Metabones Speedbooster XL and Ultra: The Abridged Version

New photographers are often surprised by how much maths is involved in photography. I’ve never been one to shy away from maths, actually, I was always good at it in school (my parents hoped thought I’d been an engineer!). Anyway, I understand most of the technical side of photography, the ratios, inverse square law, blah blah blah. But today I got stumped on trying to understand, and then explain, the mystery of the Speedbooster. So I’ve made myself this little pictorial “cliff’s notes,” so to speak.

Take full frame lenses (specifically Canon and Nikon, in this case) put them on  Micro Four Thirds cameras like Olympus and Panasonic and they have 2x crop factor. Then there is an additional 1.2x crop factor of 4k video. This makes for a 2.4x crop factor on 4k capable MFT camera such as the popular GH4, turning your 24mm lens into a 58mm. So Metabones comes along with these awesome adapters called Speedboosters that restore some of that crop factor while increasing the intensity of the light reaching the sensor. The first generations decreased the crop factor by .71x (2.4 x .71 =1.7) making that same 24mm a 40mm, also taking an f/2.8 aperture to f/2.0 (1 stop gain). A new .64x version of the speedbooster decreases the crop factor further (2.4 x .64=1.5) making that 24mm lens a 36mm with an aperture of f/1.8 (1 1/3 stops gain).

Dizzy from all the numbers? So was I. So a very curious and patient client (Thanks, Jordan!) and I decided to run a quick test in the store. We set up a GH4 using a marker on the counter to keep it in the same place and took 3 images of a set up of random stuff on the counter. In hind sight, I could have chosen a less cluttered background and a prettier setup, but this serves its purpose so please forgive the camera shop mess. We used the Lumix 12-35mm lens and then the 24-70 Canon lens with both the .71x and .64x Speedboosters, and I used a second camera to take these screenshots. Note the changes in angle of view (how much of the edges are cut off) and the aperture changes on these 2.8 lenses.

Speedbooster on GH4 comparison


The .64x XL version of the speedbooster has a larger protrusion into the camera and can BREAK the shutter if used on an incompatible camera. That means DEAD CAMERA! Please make sure your camera is compatible before trying to use it.

Metabones Speedbooster comparison

Check out the size difference in the mounts of these adapters! Please do not kill your camera with the wrong one!


The Grand Pour at The Perfect Exposure Gallery

I’m super happy to share that I have work hanging in my 3rd show of the year! This time, I have a photograph at The Perfect Exposure Gallery as part of their group show Aesthetics, which exclusively showcases black and white photography. I have chosen (and was selected!) to show this photograph of The Grand Pour:

The Grand Pour, construction site of the Wilshire Grand Tower among the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles

On view at The Perfect Exposure Gallery: The Grand Pour, a record-setting cement pour laying the foundation for the Wilshire Grand, soon-to-be the tallest skyscraper in the Western US. Los Angeles, CA 2014

I’d read that the Turner construction company were going to attempt to set a new Guiness World Record for the longest continuous cement pour as they build the foundation for the new Wilshire Grand Tower. I immediately called my dad, a cement truck driver, to ask if he knew about it (of course he did!) and whether he would be involved (sadly, no). The Grand Pour, as they named the event, started on Saturday February 14th, 2014. They used hundreds of trucks driving back and forth making thousands of trips to pour cement into funnels and pumps set up at the construction site.

On Sunday morning, the day the pour was set to end, I got an early morning call from my dad. With a few hours to go, more cement was needed. CalPortland subcontracted my dad’s company to help them, and my dad was loaded up and driving into downtown LA. I packed my gear and hopped on a train to meet him there (playing hooky from work, of course). I’m surprised I found him among the long lines of trucks, but once I did he told me where to go for a good view.

Trucks line up to deliver cement during The Grand Pour

Trucks line up to deliver cement during The Grand Pour. Los Angeles, CA 2014.

I took a digital camera, with which I documented the even as I walked around. But I knew I’d have a unique view of the LA skyline and of this building in progress, so I took my Hasselblad as well. The image on display at The Perfect Exposure gallery was photographed on 120mm Fuji Acros 100 film on my Hasselblad 500c.

The Grand Pour

This is not where you want to be when the cement trucks start blaring their horns in celebration of a World Record!

I was walking at street level around the cement trucks when the pour was completed at around 11:30 am on Sunday. The truck drivers blared their horns in unison to celebrate a job well done and a Guiness World Record set. The workers I saw walking around looked very satisfied with their efforts.

The Grand Pour

The Grand Pour

The Grand Pour

The Wilshire Grand Hotel, shortly before it was demolished to make way for the current construction project. Hasselblad film photograph. December 2012.

The Wilshire Grand Hotel, shortly before it was demolished to make way for the current construction project. Hasselblad film photograph. December 2012.

The Grand Pour, and the show Aesthetics runs through December 28, 2015.

Virtual Insanity

I took a chance to jump way outside of my technology comfort zone this weekend by spending my Saturday at the LA Virtual Reality show (VRLA). I was working for Samy’s Camera in conjunction with Ricoh to demonstrate and sell the Theta 360° camera. While selling cameras is well within my area of expertise, I’m a complete novice when it comes to video, virtual reality, video games, and things of the sort.

Within an hour of demonstrating the Theta camera I caught on to what is cool about it. It only took watching a couple 360° video clips through a Samsung Gear VR headset and I understood the appeal of Virtual Reality all-around photos and video. I eventually got so on board that I put the Theta on a pole and took it for a walk around the showroom floor. The quality isn’t great, so I took the same walk shooting video on my Canon. Believe it or not, it’s the first time I’ve shot any video on my DSLRs …Ever! 

I didn’t get to sample any of the products on display at the show because I was working the whole time, but I can’t say I can see much value in the VR technology available. I don’t know that it actually solves a problem, I think it only provides entertainment. So far anyway. I fear a future of young people unable to communicate in person, unable to separate fantasy from reality and without the drive to have actual engaging experiences in real life. I dislike that “in real life” is something.

Then again, I was skeptical about digital photography, about video in SLR cameras… but eventually I come around.

 (Photographer: Rebecca Joyce)

Ricoh product manager, TK, demonstrates the Theta 360 camera to a VRLA visitor.


 (Photographer: Rebecca Joyce)

visitors to VRLA sample new products and technology from vendors, such as Reload

My first 5D video:

The Theta 360° video is also on YouTube, I won’t embed it because it doesn’t look right outside of YouTube. The 360° view capabilities are available on the Chrome browser as well as the YouTube mobile app. If you have a VR viewer such as Cardboard or Samsung Gear, I suppose it can be viewed that way, too. Click here for the video.

Taxi Zone

Yellow taxis line Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles near the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) (REBECCA JOYCE)

Olympus Pen E-P5, Zuiko 17mm F1.8.

Stuff I like: Peak Design


I’m not great at writing product reviews, but every once in a while I come across a product that is so well-designed, exciting, fun to use, and/or simply so awesome that I really need to share it.  And that’s exactly what happened with Peak Design.

Peak Design started a few years ago with a Kickstarter campaign for their Capture Clip product. They’ve since grown to have a full line of clip and strap products and will soon have a highly-anticipated (and very sexy!) series of camera bags. I’ve been an admirer of their products since the first Kickstarter days, and jump at every opportunity to show their products to clients. The first items I bought for myself were the Clutch handstrap for my DSLR cameras, and a Cuff wrist strap for my Olympus Micro four thirds camera. Last week I received a care package from my friends at Peak and was so excited that the first thing I had to do was take pictures of them to share.

Peak has designed their camera carrying system around two main components: Their unique Anchors and Plates. Peak’s strap products: the Cuff wrist strap, the Leash lightweight strap, and the Slide shoulder strap attach to the camera via included Anchors that loop through the existing lugs (or “earlobes”) on the camera. Products that require access to the tripod mount of the camera, such as the Capture Clips and the Clutch hand strap, come with the proprietary plate. Peak Design’s plate is compatible with Arca-swiss tripods* and has additional Anchor attachment points. (*the ProPlate is also Manfrotto RC2 compatible)

The construction of these products is outstanding. The plates come with an allen key to tightly secure them to the tripod mount of the camera. Any products that include Anchors also come with at least one spare. The Anchors fit into the Anchor Links at the end of all straps with a very clear “click” sound. To be on the safe side, plates should be checked for tightness often, and Anchors should be checked for fraying. The strap products, Cuff, Leash, and Slide, are made of a heavy duty webbing that resembles a car seatbell, but has a silky smooth finish.

As you can see below, all three of my main cameras are outfitted for quick use with any Peak product. Each camera has a plate (I was sent a Microplate especially for the narrow body of the Olympus EP-5), and at least two Anchors.

The Clutch handstrap has a smooth, non-slip finish and a buckle that makes resizing very simple. Peak Design also sells separate Anchor Links for use with any neck or shoulder strap. Here, I’ve attached them to my favourite (non-peak) strap, the Domke Gripper.

Canon 5D (L) with a ProPlate and a Domke Gripper shoulder strap attached with Anchor Links. Canon 7D (R) with standard plate and Clutch hand strap.

The Capture Pro Clip is made of two very nicely machined metal plates, joined by two bolts at the corners. It swivels open and can be attached to any belt or strap up to about 3 inches wide. It easily goes around the ThinkTank waist belt I use for shooting events, on the straps on my camera and hiking backpacks, and on the straps of my messenger bags. I think it will spend most of the time attached to my everyday messenger bag (below). I think that the clip can handle even the thick straps of serious mountaineering packs, but in case it doesn’t, longer bolts are available on Peak Design’s website. The plates at the bottom of my camera slide very smoothly into the clip and snap in place with a satisfying “click.” There’s a red button that needs to be pressed to pull the camera back out, making it very hard to accidentally knock the camera out. For serious activity, the Leash strap can be configured to be a safety cord in case of Capture Clip failure (which seems very unlikely).

Peak Design Products

The Summit Edition Slide camera strap, in Lassen red. The Capture Pro clip on the strap of the California Edition Timbuk2 messenger bag.

The original Slide strap is black, but Peak Design recently made them available in two colours chosen by fans. Of course I voted for my favourite colour, red, and it was one of the winners. These colour edition straps are called the Summit Edition and are named after two peaks in California: the Lassen volcanic peak (in lava red) and Tallac (in Tahoe blue). The special editions are currently available for pre-order, so I feel super lucky to be one of the first to have one. Thank you, Peak Design people!

Ok, some quick Rebecca trivia:

Choose a correct answer, I am a total sucker for anything:
A. Red
B. Limited Edition
C. Californian
D. All of the above

If you guessed D, you would be correct! I’m as giddy about the red Summit strap as I was the day I went all the way* to Venice Beach to get this awesome California flag Timbuk2 bag. Timbuk2 only made 50 of these bags to be sold at the grand opening of their Venice store. The Capture Clip makes my favourite bag even sexier.

(*All the way means 20 miles, but in LA traffic it amounts to 60-90 minutes of driving)

Peak Design and Timbuk2 Products

The Timbuk2 messenger bag in the limited California Edition, Peak Design’s Capture Pro clip on its strap, and the Summit Edition Slide camera strap.

I can’t exclude my little Olympus camera from the conversation, it’s my every day carry, my hiking and travelling camera, my street companion. I use the Cuff wrist strap to keep my camera from falling should it slip out of my hands while we walk or hike. The buckle is secure, but moves smoothly, making it easy to loosen or tighten around my wrist. The very similar Leash is a longer strap that can be adjusted in length and worn as a neck strap, on one shoulder, or across the chest.

Peak Design Products

Olympus Pen with MicroPlate, Cuff wrist strap, and Leash shoulder strap

Thank you to my new friends at Peak Design for these items that will be put to very good use. I look forward to retiring those swingy straps that move too much and never having to take my tripod plate on or off ever again!