Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm Wide Zoom Lens

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 2 out of 5
Yeah, but: I love lens names like "M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6".

The Long Version: Bill has already spent some time with the Olympus 9-18mm lens for Micro Four Thirds, and came away with mixed opinions. So when a friend of mine offered me a chance to borrow his copy, I couldn't resist – so this marks the first time on Thewsreviews that two different people have reviewed something that we don't actually own.

And a note for Four Thirds users about the product photos used in this review: the softness and blur that you see is not a defect. It's an optical quality called "shallow depth of field" that can happen when using a lens with a wide aperture on a large sensor. There's no need to remember all that, though, since the term "shallow depth of field" and "Olympus 9-18mm lens" will never again be used in the same sentence.

My first impression of the M.Zuiko 9-18 is that there's a lot of plastic involved. I've previously owned the godlike SHG Olympus 7-14, and currently have the well-built Panasonic of the same focal length. But moving to the little Olympus 9-18 is another step down in terms of feel and handling, and that's an impression that's hard to shake when it comes time to start taking photos.

And speaking of shaking when taking photos, there's a distinct wobble in the 9-18's lens barrel. It's not floppy, but when I shake my wrist I could feel the movement. I could usually tell when it was extended to its longest physical length, at 9mm, versus when it was at its shortest length at 18mm. With practice I might be able to distinguish the intermediate focal lengths as well, but I didn't have that much time with the lens.

A lot has been made of the collapsable lens design. This does make it smaller in storage, but bigger in use; personally I don't think that the tradeoff in the fit and finish of the lens is worth it. The resulting small size also something of a trick – or perhaps an illusion – because the Olympus lens is actually larger than the Panasonic 7-14 when it's in use, especially when the hood is included.

It's also worth noting that the lens hood that's on my test lens is "optional" in the sense that it's not included and costs extra, not optional in the sense that it's a take-it-or-leave-it thing that doesn't really matter either way. While flare is remarkably well controlled even with the sun in the frame, I was happy to have it for the extra shading and physical protection that it provides. For people with variable-aspect Panasonic sensors, it's good to know that the hood doesn't vignette even when the camera's set to a 16:9 ratio.

When people talk about the optical quality of the micro 9-18, they usually start by saying how small it is. That's not a good sign.

But perhaps I expect less from my Micro Four Thirds cameras than Bill does, as I tend to use my GH1 more for snapshots and casual photography, leaving the IQ-critical tasks to my other cameras. As a result the sharpness, flare resistance, and aberration suppression of the 9-18 was perfectly serviceable for me. Not stellar, but solid. I can't really say that I took any "wow" photos in the four-day weekend that I had it for, but wide angles are notoriously hit-or-miss to begin with.

What I did see in from the lens didn't leave me burning to spend a lot more time with it. It's essentially a 'kit lens' in ultra-wide form, and the slow 4-5.6 aperture isn't an endearing characteristic. That's usually justified in exchange for smaller size and lower cost, but the Olympus achieves only mixed success with that compromise.

My huge stumbling block was the amount of distortion at the wide end of the 9-18's range. Wide lenses on little cameras are a natural choice for cities and interiors, making this very objectionable. And while it could be user error, I consistently found the distortion more pronounced on the right side of the frame. I needed to minimize the appearance of the barrel distortion by composing at jaunty angles, which was fun for the weekend, but not something I would want to see in every photo of a far-off city.

What makes the poor distortion correction even worse is that the 9-18mm is a really useful focal range. At 9mm it's wide enough to create some very powerful perpective exaggeration, while 18mm is a standard slightly-wide lens that provides a very natural point of view. I would be happy with having only this range for a day's walk, while I'd want to carry the 20mm along with the 7-14 to give me the same flexibility.

 Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm on Panasonic GH1

The Olympus 9-18 remains a difficult lens to recommend. It's not as expensive as the Panasonic 7-14, but a well-known New York camera store currently lists the Olympus at $700 and the Panasonic for under $900. Frankly, that should be too small a difference to be significant when deciding on a lens that will provide years of service. So it comes down to practical considerations of the focal length range and optical quality.

In most respects the Panasonic 7-14 lens is better than the Olympus 9-18. Better built, brighter, better corrected: as a specialized ultra-wide it wins without question, but that's not the only consideration.

The Olympus has a range that can stand on its own as a general purpose wide-standard zoom lens, perhaps replacing a 14-42, especially if it's paired with a long zoom or the bright Olympus 45/1.8 prime. I wouldn't buy it as an ultra-wide, but rather as a short zoom with the occasional extra-wide option when it would suit the subject and the photograph. But even for that more modest goal, the price to performance ratio is a tough sell. I want to like this M. Zuiko lens more than I do, so like Bill, I remain conflicted.

last updated 24 mar 2012


Green Clean Wet and Dry Sensor Swabs

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: It's not nearly as scary the second time.

The Long Version: Green Clean is the European brand that makes a number of useful products for photographers. My favourite so far has been the Wet/Dry lens wipes, which really do work better than the one-step alternatives that I use, and they also make an innovative vacuum system that's powered by canisters of compressed gas.

I had mixed results with my vacuum, but Adam Marelli reports good success when spending time in dustier conditions than anything I've ever faced. In general, when given a choice between believing me and some other authority, my money's on the other guy – although in this case the different cameras we use, one with and one without an integrated anti-dust system on the sensor, might also account for the different experience.

But the Green Clean vacuum system is only half of the Green Clean Sensor Kit, so for this review I've been testing out the wet/dry sensor swabs. Like the wet/dry lens tissues that I really like, these are packaged together in their own envelopes which makes them very convenient to use. Essentially these are tissue swabs on disposable spatulas, and there's no separate fluid or bits needed.

I have to confess that the first time I tried these sensor swabs I did a pretty bad job with it. Relieved to be free of the fussiness of the Visible Dust fluid and swab system, I may have been over-enthusiastic with the wet Green Clean swab. Okay, I'll admit that I scrubbed like I was cleaning the bathtub, and unsurprisingly the dry swab just wasn't able to cope with the aftermath. The results were bad, and I should have known better. On the bright side, it was a learning experience, and my D700 and I were both okay after a little extra work.

But the snag is that it's tough to test a sensor cleaner on a clean sensor, so that little user-error episode did derail writing this review for a couple of months. But eventually I was able to redo the test, and took a little more care, with much better results. I've never quite managed to have my sensor completely spot-free when I really go hunting for them, but this brought me as close as I've ever been with remarkably little fuss.

Sensor cleaning is something to be avoided as much as possible and done well when necessary. The Green Clean system is simple and works well: the self-contained twin envelope makes it perfect for travelling, and the results are as good as anything I've tried at home. It's certainly something that I would throw in the bag for a road trip, which isn't something I can say for the other 'wet cleaning' methods that I've tried. I'm convinced.

The Green Clean products used in this review have been provided at no cost by the North American distributor for evaluation. However, anything that isn't consumed in the product testing is returned, and there is no financial relationship or incentive involved. But as always, the usual `thewsreviews disclaimer still applies.

last updated 17 mar 2012


Nikon MB-D10 Battery Grip

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: A useful accessory for discontinued cameras.

The Long Version: The MB-D10 battery grip is an interesting beast. It makes big cameras bigger, but somehow they become easier to hold as a result. The combination of the D10 grip with the D300 or D700 isn't as nice as the D3 family, or as small, but it does a pretty good job of pretending.

The MB-D10 is unusual because it doesn't have the 'chimney' stack that extends into the camera body. Not only does the battery door not need to be taken off of the camera, the main battery stays in it. This means that the grip needs to be taken off of the camera to change the internal battery, but the thing is smart enough to pull power from the external pack first.

The grip is exceptionally well built and designed. It's tailored to the camera, made of magnesium, and sealed against dust and rain. It has twin control wheels, AF-on button, and a second four-way controller for selecting AF points and other mundane tasks. In fact, I prefer its narrower joystick style to the wider nintendo-controller of the camera body.

The MB-D10 magic happens in an unexpected way. It's called the multi-power pack for a very good reason, and putting in a higher-power battery makes a difference. It can be the very expensive EN-EL4a of the D3 family, which requires the matching charger and battery chamber door, or it can be fed eight AA batteries via the tray that comes with the grip. Either option boosts the camera up to eight frames per second – not quite as impressive for the D300s, but a big deal for the D700.

I've used the D10 with both the standard EN-EL3 and the AA batteries. When I'm using battery-eating live view and a tripod, the Nikon rechargeable are easy to swap out without even needing to turn the camera off. When I'm walking around with the camera I usually pick the AA option for the faster frame rate despite its heavier weight. It's nice to have the options.

One little quirk that I've found with the AA batteries is that the power meter can be fooled. It drops straight to two bars from five, but pulling the batteries and returning them brings it back to full, where it stays for decreasing amounts of time as the batteries wear down. But with a little jiggling I can usually fill an 8GB card without switching to the internal battery, so I have no complaints, which is an unusual state to find myself in these days.

last updated 10 mar 2012


Olympus M.Zuiko MSC Digital ED 9-18mm µFourThirds Zoom Lens

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 2* out of 5
Yeah, but: A conflicted lens and a conflicted review.

The Long Version: Over a three week period, from mid-May to early June of 2011, I was given the opportunity by B&H Camera to test the Olympus M.Zuiko (MZ) 9-18mm µFourThirds lens on my Olympus E-P2 body. I used the lens to photograph my corner of the world in Orlando, Florida. All of my testing was done under available light, most of it out-of-doors. It was an opportunity to not only experience the MZ 9-18mm, but to compare it to the original Zuiko Digital (ZD) 9-18mm for regular Four Thirds which I own. So be warned that this is an “experiential” review, devoid of any technical testing what-so-ever.

Released in the first quarter of 2010, the M.Zuiko version is the second 9-18mm 1:4-5.6 zoom that Olympus has released, and the third µFour-Thirds lens after the 14-42mm and 17mm kit lenses. The first was the ZD regular Four Thirds lens a full year before that. To appreciate the difference a year can make, let’s perform a brief comparison of the two designs.

Design comparison between the two versions

While it appears at first glance there’s little to differentiate the two, a closer inspection reveals important differences. The ZD 9-18mm is built with 13 elements in 9 groups, of which three are of special glass. The MZ 9-18 is built with 12 elements in 8 groups, of which five are of special glass. Note that the diagram of the µFour Thirds shows the lens in its collapsed, or stowed, position. When extended to its operational length, the µFour Thirds version is a long as the original version, although noticeably smaller in diameter. Of greater significance is how the lenses operate.

The ZD 9-18mm is a ‘fixed’ non-expanding lens in which the front element moves in concert with the other lens groups for focusing. If you look directly at the front of the ZD you’ll notice a narrow gap between the section where the front element is mounted and the outer edge of the lens barrel where you would attach a screw-on filter. This allows the front element to freely move while focusing. In contrast the MZ version’s front element is a solid part of the outer barrel; only the central element moves for focusing. It’s this design that contributes to the MZ’s ability to focus quickly and silently (more on that later).

What the diagrams can’t convey are the major differences in the two lenses overall size and weight. The original 9-18mm has an 80mm diameter (requiring 72mm filters) and weighs 280g. The µFour Thirds version has a 57mm diameter (requiring 55mm filters) and weighs 155g. Those differences in size and weight are profound when mounted on a µFour Thirds body such as the E-P2. Whether retracted or extended for use, the µFour Thirds MZ lens truly belongs on a µFour Thirds body such as the E-P2. The original 9-18mm lens, with its required adapter, does not.

My first exposure to the Olympus collapsing lens design was with the MZ 14-42mm Mk 1 kit lens. It came as part of the E-P2 bundle. The purpose of the collapsible design was to create a package that was easily transportable. I won’t say pocketable, because unless you’re wearing a large coat with large pockets, the E-P2 with kit lens won’t fit into any kind of regular pocket I’m aware of.

The µFour Thirds 9-18mm is a collapsible design like the M.Zuiko 14-42mm Mk 1 kit lens. What is interesting is that the M.Zuiko 9-18mm lens, both collapsed and extended for use, has the same lengths as the M.Zuiko 14-42mm Mk 1 kit lens in its collapsed and extended modes. If you’re comfortable with the kit zoom you’ll have no issue with the MZ 9-18mm.

A less-pleasant aspect of the MZ Mk 1 kit lens is its inexpensive construction. You know when you’re opening and closing that lens; you hear it clicking and can feel it as it moves from stowed to operational position. And once deployed, various elements of the 14-42 are, shall we say, not quite mechanically tight.

Not so with the MZ 9-18mm. It extends and collapses with silent smoothness. I could barely feel the lens barrel as it moved across the mechanical switch. Unlike the kit zoom, there was no flexure of the zoom ring whatsoever. From the time I put the lens on the E-P2 until I took it off to send it back to B&H, the operation of the zoom mechanism was smooth as silk and for all practical purposes totally silent.

There are two aspects to focusing with this lens; speed and silence. Among the alphabet soup of letters on the MZ barrel there are three new letters to designate new capabilities for this lens compared with all other Olympus lenses: MSC. MSC, or Movie and Still Compatible, is the latest µFour Thirds lens designed specifically for both video and still photography.

As I mentioned earlier the MZ 9-18mm has a different internal focusing design from it’s regular Four Thirds ancestor. That design allows for quick and silent focusing operation. While it was mounted on my E-P2 it was the fastest focusing lens, faster than any of the µFour Thirds lenses I’ve used to date.

It was also the absolute quietest. For testing purposes I used am EMA-1 external microphone adapter with the ME51S dual electret condenser stereo microphone plugged directly into the adapter. The microphone sat directly above the lens. I put the E-P2 into video with autofocus, and swung the camera back and forth a number of times from a near object to infinity. On playback of the recorded video I could not hear the lens focusing at all. My copy was totally silent. All my other lenses make a mess of the sound being recorded with the video.

General Photography
You can find all sorts of charts and learned opinions about the optical quality of the lens all over the web. The question is, does it really matter? How does the lens behave under standard operating conditions, especially when compared to the first version?

One of my first acts with the purchase of my E-P2 was to purchase the Olympus Four Thirds to µFour Thirds adapter, the MMF-1. I used the adapter to test my regular lenses on the E-P2 body, specifically the 9-18mm. While the autofocus operation of the lens wasn’t ideal, I couldn’t fault its image quality. With the MMF-1, the ZD 9-18mm was as well behaved optically on the E-P2 as it was on my E-3.

I can’t say that about the M.Zuiko version. Both lenses are slow, with a maximum aperture of f/4 at 9mm. As a consequence I tend to shoot the regular Four Thirds lens wide open as much as possible. If I do stop down it’s usually to f/5.6, at which point the lens become a constant aperture zoom for all practical purposes.

When I tried to use the M.Zuiko version in the same fashion as the regular version, I found center sharpness of the MZ version was indistinguishable from the original, but  I was disappointed in the noticeable corner softness of the MZ lens, especially when close focusing. My original version was much sharper. Stopping down to f/5.6 helped, but I didn’t achieve the same level of sharpness with the MZ version until I'd stopped down about a stop and two-thirds to f/7.1. Those differences tended to minimize as the lens was used for regular distance photography (outside architecture and landscapes). The corner issues began to show up when shooting interiors wide open, such as small to medium sized rooms, or something down close like flowers. Then I could see the difference.

With either lens wide open there is some vignetting, more so with the MZ than the ZD versions. But considering you can add vignetting to your photos during post processing with applications such as Adobe’s Lightroom, I find concerns about lens vignetting somewhat amusing. It might be there but for all practical purposes it’s irrelevant.

Barrel and pincushioning are complex on this lens. While I can certainly find situations to point them out, I don’t find it particularly noticeable. When I do there’s Lightroom to fall back on to clean it up.

Chromatic aberration, if it does show up, only shows up around the edges under extreme light contrast. Once again, if it is noticeable it can be cleaned up in post.

All of these comments presume you shoot raw and post process. For those who want SOOC images, just realize your mileage will vary, and you should probably borrow a copy and see if you can live with its JPEG output.

This lens is best suited for videographers who want to use this lens for creating movies with the Pens and who feel they need a zoom lens that zooms to 9mm. Its totally silent operation is a boon to those particular videographers.

For still photographers, the best group this lens would serve are those who again need 9mm in a zoom lens and place a premium on light weight for travel and/or outdoor hiking, or for those photographers in settings where they wish to be as discrete as reasonable. This lens’ small size and silent operation are a great help in those areas.

For my own personal use I’m not so sure. The question you’re probably thinking is “Bill, would you buy this lens?” And my answer is “No.” I won’t buy it due to its higher than expected cost, especially for a lens that is heavily composed of plastic. Its overall quality is certainly head and shoulders above the 14-42mm kit lens, but it didn't have far to stretch. I’m not interested in paying more for the M.Zuiko version than I did for the Zuiko Digital, especially when the M.Zuiko is considerably smaller and lighter (using less materials in manufacture). Add to that my dissatisfaction with the M.Zuiko’s image quality under certain conditions, conditions in which the original is a stellar performer, and I find I’m not inclined to spend the money. You can argue my sample copy might have had mechanical issues with regards to image quality in the corners under those peculiar circumstances, but that doesn’t answer my criticism with regards to size-vs-price.

What would be the "ideal" price be for this lens? Probably around $400, not the $600 or more I’ve seen it advertised for. For what you can spend on the MZ 9-18mm you can pick up two faster Panasonic pancakes, or Olympus’ lovely 45mm with plenty of change to spare. If you’re intent on spending that much on the 9-18mm you should at least consider two alternatives, the Olympus 12mm 1:2 or the Panasonic 7-14mm 1:4. They both cost more, but these are lenses that are worth the investment. In my opinion, the M.Zuiko 9-18mm at its current price point, not so much.

This review has been a long time coming. It was originally destined for another µFourThirds enthusiast site. That site owner set up a sweet deal where I would get equipment on loan from B&H for 30 days, enough time to use it and then review it. The MZ 9-18mm was to be the first of many µFourThirds lenses. I thought I'd hit the big time.

But as I got to know the lens I realized I couldn't give it a sweeping recommendation like I originally thought I would. Just as I've written, I had the original FourThirds 9-18mm lens and found it to be a sweet little performer. I expected no less from the µFourThirds version. But for me it didn't turn out that way.

That left me in a real ethical quandary. How could I pan an expensive piece of kit that was given to me? I'm sure a lot of other reviewers don't have this problem, but being very new to this I had no idea what to do. As a consequence it took quite a while for me to write it before sending it to the site owner who'd originally commissioned it. In the end the site owner allowed me to publish the review here. And before you ask, it's an excellent site, and they're not pushing for rosy reviews on gear. It's just me with the hangups.

This is the first and last piece of free kit I'll ever review. Every other review of gear on this blog (or my own) has been and will be bought and paid for by me. Normally I pepper my reviews with sample photographs taken with the item under review. This time, if you want to see the results of what I shot, you can follow the link to my Flickr set and judge for yourself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wbeebe/sets/72157626668272915/

* It is now a qualified 2 (think of baseball). I relented somewhat based on the conversation in the comments and thinking about it for a while. Even though it's been raised from a 1, I still won't rush right out and buy a copy.

last updated 8 march 2012

LensCoat Hoodie

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Yes, I did intentionally buy the one in camouflage.

The Long Version: I own three Op/Tech Hood Hats for my Zeiss lenses, and have been quite happy with them. But when I wanted a cover for my Nikon 50/1.4G, I decided that I should diversify a bit, and bought a "Hoodie" lens cap from LensCoat instead. It's a big world out there.

Like the previously-reviewed Hood Hat, the Hoodie is made of neoprene and slips over the front of the lens/hood to protect the front element. It's a bowl-shaped squishy external lens cap, and has the advantages of providing a bit of protection from bumps as well as being really, really obvious when it's on the camera. For my rangefinder lenses this means that I can't accidentally take photos with the lens still covered, and for the Nikon it means that I'm comfortable carrying the camera exposed in places where photography isn't encouraged. Hence my choice of camo over plain black: its higher visibility. Why is that so odd?

The construction of the LensCoat and OpTech products is remarkably similar; I admit to doing some research to see if they might have been made in the same place, which they are not. However, the appearance of the products is much closer than the 2000 miles between their published factory locations would suggest. The difference is that the LC Hoodie is made of thinner material overall, but compensates with a removable plastic-and-foam disk tucked into the front of the cover. This makes it bulkier than an OT Hood Hat to slip into a pocket when it's off of the camera, but if you plan on using the front of the lens to stop an inbound shuriken, the Hoodie is the one to choose.

I do like the idea of these neoprene hood covers. They're pretty much impossible to put on one-handed, but they stay snugly in place while being easy to remove. They provide some functional difference from the standard plastic lens caps, and aren't particularly expensive. I'm sure most camera-owners can live their lives quite happily without knowing of their existence, but they're one of those little things that I appreciate.

Between the two I prefer the simpler and cheaper Hood Hat over the stiffer LensCoat Hoodie for my small lenses, but I was willing to pay a bit more for the CadPat-inspired 'digital' camouflage over the old analog styles that Op/Tech offered. If I was looking to cap a larger lens, then the plastic stiffener would matter more than pocket-ability, so my preference would be reversed. It's good to have options.

last updated 5 mar 2012


Keychain WhiBal G7 by Michael Tapes Design

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 2 out of 5
Yeah, but: Nothing that includes a biner clip can be all bad.

The Long Version: Michael Tapes has been making interesting photographic accessories out of plastic for some time now, and if I'm not mistaken the WhiBal white balance reference is on its seventh generation. That's an awful lot of iterations for such a simple little thing.

I have a certain fetish for white balance references. I love my Colorchecker Passport, and have the full-size chart as well; the Lastolite Ezybalance is my longest-serving photographic accessory, outlasting every camera I've owned except for my Olympus E-1. But I felt the need to add something much more portable to my collection, so I picked up the keychain size of WhiBal in my most recent order from a large New York photography store whose name invariably translates into some awkward HTML.

Choosing a white balance reference is about trust. The WhiBal has been around forever, and has developed a reputation (and web presence) that gives it a certain authority. There are many cheaper plastic cards out there, but without being able to compare them to a known colour reference, how can I trust them? Generic might be fine for medications, but for colour accuracy I'm sticking with the name brands.

The Keychain WhiBal is really small. Measuring just 56mm by 26mm, it includes a petite Nite-Ize "S"- biner clip and has scale markings to create the world's most awkward ruler. While I suppose I could put it on my keychain, it usually lives on the Crumpler Grub sleeve that I store my Canon S100 in. That way I always have it with me when I'm taking photos, and most importantly, makes it much harder to lose the tiny little thing.

I suppose it's a little ridiculous to knowingly spend $18.95US on less than fifteen square centimetres of plastic and then be disappointed by the result, but I have to say that I really wish that the WhiBal was double-sided. Instead it has one side that's devoted to colour accuracy, and the reverse is entirely consumed by marketing and branding. That seems excessive. Now I need to watch which way the teeny card is facing when I include it in a scene, diverting my limited attention to manage what should be a trivial task.

And no, the reverse side with all of the advertising doesn't give accurate white balance results. True, none of my other white references are double sided, but they're also not petite and symmetrical. I've had to add a bit of tape to the reverse side of the WhiBal so that I can feel the difference and know which side needs to face the camera. The strength of their smallest card is that it's very easy to carry and stick into the scene as needed, but prior to this little modification I had needed to take my eye away from the camera, or literally refocus, to be able to use it.

The Keychain size WhiBal can only be used by taking a photo that includes it and then sampling it as a colour reference in post-production. It's far too small to set a custom white balance in-camera, as it won't fill the required area of the frame while still being in the same light as the rest of the scene. But with a raw workflow it's simpler and faster to fix the images in post than it is to change the invariably convoluted camera settings; those who need straight-from-camera jpegs will need to look elsewhere for a much larger white reference.

One thing to watch for is the camera's exposure. I like to keep my photos bright and pull the darks back down in post, and the light grey of the WhiBal is easy to clip against a dark subject. Bigger cards that occupy more of the frame aren't as susceptible to this, but the small card just doesn't have much of an impact on the camera's meter.

As useful as it is – and it really is quite useful – the keychain WhiBal isn't perfect. I accept that it's a trustworthy and calibrated neutral, or rather that half of it is, but it's inelegant. Although perhaps I limit my thinking too much by simply wishing that it was double-sided, even though that would be a huge improvement.

Michael Tapes has proven himself to be an innovator. So how about giving us something better than a basic card? There's already a white balance cube on the market, but it's a complicated device and could be simplified. Memory card cases, cleaning cloths, lens caps: there are plenty of other items that photographers carry that could incorporate a calibrated grey into their design. I'd buy a nice pen that I could use as a white balance reference in a heartbeat. We're now into the second decade of mainstream digital photography – this stuff should be easier by now.

last updated 1 mar 2012

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