Meet our famous five: Joyce, Kimberley, Tay, Julia, Davinia

More women than ever are taking up photography, and AP’s female readership is growing rapidly, so we thought it would be great to celebrate International Women’s Day last month by heading down to Brighton for an all-female MPB Second-hand Challenge. You can watch the video of the event here.

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As with the last challenge we did with MPB back in August (which was published in AP 22 September 2018), the aim of the day was for our intrepid photographers to be given a camera and/or lens (or in some cases more than one) from MPB’s vast inventory of quality used equipment, and sent out to stalk the streets, beaches and piers of Brighton to play with the kit and see what they could create with it.

As usual, we advertised the event on our social media channels and asked applicants to tell us what kit they owned, and to list the kind of kit they would potentially be looking to change up to or add to their existing systems. The wish lists we got back gave the team at MPB plenty of scope to match each participant with an interesting variety of mint condition second-hand cameras and lenses, while still maintaining an element of surprise as to what they were going to get. Accompanying the group were AP’s Editor Nigel Atherton and Features Editor Ailsa McWhinnie, along with Clare Anderson and Ian Howorth from MPB. With a £250 MPB voucher going to the reader with the best set of images from the day, there was everything to play for. Find out how they got on..

Davina Clift, Cirencester
Instagram: @davina.clift
Current kit: Nikon D800, Nikkor lenses,
Panasonic Lumix GF1
Kit she borrowed:

Olympus PEN F

Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 ART

“I usually carry two Nikon D800 bodies, with different lenses, so that I can just grab one out of the bag and use it – it’s quite heavy kit. So it was very liberating to use the PEN F. It’s a small camera, but quite chunky and substantial, not at all flimsy. I really liked the tilting touchscreen on the back. That’s something I haven’t experienced before. It’s great for shooting at unusual angles, and the fact that you can touch it and it shoots as well is something quite new for me.

The day was quite difficult because usually when you get a new camera you spend a couple of days at home trying to figure out how everything works, but we were thrown in at the deep end. So it says a lot about this camera that everything was quite straightforward and easy to figure out. Overall, I would consider getting one of these, but I would also like to try one of the OM-D cameras and try the live composite mode at night.

I also had a Sigma 20mm f/1.4 that I used with my D800, which was absolutely wonderful. I’m not used to working with prime lenses, so I had to use my feet more. It meant that as a photographer I had to move around to find the best angles, but I really enjoyed it and the quality is lovely. My last shot of the day was in a barbershop and couldn’t have got the picture that I did without it.”

‘The builder found it amusing that I wanted to take his photo; after laughing together, I caught this relaxed shot’

‘The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 lens enabled me to capture this characterful scene of  men in a barbershop’

Joyce Dela Paz, London
Instagram: joycedelapazphotography
Current kit: Nikon D800 with various full-frame lenses
Kit she borrowed:

Nikon Z6

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G

Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G

“I was given a Nikon Z 6, and the first thing I noticed was the size and weight. It is very small and light compared with my D800, but it feels just as solid and sturdy, and fits perfectly in my hand. The layout of the controls is very similar to my D800 so I was able to easily navigate the buttons. The joystick control was a joy to use, giving me immediate access to moving around the AF point. The electronic viewfinder and tilting LCD touchscreen are a great bonus, which make this a better shooting experience than that with my D800.

My camera can’t compete with the high-ISO shooting that the Z 6 offers and the stabilisation when shooting handheld in low light is superb. Autofocus is excellent, too. I was given 35mm and 50mm lenses – I usually shoot wider, but I got used to it and enjoyed the wide apertures. The Z 6 has changed my views about mirrorless cameras. I have always been sceptical about them. This is the first time I ever used one and I would certainly consider buying one now. The only thing I don’t like about the Z 6 is the fact that it doesn’t take SD cards, and the cards are very expensive.”

‘This rusty winch was filled with patterns and rich colours’

‘The Z6 allowed me to work in low light with a bokehlicious background’

Tay Aziz, Bristol
Current kit: Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Lumix 12-35mm and 25mm lens
Kit she borrowed:

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EOS 5DS

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM

Fujifilm X100F

I initially picked the Canon EOS 5D because I’ve looked at images from the different versions of that camera and I like the look of them. They look more film-like – or you can make them look more film-like. With the 5DS, you get about 50MP to play with, which was fun. I’ve never shot with Canon before, so it was a big learning curve. Coming from a Panasonic Lumix GH4, I found the menus a little confusing at first, but it was nothing like those on Sony cameras, which I’ve used, and which are notoriously bad. I have quite small hands so I found it a little big for me to hold, but the buttons are laid out nicely and easy to reach.

For wildlife this camera would be amazing because of the pixel count and ability to crop, but I use the Lumix because it’s much lighter and more portable – if  I was carrying the Canon with a massive 400mm lens it would get very heavy very quickly. I would love to shoot with full frame but I’d have to get a lot fitter first! I really loved the 85mm f/1.2, though. It produces such beautiful bokeh for portraits. I want one!

I loved shooting with the Fujifilm X100F as well. It’s so small and the dials on the top make it so easy to change the settings. I was taking street pictures of people and because it’s so small nobody notices you. I would love to buy one as an everyday camera – it would be an amazing little thing to carry around with me all the time. Because it looks so nice it made me want to use it, so I think if I owned one it would inspire me to go out and take more pictures and be much more creative.

‘I loved the Canon 85mm and even overcame my fear of asking people for a photo!’

‘The Fujifilm X100F is super-inconspicuous – perfect for candids or cheeky seagulls’

Kimberley Elliott, Lewes, East Sussex
Instagram: kimberley_elliott_photo
Current kit: Canon EOS 6D with a range of Canon lenses
Kit she borrowed:

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens

I was especially interested in trying the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens as I’ve been looking at it for quite a while. I loved both the body and the lens, compared to the EOS 6D set-up that I have at the moment. The main things that I liked were the 5D Mark IV’s extra focus points, compared with the 6D, and a few more menu options. But overall I loved using it because it was so similar that it didn’t take me long at all to get used to it and figure out how it works. I had been wondering whether it would be worth upgrading my 6D, and after using it for the day it has confirmed for me that
I want to do that. The lens was lovely. I don’t often use a 50mm prime but I found it natural, and the focusing was very fast. I usually either go wide with my 16-35mm L lens or I’m using telephoto, so this focal length is a refreshing change.

‘The lens allowed me to work from the other side of the street so I could go unnoticed’

‘The lens and body combination was high quality and a great focal length for this angle’

Julia Brillantes, London
Instagram: @jetaime.07
Current kit:  Sony A7R III with a range of Sony and Zeiss lenses
Kit she borrowed:

Leica SL

Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH lens

This was my first time with a Leica. I found it very fast to use, and the images are very sharp. There are only a few buttons on the camera and the four customisable ones on the back don’t have any labels to say what they do. But when you get used to that it’s very user-friendly. I love the lens. It’s a great all-rounder, with a fast f/2.8 aperture. Overall this is the perfect camera for travelling. You don’t need any extra lenses – just this body and this lens. I would certainly consider buying one.

‘Shooting at the long end of the lens with a wide aperture makes this close-up of a daffodil really pop’

‘The sparkling colours caught my eye and the Leica rendered the scene with perfect sharpness’

About MPB

MPB is the quick, easy and secure way to buy and sell used camera equipment. They trade hundreds of cameras, lenses and accessories every day. Based in Brighton, MPB has expanded rapidly in the last ten years and now employs more than 100 people in the UK, US and Germany. Most of the MPB staff are camera enthusiasts themselves.

In a vast 18,240 sq ft warehouse in Brighton, MPB product specialists check, photograph and catalogue each item before adding it for purchase on the website. Following a rebrand in January 2019, MPB’s website is attractive and user friendly. Photographers who are looking to buy, sell or trade camera equipment can visit the MPB site.

So what is the most in-demand kit at MPB right now?

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 R

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

Nikon D750

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 Pro

Sony Alpha A7 III

Sony E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS

Leica Q (Typ 116)