Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Fujifilm TCL-X100 Converter Lens

Fujifilm X-100S with TCL-X100. 1/400th sec f/5.6 @ ISO 1250. Chinatown, Vancouver

When Fujifilm announced the WCL-X100 wide angle converter for the X-100 series cameras, I was a bit confused. The difference between the standard 35mm equiv (23mm) angle of view and the 28mm equiv you got with the converter was negligible. If it went to 21mm or even 24mm equiv, I would have been more interested. But I understand why they didn't go wider, since the optical viewfinder on the X-100(s) couldn't accommodate such a wide lens (although they could have been creative and added some sort of OVF adaptor as well...) When Fujifilm recently announced the TCL-X100 this spring, my ears perked up. A 50mm equiv focal length with a rangefinder-style camera... now that's more like it! When Fujifilm Canada asked if I wanted to test it out for a few weeks, I immediately said yes! Let's check out this monster converter and see how it performs on the X-100S...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Video Review: Fujifilm TCL-X100 Teleconverter for the X-100 Series

Here is my quick video review of the TCL-X100 teleconverter for the Fujifilm X-100 and X-100S. My full written review will be up soon with sample images. For now, let`s just say that if you own an X-100 or X-100S and you`ve been wanting a little bit more pull-power, this is the perfect solution. It`s an easy, screw-on adaptor, and no optical compromises (except for funny lens flare). It`s a lot of glass, and it`s heavy, but it balances well on the X-100S. At $349 USD, it`s not cheap, but if the X-100 is your primary camera, this lens is a must have. Check out my preview here, and watch my video below. Happy shooting.

New Video: Ricoh GR Limited Edition

The Ricoh GR is my favourite compact camera of all time, both film and digital. The film GR-1 camera kept up with my full size SLR`s and lenses when it came to my wedding shoots back in the day; and the digital GR-D IV was compact yet powerful so it came with me where ever I went. The latest GR has an upgraded APS-C size sensor, equalling most DSLRs when it comes to sensor size. Check out my quick overview of the GR series, as well as some quick reasons why I love my latest GR, the GR Limited Edition. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shooting YouTube Vids with Lunakiwi: Ricoh GR Family Preview

Taken with Ricoh GR. 1/320th sec f/2.8 @ ISO 250 with built in flash. My wife Lunakiwi with Fuji X-100S.

I've started recording YouTube videos around town where I shoot most of my street photo images, in Gastown, DTES, Strathcona. I've done some camera reviews already, and I'll try my best to post once a week. I'll also start doing more produced how-to series on street photography about once a month with a proper video crew. Think DigitalRev meets Mijonju meets The Camera Store. For now, my wife (aka @Lunakiwi) will be my camera-girl, and other times I'll just hold the video camera myself while I shoot (I know, video selfies look weird). So here's my latest video, a preview to my upcoming Ricoh GR review. Enjoy and happy shooting

Monday, June 16, 2014

Video Review: Polaroid Automatic 250 Land Camera and Polapan 664 Film

Taken with iPhone 5S. Railtown District, Vancouver.

Old cameras. Old Polaroid cameras. Rangefinder cameras. If you love all 3 of these things, you need to buy a Polaroid Land Camera. Not the goofy ones that came later with integral film, but the older ones that take the peel-apart 3.25 x 4.25 films (667, 669, 664, etc.). My dream is to own the more specialized models that have manual exposure control (model 180, 185, 190, 195); but the 250 is still a great camera and fun to use.

I won't go into too much detail since I have my YouTube video to explain many of the features of this camera. Basically its a great introduction to Polaroid's peel-apart film cameras without spending too much money. The 250 model typically sells for around $150-200, although it's getting harder and harder to find it with the original case, flash, and portrait lens. The more expensive models are easily in the $500 range, some go for even more (check out Mijonju's video on his 185 Classic Edwin Land). The model 250 is reasonably priced and performs well, and every camera collection should have one of these, not on the shelf, but in the camera bag!

iPhone 5S picture. Quick photoshoot with my wife. Railtown District, Vancouver

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yes The Leica T Also Takes Great Pictures!

Leica T with Vario-Elmar T 18-56mm @ 23mm. 1/400th f/8 @ ISO 400. Main Street, Chinatown, Vancouver.

Is it wrong to care about how a camera looks? If that's all you care about, then yes. But we are creatures of aesthetics and symmetry. That's why we are attracted to beautiful things in both nature and things made by hands. How a camera looks and feels can affect how we feel, which in turn affects how we shoot. Shooting with a rangefinder feels very different to me versus shooting with an SLR. Shooting film or instant really feels different versus shooting digital. My mood affects my shooting pattern.

Leica successfully plays on this concept of beauty and style (along with function) with the new Leica T. They spent a lot of time and energy marketing this camera as such, including a 45 minute video of an employee hand polishing a T body. It's Audi design. Does all this effort in making this camera sexy successful? Yes it is. Wherever I walk around with this camera, people want to look at it, touch it, play with it. Even at Eric Kim's recent street-photo workshop in Vancouver, everyone wanted to hold and play with the T over any of my other review cameras. Moreover, if you want attention, buy the Leica T, it's worth every penny. However, do you also want to take great pictures?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My First Offical Video on YouTube: Fail?

A couple of months ago I was introduced to David and Henry who run a video production company called Second Spark Productions. After showing them my blog and Instagram account, they were eager to help me start shooting YouTube videos. They asked me to start writing script ideas and scout for locations and we would meet in 2 weeks to begin shooting our videos. You can guess what happens next. When I was free, they were busy and when they were free, I was busy. 2 weeks became 3, then 4, then it's 2 months later. That's life. Sometimes collaborations are tough to organize and coordinate. 

However, David gave me really good advise. He said not to worry about video quality at first. Some of the most viewed and liked YouTube videos are horrible in shooting quality, but heavy on content. He told me to develop my video persona and work hard to have my real personality show through on screen. I immediately started test shooting. I began taking goofy vids in my home-office, and then I finally wandered out and started shooting outside in the evenings. The video I chose to post first was just me walking back to my car after test shooting videos all evening. I was tired and wanted to go home and sleep. However, after reviewing everything I shot, this was the one I liked, minus the out-of-focus parts (the GR has no face-detection so its hard to maintain focus on me). My wife doesn't like it when I spin, but I think it's pretty cool (I know, I just learned about the 180 rule).

There isn't a lot of content, just me talking out loud about what I want to do with my future videos. It's funny how I bumped into Eric Kim over the week-end and he posted his interview of me before I was able to post my own introduction video first! So here it is, Bigheadtaco's first real video introduction. I'll try my best to post a video every 2 weeks. If you have any tips, tricks, or advise for me, please let me know. If anyone wants to help me shoot my videos sometimes, contact me. 

Thanks for viewing and happy shooting!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Being Interviewed by Eric Kim Photography

Eric Kim posing for Tarry of Revolver Coffee. Stranger in the line of fire. Taken with Ricoh GR.

It was a busy few days. Thursday night I had a meeting at Matchstick Coffee with my good friend from The Lab and a major photo industry sales rep (I won't ruin the surprise, but something cool is coming to Vancouver). Friday morning I was introducing my local Leica rep with a local coffee shop owner, Tarry of Revolver Coffee. As we were finishing up our productive meeting, Tarry told me that Eric Kim was in town and that we should try and contact him. Sounds like a great idea, but how do we track this man down? My plan? Shoot near where he was doing his workshop until I accidentally bump into him.  As I was developing my ingenious strategy in my mind, George (Tarry's son) spotted someone who looked like Eric Kim sitting on the other side of the coffee shop working on his laptop. An Asian dude working in a coffee shop with his Mac laptop? That's such a rare sight in Vancouver!! Me and Tarry decided it was Eric and so we paparazzi'd him by attacking him with two cameras each... and yes, it was The Eric Kim!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Eric Kim & John Goldsmith: Interview Video

Ricoh GR. 1/800th sec f/3.2 @ ISO 1600. Shot in Gastown.
I was shooting my first video with world famous street photographer Eric Kim in Gastown when an unexpected guest walked into the interview... John Goldsmith!! What are the chances? He said he was walking around (taking pictures I assume) when he saw two Asian dudes shooting a video. Here's a accidental small clip at the end of a much longer full interview...thanks for the happy accident Cindy!! Ha ha. 

Both Eric and myself will co-release this interview video on Youtube soon. Stay tuned for details...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Preview: X-100S w/ TCL-X100 is Leica-like

Fujifilm X-100S with TCL-X100 teleconverter attached @ 50mm equiv. 1/350th sec f/2.8 @ ISO400. Local artist and instructor Josh Hite in Gastown, Vancouver. 

I enjoy shooting with an optical viewfinder. For those who don't get it even after trying it, they will never get it I suppose. It's like trying to convince someone to ride a fixed-gear single speed bike, or drive a manual transmission on a car. Yes it's more work and more limiting, but through the limits we become better photographers, bike riders, and drivers. Sometimes, there's even advantages to the limits. For an optical viewfinder (OVF), we don't get exact frame lines of the final image, we don't get to see depth of field or exposure; but we gain something that a digital screen doesn't give us: the real world!!

Yes we get to see the world the way our eyes see it (but through a singular optical finder). When I use an OVF I find that I learn to imagine the shot which helps me visualize the final product before I shoot with it. It's the same thing many Leica film shooters have been saying for decades, the beauty of shooting with a rangefinder camera. It's true the Fujifilm hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder is technically not a true rangefinder (using dual framing windows to find focus), but it's the closest representation of one on a modern camera. When I shoot with the X-100S, I feel like I'm shooting a Leica M series camera. I can say this with confidence because as you know, I also review for Leica Canada as well. How does the X-100S shoot when attaching the TCL-X100 tele-converter lens? Let's find out...