Sunday, May 17, 2015

First Look and Preview: The Fujifilm X-T10

Fujifilm Canada contacted me a few weeks back. The title of the email: Shhhhhhh! They were wondering if I was interested in reviewing a pre-production model of the latest X series camera, the X-T10. I've always preferred reviewing production ready cameras so I could immediately see the final image results (you can not post pre-production images, plus the firmware is rarely if ever finalized). However, I knew it would basically have the same sensor as the X-T1, X100T and X-E2, plus I was super curious about the new baby brother to the X-T1. I wanted to know how it would feel in the hands and how it would shoot on the street. This was the most important thing I wanted to test anyway, so I decided I would take up the offer and play around with the pre-production X-T10. What did I think?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

YouTube Video Review: Fujifilm X-T1 with XF 16-55mm f/2.8 vs X-E2 with XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4

As a street photographer I value compact size and weight as a major feature. Yes I love the Leica 50mm f/1.0 Noctilux, but I prefer the f/2.0 Summicron instead. Now those are serious extremes in terms of price, size, weight and aperture performance. What if the trade-offs and benefits were closer? I always struggled choosing between the X-T1 and the X-E2 when it came to street photography. The X-E2 is more compact and light, but the X-T1 has a dedicated ISO dial and a much nicer EVF. I wanted to revisit this debate between the X-T1 and X-E2 by coupling the review with two similar but very different lenses. The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 has always been my benchmark lens. Whenever I test any Fuji lens, I use the standard kit zoom lens for comparison for image quality, AF speed and accuracy, as well as weight and feel. This standard zoom 'kit lens' is hard to beat. The only beef I had with the lens was that I wished it started at 16mm (or 24mm equiv) instead of 18mm. Fujifilm has now announced the new XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR. This is a pro-spec lens and a monster in size and weight. How does it compare against my benchmark lens? Check out my latest YouTube video with my special guest Gord Webster, the West Coast Fuji Guy:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Full Review: Fujifilm X100T in Hong Kong

1/350th sec f/4.0 @ ISO 400. Classic Chrome jpeg. To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong

I've had the Fujifilm X100T for almost 4 months and I've really come to appreciate this unique little camera. It's small in stature but very large in capability. Many new X100 series owners have abandoned their DSLRs and ILCs for this camera. Why? It costs more than many DSLR and mirrorless ILC kits, even though this fixed lens, APS-C sensored point and shoot (ok, that's a bit of an over-simplification) has less features, less megapixels and slower autofocus. For example, the Sony A6000 is less than half the price of the X100T ($598 vs $1299 as of Feb 2015), same size sensor, better specs, faster AF, interchangeable lenses,  and will destroy the Fuji when it comes to video recording. I know others that have very expensive and powerful DSLRs (Canon 5D mark III) and insane lenses, and yet will still choose to shoot with their X100T instead. Does this make any sense? Yes.

I argue that there are some features that many photographers value above specifications or a price-performance quotient, such as the unique and powerful hybrid viewfinder. Size, weight and shape is hard to quantify as a spec, but how a camera feels in the hands and how it suits your shooting style is also a buying consideration for many photographers. For others it's about how a camera makes them feel based on the aesthetics of the camera shape and design (many brands hire firms like Pininfarina and Porsche to help design their products, such as the classic Nikon F3 designed by Pininfarina). So what type of photographer are you? What values do you put above all else when it comes to buying and using a camera? Why should you consider buying the Fujfilm X100T? Let's find out...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview with the Fuji Guys Canada: Ryuichi Matoba and Greg Poole

It's not every day you can corner an interview with the president and vice-president of Fujifilm Canada without it being at a big photo industry tradeshow or event. Even then, there would be a line-up of bloggers and more established channels of media who want a piece of these Fuji Guys. Lucky for me that the new Fujifilm president Ryuichi (Richie) Matoba and vice-president Greg Poole (Fuji Guy) were in town to do a photowalk and I was invited as a special guest, as well as the other local X-Photographers. It was hosted at Revolver Coffee in historic Gastown (we did our last Leica Akademie there in the summer) and this was the opportunity I was waiting for. I had about 20 minutes before the event to ask questions concerning the photo industry in general, as well as specific questions concerning Fujifilm's X Series of cameras. He's a quick rundown of the conversation...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lens Review: Fujifilm XF56mm f/1.2 R APD

1/1100th sec f/1.2 @ ISO 400. Classic CHrome Jpeg

The Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD is a great lens. It's not because it's the sharpest, or has the best colour or an array of other sought after features. It's great because it's unique. Not unlike much of the Fujifilm X series cameras and lenses, Fujifilm stands out as different and this gives their cameras and lenses an edge over every other brand. Why? Because when you shoot with most 85mm equivalent portrait lenses, everyone seems to be aiming for the same effect in the same exact way. Not Fujifilm. They remind me of Minolta in the 80s and 90s with their Dynax-Maxxum series of cameras and lenses. They were trend setters and made unusual cameras and lenses that puzzled many (9 blade circular aperture, programmable hold buttons on the lenses, flare cutter aperture, Smooth Trans Focus technology (apodization tech!), AF 500mm mirror lens, etc.) but had a huge legion of fans that liked their unique approach. 

In fact, this apodized lens by Fujifilm is the same technology that Minolta introduced on their 135mm STF lens in the 90's (although the Minolta could alter the secondary aperture to change the bokeh), further proving my connection between Minolta and Fujifilm. How effective is this APD technology, and is it worth paying an extra $500 to get it? Let's find out

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Impression: Fujifilm XF56mm f/1.2 R APD is Insanely Bokehlicious!

Fujfilm X-T1 Graphite Silver with XF56mm f/1.2 APD. 1/2400th sec f/1.2 @ ISO 3200. Classic Chrome jpeg

I'm Japanese and I've never liked the word 'bokeh'. Yes, Japanese are famous for making up words (karaoke, emoji, cosplay, anime), some work, some are just weird. Shallow depth of field sounds a bit too technical for such a subjective 'quality', so someone had to come up with a better word. I guess 'bokeh' will just have to do for now, although I wish the Germans or Italians came up with a term first. Not only am I not fond of the word, I'm not fond of the pursuit of it, as if bokeh is somehow intrinsic to a good picture. In fact, as a street photographer I almost avoid it. I typically shoot F/8 and 1/750th of a second and I focus on composition and the decisive moment. 

When Fujifilm asked if I wanted to review the new XF56mm f/1.2 R APD lens, they assumed I would say no and I assumed I would say no as well. However, after looking at some pre-production images, I was intrigued (check out this link and this one as well). There was something about the out-of-focus area that was... should I say 'bokehlicious?' I wish I didn't type that...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Camera Video Review: Fujifilm X100T in Hong Kong

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island at night. 1/320th sec f/2.8 @ ISO 1600.

When I'm gone on vacation, my wife has been very patient with me over the years. She's use to me bringing 3 or 4 different cameras and testing out equipment and film (during my Kodak days). Recently she's allowed me to bring along review cameras and spend time testing them, and write articles. This year I've added the extra burden (for her) of shooting YouTube video reviews, with my wife as my 'Camera Girl'. 

My 3 week vacation in Hong Kong has been very difficult for me to review for both Fujifilm and Leica, write articles and shoot videos. I've decided to review the cameras and shoot and post the videos, but I'll wait until I get back home to write a full review and share pictures. For now, enjoy my YouTube videos. My latest is my video review of the Fujifilm X100T. 

This camera is great for travel and street style photography. What it gives up in focal length versatility (fixed 35mm equivalent focal length) it makes up with practical tools to help the photographer take better pictures. Is it way better than the X100S? Is it worth the upgrade? Is the new hybrid optical viewfinder with mini electronic viewfinder mode just a gimmick? Check out my review to find out what I thought of the X100T and wait for my full written review in a couple of weeks. You can still post questions here or on YouTube and I'll try and answer as quickly as possible. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bigheadtaco Goes To Hong Kong with the Fujifilm X100T, the Leica T and the Ricoh GR

Ricoh GR. Wai King Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 1/1000 sec f.5.6 @ ISO 100. Converted to b&w in Photoscape.

I'm finally here in Hong Kong. Actually, I've been here for 2 weeks already, but I'm here with my wife (aka Camera Girl) visiting family and taking our annual vacation. I always take this opportunity to review cameras and take pictures, but it's a matter of work-life balance, even for a street photographer. Every second that I'm free, I run off and take a few pictures, but then I have to remember this is my wife's vacation time. I haven't been able to take as many pictures as I want, but that's ok. I never feel as if I've taken 'enough' pictures. Hong Kong is an amazing city and I could probably spend a year here and feel I haven't seen everything. 

Both Leica and Fujifilm loaned me some pretty cool cameras to review while I'm here, and I have a couple of my own cameras to shoot with as well. Fujifilm Canada has loaned me the X100T, Leica Canada has loaned me the Leica T, and I have my own Ricoh GR and my iPhone. I won't be compairing sensor size, megapixels, or AF speeds. To me, these things are inconsequential to taking a great image. If you depend on technology to take your images, you will always be a slave to technology. If you depend on your eyes, your hands, your instinct, and some level of competence and skill as a photographer, you will get great images no matter what camera you're shooting with.

I was able to shoot a few videos and here's my first introduction video to Hong Kong. I'll post a few more before I leave, and hopefully post the rest when I get back to Canada. Thanks again for all your support. To keep up to my day-to-day photography, follow me on my Instagram account. For now, enjoy my latest video:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

iPhone - Smartphone Street Photography Workshops

iPhone 5S. 1/2933 sec f/2.2 @ ISO 40. Douglas Coupland's Gumhead at the Vancouver Art Gallery

I announced back in the summer that I would start doing photography workshops... and then I went silent. Not because of lack of interest or desire on my part, but because I was busy on many other smaller projects. However, I was continually teaching and running private workshops for individuals and groups. The recurring question and inquiry I was getting was how I'm able to take 'professional' pictures with my iPhone. If you look at my Instagram Feed, 95% of the pictures are taken with my iPhone and post processed using mobile applications (VSCO, Camera+, PS Express). I've been very transparent with how I take the pictures and post process, but many have suggested I start workshops to physically show people how it's done.

My website is not yet set-up for on-line registration (it will soon!) so if you're interested in my 2 upcoming workshops in Vancouver, please email me at takeatbigheadtacodotcom. I will run my first workshop this Saturday afternoon (1:30-4:30pm) at 40% discount because of the short notice ($60 per student), and next weekend (either Sat or Sun) at full price ($100 per student). I will only take 5 students maximum per workshop so I can give as much attention to each student. Thank you again for your patience and I look forward to meeting you. If there is any interest for those in Hong Kong ( I will be there late November to early December), please email me and I would be happy to arrange for either a private or a group workshop on street photography or smartphone post processing. 

Thanks for all your support and happy shooting!

Best regards, 

Take Kayo