Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tokyo X-Vario: For Serious Shooting Days

Leica X-VARIO at 30mm equiv. 1/250th sec F/4.1 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, CS5 and cropped.


I was hanging out in Shinjuku West in the Yodobashi Camera electronics district when I saw these two guys sitting outside a Starbucks. Wow did they stand out. Not only were they foreigners in a sea of Asians, but they were dressed in white newsprint themed suits! I asked Wendell (left) and Leo (right) if I could take a quick shot of them and they agreed. Luckily I was already in RAW mode and didn't have to fiddle with white balance or worry too much about the exposure or contrast since I could adjust much of it in post production. That's the beauty of shooting RAW on a larger sensored camera.

On a small point and shoot, I rarely shoot RAW because the newer cameras have awesome JPEGs and are pushing the sensors to the limit already. Ricoh, Panasonic, Fuji, Canon, they all have amazing JPEGs straight out of the camera. You may gain a bit of dynamic range and a bit better higher ISO control, but it's not worth the time spent adjusting every single image to gain 5-10% in control and quality. However, on a larger sensored camera, such as the X-VARIO, the advantages are more pronounced in the final image. To be honest, the JPEG options on the Leica are sparse to say the least, although the overall feel is pretty good. I don't think Leica focuses so much on JPEGs, they want you to shoot RAW.

A warning: when shooting RAW + Jpeg mode on the X-VARIO, use a fast card. My 30x card hiccups when shooting in this mode and often I have to wait to take the next shot. Not great when you're in a hurry to get your images. But the advantages of shooting RAW is control. When you have tricky lighting you don't have to worry about white balance or adjusting contrast settings. You have so much post production control of the image that all you have to worry about is framing, focusing, and exposure. The rest you can worry about when you get back home.

Besides shooting RAW, when you shoot with an APS-C sensored camera, the advantage is that you can crop 50-60% of your image, and still have a decent image to work with. With MFT it's less flexible, and when shooting 1", 2/3" or 1/1.7", it's basically web-only type shots if you're doing aggressive cropping. The above shot was cropped almost 75% of the original size and yet there's still lots of resolution left and lots of room to work with the image. In fact I had still had to lower the resolution to post the image!! Below is the 1 x 1 crop of the original file. I knew ahead of time that I would crop out the sides since they serve no purpose to the image, and I knew that by shooting RAW and because of the size of the sensor, I could aggressively crop and still end up with a great image. 


Same specs as above image

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