Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hong Kong Project 2016: The Beginning (at the End)

Leica M-A with 35mm Summilux Asph. Shot with CineStill 800T film. Approx 1/60th f/2.8
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy taking pictures in Hong Kong? Digital, film, point-and-shoot, ILC, smartphone, I don't care what I use. As long as I'm on the streets where the action is, I'm ready to shoot. Unlike the past two years where I've gone on vacation to Hong Kong with my wife (aka Camera Girl for you YouTube followers), this time it was an actual work assignment. MonogramAsia invited me to interview landscape photographer Michael Kenna, and I invited Ryan from Arcade Original to join me. In homage of Michael Kenna's film-only photography, I asked Leica North America to loan me a film camera (the Leica M-A), and I asked Fujifilm Canada to send me some film to shoot (Pro 400H and ACROS 100). I also had the new (but pre-production) Fujfilm X-T2 with booster and the new (and impossible to find) Canon G7X mrk II. I was also testing the new BitPlay EF18 ultra wide angle lens for the iPhone 6S. Yes I had many ways to capture Hong Kong, and I took every opportunity to use each tool to its potential. Did I have a favourite? Of course. Can you guess?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Upcoming Hong Kong Instagram Project

**Thanks to everyone who contributed to this campaign. It was a success and I was able to complete all the projects necessary. This project has now come to a close. Anyone contributing to my PayPal account from now on is making a general donation to my website and YouTube account. I will still email back a thank-you but this project is now closed for new contributors. Thank you very much for your support. I will leave this post up and follow up with a new one soon.

In less than 2 weeks I'll be in Hong Kong on a work assignment. MonogramAsia has invited me to shoot a series of YouTube videos for their upcoming event with renowned landscape photographer Michael Kenna. To accomplish this, I asked Ryan from Arcade Original to join me on this project as my videographer and editor. Since I'll already be in Hong Kong with no family obligations (my wife is not coming) I decided to produce some smaller projects for myself. I'm flying out a week early with Ryan and we're going to hook up with some old and new friends to shoot some unique videos. I will also have some pre-production equipment and review cameras with me from Fujifilm, Leica and Canon (sorry no Ricoh). Because of this, I have some unexpected expenses to cover. To raise extra funds, I wanted to do so in a creative way, as well as offer unique content for those who wish to help. Instead of selling prints, conducting workshops or asking for outright donations, I decided to create a private IG account. How will this funded IG project work?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: Leica M-D Typ 262

Leica M-D with 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. 1/250th sec f/4 @ ISO 400
Like many photographic tools created by this iconic German manufacturer, the Leica M-D Typ 262 is polarizing. You either love it or hate it. In my recent YouTube video review, commenters were either mad at me for misunderstanding this 'purist camera', or thought I was crazy to review such an expensive camera that lacked basic digital features. Yes, without an LCD or an EVF, there's no way to preview the image in-camera on the Leica M-D. Isn't that the whole premise behind digital photography, instant preview? It's at least a major advantage of shooting digital over film. However, with every technological advancement there's often an unforeseen crutch. Having the ability to view images instantaneously has made a previously confident film photographer neurotic with constant chimping and second guessing one's photographic prowess. The solution? Remove the screen. Does it help? Yes and no. What about the price: Is this screen-less Leica M body worth $6,000 USD body only? Again, the answer is yes and no. The big question is, did it make me a better photographer? Totally. Did I have fun shooting it? A definite yes. Why? Das Wesentliche or 'The Essentials'

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The FujiFilm X-T2 PRO? My 1st Impressions

What's in a name? Everything. Toyota knew they had to create the Lexus brand to compete with Mercedes and BMW. Honda created Acura, Nissan created Infinity. In Japan they didn't change the name, but for the export market the name was everything. It's no different with cameras. Slap the name 'Pro' or designate the number '1' (Canon EOS 1 has always been the flagship AF model, the Canon F1 was the flagship pre-AF model) and everyone expects it to be the best. Since the release of the original Fujifilm X-Pro1, the consumer has always looked to the hybrid viewfinder mirrorless body as the embodiment of Fuji's top technology and features. The problem occurred when the X-T1 was released 2 years later with a completely different form factor with better performance and features. The X-T1 became the unofficial flagship, but that's a problem. You can't have conflicting nomenclature within a product line-up. It's confusing. When the X-Pro2 was announced in January 2016, it was very clear that the X-Pro series was back on top. New sensor, new processor, top functions and features. Yes the new X-Pro2 deserved the PRO designation. Now comes the new Fujifilm X-T2... same problem as before? Yup. Although the X-Pro2 and X-T2 share the exact same sensor and processor, again the X-T2 trumps the X-Pro2 on many features and functions. The difference isn't as bad as the previous battle between the X-Pro1 and X-T1, but the differences are great enough to question the naming of the new X-T2. I have absolutely no issues with either the X-Pro2 or the new X-T2. Both are great cameras and this will be the year for Fujifilm. Not only will they have the film and Leica crowd scrambling to buy the X-Pro2 (and upcoming X200), but now they've targeted Canon and Nikon's DSLR market with the X-T2. I'm just wondering, shouldn't they have named it the X-T2 PRO? Let's find out:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reinventing the Street Portrait with Kale Friesen in Chinatown Vancouver

Fujifilm X70 with EF-X20 flash. 1/4000th sec f/5.6 @ ISO 800 with fill flash
The most common question I get about street photography is how to get a good street portrait. First of all, what is a street portrait? For some, it's approaching a complete stranger and asking them to pose for a picture on the spot. For others, it's taking a portrait-like candid image of a stranger without permission. Still for others, a street portrait is a simply a portrait taken of someone outside on the street. I'm not dogmatic and can appreciate each approach, but sometimes I get bored. I get bored of taking portraits of strangers. I get bored of taking portraits of friends. Is there a way to merge the two? Can I take a street portrait that's both predictable and random? With the help of local fashion photographer Kale Friesen, I decided to give it a try.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Fujifilm X-Pro 2. Film Profiles in LR and PS

Applying Fujifilm Film Simulations within Adobe Lightroom

I posted an article recently for FujiLove on-line magazine about applying film profiles within the In Camera RAW Converter for the Fujifilm X-Pro 2. This is a great feature if you want to quickly shoot, process, transfer via wifi to your smart device and post to social media. I know many photographers who love this capability. However, if you have more time and want to really explore the film simulation profiles of the X-Pro 2 and other Fujifilm X series cameras, you can do so within Lightroom and Photoshop. Here's how:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Advanced IGer Workshop in Chinatown

***Due to Popular Demand: the workshop has been changed to an advanced class and the date has also been moved. Please make note of the changes, thanks!

I've been asked a lot of questions and requests concerning my Instagram account. How should I process my images? How do I grow my followers? Should I or shouldn't I use hashtags? Is a smartphone good enough or should I invest in a proper camera? What apps should I use to process my images? I've done my best to answer these questions here and there, but it never felt complete. I've run many private workshops, account takeovers, and coffeeshop conversations concerning the power of Instagram so I decided I better start a series teaching it in person. For those who are interested in the value of this visual based social media platform and how it can accelerate your brand, please go to Studio 126's website for more information. My friends Ryan and Anna are hosting the event so if you have any questions, direct it towards them. Due to popular demand, my first workshop will be on advanced Instagram techniques and management. If you are currently a competent photographer and IGer but still want to learn some new tricks, this course is for you. If you are a business and want to up your IG game on how to increase your brand awareness, this is also a good workshop for you. For more info please go to Studio 126's website. For now check out some of my Instagram images I've posted using my iPhone 6s:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Non-Review: The Ricoh GR II in Hong Kong

Ricoh GR II: 1/60th sec f/4.0 @ ISO 400

I haven't written an article on the Ricoh GR in a very long time. I've been shooting with the Ricoh GR series since 1998 and it's helped shape my style of photography. The ability to capture images with the confidence of a full sized camera with unique features and functions that could only be had with a compact camera makes the Ricoh GR a very powerful photographic tool. I've owned many cameras as a professional and enthusiast photographer, but my favourite images were always taken with compact EDC (Every Day Carry) cameras. I have experimented with other compact cameras over the years but I've always felt at home with the Ricoh GR. I'm not saying it's the best, but it's what I'm use to. I 'get it' when people equally praise their beloved Contax T2, Nikon 35Ti, Minolta TC-1, Rollei 35, Olympus XA, Yashica T4, Konica Big Mini, etc. If I bought any of those cameras instead of my Ricoh GR-1 back then perhaps I would be singing a different tune today, although I don't see many digital cameras with a similar legacy today except for the current Ricoh GR line. So how good is the new Ricoh GR II and is it still a worthy contender to the newly released Fujifilm X70? Let's find out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Leica SL Review: Love or Hate, or Both?

Leica SL with 35mm f/1.4 Summilux

I love the new Leica SL. Ok, I didn't have to actually buy it by selling my car and half my belongings to get it, so my opinion is slightly skewed. However as a camera reviewer I am obligated to to try my best to give an unbiased opinion based on my user experience as well as an understanding the current market place and where it is going. First of all the market is going mirrorless. Brands like Nikon and Canon who laughed at the idea that the future was mirrorless are now clamouring to enter the mirrorless market for the mid-level photographer. The market is also going higher end since the smartphone camera has decimated the sub $500 point and shoot market (except for waterproof and action cameras). The Leica SL is definitely mirrorless and it is premium. It's built like a tank, it has the highest resolving electronic viewfinder, it's weather-sealed, it's autofocus (unlike the Leica M system), and it's full-frame. This camera should be loved by everyone, but it's not. At $7450 USD body only (as of February 2016), many are up in arms about the SL. I've gotten more hate comments on my Instagram and YouTube comment section for reviewing this camera than any other camera I've reviewed in the past 4 years. Does this camera deserve the angst that it's receiving from many? Let's find out.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Firmware Update Review: Leica T vs Leica T

The firmware update is the future. Fujifilm made a slick marketing video for firmware version 4.0, treating it like a new camera release. Leica didn't go that far, but it was treated as an event and it should. Like Fujifilm, Leica's camera cycle is slower than other major manufacturers so the firmware update is the best way to keep a camera up-to-date and competitive within their own eco-system as well as the competition's. The Leica T has had at least 3 major firmware releases, as well as smaller in-between touch-ups. We are currently at firmware version 1.4.3, and I hope there are plans for more. On my most recent Youtube video, I tested the latest firmware against the previous version. Here are the most noticeable changes: