad self on V-Crimps, shot by my son Will.

Celebratory cake at the Copper Kettle Tearooms in Bamburgh.

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