GEAR REVIEW // DOMKE F-5XB Shoulder Bag

By Stein Beck

In the words of someone much wealthier than I ...

More than three decades ago a photojournalist in the trenches designed a revolutionary new kind of camera bag to help pros work more efficiently. His brilliant inventions and commitment to quality created a living legend.

For many, myself included, the search for the ultimate bag is like the search for the Crackerjack* prize as a kid. Exciting but disappointing, leaving you craving yet another box of caramel coated popcorn in hope of the ultimate trinket .... this was to be my first experience of consumer disappointment and the power of great advertising all in one. The search for the perfect camera bag has been no different

So when I lay my eyes on Jeremy's 10+ years rugged olive green 'Domke F-5XB' Shoulder Bag'(below) I was very hopeful. Years ago I had purchased a Domke clone via eBay, the Chinese 'Saffratto' had been an adequate home for my Nikon F4S and a couple of lenses and suffice to say I was very interested to see the expected improvements of the genuine Domke article.

  L   eft   'New' Olive Domke F-5XB    Right  10+ years Olive around the world Dome F-5XB (courtesy Jeremy Morse) 

Left 'New' Olive Domke F-5XB  Right 10+ years Olive around the world Dome F-5XB (courtesy Jeremy Morse) 

the Domke F-5XB looked to be a dam good replacement home for my Leica Q and Fujifilm GA645, the smaller size and aesthetic of the Domke really appealed to me. For the past couple of years I had been using the Mild Enthusiast(m) which had replaced my earlier purchase of a Dry Red #2 combined with a Large Haven (all by Crumpler). Both excellent bags in their own right, however I now wanted something compact and a better designed for photography. I must state here that The Original Mild Enthusiast in medium** is a cracker of a bag. I have dragged it around for many trips away and its handy iPad pouch on the back and internal pockets for Passports, notepads maps .. whatever, is brilliant. I just now wished for a smaller street shooter contender for my trip to Japan. 

This is where the Domke comes into its own, I LOVE this bag for sooo many reasons. 

This bag just screams quality, from the water resistant fabric to brilliantly simplistic design. Everything just seems in the right place for the right reason. It holds my

  • 'Leica Q/ Leica M6' combo with charger 3 batteries, Kindle, Notepad and headphones brilliantly.
  • Fujifilm GA645, Olympus mju ii,  Japan Camera Hunter Bikkuri 120 Film Case,  Field Notes, Kindle odds and ends.
  • Hasselblatt, 120 film, light metre, Ricoh GR,  pens, notebook and stuff.a to the same awesome effect. Versatile reliable and understated and sexy. Finally

Versatile, reliable, understated and sexy. What more can a Photofile ask for!. I will leave this article right here as I LOVE this bag and think anyone sporting similar kits as I mentioned above cannot go wrong. Do yourself a favor and grab one.

Here are the TECH SPECS for those of you who need a little more then a rant and a few pics.

Facts and Figures:

  • Five compartments and pockets.
  • Padded main compartment lined with hook and loop material has two removable padded divider walls.
  • Belt loop
  • Removable Gripper Strap for shoulder use.
  • X-Large YKK® Zippers

Ideal For: 1 SLR or rangefinder camera, 1 or 2 lenses, filters, film and accessories.

Measurements

  • Exterior Dimensions: 10″W x 4.5″D x 7.25″H
  • Interior Dimensions: 9.5″W x 4″D x 6″H

 

*Cracker Jack is an American brand of snack, consisting of molasses-flavored, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, well known for being packaged with a prize of trivial value inside. The Cracker Jack name was registered in 1896. The slogan, "The More You Eat The More You Want", was also registered that year.[1] Some food historians consider it the first junk food.[2]

**The Mild Enthusiast has been updated and now only comes in 'Medium'  no longer s/m/l, Significant increasing the price by 35% ($129 - $169). Drooped double straps on front & no longer takes an original iPad (2mm to short).

GEAR REVIEW // Voigtländer 35mm f/1.7 Ultron Aspherical & Silver Efex Pro 2

Nick has been shooting with a Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5 for the last two years since he dove deep into the Leica world with his M Typ 240 rangefinder. But when he discovered the newer Voigtländer 35mm f/1.7 Ultron Aspherical, he was keen to grab it as an alternative to the very, very expensive 35mm Summilux F1.4 by Leica.

As you can see, the images are very sharp even wide open, though there is noticeable vignetting from F1.7 to roughly F4. Beyond that it is supremely sharp and clear across the board.

Nick has since started shooting the lens on his new Leica M7 film rangefinder so we'll update this post when he has some of the results developed and scanned!

NEW! DESIGNED THUMBS UP EP-SQ2 FOR LEICA Q

Match Technical has been producing super camera accessories for some time. In particular their 'Thumbs Up Grip' designs for various camera models are by far their most successful and innovative product. I have used them on many of my cameras in the past, Fuji X100, Fuji X-Pro1, Fuji XE-1, Leica M8/M9 and Leica 240 to name a few. Obviously I am a fan, so it comes as no surprise that I was very excited to receive the NEW Thumbs Up EP-SQ2 grip from Scott at Mainline Photographics in Sydney.

This is a slight redesign of the original EP-SQ (above). I am sorry to say that the original had a tendency to slide out of the hot shoe. I have personally lost a Thumbs-Up grip from my Leica Q in this very manner. The new edition of a small lock screw on the top of the hot shoe placement (images to the right) is the remedy, and so far so good. It fits nice and snug and as expected. The handling of the camera is like chalk and cheese, a NO BRAINER.

I think there would be few people, who after trying a Thumbs Up grip on their camera, would not make the purchase (money willing). I know there are many nasty fakes on eBay but I am here to tell you just forget it and get the real thing. The design and  craftsmanship that has gone into Match Technical's grips is worth every penny. WECC member Nick Bedford had one cheap $10 grip arrive only to be loose enough to fall out of the hot shoe if he wasn't careful.

I was always so surprised as to why camera manufacturers themselves do not produce such accessories. Leica offer their Finger Loop accessory but in my opinion it's lame and clunky. Before you have a go at me, I purchased one for my Leica Q along with the grip from day one of owning the camera. I used it for about 6 months until it came away from the grip one day and plummeted to the floor, to my horror, hitting the concrete and damaging the top plate, disabling the use of the exposure compensation dial in the process.

My taped up Q above in the video is the giveaway. Shit design, and if you do a bit of Googling I am by no means the only person to have this happen to their Leica camera and Leica Finger loop combo.

Surprise, surprise! With the announcement of the Leica M10 (phenominal release!) came their very own hot shoe "Thumb Rest". Apparently plagiarism is the highest form of flatery. Match Technical must be smitten as it appears they now have the endorsment of a prestige camera brand touting their design brilliance.

According to Leica:

"Sliding the thumb support into the hot shoe enhances the ergonomics of the Leica M10. With the thumb pressed up against the thumb rest, the camera can be held much more steadily and is easier to handle. It makes single-handed shooting much steadier and enables the use of longer shutter speeds without the risk of camera shake. The thumb support is CNC-machined from brass and is finished in the same classic surface coating as the Leica M10 to ensure a perfect match when attached."

Welcome to the 90's Leica! I have no idea why it has taken so long to provide their own thumb grip (rest). I am pleased they have at least, and with Leica's price of $290 AUD, Match Technical's original Thumbs Up is still a worthy option and I, like many, will stick with their option over Leica's considering the quality is as good, if not better.

Conclusion

In the end, the use of a Thumbs Up grip has been a huge increase in comfort for me and many of my colleagues and friends who also choose to use them on their cameras. Members Nick, Hannah, Tyler, Jeremy and others to name a few, swear by them, so do yourself a favour and invest in one of these. You won't regret it.

PURCHASE HERE

Source (images Leica Thumb Rest http://www.leicashop.com/)

Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2 Leica Mount

by Simon P M Johnson & Alex Bowler

image Simon P M Johnson | Voigtlander 28mm & Leica M9-P

Lets face it when it comes to photography, Voigtlander make some shit hot products. They really are a shinning jewel for so many of us who just cant justify or afford some of the big $$$$ required by Leica and the like when it comes to lens choice. I have had my share of Voigtlander lenses over the years and a couple hold pride of place within my 'M arsenal'. The Voigtlander Ultron 28 was a lens I had been waiting to try for some time so when the opportunity arose I & Alex jumped on it, I was eager to see if this lens was up to the chalenge, at such a great price point would it make the grade and perhaps complete my Holy Voigtlader Trinity lens collection ??

It must be said I have used both the Zeiss & Leica equivalent in the past and the bar had been set at a very high level so was keen to see how a 'budget' lens would stacked up. Alex threw the lens on his Zeiss Icon for a couple of days and ran a roll of color film through it. He just wanted to see how the lens suited his style of shooting and was a great alternative viewpoint to my digital Leica M. 

Alex's images above give a great example of how versatile the lens actually is. 28mm is a often overlooked focal length, I suggest those of you who often stick to the slightly longer 35 should definitely give the 28 a try. I made the switch some years ago for my street work and have never really looked back.

The Voigtlander has a lovely hefty feel not cheap at all. It's focusing is smooth and accurate with  nice fluid swing. In general I always hyper-focus when shooting with it on the street, however manual focus is a dream to use and very enjoyable on the digital Leica M & both Voigtlander & Icon film bodies. There was no trouble with any of these camera bodies when it came to coupling with their separate rangefinders.

Alex & I both came away very happy indeed, there really isn't anything not to like. Ken Rockwell has a more in depth tech review on his sight which I would recommend having a read. He goes much further into the lens and provides some  points you may wish to consider before purchasing. He also provides some great images exampling his findings.

So for me it's a winner at a budget price, if money isn't a issue then the Leica , 2.8 Elmerit-M or even the Carl Zeiss Biogon T f2.8 are the quality choice. For the rest of us the Voigtlander is definitely worth not only your time & money, but your respect ... Cheers Cosina