Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fujifilm XF35mm f/2 R WR: 1st Impressions

Fujifilm has finally done it. Like the Leica M lens model, sell multiple versions of the same focal length but at different maximum apertures. This is a smart decision. Leica has done this and the formula has worked for them for over 60 years. Can Fujifilm pull it off? They can with the 50mm equivalent focal length of 35mm on a cropped APS-C sensor. The venerable XF35mm f/1.4 is probably the best selling prime lens in the Fujifilm x-mount line-up, and for good reason. It’s sharp, compact, and reasonably priced. With the announcement of the new XF35mm f/2 R WR, Fujifilm has matured their lens choices for prime lens shooters. For those who wish for a slightly lighter, slightly more compact, and a weather-sealed body at a 50mm equivalent (at a lower price point as well), the new XF35 f/2 R WR is a solid lens.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Podcast Interview with Ibarionex's The Candid Frame

'The Photographers'. Instagram images taken with my iPhone 5s. 

I had the privilege of being invited as a guest on Ibarionex's The Candid Frame podcast this past weekend. Although he is a guest speaker at the big PIX 2015 show this week in Seattle, as well as a photowalk in LA right after, he made the time to fit me into his very busy schedule to talk with me about my YouTube channel and Instagram photography. If you haven't listened to Ibarionex's podcast, give it a listen. He's interviewed everyone from David Hobby (The Strobist) to Mary Ellen Mark, and even local photographer and friend Kale Friesen. I'll keep this short since the podcast is almost an hour long. Thanks for visiting and happy listening!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Instagram and iPhone for Daily Photography

'Chinatown 2014' taken entirely with iPhone 5S

To start off, I'm very sorry for not updating my blog in such a long time. Many of you who have followed me for the past few years know that I've used this blog as my primary means to review cameras and share my photographic thoughts. I will still continue to do so on a redesigned website that will be cleaner and easier to navigate. I have also started posting most of my reviews on YouTube so check it out if you haven't already done so. Eventually my YouTube reviews will be released at the same time as my written reviews with images, but that won't be for a few months yet.

In this very quick article, I want to talk about Instagram as a serious platform for sharing images. I know Flick'r has long been the king for us photo nerds to share and consume images, but here's a few compelling reasons why I use Instagram as my professional portfolio for my photography:

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...