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 an 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

BHT

Monday, October 27, 2014

First Impressions: The Fujifilm X-100T is a Subtle but Significant Upgrade

Fujifilm X-100T @ 23mm. 1/800th sec f/4 @ ISO 400. Chinatown Vancouver


I finally have the new Fujifilm X-100T in my hands. It feels familiar, and it should. It's basically the same as the X-100S with subtle exterior upgrades. So subtle that many reviewers didn't mention some of them. However, for an X-100 shooter, it's the subtle upgrades that will help you shoot faster and with more confidence. This isn't the X-200, so don't expect any extreme upgrades. Yes, an articulating screen would have been nice, but focusing on upgrading the hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder was a good idea. Concentrate on what makes you different, and not what everyone else is doing. Almost every manufacturer is abandoning the optical viewfinder (except higher end DSLR's and Leica M rangefinders). Fuji is investing in this older technology, but improving upon it. This is good news. My first impression so far is that this is a must-have camera for those who love to shoot through optical viewfinders and also those who love Fuji X-series cameras. Let's take a quick look...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fujifilm X-30: Small But Powerful Enthusiast P&S. Can it keep up with the competition? Does it have to?

Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/250th sec, f/6.4 @ ISO 200 with EF-X20 flash @ 1/8 power



When I first heard about the new X-30, I was a bit hesitant. Did I want to review it? When I finally got my hands on it, I liked it immediately. It wasn't about image size or if it had an optical or electronic viewfinder. It was about how it felt in my hands. This camera makes you want to shoot with it, period. It feels like a compact X-100 series camera with a zoom. It's solid build quality and ergonomics makes me want to run out and start taking pictures immediately. 

There has been much talk about the smallish 2/3" sensor that is no longer considered large compared to the 1/1.7" sensor that was the previous standard in most enthusiast point-and-shoot cameras. Canon and Sony have 1" sensors, and now Panasonic has leap-frogged everyone by going M43 with the latest LX100. Can the X-30 keep up in this very competitive enthusiast market? Does it have to? Let's take a look and see what this camera can do...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fujifilm X-30 YouTube Video Review: Is the 2/3" Sensor Too Small?

Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/500th sec f/5.6 @ ISO 200. Provia film simulation JPEG

I thought I would quickly release my YouTube video review of the Fujifilm X-30 before my full written review. Not everyone wants to read through an entire article. I understand. As mentioned on my previous preview video, I really like the X-30. It handled really well and the control features are very 'Fuji intuitive'. It's everything the X-100S should have been in terms of ergonomics and functionality. In fact, I would argue the shooting experience on the new X-30 is better than the X-100S (except for the optical viewfinder option on the X-100) in a more compact, lightweight package. The only minus is the sensor size. Is it too small? Look forward to my full review for my full answer. Until then, enjoy my full review video. 



Monday, September 22, 2014

Camera Preview: Fujifilm X-30. Is it worth it?

Fujifilm X-30 @ 35mm equiv. 1/140th sec f/4 @ ISO 400. Classic Chrome JPEG


I have always had a love-hate relationship with the Fujifilm X-10 and X-20. I loved the concept, build quality and principle behind the design and features of the compact camera series. Manual on/off and zoom ring, optical viewfinder, larger than normal 2/3" sensor (the competition all had 1/1.7" sensors), retro styling. It all made sense. However, when I looked at the image quality, it was only slightly better than my Ricoh GR-D IV at low ISO. The X-20 added the X-Trans technology, but I still wasn't blown away. I classified the X-10/20 as an EDC (every day carry) camera, and I wasn't convinced of its place in the market place (although the camera did reasonably well and beloved by many fans). I believe that Fujifilm was targeting the Canon G series cameras, but it's a shrinking market, even for Canon. The Sony RX-100 was the game changer, and Canon had more success with their smaller S100 series cameras, which had the same sensor as the G series, but in a much smaller form factor. The industry is moving towards a 'bigger sensor in a smaller body is better' philosophy, which isn't horribly wrong. But it also needs to shoot well and have the right functions and ergonomics to make it a success. The Panasonic LX and Canon S series proves this philosophy correct, as they both have smallish 1/1.7" sensors.

However, when I heard there was a new X-30 coming out, I was convinced Fuji was going to upgrade the sensor to at least a 1" (although this means they would have to design an all new X-Trans sensor, and not just buy it from Sony). It makes business sense to keep the 2/3" sensor, I understand. Why gamble producing an all new sensor if they weren't positive that it was a growth market for them? My guess was that they were either going to shoe-horn an APS-C X-trans sensor into a compact body (similar to the Ricoh GR), or shrink the size of the camera. Fuji did neither. Instead, they added tons of new features, updated the software, and improved the ergonomics and functions while making the camera slightly bigger. Is this enough to keep up with the current and upcoming competition? Let's see...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Leica Akademie Vancouver: Guest Speaker

Taken w/ Ricoh GR. 1/180th f/5.6 @ ISO 500. Edited in CS5 & Photoscape. @loiterbench (IG) in Chinatown, Vancouver.



Since starting my Youtube series, I've been getting emails from people asking if I run any workshops on street photography. As you may know, when Eric Kim was in town in Vancouver, he invited me to audit his 3 day street photography workshop and I had fun watching someone formulating how to teach this unusual photographic 'art form'. Eric insisted that I should run my own workshops and I thought a good way to start was accepting the privilege of being the guest speaker and instructor for the upcoming Leica Akademie in Vancouver next week.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Video Chit-Chat: Fujifilm X-T1, X-Pro 1, EF-X20 flash and a Green Canoe

Here's my latest YouTube video and my first video with a guest, even though he's not a photographer by trade. Kurt Dahle is a drummer for a pretty cool indie band (he's very shy about his band so I won't mention it here for his sake), but he's also a huge camera nerd like me. I bumped into him while I was reviewing some cameras a few months back (Leica T and Fujifilm X-E2), and we got along really well. I decided to invite him on my latest video since he picked up the pretty sweet EF-X20 flash unit for his Fujifilm X-Pro 1. I also complain about Fuji burying the flash compensation feature in the menus, which would be a quick firmware fix (please fix this Fuji!). The video is mostly just me and Kurt chit-chatting about nothing, as it was hard keeping this video on track. Even still, I'll have Kurt (and maybe his bandmates) back for more videos since we had such fun shooting it. Camera girl was all smiles while shooting this video, which is a good sign. She usually looks confused when it's just me nerding out on camera details. Enjoy the video and happy shooting!