Monday, September 23, 2013

Street Photography 101: How to Take Street Photos versus Stealing Photos

Fuji X-100S. 1/1300th sec F/4 @ ISO 800. Walking man in a hat and poster girl in a hat both giving me a glare. Subject out of focus due to wrong aperture setting. 
There are many ways street photographers can get great images. The romantic ideal is to walk around randomly and find the exact moment where subject and background come together serendipitously. This works about 10% of the time (or less), at least for me. Exact place, exact time, all by accident. Don't get me wrong, I still try and get these completely spontaneous shots all the time, and if I'm lucky, I'll get a couple after shooting all day. If I may suggest another way of getting a good shot, where one element is not by accident. I like to call the 'National Geographic' shot. NG photographers must get portraits of people within the context of their environment, as they merge the portrait with landscape or cityscape photography, very much like a street photographer. Once they arrive at their location, they immediately start scoping out great backdrops for their upcoming portraits. These types of images rarely happen by accident. What's the best way to get these types of images?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Upcoming Test: Ricoh GR-D IV vs Fuji X-20

Sony A-700 with Minolta 35mm F/1.4G. 1/80th sec F/4 @ ISO 320.
After testing so many super-cameras lately (Leica M's and Fuji X's) I was happily enjoying shooting with my trusty Ricoh GR-D IV. No it doesn't have a huge sensor (1/1.7") nor high megapixels (10mp), but it doesn't have to. It's my EDC (every day carry). It's with me everywhere I go. When I'm on a bike, in a business meeting, coffee date with my wife, or when I go to a concert, my EDC camera is always with me. When it came time to choose a new EDC after retiring my Panasonic LX-3, I had many to choose from. My top choices were: 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Fuji X-Pro 1 (ver 3.0) & 14mm F2.8

14mm F/2.8, 1/500th sec F/9 @ ISO 800. Shooting sports with wide angle lens and scale focus

It seemed unlikely a few years ago that Fujifilm would join Leica in the world of digital ILC (interchangeable lens camera) rangefinders. Many manufacturers have dabbled in rangefinders in the past, but since the 1980's, most have decided to leave it to Leica to rule as king in this category and move on to SLRs, point and shoots.and other mixed categories. In recent years, many manufacturers have decided to create rangefinder-ish cameras with electronic viewfinders (EVF) in the ILC market, but many still prefer having a real optical viewfinder (OVF). That's why many offer the ability to mount an external OVF via the flash hotshoe; although there's no ability to see any exposure info, no focus, or parallax correction. 

Fuji's move into the digital rangefinder market (I know technically it's not a true rangefinder, but read below in comments for further discussion) has had such an impact, we forget that this system is still pretty new. Fuji's first digital ILC rangefinder-like camera was the X-Pro 1 back in March of 2012. This X-mount system doesn't feel like it's just over a year old, with 4 camera bodies, 8 lenses (3 more on its way), and lots of after-market support. Like any new system, the X-Pro 1 had some issues when it first came out, but most weren't too critical...but some were. Leica had 60 years to refine and define their M-mount cameras and lenses, so I think Fuji has done pretty well for 18 months. Much of the improvements were a matter of firmware updates and not hardware changes, as the X series cameras and lenses are pretty solid. Fuji's latest firmware update 3.0 for the flagship X-Pro 1 is suppose to be one the most significant updates thus far, and I had the pleasure of testing it out with the super awesome 14mm F/2.8 lens, as well as the 18mm F/2. Let's see how this camera and lenses performed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ricoh GR: Why Use Custom Setting Mode?

Ricoh GR D IV: 1/270th sec F/1.9 @ ISO 80, Bleach Bypass. MY3 Setting custom profile.

Do you own a Ricoh GR-D IV Digital camera? How about the new GR, or any of the older models? Have you taken advantage of the custom settings features? Did you know you can control more than just ISO, shooting mode and your image settings? How about your focus distance? How about customize your jpegs image setting? I was too lazy to go through all the features until recently; and I thought I would share with you how powerful this feature can be for those with specific shooting needs. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Leica M240 with Minolta M-Rokkor Lenses

Shot with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/64th sec F/2.8 @ ISO 200.

I'm excited to have the new M body to review for a week...except I don't have any M-mount lenses! Fortunately I have my brother's Minolta CLE kit on a long term loan, so I had 3 Minolta M-Rokkor lenses I could use: 28mm F/2.8, 40m F/2, 90mm F/4. How good are these lenses on the latest Leica M body? 

There are some issues using these lenses on a modern sensored camera, but you'll have to wait for my review for details. Out of these 3 lenses, the M-Rokkor 40mm F/2 is my favourite so far. Leica has no 40mm frame lines, so the camera automatically picks 50mm instead. I have learned to enjoy the LCD frame lines, as it remains consistently bright even when the light levels drop. Although you lose the manual frame line selector, you can go into the menus and choose the manual frame line selector and select any frame lines listed. 

I have the camera for one more day, so I'll be busy shooting all day tomorrow. I'll try and post a sample image soon. My review of the Leica M 240 should be posted sometime next week. Thanks for viewing. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Leica M 240's Red Dot Attracts Attention

Taken with Rioch GR-D IV in macro mode.1/500th sec F/2.8 @ ISO 125. Edited in Photoscape.

I was walking through my favourite alley testing out the latest Leica M Type 240 camera, when a barista through an open window yelled out: "Hey, you shooting with an M9?".  Yes, the red dot gets a lot of attention. He wasn't the only person who noticed the camera, although he was the second person to actually call out to me and ask. The rest just lustfully stared at the latest and greatest Leica camera body as I quickly skipped past...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Leica M Monochrom feels like film!

28mm F2.8 Asph. Elmarit. 1/1000 sec F/5.6 @ ISO 1600. 60% crop and edited in Photoscape.

A friend explained to me the difference between a device and a tool. A device is simply a complicated tool. If it fails to accomplish its task, we simply blame the device. A laptop is a device. Same as a modern digital camera.  When we fail at updating the latest software on our laptop, or our DSLR fails at focusing during a sports game, we blame the device. It's not our fault. The device has failed us. What's a tool? A hammer is a tool. It's simple. It's an extension of our hand. When we miss the nail, we don't blame the tool. We know the fault is ours.

In the world of photography, a manual film camera is as close to a photographic tool as you can get. It is an extension of our eyes and hands. Manual focus, manual exposure, manual film loading. If we misfocus, get the exposure wrong, or misload our film, do we blame the camera? No, we know it's our fault. A good tool doesn't fail us. We fail the tool.

If a Nikon F3 or Leica M6 is a photographic tool, and a Sony A99 or Canon 5D Mrk III is a photographic device, where does the Leica M Monochrom belong?  It's the most tool-like digital camera on the market today, in function, shooting 'feel' and even in the image 'developing' process. The fact the camera only shoots black and white adds to the nostalgic feel of shooting with an old manual camera loaded with Tri-X or Delta 100. The camera is simple in design and function and ability; but a very powerful imaging tool, as long as you know how to take a good picture! How good is this very unique M camera? Let's begin the review of the Leica M Monochrom...