About Phil and his gear

Phil grew up in Anglesey where the light is wonderful and is reflected in the photographs elsewhere on this site. His main interests are in outdoor and landscape locations, together with appreciation of architectural detail and how the light illuminates cathedrals and churches, but he likes to interact with people. He has great respect for the stresses wedding photographers feel after photographing one of his own daughter’s marriage! Having lived and worked in many parts of the country he sees subject matter everywhere, recently he was residing on the Isle of Wight… but a move was pending … and is now based in Herefordshire in the Heart of England.

He was an early adopter of digital gear, winning monthly magazine competitions and photographs selected for exhibitions as early as 1999/2000. He wrote a number of articles for Digital Photo User around this time. More recently he has published illustrated articles in local press and images have been sold to magazines such as Country Life, Countryfile, Country Walking and/or through Alamy. His work has been featured on book covers and is open to be challenged by more specific commissions. The Paul Mellon Foundation for British Art/Yale University/British Art Studies asked him to photograph various aspects of Hereford Cathedral.

In film days he home processed, remembering the efforts needed to produce Ilford Cibachrome prints from slides and his frustration with consistency when black and white printing using a UPA5 enlarger. Digital was so much easier, more consistent and … better!

Until recently, as Head of Isle of Wight Music Service, he had limited time for his pursuit, but he now submits photographs and articles for editorial use, has a website, submits to picture agencies and accepts commissions.

Photography is a lifelong pursuit for Phil and he enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience and exploring the subjects on which he writes, and is proud to currently Chair the long-lasting Herefordshire Photographic Society (est. 1885), and is a member of Beacon Camera Club.

He has always admired the work of Ansel Adams, owning many of his books and sees that the digital format neatly follows Adams’ analysis of light. The visualisation process of image making does not change though technology may move on. Wherever possible in his architectural work Phil uses the light that is present especially in large spaces, preferring not to use flash or artificial light other than the lighting the building normally uses.

Good glass is still good glass. He declares a responsibility for how photographers record their environment, refusing to significantly alter the visualised image – enhancing is good, cloning is bad!

Current gear

DSLR: Nikon D800, previously Nikon D7100 and D70; current backup: Fujifilm S3pro;

Mirrorless: Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk ii, previously EM-1 Mk I, EM-5

Most photography is undertaken with Nikon DSLR, but when portability and weight is paramount the Olympus is more than sufficient.

Current regular lens lineup:


Sigma EX 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG Mk II HSM; Nikon 14-24 f2.8; Nikon24-85 f3.5-4.5 G VR; Nikon 16-35mm f4 ED VR;

Nikon 80-400mm f4-5.6 ED VR


Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D; Samyang 24mm f3.5 TS; Sigma Macro 105mm f2.8 DG HSM; Nikon 85mm f2

Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX DX; Sigma 24mm SuperWide II f 2.8 manual;  Helios 58mm f 2 preset manual M42 screw; Lensbaby Composer;

Tamron 1.4 TC; Vivitar vario macro AIS converter

Micro Four Thirds:

Olympus; Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40 f2.8 pro; 40-150mm f4-5.6 R ED; Samyang 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye; Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 OIS; Olympus 9-18 f4-5.6 ED; Lumix 20mm f1.7; Olympus 45mm f1.8; Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro ED

Accessories: bellows, auto extension tubes, flashguns inc 2 x Nikon SB-800, Sigma EF610 DG Super, Metz 70 MZ5; Nissin Di622, and 2 x Vivitar 283s with manual converters and filter heads etc., various lumiquest and magmod modifiers, continuous studio lights with softboxes, umbrellas, lumecubes


Previous digital cameras: Olympus c1020l, Olympus c2000z, Olympus c5050z, Panasonic Lumix, Olympus EM-5, Olympus EM-1 i.

Previously used film cameras (still have those in bold): Zenit E, Praktica LLC, Praktica BC1, Werra, Yashica-Mat and 124G 6×6 TLRs, Ensign Selfix, Kodak and Voigtlander folders, Nikon FTn

Migrating from DX to FX has/is causing some rethinking – I’ve added a new page that gives my first thoughts.

Some brief two-line comments on image quality (in no particular order), but starting wth the original ‘three dragons’. As you see, I tend to go for the slower to use and a little less specified 20-30 year old AF-D lenses – much much cheaper than the latest plastic lenses but with excellent optics.

I use Reikan FoCal to calibrate my lenses. It may be interesting to note that the older AF-D lenses seem to require much more back focus adjustment… I have read that this was a deliberate design ploy … to suit film?

Nikkor 80-400mm f4-5.6D VR: a decent telephoto lens. Focussing is slow but the optics are sharp and produce good colour and tone. On FX is a really good versatile lens.

Sigma 105mm f2.8: does what it says on the tin… excellent

Nikkor 50mm 1.4 D: sharp, superb, bright, very good

Nikkor 16-35mm f4 ED VR – excellent

Nikorr 24-85 f3.5-4.5 G VR: the full frame kit standard zoom – perfectly adequate in most circumstances when stopped down. Light, less rugged.

Nikkor 14-24 f2.8; justified superb reputation

Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG Mk II HSM: sharp. Not as rugged as pro Nikkors.

Sigma 24mm f2.8 SuperWide II MF: excellent old prime lens – but this example is sharp and superb, but now superceded by more modern optics

Nikkor 85mm f2 MF; very good

Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX DX: Good lens BUT have had to calibrate/focus adjust in-camera due to back focus. Until this was done things were hit and miss.(AF is now noisy especially when pointed down, wearing out)

Nikkor H.C. 50mm f2 (non AI): still delivers the goods

MFT fit: Lenses are less rugged and not as well built as Nikon DSLR lenses, and have proven to be less reliable (see article on Olympus technology).

Olympus M Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro: Excellent as a general lens, sharp right through to its wide aperture. Can focus fairly close. Can be a little heavy.

M Zuiko 40-150mm f 4-5.6 R ED MSC: decent sharpness for price, decent range, reasonable aperture, light but plastic. Both lenses together are light and portable, covering most eventualities, but do not feel as rugged as any of the Nikon fit lenses described above.

Samyang 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye –  a beauty! Converts well to rectilinear with hemi fisheye

Olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6 – a good little earner! Compact and easy to use, but the locking function is irritating.

Previously owned:

Nikkor 20-35mm f2.8 AF-D: good pro lens; perhaps has less ‘accutance’ than modern versions but is tonally superior.

Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 AF-D: good pro lens; limited focal lengths compared to modern equivalent, but great IQ

Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 D push pull: heavyish, excellent IQ, sharp. A relative antique but bright. the single touch helps operation when using back button AF

PC-Nikkor 28mm f3.5: Totally manual shift lens, with preset ring. My ‘favourite’ lens – but only occasionally use it in cathedrals and churches, see associated article. Excellently engineered with good results. Needs to be set to f5.6/8 for best results. good IQ if not quite as sharp as Nikkor 50mm

MicroNikkor 60mm f2.8 ED: decent and with a good wide aperture. I don’t feel it is bitingly sharp especially on DX, but does the job for butterflies and larger bugs. Works best on FX.

Nikkor 50mm f1.8mm MF: old prime lens but excellent! Pictures are first class and the wide aperture makes the viewfinder stunning. Works well as a macro with extension tubes

Nikon 18-70 DX (OK)

Nikon 18-105 DX (V Gd)

Nikon 70-300 (OK)

Sigma 70-300 APO (OK)

Sigma 80-400 APO (poor)

M Zuiko 17mm f2.8: small for compact working.

M Zuiko 14-42 f 3.5-5.6 EZ: collapsing lens, means the camera is pocketable, a little softer than the 12-50 above.

M Zuiko 12-50 ez: not as pocketable but reasonable quality.

If you wish to source stock photography please click the ‘Alamy’ logo where I am gradually uploading many images.

Contact Phil at philtheclick@gmail.com, search for his photographs at Alamy.com

Stock photography by Philip Chapman at Alamy

His main career was in music education, most recently as Head of Isle of Wight Music Service, establishing and leading the new Isle of Wight Music Education Hub and continues to contribute to national consultations into delivery. Please go to philthebass.weebly.com to see more information


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