REVIEW: AF SHOOT - LENS HOOD REVIEW / CAMERA STRAP
Over the years I've been doing plenty of camera and lens reviews on this blog; granted it is mostly Fujfilm gear as this is what I'm using every day, but there have been some software and camera accessories as well.
Typically I only review items which I'm actually using. When people send me gear to test and review, I have a policy to only write about the item(s) if I either use it already or if I could see me doing so in the near future. If it doesn't qualify for the above, I tend not to blog about it, but will provide the company with feedback.
A while ago I ordered a few lens hoods from a small company called, AF Shoot, an online store based in Lisbon, Portugal. I've been using their lens hoods and camera straps for a while now and have always been impressed with their customer service. I guess that is exactly why I returned and bought a new lens hood for my XF16mm lens!
Lets first have a quick look what kind of company AF Shoot is? The company name has nothing to do with Autofocus (AF), but comes from the owner initials; "Angelo Fernandes"; a Portuguese Wedding/Street photographer who like myself is an avid Fujifilm user. I like one man companies that were formed out of the need for items that are hard to find! Such is definitively the case for AF Shoot.
While he does sell other items, the two main categories in the AF Shoot online shop consists of Lens Hoods and Camera Straps. Lets have a look at the items I've been using over the last few weeks...
While all of the Fujifilm lenses are pretty much top notch, I'm generally not a big fan of the lens hoods they provide. The hard plastic feel of the hoods, often stand in contrast to the high quality of the metal lenses. Beside some of them are larger than what I would like. After all I switched to Fujifilm to have a smaller form factor!
Granted, Fujifilm does have accessory metal lens hoods for some of their lenses which look and work great. Unfortunately they often come with quite a hefty price tag and are sometimes not directly available in camera stores. An alternative one often tends to look at, are the third party eBay lens hoods one can find for a fraction of the price.
As always, you get what you pay for and I've regularly come across cheap lens hoods that will vignet or don't fit as well as they should. This is exactly where AF Shoot comes in handy; they have lens hoods for virtually all lenses (except the very wide ones like XF10-24), which are high quality and work perfectly! All of them are screwed onto the filter thread. So if you plan on using circulars filters with them, it might not be what you want. As I never use any type of filter for my Street Photography, it is especially those lenses that are now hooded by AF Shoot! Lets look at the two I use the most;
XF23 f2 and XF35 f2
Both lenses share the same 43mm lens hood so they are fully interchangeable. Not sure what it is, but I definitively have weak spot for the "vented" lens hoods. Although they are a little longer that the original plastic one they look much cooler. I've noticed no vignetting, even when shooting wide open on both lenses and are available in both black and silver.
My favorite lens for Night Street Photography is the 16mm prime lens; "The King of the night"! I recently bought the one Angelo had in store and really like its shape, smaller size and quality.
As I rarely use filters on my 16mm lens, this hood will likely stay on there permanently. Again, no noticeable vignetting. When using the lens with the Optical Viewfinder of the X-Pro1/2, the field of view is slightly less obscured than when using the classic lens hood as it is quite bit smaller.
As photographers, we can never have too many cameras bags and camera straps! Especially for my own Street Photography, I'm a big fan of wrist straps sometimes also called hand straps. Before, I've been a user of the DeadCamera straps; beautifully crafted in hard leather, they need quite some time to loosen up and become more flexible.
While AF shoot also sells DeadCamera straps, Angelo developed his own "handcrafted" brand of straps called, "Muflon". In case you are wondering, the Muflon name comes from the Mouflon animal, a strong wild sheep which is a great climber and a beautiful animal; a hint to the climbing rope some of the straps are made off!
I tried two different Muflon straps during my week of shooting at the Xposure Street Photo festival in Sharjah; actually quite a few people approached me asking for more details about the straps I was using. So lets have a look what they are like!
A nice vintage look, tan leather colored, strap which is very light (2mm thick leather, 15mm wide) and flexible out of the box... or bag I should say as all Muflon straps come in a nice textured bag!
One can choose between tan and red colour for the small stitching; a nice little detail. It comes with two (one spare) large metal rings to connect it to your camera and a small round leather patch to protect your camera. A small slider allows you to tighten the strap as you require.
This is my favorite wrist strap I used so far; something I mainly use on the smaller bodies like the X-T20.
Using a wrist strap on the larger camera bodies, especially with longer lenses can become tiring; exactly where a classic camera strap comes in handy!
I choose the Yellowstone strap; made out of 10mm climbing rope and finished with nice leather endings, this strap comes with 4 (2 spare) 16mm rings to connect it to your camera as well as two black leather discs to protect your camera from being scratched.
On my X-T2, I had absolutely no problem opening the right hand memory card door with the leather disc installed, while the left one (microphone jack, HDMI, etc...) was slightly harder to open but still manageable.
When ordering you have to stipulate the required length of the strap as it is not adjustable. I recommend adjusting an existing strap and then measuring it before committing to a certain length. I personally like to wear my camera straps across my body rather than just over my shoulder. This makes for a little longer required length; mine was 125cm which works great. If you are not sure, suggest you contact Angelo as he always seems to be ready to give you good advice where needed.
Not surprisingly the most popular colours are black and red. As I like to blend in as much as possible while shooting, I went for a grey one. Other colors beside black, red and grey are green and orange.
Occasionally when using a full strap I'll wrapp it around my hand, which is easy to do with the Yellowstone strap as it is very flexible.
Shipment to Dubai from the store in Portugal took just over a week; something that is very good compared to other shipments I regularly receive.
To make it clear, the vast majority of the AF Shoot items I use were all bought by myself. A few of the latest straps were send as review copies, but as I've written at the start of this post, this does not make a difference in the objectivity of the review as I will not praise a product if I don't actually see myself using/liking it. For the record, I have send back items where this wasn't the case.
Anyway, make sure to check out Angelo's AF Shoot store here, but also follow his page on Facebook as he regularly posts discounts vouchers. With the holidays approaching quickly, this might be a perfect opportunity to buy yourself or loved one a nice camera accessory from Portugal!
Last but not least, Angelo is a great Street Photographer in his own right; some of his work can be found here.