Sep 192014
 

The Greek Holidays with a Fuji X100s

By Joao Marques

My name is João Marques i`m an amateur photographer living in Lisbon and i would like to tell about my experience, this holidays, in choosing which camera to take.

So this year my vacations were on the beautiful greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos. When i was making my bag i had a hard decision to make, wich gear should I take? My options were carrying my heavyweight equipment: canon5d2+zeiss 21 2.8+sigma 35 1.4+ canon 70-200 2.8 IS II+manfrotto tripod+ lee filter set. Or go with my every day camera, the small, beautiful and excellent Fuji X100s. Since I had to take 7 flights in total, the choice was pretty easy, those were not a “photographic” vacations, my plan was to relax and bathing on the warmer mediterranean waters.

I chose only to take the Fuji.

Let me say now that I made the right choice, this small camera is the ideal tool for an uncompromised work with a good image quality in a very light package, instead of carrying KGs of equipment and being worried all the time of being robbed in the hotels, the 500gr of the Fuji let me use it all the (at the beach, night, etc). Another reason that everyone has already talked about, is the casual look that you have when you photograph with one of this beauties on your hand, it’s completely different when you approach someone with heavyweight cameras and lens, people tend to be intimidated with that kind of equipment.

There were a few times that I missed my other gear, specially in some pictures were I wished more DOF and in some sunsets, but the happiness of being free of the extra kgs, surpass every tiny feeling for the canon.

One and a very important thing, my girlfriend loved the idea of me just having the small camera at my disposal, she knew that I wouldn`t take too much time setting the tripod, filters, lens etc. It was a winning decision in every angle :)

Now for the best part the photos, when I arrived I didn`t know what I want to photograph, but one thing I was sure, I didn’t want to go for the classic postcard photographs that you see from Santorini or Mykonos, and didn`t want also to have the pressure of photographing, so I decided to go with the flow and be alert to whatever events I might encounter. I set the camera to b&w and these were the moments that I was fortune to capture.

Hope you enjoy it.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/giamppiero/sets/

Wish you all the best,
João

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Sep 182014
 

Five Weddings, Five Cameras, Five Images

Steve and Brandon, like so many others who visit your website, I want to thank you for providing a rich source of information for all of us who appreciate straight-forward, real-world reviews and insights about photography. You do a great job, and I appreciate all of your hard work to make such a wonderful website work so well.

My photography life was so much easier back in the days when I shot film. I had my Nikon F2 and Nikon FM, later to be replaced by an F4 and an FE. That was it. Three primes, two always on camera, and I was ready to go. No muss and no fuss. But, digital came along, I got older, and GAS crept into my life. I eventually wound up with five digital cameras (after buying and selling others!), and though I’ve wanted to thin the herd, I enjoy all of them and didn’t know which, if any, I could let go of to simplify my photography life a bit more.

Then, it happened. INSPIRATION! My wife and I got invited to five weddings over a seven weekend period this spring. Five weddings, all located here in North Carolina, but scattered throughout the state. I knew that each wedding would have a pro dutifully documenting each event, and many guests would have point-and-shoots, phones with cameras, and a few DSLRs. Everybody is a photographer, right?

What an opportunity for me! I had no obligation to capture the events. I had no responsibility at all other than to be there, be generous with gifts, and have a great time. So, I decided that I’d be selfish and take photos for myself and not be concerned with capturing images for the wedding couples or their families, despite the fact that each family knows of my passion for photography…the guy who takes a camera everywhere he goes. And besides, maybe I’d get a better feel for which of my cameras I should sell.

This was the plan. Having these five cameras and there being five weddings, I decided to use one and only one camera for each wedding. My goal was to create one shot from each wedding that I was really happy with. Of course, I took more than one shot at each wedding, but I didn’t take all that many. Remember, there was the professional and all those other folks with their image makers already doing that. Each of my five images was to be very different in content and rendition. I didn’t care what the subject was. All that mattered was that the shot had to be taken at the wedding. All shots would be taken in raw, and I would use Lightroom however I wanted to create my final versions. I wrote the names of my five cameras on pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and selected one piece of paper at a time for weddings 1 – 5. I was inspired!

For the first wedding, I shot my versatile Olympus EM-1 with 12-40mm lens. It’s ironic that my wedding one image turned out to be of the newly-married couple driving off to their honeymoon. One would think that that shot would be best if it was from the fifth wedding. But, this is not a photo essay. As for this image, I found it interesting that as I shot the sequence of the couple pulling away in the car, the two pros were fumbling with lenses and missed the entire thing. The newlyweds loves this shot. ;-)

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For the second wedding, I made a grave mistake! I brought my SONY RX1 with a low battery level. When the SONY went dead, I reached into my pocket for my backup battery only to discover that it was a battery for my Olympus. Don’t make this same mistake kids. Fortunately, I had already taken a few shots that I thought would be good candidates for my project. This one catches the mood and landscape for me, as we all relaxed after the wedding. There is something both formal and informal going on here.

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I brought my Leica M-E and 50mm Zeiss Planar lens for the third wedding. I have a love-hate relationship with the Leica. I love the files…love…love…love…, but my aging eyes really don’t like manual focusing all that much anymore. More about this later. The image? Well, you can’t tell from my photo, but the young bride was wearing her great-grandmother’s wedding dress. Wow! I decided that I wanted a “vintage” feel to the image, but to also include the modernity of the moment, a young woman in her 20s getting married. Thus, the tattoo emphasized along with the vintage rendition.

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I would have preferred to stay with smaller cameras for each wedding, but my Nikon Df came up on the fourth pull out of the hat. I didn’t want to be all that conspicuous with a camera, so I stuck with my 50mm kit lens with no hood rather than my 24-120mm lens. Not a small package, but not all that large either. The outdoor location for the wedding was the North Carolina mountains, west of Asheville, and I just couldn’t resist the shot, even though it doesn’t have “wedding” written on it. Hey, it’s my project, right?

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The final wedding. The final camera. The final shot. I took my trusty SONY RX100 M2 for this one. I love this little camera. However, another SNAFU, but not with the camera, exactly. The wedding was to be taken outside near the water, but a storm was threatening and at the last minute, chairs were set up in the reception area inside the country club. It was dark (Where’s my Df when I need it?), cramped, and a lot of light was coming through those windows backlighting the couple. Nevertheless, I got this shot. With a lot of help in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro, I created an image to my liking.

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Five…Five…and Five. DONE!

I’m not a great photographer, I just know what I like. I was moaning about having too many cameras when a situation presented itself that inspired me to do a photo project. I had a great time with it and learned some new things from each of the wedding experiences, some while shooting, some while working in Lightroom. Now, I look for everyday situations to inspire me further. I love it.

As for the five cameras, all served me well. I did sell the ME…but I ordered a Leica T!

Wedding anyone?

Thanks, Brandon and Steve!

Fran DeRespinis

Sep 182014
 

Discover your subject

By Dirk Dom

Hi!

I wanted to see if I could take some insect shots with my Olympus PEN. I took the Kiron 105 macro with me, an extremely good lens which I almost never use, for insects I prefer the Canon 200mm macro which allows me to take shots from a far greater distance. When we arrived, the sun was out and it was around five, so the sun was nicely yellow. I went to the back of the Put, and started looking. I put as a goal to come up with one interesting shot. There were lots of dragonflies, but those weren’t interesting.

I took this shot, just for fun.

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While shooting a spider squatting down I lost my balance and rolled backwards in the nettles, and I got nettled all over my body, straight through my blouse. There was another insect photographer, and I went to say hello. He asked if I had seen a certain heidelibel, but since I’m a dilettante who just shoots and has no clue as to names, I couldn’t help him. He pointed out a bush with three small blue butterflies with their wings closed. The bush was dead and brown and he didn’t think it made for an interesting shot. I got to work at the butterflies.

First, a standard shot.

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I got up and wanted to walk away, but then I thought: “Hey! What are you doing! Discover your subject!” and I put some real effort into it.

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That was already a little better. See how it looks like a little jewel? With the tiltable viewfinder of the Olympus PEN I can shoot at angles an SLR owner can only dream of, and with the 105mm I could shoot at a very steep upwards angle, so I could include the blue sky:

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That was getting better. With this lens I can shoot an image 18mm wide, but that gets extremely difficult because depth of sharpness is very thin. But I gave it a try, and one shot came out sharp.

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I decided to do a shot at the steepest possible upwards angle, as an ant would see it:

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And finally I took a shot from straight forward, because I’ve never shot a butterfly this way. See how pettable and yet alien it looks?

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The truly amazing thing is that these butterflies stayed in one place during all of this shoot. I moved ultra slow all the time.

“Discover your subject”: It worked out!

Dirk.

 

Sep 172014
 

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The Fuji Monochrom

By James Conley

A major impediment most new photographers face is that color is the default mode of expression. Not only are we inundated by color images in every possible medium, but digital cameras presume color as the chosen palette. The tragic fact of these defaults is that it interferes with the development of seeing subjects and places emphasis on the impossible task of trying to capture a color reality which makes little natural sense in two dimensions. The result is a great deal of frustration when the captured image doesn’t match the experience of color.

Few cameras are available that address this problem. The Leica Monochrom is one of few. The Monochrom only records in black and white, and only displays its menus and previews in black and white. It’s the gold standard for capturing black and white—after film. However, the Monochrom body alone costs about $8k. That’s a lot of money to get rid of color. There are cheaper ways.

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The cheapest way to shoot black and white, of course, is to switch to film. Using a film rangefinder is one of the fastest routes to improving the composition and content of images, and you don’t even need a darkroom if you shoot Ilford’s excellent XP2 C-41 process film.

But I’m unable to buy into a Leica Monochrom. The next best thing is the Fuji X100s. The X100s contains all the elements needed to work strictly in black and white. To wit:

• A rangefinder, with an electronic viewfinder which can be set to display only in black and white.
• A fixed lens with a 35mm field of view.
• Small and light.
• Silent. (More silent than my Leica M6.)
• Monochrome JPEG modes with yellow and red filters.

All the images in this post are JPEGs shot on the X100s.

Learning to see in black and white is the process of evaluating the luminance of an object instead of its color. Simplistically, luminance is how much light is reflected from an object. People are often surprised when converting a color image to black and white because a bright color often has more or less luminance than expected and doesn’t appear as one would expect. Through the practice of reviewing the monochrome images you make, you’ll develop your luminance sense and start to better anticipate how a tone will translate into black and white.

A way to speed up that process is by using a monochrome viewfinder. When set to capture monochrome JPEGs, the Fuji X100s will switch its LCD back and EVF displays to black and white. This makes evaluating the scene much easier, and will helps to quickly adapt and recognize luminance values.

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Photographers are blessed with a nearly infinite variety of camera bodies and lenses, which can be shuffled into various combinations to address very specific needs. Photographers are likewise cursed with all those options. Options are choices, and choices are decisions. Having to make decisions is an active process in the consciousness, and it leads to a lot of distraction from the subject. In discussing the thought process behind a “decisive moment,” Henri Cartier-Bresson said:

It’s a question of concentration. Concentrate, think, watch, look and, ah, like this, you are ready. But you never know the culminative point of something. So you’re shooting. You say, “Yes. Yes. Maybe. Yes.” But you shouldn’t overshoot. It’s like overeating, overdrinking. You have to eat, you have to drink. But over is too much.

Making choices about lenses is just as distracting as making choices about color. One lens is enough, and your body can be the zoom. Having to move within space and time to frame your subject makes for far better pictures than standing in one place and letting a variety of lenses do the work of seeing for you.

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The X100s’s f/2 Fujinon lens would be fantastic on any camera. Fuji has a storied history in making high-end lenses for a variety of camera makers, and Fuji glass is world-class. The X100s can use autofocus, or a very smooth manual focus. It also has an excellent macro mode.

Having a small camera means you’ll have it with you, which is the most important ingredient in making any photograph. The smaller and lighter a camera is, the more likely it will be with you. The X100s is smaller and lighter than my Leica M6.

Other than opera or a royal wedding, the best way to do things in life tend to be subtle. That’s especially true for photographers, who are dependent upon other people living their lives so that an image may be made. Unless you’re shooting in a studio, pay respect to your subject by being unobtrusive. Being silent is part of that respect, and an X100s shutter is quieter than my M6.

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Photography is about capturing a moment and then capturing the next . . . and the next . . . and the next. Spending time tweaking and playing with images is decidedly not photography—modifying an image is working with software. The goal of any tool should be to do work so you don’t have to. As my dad always advises about using a saw, “Don’t push so hard. Let the saw do the cutting.” If your camera is making you spend more time post-processing than you do taking pictures, it’s either not a good tool, or you’re pushing too hard. Since we can’t get Adobe to make decent software, however, we can use the tool better by putting the work back into the camera and let it produce quality JPEGs that we merely need to review. This not only speeds up the process of selecting good images, but it also lets you learn the capabilities of the camera just the way you would learn about the qualities of a particular film. This is vital knowledge that helps you see better when you’re out taking pictures, meaning you get better results, which sets up a lovely, positive feedback loop.

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With Fuji already announcing new X-Series cameras, ifyou don’t already have an X100s, you should be able to pick one up for a good price.

Once you get it, go to Shooting Menu 1 and select Film Simulation B with a yellow filter. (Red is another option, and will result in more contrast. Start with yellow.) Scroll down to Shooting Menu 2, and change Highlight Tone to +1, and Shadow Tone to +1. This will give you a decent starting place for your JPEG’s. They should require minimal development work after you import them into a computer. (**You can set the camera to shoot both RAW and JPEG files. This is a good crutch to get you comfortable with the idea of shooting only in monochrome. However, you’ll quickly discover that the Fuji’s JPEGS are very high quality and the RAW files are just a crutch.)

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Use the EVF. It will display in black and white and get you started on seeing the world that way. (Later, you’ll be able to take advantage of the X100s’s rangefinder.)

As you’re taking pictures, keep your thumb on the Exposure Compensation dial and ride it like you stole it. You’re shooting JPEGs, so work at getting the final product the way you want while you’re shooting.

With a few camera setting tweaks, you’re off to a better world in black and white! You’ll now:

• See luminance instead of color
• See shapes, forms, and shadows
• Cut down on development
• Spend more time working on your ideas and making stories

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The purpose of taking a photograph is to capture an image which conveys your impression of an event and tells the story. The purpose is decidedly not about tweaking, playing, collaging, and otherwise twisting the image into something unnatural. So, if you want to become a better photographer, you have to practice seeing what matters. Seeing what matters happens easiest with a rangefinder shooting monochrome images. Long live the X100s. (At least until those Leica Monochrom prices come down!)

website: fjamesconley.com
twitter: @Philatawgrapher

Sep 162014
 

Medical Mission

By Brian Ho

Hello team Huff!

I first entered photography with a manual 1960s honey-well Pentax and 50mm lens in medical school. It was my uncles and an easy way to collect some credits. I soon expand to a canon 40d, and then the 5d mark II (85 f1.2 lens). However that 5000$ system would often sit at home and only taken out occasionally. I then read your article on the RX1 and RX100 and bought both of those at once with the slush funds of selling my previous canon system. I really loved the RX1, but longed for a little flexibility in interchangeability.

I then switched to the sony A7 and Leica summilux 50 f1.4. But for some reason I couldn’t shake my nostalgia for the RX1 and its images and feel of the camera. The Leica A7 combination felt imbalanced to me (literally b/c of the lens weight and artistically), and i re-invested in the Rx1 and sold the A7. I kept the leica lens though, maybe it’ll get me into the next leica system.

I am a Otolaryngology head/neck surgeon and recently returned from a medical missions trip in Peru. Medicine has really inhibited my interested in the arts, but photography is easily included for documentation purposes. So i hope that you guys enjoy some of my photos, with minimal touch-up and cropping. I think that the operating theater is a place that few people ever get to see the joys and awe of. It’s a place where the lighting is dramatic and where a lot of miracles happen.

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Sep 122014
 

My first 6 months with the Sony A7

by Alfredo Guadarrama

Well, the first 6 months with my A7 went pretty fast and I thought it was a good moment to gather some thoughts on this system. I’m a former Nikon user that had a D600 and a D7000 before with a plenty number of lenses. I had the opportunity to have a variety on focal lengths that gave me a lot of versatility to take decent pictures in most of the common scenarios.

After having several problems with my D600 and D7000 due to oil spots issues in the mechanism that drives the mirror, I decided to sell all my Nikon equipment and look for an alternative system. This was a very disappointing quality issue. I spent a considerable amount of time removing oil spots in photoshop and lightroom. I thought this situation was unacceptable due to the high prices in this gear.

After doing extensive research on systems I didn’t have a lot of alternatives. I wanted a lighter body but also high performance with good quality lenses. The Canon system offered excellent quality with the 5DMIII and the 6D coupled with high-end lenses. The problem is that these bodies are as heavy as the D600. Most of the time I do travel photography, carrying a heavy body all day long is not very nice.

Then, I went to the Fuji X-system. The glass versatility and quality are great, but the bodies are not full frame. Despite this situation, I think that Fuji is doing a great job in terms of quality image. I think that the jpegs from the current line of cameras/lenses are superb. Finally, I decided to go with the Sony A7. I chose this body because it is full-frame. When compared to the A7R (A7S didn’t exist at that moment), I chose the A7 because it had a better autofocus system, lower megapixels (less hard drive space with very good image quality), and was significantly cheaper. The only downside was the lenses. The variety of lenses was and it is still very small with high prices. As we are seeing now with the appearance of new lenses (e.g. Loxia), my hopes of a larger variety of lenses is becoming a reality. I know that you can use third party lenses with adapters, but I’m not the best fan. I think lenses are made specifically to work well in a system, and second, I love having autofocus (I know that peaking mode works wonders in the A7).

So, the lenses I bought were the 35F2.8 and the 24-70F4 from Zeiss. Shot with the A7 and the Nikon 35mm f1.8G (Fotodiox Adapter)

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And here is the Sony A7 + 35F2.8 with a leather half case. Shot with the iPhone 5c

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Since I received my A7 I have had the chance to shoot 6000+ photos with the camera and I must say that it has pros and cons. To make it simple for readers I put them as a bullet list:

PROS

  • Lightweight when compared to a DSLR.
  • Small size that doesn’t take half of the space in your backpack.
  • Viewfinder screen, you see what you’ll get.
  • Superb image quality, especially with the 35 mm (Zeiss).
  • Intuitive and well positioned controls and dials, you have dedicated knobs for aperture, speed, ISO.
  • Internal Wi-Fi, the app works much better than the one for Nikon and the camera has built-in wi-fi. For the Nikon you need to buy a 50USD adapter.
  • Tilting screen is very useful when shooting over a crowd or close to the floor.

CONS

  • Battery life is ridiculous, cannot last one full day of shooting. I had to buy a lot of additional batteries (40 USD each).
  • Usually one stop slower than DSLRs in the same situation. I think this is related to the fact it is a mirrorless system.
  • Small variety of lenses, current line is very expensive.
  • Some distortion with the 24-70F4 at 24mm, the lens works pretty well as a general purpose lens (could be better for the price).
  • Extremely noisy. This camera has been hard to use while shooting inside a church or temple where you need to be quiet.
  • Not weather/dust resistant (would have been nice for travel photography)

I had the opportunity to use the camera in the Boston, Miami, NYC, London, Dubai and several countries Asia. I was surprised with the camera. It performed very well, it was very easy to use and despite being one of the first times using it, I didn’t have any trouble finding specific settings. The lcd screen is big enough to review sharpness and focus in the pictures. The wifi worked wonders when I wanted to share a picture with my family or in Instagram.

Here are some of the shots I have taken so far since I got the camera, most of them are edited in Lightroom with VSCO film presets:

Charing Cross in London, UK

Leicester Square Station

Ultra Music Festival in Miami, USA

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Boston, USA

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Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE

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Sumo tournament in Tokyo, Japan

Sumo Fight

Low light performance is astonishing for a camera of this size (no tripod was used in this shot).

Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari

Geisha District in Kyoto, Japan

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Men playing cards near Guilin, China

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French Concession in Shanghai, China

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The skyline in the shot below was taken using a mefoto tripod, Victoria Skyline in Hong Kong

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Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Soho, NYC

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In case you own a A7/A7R/A7S, I recommend you watching this video from Ralfs Foto-Bude in YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMQES0u-9Bw .

It presents an in-depth analysis of the different menus and options inside the camera. I found it pretty useful when learning how to use the A7.

As a conclusion, buying this camera was a very good choice, amazing are results. This camera was a good choice because it adapts to my photographic needs and delivers the quality I’m expecting. It is not a perfect camera, but is the best solution for me in the current market offering. Please share your thoughts and comments. They will be interesting to read.

Thank you Steve, for giving your website readers the opportunity to share their thoughts. Congratulations for your great work.

Alfredo

P.S. If you want to see more of my work using this camera please go to:

Portfolio: www.alfredoguadarrama.com
500px: www.500px.com/alfredoguadarrama

Sep 102014
 

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Shooting Ephemerisle 2014 with the Sony A7S and a Voigtlander 35mm f1.2

By Judd Weiss – Visit his site HERE

Most places I go lately, I am the best photographer around. But I come to Steve Huff’s site and community specifically because here I am definitely not the best photographer. I’m learning fast, but I’m relatively new to photography, upgrading from a point and shoot to the original Sony NEX 3 only about 4 years ago. Discovering Steve’s site almost 3 years ago was a major turning point in my photography. I started taking it more seriously when I saw what you guys were up to. I’ve been inspired. The daily inspirations that so many of you have contributed has made me rethink what I’m doing with the camera I’m holding. I’ve never taken any photography classes, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t received an education. This community around Steve Huff’s blog is one of the greatest influences on my development as a photographer. So thank you to all who have contributed their vision and creations here. I am very grateful. (Thank you Judd!! Steve)

I’d like to also make a contribution, from my favorite work yet. I shot this entire set of photos with the new amazing Sony Alpha A7S full frame mirrorless camera, with a manual Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 lens. That combo allowed me to achieve low light shots never before possible in the history of photography. Ephemerisle was the perfect event to test out what the Sony A7S can handle in extreme low light. And the Sony A7S was the perfect camera to capture the experience of the dark glowy night that made Ephemerisle shine.

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These shots are unapologetically processed, and I admit I went a bit intense with the colors, but I wanted to, to accurately reflect the surreal nature of Ephemerisle. Some of these photos are a little abstract, but believe me when I tell you those are very true to the experience. What a visual experience! Ephemerisle was incredible. I did the best I could to run around and convey what it was like to be there, over stimulated by this new beautiful foreign universe everywhere you looked.

It’s fair to think of Ephemerisle like Burning Man on the water. Imagine a bunch of RVs at Burning Man connected together, but floating. With dance stage platforms between them.

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I think Ephemerisle was the most exciting and fun time I have had, that didn’t involve a girl, since maybe my college days. I loved running around in that crazy dream world meeting the cast of characters you’ll see in the photos below.

I’m not saying Ephemerisle is better than Burning Man. There’s no way an event of a couple hundred people can in any way rival the scope and all the amazingness of the 50,000+ strong Burning Man festival. But I will say that I enjoyed Ephemerisle more. I loved Burning Man, but the desert is a harsh place. No doubt the sea can be unforgiving as well, but I was very happy to trade an over abundance of dust for an over abundance of water.

No way I would bring my beloved new Sony A7S and Voigtlander lens to get ruined by the intense barrage of fine dust on the Burning Man playa.

 Shot at 12,800 ISO

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Burning Man is incredible as it lights up the middle of the desert nowhere into an epic glorious city; being out in the middle of the water nowhere, lit up only by the most amazing glowy party you’ve ever seen, Ephemerisle too is a bright beacon of a testament to our evolutionary progress, while floating over the type of early ocean microbes of life that began it all. How far we’ve come, to create such a stunning atmosphere. A cool blend of excitement and serenity. Like Burning Man, being at Ephemerisle confronts you to face both our fragility and our promise that can only be truly seen in an intentional community that has left many of the comfortable constraints of modern society.

Stylistically people often compare Ephemerisle with Water World, and you can see where that’s coming from, only this wasn’t dystopian. Whatever was rough around the edges wasn’t post-apocalyptic, it was prototype. This is from the future, clearly. These are experiences our grandchildren will inherit when they are our age. But it’s a beautiful future. When the sun goes down, we light up even brighter. Humans evolved from a state of continual starvation in a struggle to survive among brutal nature, and now we master the harshest environments to throw parties of abundance like this for recreation. Humans have no shortage of serious problems, but it’s things like Ephemerisle that compel me to acknowledge our bright future of possibilities ahead.

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You might think I’m hyperbolizing a little much. And if I hadn’t been there, that’s totally what I would think while reading this. But there’s a reason for these reflections of anthropological grandeur. Ephemerisle is comprised of exactly the group of intellectuals, business leaders, and artists who are focused daily on the topic of our evolutionary potential as a species. These ARE the people consciously working to design a more beautiful future for all of us. What a treat it is to see one of their early prototypes. And I have to say, I’m in love with this particular prototype they call Ephemerisle.

I’ve got to thank everyone involved for coming together to create Ephemerisle. They made these photos. I just captured what I saw as well as I could. Their vision created this reality. Congratulations to all of their beautiful minds. These photos are my humble tribute.

Ok guys, get ready to watch the colors move…………

The full album and original post can be found on my blog here: http://hustlebear.com/2014/09/04/photos-ephemerisle-july-2014/

You can follow me on Instagram at http://instagram.com/juddweiss

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/juddweiss

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Note: The widely acclaimed Canon 5D MIII could not have achieved many of these shots. For example: The below shot, while not the cleanest photo in history, was shot at 51,200 ISO (!!) at 1/125 second, handheld from a bobbing moving boat in the dark. It was challenging to stand, and hard to see clearly, let alone to take a clean photo. Try to get anything remotely usable in those conditions with another camera setup.

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Again, the below shot is not perfectly clean and crisp, but it was shot at 32,000 ISO from a moving bobbing boat.

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I love how the camera rendered the daytime shots as well.

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Sep 092014
 

Using the Nikon DF

By Cosmin Munteanu

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Only for a couple of weeks the local Nikon dealer lend me silver/chrome Df in exchange for a short review about it. Well, the time was not a problem, especially because I have the camera for about three weekends. I had previously experience with Nikon AF system already. The F80 was my first camera and the 50mm f:1.8 AF-D. After it came the Nikkor 35mm f:2.0 AF-D and then the D90 followed by a 24mm f:2.8 and an older Sigma AF tele-zoom lens.

I received the Df with its kit lens, the 50mm f:1.8 AF-S G Special Edition. At first, the camera seems big. And it really is, big and bulky. It can not fit in my Tamrac day by day bag (a Explorer 1 5501). That’s the same bag that can accommodate a Pentax ME or MX with two prime lenses and a medium-zoom or a Nikon F80 with 2 prime lenses and a couple of film rolls. So, I had to leave the Tamrac at home and took my girlfriend’s LowePro backpack. Also, I brought with me my favorite Nikkor, the 35mm f:2.0. Well, as bulky as it is, in fact when I grabbed it, surprise! The camera is much lighter than looks like and sits itself in my hands quite well. It’s almost like Minolta’s x-500 or x-700 but of course with at least a measure bigger, and heavier (~750 g vs. Minolta’s 500 g). The grip, or in fact its luck is not at all a problem. It is big enough for me to hold the camera comfortably.

Now, let’s speak about using it in the real world. At first if you come from a classical 35mm film camera, at least the Df’s top seems very familiar. There are dials for exposure time, exposure compensation and ISO but, surprisingly also an exposure mode switch (PASM). Why such a dial when an “A” on the shutter dial would have been enough? Ah, of course, the new G lenses does not have an aperture ring, so the photographer have to tell to the camera in what mode wants to work. The aperture can be adjusted through the main back dial as on other Nikon dSLRs ar the front dial but I would not recommend that. The front dial is very stiff and can not be used comfortably and quickly because of that. I don’t recommend using this one while taking pictures. If one wants to use the aperture ring to change the f value, first has to make a visit in the camera’s menu. In these conditions the user can photograph like with a film camera. As for the shutter dial, I would have wanted an “A” position. Also the same would be great on the ISO dial too. Now, to switch from Manual to auto iso and vice versa I have to consult, again, the menu.

Other then the retro looking and operating cameras’s top, the camera behaves like a “normal” Nikon dSLR. The viewfinder is big and bright but of course not as big as a manual focusing camera. A split screen would have been a good addition if not necessary, especially for the “Pure photography” believers. I don’t know why they didn’t implement it. This feature would have picked up the DF even more from the “big black dSLR” crowd. The AF system is very good, fast, but struggles a little in low light by not locking on the target. In the same light conditions even the older D90 can surpass it with its central AF point. Shutter sound is short and ferm, not too loud but also not silky smooth as F80’s one. Even if the specifications says that the camera is weather resistant, the kit lens is not, and because I don’t have a WR lens for Nikon I didn’t try the camera in rainy conditions.

The battery life is very good but the door of the memory card/battery compartment is very fragile. Yes, both card and battery share the same compartment which door opens and closes in the same way like Nikon F100’s R6 battery holder.
About the sensor what to say more that I don’t need more that it can deliver. The IQ is excellent, ISO performance outstanding, plenty DR. I can not add nothing cons on this matter.

How would I like to see a future Df2 ? Well, I would keep the sensor, make the camera smaller, by about 5-7mm in deep and around ~10-12mm in height. Also I would like a more sturdy construction, keep the weather sealing and with a much less flimsy battery/card door and a better AF system but not by adding more AF points but by making it more reliable. Also i see a better spread of the AF points on the entire focusing screen’s surface unlike in the case of the present Df. In addition, like mentioned previously, a split screen would be nicer or a better suited for manual focusing matte screen. Keeping the 100% viewfinder’s coverage of course is a must and rising the magnification to at least x0.85 would make the Df2 the dSLR with the biggest optical viewfinder. Despite the cons mentioned the Df is simply put, a daily camera, one that I would always carry with me, paired with one, maybe two small, light and fast prime lenses like Nikkors the 50mm f:1.8, 50mm f:1.4, 35mm f:2.0, 35mm f:1.8, 28mm f:2.8, 24mm f:2.8, 20mm f:2.8 are .

I won’t end this short description wishing you “good light”. In the Df’s case this would be outdated. So I wish you just to be there, where the things happen and don’t worry too much about the selected ISO ;-)
Have fun.

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Sep 082014
 

Olympus E-P5 goes to Rhodes

By Eyal Gurevitch

As part of writing a review, I had the chance to take the Olympus E-P5 on a family holiday in Rhodes. We stayed at Kathara Bay in Faliraki, where the weather was hot and the sea was cold (and flat!) and so was the beer (cold, not flat). Leaving my own Panasonic GX7 at home (but taking the excellent 20mm f/1.7 with the E-P5), I had a hard time switching to its different colors, so most of the time I escaped into its B&W film grain filter and (apart from just a few times) cozily stayed there.

My first thoughts of the E-P5 were that it’s an unclear mixture of tacky toy-like options (what were they thinking with that ‘fun frame’ mode?) and high-end output. I mean, sure – most cameras have both fully automatic, semi manual and fully manual modes, with the option to either let it fly buy itself or take full control. This usually doesn’t include a half-baked menu system and non-appealing filters and effects, as customizable as they all may be.

So, as it currently stands, I wasn’t remotely persuaded by the E-P5 to part ways with my GX7, at least not for my photographic needs. It could be that I misunderstood this camera completely and that it’s actually a gem underneath its amateur demeanor – if that’s the case, please let me know.

A small but important note – all images above are straight out of the camera – no post editing whatsoever.

-eyalg

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Sep 082014
 

For Beauty Alone

By John Muehlhausen

Who is this boy? What will he become? Will he be the pride of his sports team? Will he excel at his studies? Will he teach others the mysteries of his profession? Will he change the world with the next technological marvel? Will he fall in love? Will he help care for a family? Will he lead the nation someday?

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Will he, at least, be a productive member of society? Will he be of any USE?

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This is my son. I have big dreams for him, but he is facing a mountain. He has Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. His mind doesn’t seem to hold onto things. He cannot speak, and chances are he never will. His understanding seems extremely limited and inconsistent. His development is considered “scattered” — he retains behavioral aspects of a six-month old.

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He is a beautiful child though… at least, I have tried to show us his beauty in these photos taken over the past year. I do not focus on the occasional biting, or the hair-pulling and pinching, or the potty messes, or the nasty things that find their way to the mouth. I do not focus on the manic, sleepless nights, or the complaints of discomfort that he cannot explain or identify to us. I have passed over the seizures from poor body temperature regulation or from sleeplessness, which thankfully have subsided with management. I give little time to whether he will be “productive” someday. I do not focus on these things because there is a person, Jesse Roland, who is beautiful, and that is what we should see, and that is what we should believe when sight fails us. Jesse… “from the stump a shoot will spring up.”

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Jesse is a very physical and tactile person. He loves to climb, feel and explore. He has very little sense of danger, and he is fast! He will be faster than me soon, and I will mourn this for reason of his safety, but even more I will rejoice with him as I see him running and smiling.

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It is somewhat rare to make a solid connection, and I mean among people in general. Jesse is so real — he has no masks. He has nothing to hide, and this is beautiful. Beautiful people give their lives to work with people like him. These people are “best friends”… other children often do not have the patience for mental disability. This patience is rewarded with genuine connection: the art of loving.

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We live in a culture that values utility. We cringe when we see disability and we want to distance ourselves from it, and I believe this is because we have lost our sense of beauty. Perhaps Jesse can help ease us back to our senses. I am grateful to have begun my photographic journey with him and with his siblings, they are in a sense “easy subjects.” I am painfully aware that there are many disabled people who seem less photogenic at first, but who are no less beautiful for those who have trained the eye to see. Yes, the trained eye (of the soul?) can find beauty even within human suffering. During this past year I have wrestled with myself for believing that, but what other choice do we have but to learn this wisdom? At the end of our years, we will all be disabled and dependent, and still so beautiful. What is the meaning of life? To be beautiful, to be art and lovers of art, to be valued as ends, never as means to some other end. To be useless.

Let all of our uses of things (never people) work to showcase this art!

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Thanks to Steve for being willing to host this photo essay. Blessings to all. From Jesse through me, with love and for beauty.

Please consider making a generous contribution to the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation if you feel so moved. Let us help people like Jesse for their own sake! Please include a note that your contribution is “for beauty.” Thank you very much, I would be so grateful.

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Sep 052014
 

What shooting film has taught me

By Zhao TianYu

About two weeks ago I made the decision to go back to film. Well ‘go back’ may not be entirely accurate – as someone who was born in the digital age, I have never shot film before (if you discount the times when I was still a child and used my parents’ film camera). I made the change because I found myself stuck in a creativity dead-end when it comes to street photography: after my recent trips to Bangkok and Nepal, I found the city I live in (Singapore) pretty boring, though some may disagree. I found myself keep going to the same places, use the same technique, and shoot more or less the same subjects. I read books, studied other people’s work, and I’ve decided maybe it’s time for a change in the medium as well as the approach. I bought a rangefinder and a couple rolls of film and my digital camera has been sitting in the dry cab since.

So now two weeks have passed, and I’ve shot about 10 rolls of film. Sure that’s not a lot, and I’m by no means a pro when it comes to film photography (I still lab scan my negatives). But I’ve learnt a lot from these two weeks, more than years of shooting digital. I’ve heard people say there’s no reason to shoot film from a technical point of view cause digital is much more versatile and convenient, but it is precisely the reason I switched back to film cause it is HARD. It helped me to slow down, and as a result I think a lot more when I shoot. I leant to guess the light, I learnt to look for interesting compositions or juxtapositions cause every frame must count since it costs me money, and learnt to appreciate the city I live in. It took a lot more time for me to finish 36 frames, but I have much more keepers.

Another reason why I prefer film is because the feeling when you get back your negatives and found out you have nailed the shot is extremely satisfying. Sure I’ve had screw-ups and disappointments along the way, but in general I found film photography to be much more rewarding than digital. With film I won’t chimp and look at my LCD screen all the time, and I often forgot what I took until I see the scan results. But it was precisely the reason that made me a better photographer, because I learnt to distance myself from my work. I became much more critical when editing my works, and when I’m not impressed by the results I’ve seen, I go out and shoot more. I stopped uploading my work everyday, and in fact this is the first time I’ve shown my street works to the public in two weeks. After all, you are only as good as your weakest shot.

Here are some of the images I took over the last two weeks. Hope you’ll like them. All images were taken with Leica M6 TTL (I was lucky to find a wonderful new old stock of the Millennium Black Paint edition) and 35mm Summilux FLE on Tri-x.

Regards,
Tianyu
Check out my instagram account @tianyuzhao

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Sep 052014
 

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The little camera that could. The Canon G10

By Seong Kim

Experimenting with a used $100 camera I purchased online 2 weeks ago. The seller of the camera asks “how come you want this old thing?” I told him it’s for experimental purposes as I am in pursuit of creating medium format style images with a point and shoot camera.

With many years of searching for the best system that suits my needs I have come to a realization that most camera’s out there do the exact same thing. My analogy to this statement is this… “A silver pen is a silver pen which could cost $500 or more… and a plastic pen is a plastic pen where you can receive for free from a business with their logo on it. They both do the same thing, however the person that is behind the pen and writes the stories is what truly matters.” Unless you’re using a crayon that’s a completely different story but I won’t get into that here.

When I landed on the famous President Barack Obama’s Inauguration image by David Bergman, totalling in size of an amazing 1474 megapixels (59783 x 24658 pixels) I was blown away to say the least. I said to myself “This camera must be some sort of crazy expensive system…” Excited as I was, I kept reading the details of how this shot was produced. When I saw the words+numbers Canon G10 my jaws dropped and I said to myself… “I MUST DO THIS.” Immediately I searched online for a used Canon G10 and poof, on sale via local resident for $100. Next I pursued to look for the Epic Gigapan system Mr. Bergman used and luck has it, my local camera shop had all three models. Double smile for me as I did not have to wait if I were to have purchased it online… Even better, they had the exact unit I needed as a their floor model and it was on sale… Without hesitation I said to the manager “I’ll take it.”

Back at the studio, I setup the camera and Epic system and after a few test shots and viewing youtube tutorials, I created my first medium format style image consisting of 9 shots.

Using MF systems such as the H4D’s and the classic 500CM’s… also the high res DSLR “D800E” of course these camera’s IQ is far beyond what the little guy can produce… However to the normal eye, and none photo world, people probably won’t realize which is which… But to the avid camera tech enthusiasts and professionals I am sure you’ll see the difference… H4D 40 at $20K and Canon G10 at $100 a big price gap…

So after producing this 9 shot image totalling a 71 mega pixel count… Not even close to Mr. Bergams Obama image of 220 images at 1474 mega pixels you can still see the great IQ at only 71 mega pixels with 9 shots taken with the Canon G10. After stitching the images together, I ran a large format test print 34″ x 35″ at 300 DPI. The results are fantastic.

Without further ADO, below are the results of the Canon G10 + Epic system which produced my first medium format style image. Pretty impressive for a 14.7 Megapixel point and shoot camera… Full size images and virtual view is available for your pleasure.

Thank you kindly,

Seong Kim // www.seongkim.com
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Screen shots at full view + 100% crop + Virtual view of entire image towards the end.

Printed on 54 inch wide format printer // 4 colour process, my printer prints with a tint and did not bother to adjust as this is a test print to view the image quality specifically the resolution not colour. Please excuse the difference you will see between the screen shots and virtual view.

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Sep 042014
 

Burning Man 2014 with an OMD E- M1

By Steve Richards

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Hi Steve, since it’s while since I posted anything on your site I thought your readers might be interested in my latest trip – I went to Burning Man for the first time this year and after much reading and deliberation I decided to leave the M240 at home since although the latest body is weather-sealed the lenses are not and I didn’t want to risk my expensive glass. (Wuss!)

I’ve always liked the m4/3rds format since my first Lumix G1 years ago so I took an Olympus OMD E-M1 with a single lens – the Oly 25/1.8 – the challenge to see if I could capture some decent shots with a compact and simple set up.

The conditions are extreme, high daytime temperatures and dust storms that can totally envelop everything. The set up was left unprotected – some photogs put their kit in a plastic bag, I didn’t – you can see from the camera shot it got totally dusted! Although the lens is not weather-sealed it didn’t seem to get any dust inside during the week I’m sure partly because I stayed with the same lens the whole time. It’s all perfect now I’m home and it’s cleaned it up beautifully.

As for the pictures, I’m really pleased with the outcome, apart from the real night-time shots that are noisy, even post cropping the quality is ok for my purposes. The real bugbear is the crazy number of buttons on the camera body and the super complex non-intuitive menus, that combo drives me crazy and will chase me back to the simplicity of a Leica M for my next trip. Why don’t the mfs have a “simple menu” option that closes down all but the basic functions?!

My FB page link to more Burning Man shots below

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.647315935375621.1073741837.100002916611034&type=1&l=63d2c2d4ab

Keep up the good work fella, your site is one of the best around…

Best regards
Steve Richards

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Sep 032014
 

Japan and Fuji XPRO-1

By Massimiliano

Dear Brandon and Steve,

I am Massimiliano, and italian photographer and lover of your blog and I am glad to submit you some picture taken by my last travel to Japan this August. Few weeks before moving to Japan I did a very strange deal, I sold my Leica M9 and took a Fuji XPRO-1 and 35mm f/1.4. Why? I am not sure but I was in search of something different from the greatness but sometimes frustrating Leica M9 limitation (I still use an M2 if I want to use Leica camera).

Over all I love Japan and Tokyo is one of the best place were to shot but I was worried to be unable to catch the beauty of the city with a new gear on my hands. What follow are few shot I have chosen that prove to myself again that the XPRO-1 is a really incredible camera well made and with all the feature necessary to modern photography. Most of the shot are taken in the area that goes between Harajuku and Shibuya few weeks ago. When I shot I try to go as close I can to my subject being sometimes intrusive but able to catch what I think is important because I love Japan and I would like everyone knows this wonderful country.

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Massimiliano Tiberi
Journalist & Photographer
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blog: http:://blog.massimilianotiberi.com
galllery: http://massimilianotiberi.photoshelter.com

Sep 022014
 

A Fuji X100S report

By Lachlan Burrell

I’ve been using the Fuji X100S for about 16 months now, and I believe it’s one of the greatest digital cameras ever made! Obviously not everyone is going to agree with me on that, but here’s why I think so highly of this little camera:

Firstly, I’m a die-hard film shooter, and lover of traditional manual cameras. I learnt the ropes on great 1980’s era SLR cameras like the Olympus OM1 and Nikon FM2, and I still find the direct manual controls and simplicity of these kind of cameras such a joy to use, not to mention the wonderful tones and colours I get from film. So I was never quick to jump into the digital camera market. I got some very nice results from Nikon DSLR’s like the D200 and D3; both were and still are great cameras, but were a very different beast to the old film cameras that I loved.

Then along came the X100 and really caught my eye. Could this be the missing link between nostalgia, classic design and a practical, digital tool? Not one to rush into the latest thing, I waited to see how this camera would be received and how it would perform in the real world. Turns out there were some issues, as there often is with the first generation of any product. When the highly anticipated X100S was announced, I thought it was about time I took the plunge.

It didn’t take very long to warm to this little camera, most of the controls were very familiar and intuitive. I started playing around with the RAW files in Adobe Lightroom using VSCO (Visual Supply Company) Film presets that I had tweaked a little. It was then that I started getting a bit excited! Not only was this a beautiful camera to use, with traditional controls I was accustomed to, the images were the closest thing to film I’d seen come out of a digital camera. I’ve used the VSCO Film presets on the Nikon D3, but I’ve never been able to achieve a film look like I can with the X100S. There’s something about the Fuji sensor that lends itself to the tonality and feel of film. Some might argue, why bother trying to make the images from a digital camera look like film? Well that’s fine if you’re happy with a digital look, but to me digital often looks a bit “plastic” and surreal compared to a film image, and the colours don’t always appear to be rendered naturally. For those of you who are interested, I’ve outlined a few key changes I make to the standard VSCO preset settings in Lightroom. I don’t make any drastic changes, but as a general guide using the Kodak Portra 400 preset, for example, I add about 5 points more Saturation overall. Then I go to the HSL panel and into the individual colour saturation I nudge up the reds, oranges and yellows by 5-10 and knock the green down by about 5. In the hue settings I also nudge up the orange hue by 5-10 points, and knock the yellow, green and purple hues down by 5-10 points. In the luminance panel I knock the yellows and greens down a bit and nudge the purple and magenta up slightly. This all helps achieve a more natural creamy-warm skin tone. Another important adjustment I make is in the Split Toning. As a guide I set the highlights hue at about 40, saturation 5, and the shadow hue at about 210, saturation 5. This really gets close to emulating true negative film tonality. Play around with the grain settings to your own taste; for Portra 400 I have it set at 30, 30, 40. I use the Portra presets for most of what I shoot, but I’ve also customized presets for Kodak Tri-X black and white, Fuji Velvia, Fuji Astia and a couple of the Polaroid presets, which can be very interesting and moody. It really comes down to individual taste, but having shot film for so many years, I have a visual target to aim for when customizing the presets.

As far as my personal camera setup goes, I never use the accessory case, it just adds bulk and gets in the way. I also ditched the lens cap and attached the accessory filter adapter and a top quality B+W UV filter, primarily to protect that beautiful front element. I never use a lens hood, as lens flare isn’t an issue for me…I actually like the effect, and the Fuji lens doesn’t seem to suffer from it excessively.

In addition to the beautiful image quality the X100S can achieve, there are other things about this camera that just rock, in my opinion!

1. The exposure metering is superb; it nails it almost every time. And the rare times it doesn’t due to very challenging lighting, the dynamic range of the RAW files is huge, allowing highlight and shadow detail to be easily “rescued” later. The highlights don’t tend to blow out harshly, but fall off very gradually and naturally, something I haven’t experienced with other digital files.

2. The hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder is just lovely to use. I used to be a little irked by electronic viewfinders, but this one has changed my attitude. I still prefer the optical for general everyday shooting, but there are times, particularly when framing is critical or when the lighting is dim, that the electronic option really shines. The ultimate would be to have a true optical rangefinder with manual focusing, like so many popular consumer cameras made in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t believe it has to remain the exclusive domain of Leica with a price tag to match. I wait in hope for a manufacturer to break the mould!

3. The compact size and near silent shutter is just perfect for travel and street shooting! I don’t believe there’s any other serious competitor for this camera, i.e. compact, light, full manual control, classic styling and design, delivering professional results.

Is this the perfect camera? I don’t think there is such a thing, because the needs of photographers are so diverse, but this comes close for a travel/street/documentary shooter. If I could change one thing about the X100S what would it be? The fixed 35mm equivalent lens can sometimes seem a limitation, but it’s also what gives the camera its unique appeal. I’ve often felt that a 40mm or 50mm standard would be more useful; I’m not a big wide-angle fan. But now with the option of 28mm and 50mm conversion lenses, I think Fuji have it covered quite nicely!

Lachlan Burrell

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