Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Paparazzi versus Street Photographers: What's the big difference?

Taken with my Ricoh GR. My paparazzi buddy Nigel, sitting, waiting, stalking? 1/1500th sec F/4 @ ISO 400.
Spring has arrived in Vancouver and my favourite neighbourhoods are filling up with people and noise and life. The nicer weather doesn't just affect foot-traffic, but more film crews are shutting down streets and attracting spectators, especially the paparazzi. I've been bumping into a few of them lately, but my favourite is a fellow by the name of Nigel (here's a picture of him on my Instagram). He's a really nice guy and always willing to talk to me. As I look at him and then look at myself, I wonder what the difference between what he does and what I do, photographically and socially. Are we so different? Are we so similar?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Full Review: Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 10-24mm

XF10-24 @ 10mm (slightly cropped). 1/200th sec F/4 @ ISO 1600. Distortion correction in CS5.
In an ever changing world of technology, it's difficult for manufacturers to balance the desire to innovate versus listening to the demands of a finicky consumer market. It would be foolish for a company to ignore the wants and needs of their loyal customer base or the industry trends in general. However, if all you do is follow trends, you will always be a follower, never a leader. Sometimes it takes vision to foresee a need, or create one. Fuji has been able to balance both sides of this tricky equation very well. Yes, they consistently listen to their customer's needs and wants, but continue to innovate and evolve at the same time. When the first X-series camera came out in 2010 (X-100), there was no demand for a retro designed APS-C sized rangefinder styled, hybrid EVF/OVF non-ILC camera. Fujifilm basically created a category, and as the X-series evolved, the engineers listened to their loyal fans and the industry to find ways to improve their cameras.

4 years later, the Fujifilm X-T1 is the result of this balance, and this is the reason why there's such a buzz around this most recent iteration. There's lots to talk about and lots to comment on. Let's take a full look at this latest (and greatest?) camera from Fujifilm, as well as their newest addition to their ever growing line of XF lenses, the XF 10-24mm F/4 R OIS lens...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Camera Preview: Fujifilm X-T1 with XF 10-24mm F/4 R OIS

iPhone 5S image. Shot and edited in-camera using VSCOcam and PS Express. Previously posted on my Instagram account.

I walked into a coffee shop in the hip part of town where the poorest neighbourhood in Canada meets industrial meets trendy hipster meets lawyers and architects zone. I prepared to sit down by unloading all my stuff from around my neck when I heard someone from behind me say, "Hey, is that the new Fuji X-T1?". I guess I shouldn't be surprised. This camera is creating a lot of buzz in the technology industry. Even people who aren't following the mirrorless trend has heard about this camera. Why all the interest? Is this camera really such a big deal?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Camera Review: Fujifilm Instax Neo Classic

All images taken with iPhone 5S camera. Ironically, both cameras are ideal for sharing images. One analog, the other digital.

I just finished reviewing the very capable Fujifilm X-E2 at the end of January, and was awaiting the arrival of the new X-T1. I had a month in between to relax and enjoy playing with the cameras I already have, or would I try and squeeze in a quick review? What was I interested in next? While in Japan, I saw the popularity of Fuji's INSTAX instant film cameras. I also saw a resurgence in interest of classic Polaroid cameras and the resurrection of the Polaroid film formats via The Impossible Project. I own a few Polaroid cameras myself (250 Land Camera, SX-70, Spectra), so I was feeling the itch.... the itch to review one of Fuji's INSTAX instant film cameras. But which one? Which camera has the features and the look that I wouldn't feel too odd carrying around (many of the INSTAX cameras are clearly and successfully marketed towards young girls) while walking through downtown backstreets? I decided to review the very retro-inspired and X-series-looking Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 90 Neo Classic. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

First Impression: Fuji X-T1 Has Landed!

The Fujifilm X-T1 has finally arrived! The last time I was this excited about reviewing a camera was when I first received the Leica M Monochrom in the summer... it's been a while. What makes this camera so special? Why is everyone so excited about this new X-series camera body from Fuji? Because it's the best value-performance-quality mirrorless system camera body on the market today. The best image quality mirrorless belongs to the Sony A7R, but the AF is just ok and the price is more than many full-frame DSLRs. The best overall performing and featured mirrorless is the Olympus OM-D EM-1, but the sensor is smallish (not too small for most but a bit too small for working pros). 

The new Fujifilm X-T1 lies right in the sweet spot of the market: large-enough-for-pro APS-C sensor, well priced (cheaper than the Olympus!), well featured, and performs as good or even better than it's APS-C sensored DSLR competition. At $1299 USD body only, it's reasonably priced for what you get, and cheaper than going full-frame mirrorless. To top it off, the X-series is a mature system with lots of lenses (both zooms and primes), accessories, and camera body options. Some complain its a shameless copy of the Olympus OM-D EM-1 (no pop-flash, weather-sealed, articulating screen, large EVF, lots of custom buttons and DSLR-ish form-factor and handling, etc.); but Fuji has done their homework, put their own twist to this new X-series camera and has done some innovating and improvements of their own. How good is good?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Full Review: Fujifilm X-E2 the Greatest ILC?

Image taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/42nd sec F/2.8 @ ISO 125. Very simple and sleek design.

I've just returned from my Tokyo trip with my wife. I took 3 cameras with me (Leica X-VARIO, Ricoh GR-D IV, Minolta CLE) and spent a whole month shooting and playing (and testing) these cameras. It was a lot of fun. As soon as I got back home, my special order Ricoh GR Limited Edition arrived from Gastown Photo. The next day, a new camera appeared at my door from Fuji to review. Was I photographically burnt out? Was I tired of reviewing cameras? No way! I was pumped to start putting the Fuji X-E2 to the test, especially comparing image quality with the Leica X-VARIO and my newly acquired Ricoh GR. However, all 3 cameras are very diiferent, although they all have one thing in common: they all use a APS-C size sensor. How did the X-E2 compare? 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Photo Tip 101: Take Another Look at Your Images before Deleting

Fuji X-E2 with XF18-55mm lens. 1/2400th sec F/8.0 @ ISO 1600. Shot jpeg, edited in CS5 & Photoscape
We've all done it before. We take a picture, we chimp the image, we're not happy with the image, and we hastily delete it. It's a waste of time, waste of frustration, and perhaps you could have deleted the best image you've ever taken. This is why many photographers recommend we avoid chimping (take a quick peak at the back screen right after we take the picture) while shooting with our digital cameras. It's a nasty habit. Deleting an image in the field is also a bad habit. Keep it and look at it again at home where we can learn from our mistakes...unless the mistake turns out to be a great shot!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Upcoming Review: Fujifilm X-E2 & XF18-55

Taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/45th sec F/2.8 @ ISO 125.

The Fuji X series cameras have slowly grown on me. Last year when I tested the Fuji X-E1, I liked the camera, but not enough to want to buy one for myself. I was impressed with the very sharp and fast kit lens, and I liked the retro but still modern layout (healthy mix of dials and buttons). The image quality was very good as well, with a very unique look of their own, including classic Fuji film simulated jpeg modes (Provia and Velvia are my favourite). But there were some ergonomic and functional issues that made it a bit slow to shoot with, and I really wasn't a fan of the slow refresh rate of the EVF. In the end, I gave it a good, but not an excellent rating. I wasn't alone with these complaints. Fuji engineers are good listeners however; and with each new X series camera, they continually made small improvements to the layout, the sensor, AF speed, etc. I loved testing the X-Pro 1, and I really loved the X-100S. Each new X-series cameras comes closer and closer to what people want from this retro inspired line-up of cameras.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Upcoming Review: Ricoh GR Ltd. Edition

Taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/70th sec F/2.8 @ ISO 125. Shot RAW and converted in CS5

I enjoy reviewing cameras like a car guy would love reviewing cars. The only difference is that with a car, you usually only have it for an afternoon, and you can't really test to see if you can incorporate it into your daily living. Sure it drives great on the track, but how does it park in the garage or drive in rush hour traffic? It's different with a camera. It sits next to your desk while you work or next to your bed before you go to sleep. You can take it with you to lunch or dinner, or even just a coffee. You can see if you can incorporate a camera into your lifestyle. In a way, the camera you choose can reflect who you are...so what type of camera person are you?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

iPhone 5S: An Awesome Panorama Camera

iPhone 5S. 1/120th sec F/2.2 @ ISO 160. Original file 8.2mb 7742 x 2448 image

I've recently upgraded my dying iphone 4 (not the S!!) from 3 years ago to the latest and greatest iPhone 5S. Before the iPhone I was a Palm Pilot guy (Palm T3 was my last one), and even before digital PDA's I always used a paper daily planner with phone numbers, notes, to do list, calender, etc. When the iPhone came out I was excited, as it merged a phone with a digital organizer... little did I realize that this little gadget would change how I viewed photography!

The new camera on the latest iPhone and the software that runs it is very simple and intuitive to use, but it also takes great images. Yes the dynamic range isn't what I would get on a "proper" camera, but the convenience of a camera on our phones can't be denied. Take a picture, edit it in-camera, and immediately share it with the world. I know the new iSight camera has many cool features, but specifically I wanted to talk about the panorama camera feature. I'm currently reviewing the Fuji X-E2 and I've always loved Fuji's "Motion Panorama" feature; the best of all the major manufacturers I thought... until now.