2302, 2016

Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Review

February 23rd, 2016|Review|

The Manfrotto 055XPROB is a fairly heavy duty tripod, I have used this tripod for over 3 years now and it is still going strong. I currently have the 498RC2 ball head mounted on top of the tripod legs so I will give an overview of the head as well.

The legs are made of aluminum, with a rubber handle on two of the legs. The overall construction is very sturdy and feels almost bomb proof, I have thrown this tripod around quite a bit in the past 3 years and it still feels just as reliable as when I first got it.

A weight of 8 kg can be loaded onto the tripod, which means a big heavy camera with a large lens can be quite easily mounted onto the tripod without much trouble.

I personally have mostly used it for landscape photography, which usually means I have a wide angle lens attached to my camera which isn’t so heavy. When shooting long exposure shots I don’t have to worry at all about any unintentional shake as the tripod feels very secure and takes a strong gust of wind for it to be rocked and even then I am surprised at what it can handle.

This tripod can be extended nice and high if needed.

With the strength of the tripod comes weight to go along with it, as it weighs about 5 kg with a head on the legs. This isn’t exactly lightweight for carrying around on a regular basis but that is a trade off for the stability of it.

Each of the legs have three sections, with 2 levers on each to adjust each height. The levers lock in each section securely and are quick and easy to operate.

Levers on the legs make it nice and quick to adjust the height.

One aspect I like about extending the legs is that once the lever is opened the legs can be left to extend under there own weight which makes it even quicker to set up.

If you are looking for height with this tripod then you’re in luck, when the legs are fully extended along with the center column it towers at about 180cm. I rarely use it at its full height, but it is there if I need it.

As I shoot mostly landscape shots, I often shoot quite low to the ground and this tripod uses a somewhat unique mechanism to get low to the ground. The center column is about 30cm long so that means that you can go any lower than that, that is until it is set to the landscape configuration in which the center column is parallel to the ground.

Low angle configuration, the central column orientates into a horizontal position.

Now the legs can go much closer to the ground, now I do wish they would go slightly lower but its still good for those low angle shots.

There is a strap accessory that is available for this tripod, which makes it easier for carrying around during the day. I have used it for the past year or so and I have found it useful as I can just carry over my shoulder and it frees up my hands.

Manfrotto tripod strap accessory

There are a few different head options for this tripod, and I personally use the 498RC2 ball head which is a good heavy duty ball head to go along with the heavy duty tripod legs. I prefer a nice quick tripod head so I can easily adjust the cameras position and make my position without having to worry about how I should manipulate the head.

This is the reason I like the ball head is that its easy to adjust by simply turning the lever to loosen and tighten after re-positioning the camera.

498RC2 ball head controls

Final Thoughts

Overall I really like this tripod and it can survive anything, if you’re looking for a tripod for travelling around with I wouldn’t go for this as it is on the heavy side. Check out my review of the Manfrotto BeFree tripod if youre looking for a more travel friendly option. However if you need a really stable sturdy tripod that can be used with a wide range of tripod heads and cameras  then its a good choice.

It is a really versatile tripod as you can go really tall and nice and low with it, and with almost any weight of gear on top.

2002, 2016

20/20 Vision: Dunedin

February 20th, 2016|20/20 vision, Dunedin|

The 20/20 vision segment of my blog is a monthly post that is posted on the 20th of each month, I highlight a certain area, town or place and share with you 20 images from there.

This months 20/20 vision features the town of Dunedin in New Zealand, it lies near south eastern side of the south island. Its known as a Scottish town because a lot of the settlers that came over from Europe were from Scotland. It is noticeable as you walk around the town because the architecture is quite different than most of the rest of New Zealand, and resembles more of a Scottish look to it.

The steepest residential street in the world is in Dunedin.

One of my favourite areas to explore is the peninsula, which you can see across the bay from almost anywhere in the city. The peninsula feels completely different and very far from the the city, yet its just across the water. The small outcrop is much more wild feeling with small windy roads with rolling hills and lots of wildlife, you can read more about my wild life tour of the Dunedin peninsula here.

The peninsula is full of rolling hills, with the city of Dunedin just across the water.

There are a few beaches all around the peninsula, they are great to explore and see the more wild side of area.

Right at the end of the peninsula there is a spot to see albatross, its a great place to see they swooping across the cliffs. 

Along this beach is a bunch of sea lions, when I was there they were fighting with each other.

Tunnel beach is another beach just outside the main city, its an awesome sight with a huge arch over the ocean.

There are some epic cliffs down by the beach as well.

Just a short drive out of the city, there is an old railway tunnel where you can see gloworms.

Another reason to venture just outside the city is because there are some really clear skies, which makes it great for star watching and some astrophotography.

1702, 2016

Ha Long Bay: The Mysteries of the Limestone Isles

February 17th, 2016|Halong Bay, Travel Tips, Vietnam|

One of the first days I after I arrived in Vietnam I knew one of the destinations that was high on my list was Ha Long Bay. It was my highlight of Vietnam and one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the chance to visit. The bay is made up of hundred of Limestone Islands, and it is a Unesco world heritage site.

After spending my first few days of Vietnam in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, I decided to book a day trip out to Halong bay.

The trip was 4 hours each way on the bus, so it meant hopping on a bus nice and early. I think we boarded our bus at around 7am and headed off out of the city towards the coast.

The bus ride itself was interesting, looking out onto the Vietnamese landscape as we weaved in and out between cars and motorbikes. The views were so scenic and a much needed peaceful contrast to the loud active atmosphere of the city.

As we approached the coast, I could spot some of the Limestone islands sticking out of the clam ocean. It was my first sight of things to come and I was excited, they looked so majestic as they protruded out of the still water.

We soon hopped on our boat that would transport us around the huge Limestone isles for the next 4 hours. We got settled started to move towards the islands, they were getting bigger and bigger as we got closer.

Heading towards the giant limestone isles 

It was hard to judge the size of them from a distance, but once we were much closer it was an amazing sight seeing the sheer size of the huge vertical cliff faces.

Lonely Island

After a little while of exploring around the different islands we stopped off at a floating village in which we could go on a small rowing boat and visit a cave. Once we got through the small opening and through to the doughnut shaped inlet, there was huge cliffs surrounding us on all sides.

We then hopped back onto or big boat and headed for some caves that were on one of the islands. The caves were a lambranth of tunnels and they were lighted up with lights situated through out the caves, It added shadows and color to the interior of the protruding stalagmites and stalactite.

The cave had loads of lights that lit up the protruding rocks with lots of colors.

Seeing the twisting cave structure was amazing, there was paths and passages to other caves through out the entire place. I could hear water falling from some areas, but couldn’t see it.

After our exploration of the cave we headed back onto our boat and passed a few more isles as we headed back to shore.

The sun was just beginning to set as we approached the harbour, the islands were shrinking on the horizon on the yellowing light. I looked back at the beautiful isles back lit from the sun, wishing I could spend more time there.

The sun setting over Ha Long Bay 

If you are going to visit Vietnam, I would recommend that the one thing you must see is Ha Long Bay. Being among the massive isles, moving across the water in between the gigantic limestone rocks.

1202, 2016

The Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Kit Lens Trial

February 12th, 2016|Photography Tips, Review, tips and tricks|

The Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Kit Lens Trial

Some of you may know that I have just recently switched from shooting with Canon cameras to Sony. My main camera now is the Sony a7ii, I wanted to move to a full frame sized sensor and the mirrorless system seems like the way forward in terms of technology. You can see my full review of the Sony a7ii here.

I have mostly been shooting with my Canon lenses still, using a Commlite adapter on the front of my Sony. This is mainly because it costs a lot to buy all of my lenses again, when I still have perfectly good Canons ones.

forest landscape photo Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

For the time being I am sticking with my Canon lenses as I slowly migrate my lens collection to a Sony one.

When I purchased my Sony a7ii, I went for the kit package which includes the Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens. The kit lens is a standard zoom lens with a focal range of 28-70mm, now this isn’t my usual focal range as I mostly shoot quite wide for landscapes.

I thought it would be a good starter lens as my first time using a Sony lens, however for the past 3 months or so since getting the camera I have rarely used the Sony lens.

Landscape Photography Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

For a challenge I have made for myself I have decided to shoot with the kit for the next 2 weeks exclusively. I thought it would be a great opportunity to really get to grips with the lens and get a feel of the Sony lenses compared to Canon ones.

So this video here is of my first day using the lens, my first impressions are that it is nice and lightweight and quick to focus. So things seem positive to begin with, take a look at the video for more of my thoughts on it.


I will continue to use the lens for the next 2 weeks and write up a blog post about my overall impresion once I have put it through its paces with real world usage.