Feb 182014
 

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A Year in “M” Monochrom

By Ashwin Rao

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Hello, my friends, the time has come to reflect upon a year seen primarily in black and white (and many, many shades of gray, which really is life, now, isn’t it ?) through the eye of Leica’s amazing Leica M Monochrom. I have previously written about my experiences with the “MM” after 6 months of use, and following journeys with the camera in Paris, Italy, New York City, and the Palouse. In this world of constant camera turnover, where every M9 is replaced by an M240, with Sony and Olympus seemingly staking their claims to fame in the digital camera world in place of Canon and Nikon, and with Fuji surprising and delighting us with every turn, the MM is now a venerable camera that remains unique as the only current mass-produced camera with a black and white sensor. The camera’s sensor, stripped of any ability to see in color, rid of the capacity to block moire, ends up being a photon eater, proving and incredible tool for capturing light in its many presentations.

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While it has not yet been around long enough to be deemed “legendary”, the MM is already ascending that ladder, and for those whom have had the privilege of using it, you’ll see that glimmer in their eyes of the prize that rests in their hands. So come along with me for my ride, should you choose, in words and images, of this camera that is destined for legend.

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Over the past year plus, I have taken over 15,000 shots with the Leica MM. I can truly and honestly say that the camera has delivered me the most joy of any camera that I have owned. The camera’s incredible CCD sensor that seems capable of coaxing the very best out of nearly any lens that you could put on it. In particular, the sensor seems to play particularly well with older rangefinder lenses, which in some cases were designed and coated for black and white photography. It provides a rich modern look with today’s aspherical glass, almost providing “shockingly real” views of the world, which I have yet to see from any camera. For me, the look of the MM with most modern glass is almost surreal, and I have thus primarily stuck with using older, “cheap” rangefinder lenses with the camera to great satisfaction. What’s interesting to me, and what I have heard increasingly from users of the camera, is that the camera’s sensor itself seems capable of coaxing something special out of these lenses, even when the M9 and M240 may not be able to coax the same look, clarity, or detail.

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Seeing in Monochrome

First and foremost, the Leica MM is a tool for image capture, as is really any other camera that the photographer may use. However, the sensor’s capacities and limitations have forced me to change my creative perspective. As I began my journey with the MM, I had to accept the challenge of only “seeing” the world around me in black and white. Color was no longer an option, and could not be used as a crutch or a tool ton lean upon. Having converted many of my M9 images to black and white, I initially did not see an issue with the process of only seeing in black and white, but after using the M monochrome a few times, I suddenly realized at what I had given up. Shooting in color offers its own creative possibilities and limitations, and when I suddenly forced out of this option, I found myself jarred. I decided to re-calibrate and try my best to see the world around me in black and white, before I even composed or took the shot. In a sense, I began to focus on light and dark, highlight and shadow, essentially in luminosity. I began to “ignore color” to the best of my abilities and focus instead on the remaining elements of any scene that I wished to capture Over a few months, what first was a challenge soon became inspiration and motivation. I was starting to see the world in monochrome. Just as switching from the AF-10FPS SLR’s to rangefinders is freeing to many photographers who are stuck in a rut, shooting with the M Monochrom re-invigorated me to explore the world around me in new ways. I called it “Going back to finishing school.”

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Monochrom magic?

There is just something about the MM’s sensor that seems magical to me. I know that this may come off as overly dramatic, but for me and for others out there with whom I have discussed the camera, it is true. The images that I have been able to capture seem to defy my own meager skills as a photographer. Lenses that were forgotten or passed aside on the M8 and M9 suddenly took center stage in the manner of how they interacted with the MM’s sensor. Let me say a few more words about this (The following is entirely theoretical, so feel free to disregard)

I have said in many instances that the MM seems to play particularly well with older lenses. Many vintage lenses from Leitz, Canon, and Nippon Kogaku were designed and used in an area of black and white photography, where color options were rare, limited, or non-existent. Thus, such lenses utilized coatings and design that was suited to capturing monochrome images, or so I have gathered. Whereas some of these older lenses’ coatings provide poor color reproduction on digital cameras, they seem to offer subtleties in tonal capture that modern lenses of aspherical design, aimed at gathering maximal contrast and detail across the frame, seem to miss. I have noted than many modern aspherical designs seem to limit the M Monochrom’s abilities to capture shadow detail, in particular, while older lenses, which tend to capture much lower macrocontrast, save these shadows, and instances, highlights as well.

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Second, I suspect that some of the MM’s magic in interacting with old lenses actually may have come from within. When I consider photographers that have inspired me, I have tended to prefer the “look” of the works of the early Magnum photographers, Sebastio Salgado, and others who shot in an era where my “vintage” lenses was their modern options. In a sense, I learned to prefer a way of seeing in black and white in the manner that was reflective of their gear…i.e. older lenses.

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Third, the MM’s sensor seems to be unique in being able to hold incredible detail with post-processing. This seems to be due to the dynamic range that MM images seem to possess in the mid tones. The MM has been roundly criticized for its tendency to clip highlights, and this is absolutely a reasonable criticism. What is often not discussed, however, is the incredible detail and flexibility of tone that preserved in the midtones captured by the camera, as well as the shadow detail that the camera preserves. When I first used the MM, I was enamored by the near infinite shades of gray captured within the RAW file, and as a result, my initial images with the camera tended to look generally grey. Over time, I found myself exploring these greys more and more, and using Adobe LR and other post processing tools to extract the contrast and detail that I desired from this more “boring” grey. One can push and pull the images in any number of ways, and MM files will not fall part, especially those captured at ISO 3200 or less. When used in “decent light”, the camera does just fine at ISO’s as high as 5000, capturing fine detail and suppressing noise appropriately (not really like film, though, but still pleasing).

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Finally, there may also be something to the M Monochrom’s naked sensor that coaxes the most out of vintage lenses. Lenses such as the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 LTM, which seem soft and washed out on color rangefinders, simply sparkle on the MM, both in detail and tonal rendition. I was surprised in particular, by the amount of detail and resolution that some lenses, over 50 years old, are capable of capturing when paired to the MM. I theorize that the lack of the low pass filter and Bayer array allows for optimal capture of unfiltered detail. No blur or image loss is imparted upon the captured image, as light does not have to pass through any barriers.

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The journey from new to old

So here I am, a year later, a year older and hopefully a year wiser, and my journey with the MM continues. The MM continues to be my favorite camera and my preferred way to see the world around me. My aspherical lenses continue to be relegated to my M9, while the MM continues to be mated to classic rangefinder lenses. I feel that for me, what was a casual experiment with vintage lenses has turned into a serious enterprise in how I prefer to see the world around me. It mates the rangefinder experience with a unique way of seeing the world around me and brings me closer to my own idols in the photographic world.

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Onward and Upward

The journey continues, and I hope to report back to you as I gain even more experience with this wonderful camera. Obviously, I can no longer wow you with reports of impressive specs, more megapixels, and quieter shutters. I hope to bring you more images, as my explorations with the camera, its files, and my use of processing, continues. These are exciting times for many of us, as photographers. Gear these days is so excellent that it’s really up to you to choose what tool suits you best. For some of you, it may be the camera phone that is always on your person. For others, it’s the latest greatest offering, with ever improving dynamic range, color reproduction, detail capture, and camera performance. For some, it’ll be the increasing capacity of cameras to deliver images and an experience that can be instantaneously shared. For me, it’s the simplicity of a camera that’s not capable of any of this, not even capable of seeing in color, that will continue to inspire and challenge me to grow my photography in new directions and to new summits. All the best to you all in your own journeys, and I’ll be sure to check in again soon!

Yours truly,

Ashwin Rao

February, 2014

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Feb 172014
 

Myanmar in Transition

By Nikko Karki © 2013

www.nikkokarki.com

http://blog.nikkokarki.com

Adorned with thousands of temples, nestled in the Mandalay region of northern Myanmar, Bagan’s arid landscape has been preserved as if in a time capsule for the past 1,000 years. After remaining closed to the outside world, Myanmar is now open for business, bolstering Bagan as its flagship tourist destination. The children growing up in Bagan will witness unprecedented changes in their local economy and social landscape in the upcoming years.

How will tourism development in Bagan mirror Myanmar as a whole?

Now that the floodgates are open to flocking tourist populations, how will the region and its people react to an infusion of social and economic influences?

Hasselblad 500c  – Carl Zeiss 120mm f/4 – Kodak Portra film

Nikko Karki © 2013 Myanmar Transition 01

Photographer’s note:

I went to Myanmar with an old film Hasselblad, a digital Canon DSLR and an open mind. I had heard warnings about the political past and chose to ignore the history as it’s clear the country is on the brink of a new era. During my trip, I felt a strong connection with the people who welcomed me with open arms. Traveling with only a small pack containing all my gear, I was free to roam around the countryside on foot, taking time to talk with people, observe and feel the strength and beauty of this incredible country. I’m so grateful to the people of Myanmar for this experience and hope to return again one day soon.

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Feb 062014
 

South in Black and White

By David Mello

Hey guys! I’ve never shared my work before, but I’ve loved following your site, so though this might be a good time to start.

I’m originally from south of Boston. A few years ago, I was having a really bad day, so I just got in my car and drove. Traffic was better going south, so I ended up in North Carolina. Long story short, I never left.

I’ve always loved searching out history, but I’ve had to learn to see differently down here. History moves *slower* here, blending into the everyday in a way that is at first elusive, but ultimately quite beautiful. Structures and even towns that would have been torn down long ago in the north, somehow keep existing here, while the world moves on around them. Despite them, even.

I’ve always treated my digital photography as experiential as possible. That is, I never post-process, and shoot directly as jpeg files. Once the picture is taken, its done, for better or (usually) worse. Almost all my photography was taken on either a d700 or more recently a DF, with a voightlander 40mm being my go-to lens.

You can check out more of my work here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mellodave/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mellodave/sets/72157630272838224/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mellodave/sets/72157630272954562/

Thanks for looking!

Dave

1. west jefferson, nc Nikon d700, Voigtlander 40mm

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2. mebane, nc x-pro1 28mm

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3. graham, nc x-pro1 28mm

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4. carrboro, nc Nikon df 50mm 1.2

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Jan 212014
 

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24 Hours with The Fuji X-E2 and 23 1.4. A quick review.

by Steve Huff

This is not really a “review” of the X-E2 and 23 1.4 but more of a report on using the camera for 24 hours. The X-E2 is VERY similar to the X-E1 and there is not much more to say about the X-E2 besides talk about the AF speed improvement and the overall response time. Has it improved from the X-E1? Read on to find out as I write about my 24 hours with the X-E2 and 23 14!

Here we are in 2014 and Fuji is still continuing to pump out X body after X body with another new one supposedly on the way at the end of Jan 2014. For now I will be talking a bit about the Fuji X-E2 which is the replacement and update to the X-E1, which I found to be a good camera but a little slow to focus.. With that said, the X-E1 had the IQ behind it even if I have not been a fan of the X-Trans sensor for various reasons (I am in the minority here, I admit). Nope, I have always preferred the X100 sensor above all of the Fuji cameras as it just a had a tad of magic behind it that I preferred. The X-E2 continues with the X-Trans sensor but these days the support for processing these X-Trans files has finally grown and one can now use Adobe products to process the RAW files without any issues.

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This makes a difference or course and helps to removes some of the “flatness” and odd artifacts I saw in earlier reviews or earlier X-Trans cameras (when using Adobe to process). In fact, I am now really liking what I see coming from these X-Trans sensors and I do not have to download special software or software that I do not enjoy using to get fantastic results.

Fuji X-E2, 23 1.4 at 1.4 and ISO 320

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The Fuji X-E2 looks and feels like the X-E1 though it feels better and more solid when in use with the new and fantastic 23 1.4. Thanks to B&H Photo I was able to shoot one for a few days or so and while I originally was not going to review or do a report on the X-E2 I decided to give it a shot as I really wanted to check out the new 23 1.4 lens, which I knew would rock. Fuji makes some fantastic glass and all of their lenses have been stellar even though a couple of them have had focus speed and accuracy issues. Overall they are solid in the IQ department even beating out the Zeiss Touit designs.

ISO 3200 – 23 1.4 wide open

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With the X-E2 Fuji brings in a few improvements

For starters the sensor is still 16Mp but is now named the X-Trans CMOS II and the processor is also version II. The AF is also quicker and now included phase and contrast detect AF, which indeed does speed up the focus from the snail days of the original firmware X-Pro 1. The X-E2 adds the gimmicky face detection and the LCD has grown by a smidge as well as the resolution doubling (LCD). Same battery, same charger, same everything else but the body is now $999, same price of the X-E1 at launch. Basically it is what the X-E1 SHOULD HAVE been from the get go! But Fuji is learning and I give them the award for most dedicated support because n other camera company has been as dedicated to firmware updates for their cameras. Fuji improves the performance of their cameras with each and every firmware update, and they are not shy about releasing them like some companies (Leica for one).

In use the X-E2 is indeed an improvement over the X-E1!

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Size and Weight

The size of the X-E2 remains exactly the same as the X-E1. In fact, besides some button changes the bodies are almost 100% identical. So the X-E2 feels the same as the X-E1, which as I reported before is a little on the hollowly side of neutral. Both the Sony A7 and Olympus E-M1 feels more solid in the build department and in fact, the X-E2 is bigger than both of them, even the full frame Sony A7! The X-E1 is nice but not quite there yet when it comes to build quality but there has not been any issues reported with the X-E1 or X-E2 so this really means nothing when it comes to shooting and bringing home the image. Just know if you are coming from Leica, Sony A7 or the E-M1 that your 1st impression may be “this feels hollow”. ;) If Rambo were to shoot a mirror less I see him more as a Leica guy…

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What happens in Vegas..gets reported about HERE. Under certain light the Fuji’s always give me this pinkish tone/hue. Talk about bad taste…they do not call it “Sin City” for nothing!

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Vegas Baby!

When I decided to give the X-E2 a try a decided I wanted to take a drive to Vegas and shoot the camera. I brought along the X-E2 and 23 1.4 as well as the Sony A7 and Olympus E-M1, both with 35mm (or equivalent) lenses. All I had with me was one focal length and that was 35mm. I wanted to shoot all three and see which one I preferred shooting. Would I enjoy the X-E2 the most or would the E-M1 slaughter them all for usability? For me Usability is very important because if a camera mis focuses, can not focus or is slow to start-up or just plain giving me hassles I will HATE it. That is one reason the X-Pro 1 bothered me so much with the 1st shipping firmware. By now Fuji has surely fixed all of the teething issues..at least that is what I told myself.

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The good news is that during my 24 hour stay in Las Vegas I had 3 missed shots with the Fuji out of 100 due to not being able to focus due to low light. This is a huge improvement over when I reviewed the X-Pro 1. I also missed a few from the camera taking so long to wake from sleep mode. By the time it popped back on the subject and photo pop was long gone so beware if you are attempting to shoot on the street when you need all of the speed you can get. When the camera goes to sleep it can take a couple of seconds to wake up. Other than that I had only TWO shots that mis-focused out of the 100. So again, a huge improvement over the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 (in my experience).

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This is more like a modern day camera :)

The color was typical Fuji and if you love Fuji and know Fuji then you know exactly what I mean. Fuji has a way of rendering colors that can be very pleasing. They can pop, they can give a feeling of “wow” and they can be very contrasty as well. Throw that Velvia setting on and shoot JPEG and you will have some rich and contrasty vibrant shots and IMO a bit too much. But some love the JPEG presets and they are well known to be that “Fuji Look”.

Rich Fuji Colors will explode from the X-E2. These are colors that do NOT come out of a Sony or Olympus. If you like it you buy Fuji.

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Shooting it with the A7 and E-M1..which did I prefer?

While I was having fun walking around Vegas and looking for a shot or two I was taking turns shooting between the X-E2 and Sony and Olympus. For starters I can say that the fastest and most complete feeling experience came from the Olympus E-M1. To be honest, it feels and shoot with such speed and grace and feels so good doing it many would never need anything more. It does lose quality as the lights get low though and the Sony and Fuji was able to keep plowing through. Still, the 17 1.8 on the Olympus was able to shoot without issue in any light and remained fast in doing so no matter if it was dark or light. The Fuji and Sony slowed down in the AF department when the lights got lower but as stated, the quality stayed high.

So it is a give and take and all depends on what you desire more..speed and usability or the best IQ in all situations. All cameras delivered images for me that I was 100% happy with. None of them left me wanting anything more. I enjoyed them all.

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Auto Exposure..a quick comparison

As a quick test for my own curiosity I wanted to shoot each camera and lens wide open with Auto ISO set to ON. The 23 1.4 at 1.4, the 17 1.8 at 1.8 and the 35 2.8 at 2.8. What exposure and ISO would each camera choose? How much higher would the Sony have to go in the ISO dept to get the shot? The results are below. Be sure to see my full size file comparison of the X-E2, Sony A7 and Olympus E-M1 HERE.

First the Fuji. Set to 1.4 the ISO chosen by the camera was ISO 1600 and the Shutter Speed was 1/60s.

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The Sony was set wide open to f/2.8 and the camera chose 1/60s and ISO 6400! Yes, ISO 6400. Due to the slower lens  the ISO had to be jacked up. As you can see the Fuji DOF looks the same as the Sony but the Fuji need a 1.4 lens to match 2.8 on the Sony. If I threw a f/1.4 on the Sony it would have been much better with a lower ISO, more shallow DOF and more pop. 

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And the Olympus E-M1 and 17 1.8 at 1.8. You would think the Olympus would fail here but it chose ISO 1600 and 1/30s. A little more noisy but still looks great considering the circumstances and low light. This shot has the MOST DOF for obvious reasons. 

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The thing to remember here is that I had an f/2.8 lens on the Sony. If I brought along the 50 1.5 Voigtlander or the Sony 55 1.8 the Sony would have the most WOW factor and neither the Olympus or Fuji could have touched it. for sharpness, noise or 3D pop. In other words the Sony can do better as it has much more in the reserve tank but the Fuji and Oly are maxed out to their limits here.

To sum it up..

To sum it up..the Fuji X-E2 is the BEST fuji X body at the time of this writing. I may still prefer the X100 and X100s but if you want interchangeable lenses then the X-E2 gets my nod for best body today (until the new X-T1 arrives at $1700 US). At $999 it is a good buy and fairly priced for what you get. Many like to claim that the Fuji’s have the best IQ of any camera today. I do not agree with that at all but can say that these Fuji’s have a look all of their own and can pump out fantastic beautiful quality images that have the Fuji signature stamped on them. If you happen to adore that signature then there is nothing better than the X-E2 to get you there.

Fuji is pumping out quality fast primes as well. The 23 1.4 is the best lens from Fuji that I have shot with and the aperture dial on the lens is the icing on the cake. I think ALL camera manufacturers should do this as it just adds to the whole shooting experience.

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Today we have choices like we would have never dreamed of just a few years ago. Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax, Ricoh, Leica are just a few that come to mind when I think of high quality small mirror less. Each one of those manufactures have a solid offering that can deliver images that rival just about anything out there, and imagine..it WILL be getting better in 2014 and beyond.

My only niggle with the Fuji X-E2 is that the auto white balance can be pretty off in some lighting where the A7 and Oly did fine. I sometimes get a pinkish and harsh hue in low light situations (see the nuns above of the table balancer below) which I have only seen in the X-Trans sensors. Other than that I had no problems with the Fuji X-E2.

So yes! I can highly recommend the Fuji X-E2 and especially the 23 1.4 lens.

Where to Buy the X-E2 and 23 1.4 Lens.

X-E2  – B&H Photo

23 1.4 – B&H Photo

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X-E2 – PopFlash.com

23 1.4 – PopFlash.com

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X-E2 at Amazon

23 1.4 – Amazon

More images below from my 24 hours with the X-E2 and 23 1.4! Enjoy!

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

Full size from the Fuji X-E2 and 23 1.4. EXIF is embedded. Right click and open in a new window to view correctly.

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Jan 182014
 

Monochromatic with the Fuji X100

By Renan Luna

Like many others, I’m a hobbyist photographer and I visit your site daily. I have been shooting for at least 10 years, mostly part-time with my old – and now semi-retired – Canon Rebel XS. I love this camera, but its weight and size hardly go unnoticed by the subjects.

In São Paulo, where I live, the people are not so open-minded to be photographed. In fact, they hate it! So, I needed to upgrade my equipment or lose one shoot after another. I decided…the Fuji x100 looks nice to me!

The camera is amazing (the Steve wrote a great review of that). The grip, lenses, size and everything fit with my needs perfectly! I’m back to action days, sneaking in the shadows and hunting for the photos without being discovered.

I’m a color-blind person and monochromatic photos is true passion to me. And again, the Fuji x100 supports me very well in this case with some interesting options of film simulations, especially the black and white ones, that do not need a lot of processing to get images with the results that I want.

After I bought the x100, my style changed a little bit. The fixed lens of 23mm has no zoom of course, but yet it is so versatile you can shoot in open areas and in a living room without losing quality or details. It’s a unique experience!

My intention with this text is just to show that a good camera is just a tool, what counts is the person who controls it. I hope this will inspire someone to do something special!

Thank you for the opportunity to write.

Wishing you well and good photos for us all!

My contacts:

http://www.flickr.com/renanluna

http://www.facebook.com/renanlunas 

Thank you again,

Renan Luna

A cat in the dark

Alone in the dark

Boys on the docks

Buddies

Ciborg

Danger

Faith

From old times

In doubt on shop

Serenity

Spray and push

Looking the ocean

Jan 132014
 

Novice experience on the OMD-EM5 – Light, Easy, Versatile and Quick

By Jason McCosker

Dear Steve,

I thought I would share my thoughts on the existing gear and setup that I have come to love over the last 9 months. In fact all my gear and processing requirements have come from the real life experiences shared on STEVEHUFFPHOTO.COM.

In December 2012, I was fed up missing so many shots of my 4 and 2 yo with a point and shoot that had such limited control. So I looked out for a small manual system with options that could take me further. Following reviews particularly from this site and a love for the feel, weight, size, EVF and easy setup my decision was the Olympus OMD-EM5 that came with the 12-50mm kit lens.

A few months ago I picked up the 17mm 1.8 prime lens and at the same time your post on VSCO Film 04 came out and as it supported the OMD-EM5 I gave it a try.

I do not personally like the full grainy aspect or some orange skin of the VSCO however with the VSCO tool kit the desired needs to meet all taste can be achieved with 3 or 4 clicks. My desired needs are then resaved as a personal preset so my favourite VSCO combo’s are a one click processing scenario.

I share a few results from a novice perspective that I have managed to get from this setup across macro, kids, landscape and a street walk in the last couple of months. I know all GAS is in me with the release of the EM1 and A7Rr but this setup will last a my needs for some time and I would rather build my lens collection than cater for my GAS desires.

Each image has no planned setup, no specific lighting, is captured within 2-3 seconds of the moment and processed with 1-3 clicks in lightroom utilising VSCO (no more than a minute an image to import, utilise preset and save).

Cheers

JSM (Jason McCosker)

Image 1: Flaming Flower

12-50mm kit lens (macro), VSCO (Kodak E100G Vibrant / Sharpen ++)

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Although the 12-50mm lens is considered slow and big by many, for my needs it is a good all round lens in bright sunlight and of course those rainy days due to the weather seal. I did not utilise the macro mode for some time however it has nice detail and you can blur out edges if desired.

 

Image 2: Jumping High

Oly 17mm prime, VSCO (Fuji Fortio SP/Saturation – / Orange Skin Fix)

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was a first image test for the 17mm 1.8, I went out in bright sunlight with my 4yo son who was running, jumping, diving and climbing.

 

Image 3: The Web

Oly 17mm prime, VSCO (Fuji Provia 400k- / Orange Skin Fix)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t often get the little ones to pose for a shot as it will never happen unless they are stuck in a web.

 

Image 4: Surfer on the Lake

Oly 17mm prime, VSCO (Fuji Provia 100F++++ / Grain (None) / Sharpen +++)

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Riding my bike, I noticed a surfer paddling across the lake. Quickly grabbing my OMD and not looking at anything but the scene which is a learner mistake. The camera was setup all wrong (F3.5), so not sharp throughout but shows what the camera and lens combo can achieve even in a dummies hands.

The next three was a street photography experiment involving a quick street walk with no more or less than 7 shots. The first aim was to see if I had the mindset of a street photographer to carry it out. The second aim was to capture the story of the walk and give some insight into the inner city and people of Newcastle – Australia in just a handful of clicks.

Image 5: Ooooh

Oly 17mm prime, VSCO (Agfa Scala 200++ / Shadow Save ++ / Grain (None))

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image 6: Lunch Break

17mm 1.8, VSCO (Agfa Scala 200+ / Contrast ++ / Grain (None))

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image 7: Lost

17mm 1.8, VSCO (Agfa Scala 200 / Contrast ++ / Grain (None) / Vignette 1)

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

Jan 092014
 

maintitlefathers

A year with my father’s camera

by Antoine Ringeard-Tordjeman

Hi Steve, and fellow stevehuffphoto.com readers ! This site has been a great inspiration to me for a long time, especially the user-submitted pieces, so I thought I might share my own story. There was a Swiss watchmaker that had an ad saying you can never really own their timepieces, as you are merely borrowing them from your grandchildren. Some cameras are like that too!

My name is Antoine, I am 22 and I got really into photography about 2 years ago when I moved from France to China. I bought a $200 superzoom and I loved it dearly, it has given me great shots (great in my own eyes, admittedly). Still, it had its limitations and I moved on to a Fuji X100, that I still use today, as it is an amazing camera.

And then, on a holiday back home, I pointed at a box in a closet and my mom said “oh that’s your father’s camera, I don’t think I’ve seen him use it in 25 years !”. I opened it like it was a treasure chest, and I was not disappointed. Inside was a pristine 1975 Canon EF film SLR.

The camera was actually bought by my uncle for a small fortune in 1975 (adjusting for inflation, the kit with a 50mm 1.4 cost him close to €2400), when my father was still a teenager, and he must have gotten it from his brother a few years later.

It was Canon’s first try at a pro-level electro-mechanical camera: it has batteries that power the TTL metering, the shutter priority mode and the two slowest shutter speeds. The body is black enamel paint on brass, just gorgeous. Even though the batteries still had power left after 25 years in storage (!!!), I took them out and I use the EF as a fully mechanical camera, metering with the X100 or an iPhone app. It has never been serviced and runs like clockwork.

Moscow, Russia – Ilford Delta 400

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Beijing, China – Kodak TMax 400

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In the box were a 35-70mm 3.5 plastic zoom and a 135mm 3.5 tele, in FD mount. Upon returning to Beijing I quickly bought a mint 50mm 1.4 for a whopping $60 and haven’t taken it off the camera since. All the pictures in this article were taken with that lens.

Bokeh! in Beijing, China – Ilford HP5+

picture4

Fenghuang, China – Kodak Portra 400

picture5

I have been doing my own B&W processing since the first roll, it seemed like a fun thing to do (it is) and it’s cheaper. I also have a small darkroom now and I do wet prints. Most of the scans here were done by the Lomography store in Beijing. I’m not really into their aesthetic but as a lab they’re affordable, sell good B&W film (repackaged TMax 400 and Fomapan 100), do an OK job with the processing and the store assistant was really really knowledgeable and a genuine film lover.

Beijing, China – Ilford HP5+

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Beijing, China – Kodak TMax 400

picture7

After I caught the film photography bug my GAS syndrome mutated. I was perfectly happy with my X100 and used it alongside the Canon, or by itself when I needed the high ISO and the possibility to miss half the shots without financial repercussion. While I completely stopped lusting after newer, better digital cameras, I became obsessed with film cameras, especially Soviet ones. I have since bought a Zorki rangefinder and a Flexaret TLR. Oh and a DIY plastic 35mm TLR, because of course I did, it was $12.

If the Sony A7R sold for $100, and I had $100, I’d buy a Moskva 5 :).

Moscow, Russia – Kodak Portra 400

picture8

Moscow, Russia – Kodak Portra 400

picture9

As for the photography itself, it’s still mostly snapshots. I try to go everywhere with a camera and shoot whatever looks good. I seem to always come back to night scenes of neon lights and dimly-lit bars. I have never been to NYC, so for me Beijing is the cuty that never sleeps.

Beijing, China – Kodak Portra 400

picture10

Beijing, China – Kodak Portra 400

picture11

This camera is now one of my most prized possessions, even though I’m not sure it’s technically mine.

The point of this rather lengthy article is not to say film has made me a better photographer – it probably hasn’t. I won’t argue that film photography is better in essence or in quality – it’s just different.

I get why people who started photography when film was the only option don’t miss it, it can be a hassle, especially if you’re shooting on a professional scale. And I can understand why people who are getting back into film are dismissed as hipsters. For me, at a time when every disposable gadget takes pictures, film retains that little bit of magic that keeps me excited about photography.

Unlike digital cameras, film cameras are not getting any more obsolete than they are now, most of them will still be perfectly capable of taking pictures 40 years from now. Hold on to yours, a well-loved film camera might go from garage sale junk to priceless heirloom just by being passed on to the next generation !

Beijing, China – Kodak TMax 400

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Fenghuang, China – Kodak Portra 400

picture13

Beijing, China – Ilford HP5+

picture14

Beijing, China – Kodak Portra 400

picture15

 

Jan 042014
 

dragan

USER REPORT: 9 Photos, 9 Places, 9 Cameras

By Dragan Arrigler

Recently posted Paris photo by Gianmaria Veronese here reminded me of my own photograph I made from almost the same spot in March 1985. It was my 35 mm b&w film era and 16 years later, in 2001 I started to work with digital cameras. I would like to present a short user report and briefly describe the 9 cameras I used to make 9 very different photos of 9 different places from 1985 to 2013.

1. In 1985 I was a photojournalist and I always carried around a lot of cameras, lenses, etc. Still, my favorite combination was Canon F, 24 mm lens, and Kodak TRI X, while the vast array of other lenses and accessories in my bag waited there “just in case”. In those days I used 24 mm lens for almost everything – landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, etc. It gave me such a broad and dynamic view at the world around me. I preferred contrasty, grainy photos and as a rule my b&w films were slightly underexposed and slightly overdeveloped. I still have one Canon F from 1980. In has been regularly serviced (three times in 33 years) and it works like new.

eiffel_tower

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2. I made the picture of Pontevecchio in Florence in 2001 with Olympus Mju (Stylus) Zoom Wide 80 (I have always loved Olympus cameras for their size and weight). It was automatic 35 mm compact camera with 28-80 mm lens, considered very wide for late ’90, when it was designed. It had autofocus, small LCD frame counter and was waterproof. A perfect travel companion. The camera even displayed some sort of metadata, as can be seen on the lower right side of the photo. The kids on the picture didn’t seem to be interested in the magnificent renaissance architecture around them, and neither was I.

kiss_pontevecchio

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3. My first digital camera was Olympus E-20P, purchased in autumn 2001. Soon after that, in February 2002 I had to do a job on Bonaire, a amall island in the Dutch Caribbean. Digital photography being sort of unexplored territory at the time, I didn’t risk and packed my trusted analog cameras as well. Most of the work was indeed done on 35 mm color slides, but with my new toy I made some charming pictures, too. One of them was a photo of windsurfers in beautiful Jibe City on the eastern coast of the island, where constant trade winds and shallow turquoise Caribbean sea waters make ideal windsurfing spot. I sold E-20P the next year after purchasing my first Canon DSLR, but I still remember its perfect zoom lens 35-140mm f 2,0-2,4 with certain nostalgia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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4. Canon PowerShot S30 was a terrible camera by today’s standards, but was a precious pocket compact in 2003. I took it along on my trip to Provence that summer. It is fun and more or less safe to make photos with such a small and unobtrusive camera – without using flash, nobody takes you seriously, especially when you work in relatively dark interiors or at night. Café de Nuit in Arles, once beloved Vincent Van Gogh’s motif, was a perfect place to prove this. In postproduction, inspired by master’s paintings, I slightly exaggerated the colors, just like he did in 1888.

Café_de_Nuit

Café_by_Vincent

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5. I was presented Holga for my birthday in 2006. Yes, it is a rickety, cheap plastic Chinese camera. It leaks light, the lens is terrible (60 mm f 8,0 – somewhere between normal and wide-angle lens for 120 film) and it incorporates only one shutter speed which is not defined precisely – it’s probably around 1/60. And B, of course. Exposure demands a lot of guesswork. But it gives you the basic thrill of photography: you can never really tell what you will get. If the predictability of digital photography has begun to bore you, get a Holga. For best results use very old films, expired long ago. And there is more: you will never again feel the urge to invest in digital filters which imitate corny emulsions, cross processing, picture frames, over saturated or washed-out colors, vignetting, as well as dust & scratches. Nothing of this was applied to the photo of the romantic old house in Vrhnika, Slovenia.

house_Vrhnika-

6. Another Canon PowerShot, the A640 was used to photograph silhouettes in a small beach bar on Caribbean island Antigua in 2008. This camera had almost limitless autonomy, because it was powered by four AA batteries and I purchased it prior to a sailing trip where I didn’t expect to have any AC outlets at hand. AA are the most common batteries – you can buy them anywhere in the world. You just have to buy a large (and heavy) stock. Being so dependent on energy is digital cameras’ big disadvantage in comparison to analog ones. For instance, I replaced the battery of my 1980 Canon F maybe three or four times in more than 30 years.

bar_Antigua

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7. Yet, it’s a digital era and small cameras are so expendable. I only had the A640 two years and then I replaced it with the third Canon PowerShot, S90. It is even smaller than A640 and claimed to be better, a great third camera for professionals, with a lot of manual controls. But in terms of picture quality I never really saw a big difference – except that it has very usable wide aperture of f 2,0 at 28 mm (equivalent) zoom setting. The other side of zoom, 105 mm (equivalent) f 4,9 is much sadder story, though. Anyway, this camera was used to make the picture of the biker (luckily dressed in red) sweating uphill on endless winding road in literally and metaphorically breathtaking, exotic, hot, humid, Avatar-like island Reunion in Indian ocean. One final remark on this tiny device: it incorporates optical stabilizer, but being so small and light (just 175 g), it just can not match the stability of big and heavy DSLR cameras with big and heavy lenses.

biker_Reunion

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8. If you like red color, Denmark is one of the countries to travel to. Red is a dominant color in their flag and elsewhere. With a bit of luck and good weather you can make nice geometric pictures like I did in the small port of Struer in north-west part of the country. I used Canon EOS 5D, bought in 2005 (can you imagine that it has already been called “vintage”?) and good old zoom 24-85 mm f 3,5-4,5, designed in 1996. In spite of being almost ancient by today’s standards, it is still one of the best and most durable combinations if you want to travel light.

struer_denmark

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9. Finally, I would like to share some observations regarding Voigtländer Nokton 25 mm f 0,95. Read some tests of this product, e. g. here or here and let me just add this: it’s a fantastic toy, a sheer pleasure, but not in the least easy to use. And more than just a toy, of course. It’s solidly built, it’s big and heavy, heavier than my Olympus E-P3, including EVF and strap. Now just think: a heavy lens plus f 0,95 plus in-camera image stabilisation – a photographer with steady arm and some experience can work in almost total darkness without even having to use high ASA setting. The twilight picture of exotic Lisbon funicular was made handheld with 1/25 s at f 1,4 and ASA 320. And there is even more: it can focus down to approximately 8 centimetres or 3,15 inches which almost makes it a macro lens, too. Unfortunately, it has two drawbacks: manual focus and manual aperture ring. It is difficult to focus it in darkness owing to its extremely shallow depth of field (probably this problem will be solved with the newer cameras incorporating focus peaking). In bright daylight, where circumstances call for smaller f-stop, it’s even more complicated; remember, the aperture is manual and you have to focus at working f-stop. This is not easy even at f 4, and nearly impossible at f 8 or f 11. Of course, it’s 25 mm lens and everything in finder appears to be sharp. Not so later, when you critically observe your masterpiece at 100% magnification on the computer monitor. In short, this lens needs some patience and a lot of practice. If you have no patience or not enough time to practice, go and buy Panasonic’s 20 mm f 1,7 lens. It’s a very good solution, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Conclusion: the point of this user report (and hopefully the pictures) is to inspire the readers to grab whatever camera they have, go out and do with it the best they can. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will make good photos with the best camera and the sharpest lens in the world. But there is a fair chance that their pictures will be widely admired even if they were made with cheap, plastic, outdated three megapixel devices. Just consider: would the photo of Café de Nuit be better, had it been photographed with a good, 36 megapixel camera, like Nikon D800E or even 60 megapixel Hasselblad H5D? Perhaps tehnically; it would be sharper, with more details, the resolution would be substantially bigger. But would it match the atmosphere of Van Gogh’s painting? I don’t think so. Sometimes the photos are about mood, not tehnical quality. Buy any camera, get used to it, then just forget it and focus on the pictures. To quote Don McCullin, the famous war photographer of the 1960s and 1970s: “I only use the camera like I use a toothbrush. It does the job.”

Dragan Arrigler

www.arrigler.com

Jan 032014
 
Puerto Rico, India, Family… 2013 & the Leica M240
By Bob Boyd

Hey Steve,

2013 was a very busy year for me. Lots of work. Lots of travel. We took a family trip to beautiful Puerto Rico in July (our first ever outside the states as a family) and then I had the opportunity to return to India this past fall to document some mission work in the field. I’ve shot both an M and an SLR for the last 5 years but for personal work, it’s almost always the M. I made the decision to jump to the M240 early – mainly because of the ISO limitations of the M9 – and was fortunate enough to get an early copy last spring through my longtime Leica dealer, Ken Hansen.

I thought I would share some of my favorite images from this past year with a brief description.

Here’s to a great 2014 for you and your site!

All the best,

Bob Boyd

www.bobboyd.net

A bay near El Morro, Puerto Rico. (Zeiss 21mm f/2.8)

Bay near El Morro, Puerto Rico

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Paths… (Left) a path of doorways at Fort El Morro and (right) Two brothers walk along the beach at sunset in, Puerto Rico. (50mm Lux ASPH)

Paths...

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Coast Guard boat at sunrise near the ferry for Culebra, Puerto Rico. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Coast Guard at sunrise

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Ocean play at sunset… Isle of Culebra, Puerto Rico (50mm Lux ASPH)

Ocean play at sunset...

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Graffitied Tank… The kids inspect an old rusted out tank on the beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Graffitied tank

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Room with a View… Windows of a watchtower open to a beautiful scenic view in the Puerto Rican rainforest of El Yunque.  (Zeiss 21mm f/2.8)

7 2013-07-11 L1002032

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Fire in the sky… A firey sunset illuminates the post-rain mist on the mountainsides in Puerto Rico. (50mm Lux ASPH)

8 2013-07-13 L1002738

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Amritsar, India… A Sikh woman bows in the middle of tourists at the entrance of Harmandir Sahib – the “Golden Temple”. (50mm Lux ASPH)

9 2013-09-22 L1004024

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A Sikh man and his bike outside Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. (50mm Lux ASPH)

A Sikh man and his bike outside Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.

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A Sikh man in Amritsar, India (right) and a Christian woman in Punjab, India (left). (50mm Lux ASPH (l), 90mm Summarit/ISO6400 (r)

Common Differences...

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Indian Corridors… (Left) Golden sunset light pours into a market area in Amritsar, India. (Right) A mother walks her children to the village school bus stop.

(50mm Lux ASPH (l), 90mm Summarit (r))

Indian Corridors...

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A remote village area. Punjab, India (35mm Lux ASPH)

A remote village area. Punjab, India

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Two young boys playing in a village in Punjab, India.
(50mm Lux ASPH)

 14 2013-09-23 L1004304

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An elderly man in a remote village in Pujab, India. (50mm Lux ASPH)

An elderly man in a remote village in Pujab, India.
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Brick Factory A worker hauls new bricks at a brick factory in Punjab, India. (21mm Lux ASPH)

A worker hauls new bricks at a brick factory in Punjab, India.

Children playing with tire inner tubes along a dirt street in Punjab, India. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Children playing with tire inner tubes along a dirt street in Punjab, India.

A Mother’s love and pride on display as she holds her child. Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

Mother and child. Punjab, India

Two women rest on cots at a home in Punjab, India. (21mm Lux ASPH)

Two women rest on cots at a home in Punjab, India.

Village street scene. Punjab, India (35mm Lux ASPH)

Village street scene. Punjab, India

A woman prepares an evening meal in a small hut. Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

A woman prepares an evening meal in a small hut. Punjab, India

Market traffic… Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

Market traffic.  Punjab, India

I’ll end on one last personal image… My wife visiting her 88 year old grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. (50mm Lux ASPH)

25 20131208 - L1005530

Dec 272013
 

Sao Paulo Street Portraits with the Nikon DF

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Dear Steve thanks for your wonderful site, to some of us who can’t actually test gear before buying is of an amazing help. I live currently in Brazil, and it’s not possible to go to a store to test all the wonderful equipment that is on the streets right now. I bought the RX1 mostly because of your review. I also recently acquired a DF, whose review came afterwards… J

I love shooting street portraits, specially wondering for hours on the streets and meeting strangers, having a talk with them and then politely asking them for a picture. Sao Paulo is a multicultural city full of a lovely mixture of people. You actually never know into what you might bump. Sadly as many other cities in South America has is toll of insecurity, but well, it’s a risk worth taking.

I have used many cameras, suffer from GAS, but think that with the DF and RX1 I am currently cover and cured for GAS, (don’t know for how long). I also have a D800 but for my enjoyment and street shooting the RX1 and DF are incredible fun! Specially the DF which reminds me so much of the X100, but without the lag.

Here are some of my street portraits in Sao Paulo I recently took with the DF, suing a voigtlander 40mm plus a 28mm 2.8 AIS. Thanks for looking!

If you are interested in seeing more portraits from Sao Paulo street please use the following link:

http://www.ilukewitsch.com/People-from-Sao-Paulo

Also here you can find my tumblr, only Sao Paulo pictures:

http://ailukewitsch.tumblr.com/

And my blog in which I post about everything I shoot.

http://ailukewitsch.wordpress.com/

 Nikon Df, sec (1/125), f/2.8, 28 mm, ISO 250, Exposure Bias 0 EV

image1

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Nikon Df, sec (1/125), f/2.8, 28 mm, ISO 180, Exposure Bias 0 EV

image2

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Nikon Df, sec (1/250), f/4.0, 40 mm, ISO 100, Exposure Bias 0 EV

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Nikon Df, sec (1/500), f/4.0, 40 mm, ISO 100, Exposure Bias -1/3 EV

image4 -

Nikon Df, sec (1/250), f/2.2, 40 mm, ISO 500, Exposure Bias -1/3 EV

image5

Dec 262013
 

rx1riotitle

The Sony RX1 goes to Rio De Janeiro

by Mash

Hi Steve,

Been following your site for a little over six months now and thanks to your reviews I picked up the Fuji X100s and the Sony RX1.

I originally had a Nikon D300s, and it had been sitting on my desk for over two years because it was just such a hassle to carry everything around. That’s when I started researching fixed lens Cameras and based on your review I picked up the Fuji X100s first and sold the entire Nikon D300s kit.

The Fuji X100s really was a delight to use. It definitely is much more intuitive to use then the Sony RX1. The only thing that bothered me about the Fuji files was I never found the images sharp enough, there was a softness to it that some people may prefer, but it never really tickled my fancy.

Couple of months later, I planned a trip to Rio and was trying to decide on to take the Fuji or buy the Sony RX1. After reading and re-reading your review of the RX1, I sold the Fuji and bought the Sony RX1.

The Sony RX1 costs a little over USD $3000 here, and having heard horror stories about muggings in Rio, I became paranoid of taking it with me.

So, as I was committed to the trip and didn’t have any other camera I did two things to ensure the safety of the Camera.

1. Took out a travel insurance policy that covers theft or loss.

2. I also took some artistic tape, and randomly taped over the camera and the logos. You can see in the image below (taken with iphone 5).

I had no idea if uglifying the camera would work, but when two random people I met on the trip commented, “Oh did you break your camera?”, appears to have had the desired effect I wanted.

It was my first time visiting Rio De Janeiro, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Nothing was really planned and I went with the flow. I was lucky enough to have run into a wide spectrum of shooting opportunities and challenges.

gaffed sony rx1

Sony RX1 in use

For all the shots below, I had the camera set to aperture priority and in most cases the aperture was set to F2. The only adjustments I would make to control the light was using the exposure dial, dialing it up and down as needed.

What I really loved about this simple setup was, it allowed me to focus on what I wanted to capture rather than trying to get a perfect shot every single time.

The camera was set to auto focus most cases, in some rare instances I used the manual focus option. I had programmed the AEL button to switch between auto and manual focus, and once used to it – became a breeze to change.

I shot everything in RAW and then edited everything in Lightroom 5.

I wanted to share some images to show you the breath of images captured and how beautiful and sharp the images are.

Ipanema Beach

The shooting conditions on the beach was bright sun light with a lot of movement.

ipanema 1

Ipanema 2

Churches and Chris the Redeemer

I love how beautiful the bokeh out of the camera is. This image was shot in almost dark church, with natural light pouring in 500 yards from the front doors.

church 1

A look at how the macro functions. Again, there was barely any light in the room.

church 2

The following image was shot about 500 feet away looking up at the painted windows. Using the multi zone focus moved the focus point down, to avoid the windows being washed out by too much light.

church 3

Sunday mass. The silent shutter sound didn’t alert anyone to the fact that I was taking photos.

church 4

Christ the Redeemer. I loved this photo opportunity. With the sun perfectly positioned on the palm of christ. I was shooting straight at the sun, and the clouds were recovered post processing. I was really impressed by the dynamic range of the RX1, to allow me to do that.church 5

Rio Pride Parade

To give you an idea of the color rendering range of the camera, I was lucky to have come across the Rio Pride Parade. I will let the images talk themselves, the only adjustment I made was to put up the vibrancy.

pride 1

pride 2

pride 3

pride 4

Teachers Demonstration

While visiting downtown Rio, ran across what was a teachers unions strike. Chose to render this in black and white in post processing.

I am not sure how people would have reacted if I was lugging around a huge DSLR. I would like to believe, people felt much less threatened thinking I am using a simple point and shoot.

teacher strike 1

teacher strike 2

teacher strike 3Favela Visit

This was the part of the visit I was most looking forward to. It was a foggy and rainy day, and parts of the favela were in complete darkness only lit by a small fluorescent light.

I used a simple umbrella to protect the camera and the camera was small enough to operate with my other free hand. Don’t think it would have been that easy with a larger DSLR.

The camera did hunt a few times, but nothing that was annoying or unbearable.

favela 1

favela 2

Overall Impressions

Yes it may be over priced. It may have been foolish purchasing it a few weeks before the release of the Sony full frame A7. Saying all that, life is too short to live with regrets, and I am glad that the Sony Rx1 was beside me on this amazing trip to capture these beautiful moments.

I love the Sony Rx1. At no moment did I wish I had another camera, or wanted a faster focus or a different lens. It was a trusty companion by my side to take the photos the moment I wanted them.

I am already planning my next trip, and can’t wait to take the Sony RX1 along.

If you would like to see images from my brazil trip, pay a visit to my site

http://thisismash.com/street-art-brazil/

You will see more about the street art, the music, and more shots from the above themes.

Thank you Steve for letting me share this with your readers.

Mash

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5+ years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and as many as 1500 at any one given moment. Because of this I need and use super fast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this FREE information that is provided on a daily basis. This is not a paid subscription site, so no money is exchanged for the information here.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK - This one will not work by bookmarking it.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;) You can also help out by writing a guess post or review on a piece of gear you love and adore. If interested in this, just send me an email here.

Dec 232013
 

My Fave Photobook buys of 2013

By Colin Steel – HIs website is HERE.

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Hey everyone, I was just looking at all of the end of year lists that are appearing of the 10 best, movies, songs, photos etc. and of course the many, many versions of the top photo books of the year by various critics. This got me to thinking of the photo books that I have personally bought this year and to be honest its been a bit hit and miss in terms of quality and alignment with the topics and visions that interest me. Having said that I have been lucky enough to acquire what I think are some simply extraordinary pieces of photography and I am personally a huge fan of the photo book as being the ultimate expression of the art. One thing that struck me about the critics that proposed these lists was that they probably hadn’t bought and paid for these books themselves and they all seemed to strive to be unusual or unique in some way. I guess that is the way of journalism and the search for originality. With that in mind I thought it would be a bit of fun to highlight my favourite recent purchases, photo books that I have bought with my own hard-earned. These are not in any order of significance or rating but the idea is simply to perhaps whet your appetites and give some insight into the books and why I personally like them. So settle down with a coffee and packet of your favourite biscuits.

First up then……

Ernesto Bazan

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I am lucky enough to own two personally signed books by Ernesto and they are prized possessions for a number of reasons including the wonderful memories they evoke of working, shooting and learning from Ernesto in Sicily and Brazil. The two books that I have are both from the fourteen year period that Ernesto spent in Cuba during the turbulent period when Russia was moving into Perestroika and economic aid to Cuba was largely cut off. Both books are of course crammed with Ernesto’s beautiful, poetic and lyrical photographs and it is obvious that this depth of work can only be created over a very long period of time by someone with the tenacity and skill to understand and express the people of Cuba and their environment. The books are different in that Al Campo, the study of the Cuban countryside and farmers, is in colour while the first book in the soon to be trilogy (the final book in preparation is very beautiful and shot on an Xpan) Bazan Cuba, is in black and white. Nevertheless the same sensitivity and outright beauty is apparent in both. Despite having a personal preference to shoot B&W I continually find myself returning to the colour Al Campo most and I love the mood, feel and warmth that book generates for me. I particularly like one of the most simple shots in the book of an old lady and some flowers. I find the photograph completely beguiling and timeless.

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Bazan Cuba on the other hand has a more documentary feel for me and despite the fact that many of the photographs are timeless and insightful, you can’t help but get a feeling of historical significance and I think it is a book that is going to become even more important with the passing of time. Many famous photographers have visited Cuba and tried to interpret it but in my opinion, only Ernesto through his integration (he also married a Cuban) really understood the people and place and for that reason his book is I think the definitive book on Cuba.

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Again, the book is classic Ernesto and filled with beautifully observed and sensitively shot images that combine to create a visually stimulating and thought-provoking document of Cuba.

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I think Bazan Cuba is coming towards the end of the first edition print run and is getting harder to find and more expensive. If you are looking for an absolutely classic photo book that will interest, inspire and educate you as a photographer then I would highly recommend either Bazan Cuba, or Al Campo, you won’t be disappointed and you will be buying something that will only become rarer and more valuable.

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Daido Moriyama

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Now for a complete change of tone and style and a quick look at a few Daido books. I find that Moriyama polarises photographic opinion and perhaps it’s not so trendy to like his work as it used to be. Personally I don’t care about trends and I find Daido’s work truly inspirational and own a large number of his books, many of which are signed. I wanted to mention three of his books here; the seminal 71 New York, Buenos Aries and Reflections and Refraction. The first two mentioned books are recent reprints and come in a very nice pulp paperback type form. These two books for me have to be looked at in their entirety and I find it pointless and almost meaningless to isolate individual images because the books seem to create a narrative, mood and sensation of walking along these streets beside Daido. They have rightly been likened to beat poems and I always think that is the best way to describe them, I find them vibrant, loose and energetic. I always make a point of re-reading 71 New York if I am setting off to visit a new city, it seems to create that ‘road trip’ feel.

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I think you are either going to love or hate Moriyama so if you are not familiar with his work have a look around first, there is no shortage of it on the web. If you find you like it then I think 71 New York is a great place to start and it would do no harm to look at where Daido got his inspirations for the book from, Midnight Cowboy, William Klein and James Baldwin.

Nikos Economopoulos

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Again, I consider myself very privileged to own a personally signed copy of Nikos’ classic Balkanlarda which I bought in Istanbul. Nikos, for me is an out-and-out artist, his eye for shape, structure and his bold compositions are a delight and like Ernesto’s books, I find this a highly educational as well as enjoyable piece of art. There are other parallels in that this book was composed over a considerable period with Nikos wandering around the Balkans in his camper van (which he still does incidentally as part of his workshop programme)

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I think any photographer that takes the time to study this book will come to marvel at the innovative framings and structures of Nikos photographs, following my meeting with him and the workshops I attended with him I felt an intense sense of liberation from the cliched concepts that I had previously understood to be required for ‘good’ photography and I can truly say that Nikos set me free to look at things in a more individual way.

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Jason Eskenazi

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Make no mistake, this small, unassuming little book is a thing of very great intelligence and beauty. Jason Eskenazi is not a name that jumps to mind for many photographers and I think that is only because he likes to keep a very low profile and happily just wander around taking the most incredible photographs. I do not exaggerate, there is not a single image in his Wonderland book that you could class as a filler or in any way mediocre, it’s that good. Some of you will be aware of the incredible story that Jason was a security guard at MOMA in New York and travelled many times to Russia to create his ‘fairy tale of the Soviet monolith’ which he structured around the classical folk tales, child gets lost, taken in by guardians who don’t really care about her and so on. I feel that I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment that anyone who reads this book will get by saying too much about it, read it and see for yourself.

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I can think of very few photographers that can compose a frame with the precision and insight that Eskenazi can. As with some of the other books shown here I see this as a paragon of intelligent photography and there is an enormous amount to be learnt not only from the photographs but in looking at the overall structural concept and strict editing that Jason has applied. Like some of the others in this short list, this is becoming harder to find and more expensive so if you see one, don’t hesitate to buy it.

Anders Petersen

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My ownership of this book and introduction to Anders Petersen’s photography was a lovely piece of good luck when a friend in Singapore who acts as the unofficial librarian for the Invisible Photographer Asia community asked if anyone was interested in Petersen’s ‘Soho’ so that we could share shipping. I decided to take a chance and this amazing book showed up a few weeks ago. It’s always so nice when something unexpected works out so well, the book turned out to be really cool and there is so much I like about it even down to the physical choice of materials, cover etc. very understated but high quality – just like the photography. I have bought a few books from Mack who published this book and I always find them to be exceptional in the presentation and quality department.

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Back to the photography and I guess that you could draw similarities in Petersen’s style with other photographers that I like, admire and try to learn from, in particular Moriyama and Sobol. Petersen’s book was a commission to shoot London’s Soho and he has done a damn fine job of capturing the sense of the place and its uniqueness. One thing that particularly struck me in many of the photos was how he captured eyes and to me its this feature of his work that takes the book beyond the ordinary. Personally I think its become very tiresome looking at harsh, flash lit ‘street photography’ but the way that Petersen and Sobol in particular use flash to create stark tones is really masterful and, as opposed to the mainstream approach which tends towards sensationalism, the flash and stark contrast enhances the mood and subject.

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Like Sobol, he also seems to have a knack (and the courage) to find and engage with extremely interesting subjects and it the blending of these fascinating subjects with the quirkiness of the Soho environment that makes the book a winner for me.

Takuma Nakahira

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Nakahira’s For a Language to Come, has been out of print for a while and become pretty expensive and hard to get. However Osiris have now republished this piece of photographic magic and I was lucky to get a copy. Like Moriyama, this book and Nakihira’s style will polarise photographers and I have a few friends who are much better photographers and more credible in this area than me who do not like this at all. That’s the beauty of human diversity, and I am sure there are many people who will not like or agree with other choices in here and that is a fantastic thing and, ultimately for me, one of the sources of creativity.

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I think its important to contextualise Nakahira as someone who was brought up in post war Japan and I think you see his thoughts on that in many of the photographs. Somehow he strikes into deep-rooted sensibilities inside me and I find the photographs universal and disturbing and scary and beautiful all at the same time. As with Moriyama, don’t buy this without having a look first to see if it aligns with your senses and ideas.

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Vanessa Winship

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This is a very, very special book and like some others in here it will easily stand the test of time and become more and more relevant as it ages. As I understand it Winship was the first woman to ever win the Cartier Bresson trust award (how can that be ???) and she used the modest amount of the award to fund some trips to America which she had always wanted to photograph. How easy would it have been to try to update Frank and do some kind of modern road trip work? Not Winship, ‘She Dances on Jackson’ is as original, sensitive and insightful a photography book as you are ever likely to come across. Again, it’s published by Mack and the prints inside are delicious in the way they pull you into the pages. I have no idea how you can create a book of this quality at a reasonable retail price, if you were to have all of these shots printed separately to this level of quality it would easily cost three or four times more than the entire book cost, amazing stuff.

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I read somewhere that she doesn’t like ‘shouty’ photographs and that is very clear in the subtle beauty of this work. The photographs are almost delicate and even the many portraits have that gentle, lyrical but always meaningful, sometimes disturbing look.

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I am convinced that we will be looking back in 10 years time at this book as an out-and-out photographic classic. Winship has in my opinion done something extraordinarily creative in here and it looks like the culmination of all of her years of experience and craft.

Roger Ballen

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I am at a bit of a loss here as to what to say about Ballen’s work that hasn’t been said before. This year however was my introduction to him and, although I own a few of his books ‘Shadow Chamber’ is my favourite. It has a rawness that has now left his more modern work and, like all of his work it is psychological in its nature and can be deeply disturbing and thought-provoking in equal measure. I really like the way Ballen constructs his frames and there is a lot to be learnt from his structuring and arrangement of elements and shapes.

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More than any photographer I can think of Ballen has a unique ability to tap into our deepest recesses and his photographs both disturb and fascinate me. Perhaps an acquired taste but well worth looking into if you want to see some completely original and creative work by an accomplished master.

Todd Hido

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Todd Hido seems to be very much in vogue just now but unlike many trends and styles that come and go I think the substance behind his work is enduring. His latest book is ‘Excerpts from Silver Meadows’ and is structured around his search for the home of his younger days. What sets Hido apart for me is his ability to create universal metaphors and evoke generic memories that most of us have, this is his genius.

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It takes enormous skill to blend different formats and mediums the way Hido does and there are not many photographers that could pull this off. It’s easy to be drawn in by the motel room female shots, and they have their part to play, but I personally find his lovely, through the windscreen landscape shots to be exceptional.

This is a large book and definitely benefits from the sense of scale but from a learning viewpoint its also worth considering his arrangements and sequencing, very powerful but accessible photography.

Peter Turnley

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As many of you will know, Peter is a world-renowned photojournalist and there is almost no major world event of the last twenty or thirty years that he has not shot. Peter and his twin brother David have been very much in the news recently due to the close relationship they shared with Nelson Mandela and they’re documenting of his release from prison and subsequent shaping of modern South Africa. Peter has lived and photographed in Paris for around forty years and this book is, as he says, is his ‘love letter to Paris.’

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I had a deep concern when I first saw this book coming out that it would be a bit twee and while Peter does get dangerously close a few times, I think the over-riding sense of love, sensuality and out-and-out joy in the photographs bring it home for me.

My own favourites in the book are the more subtle and in a way artistic shots as I get a sense that these were Peter’s therapy for the horror, conflict and desperate situations that he routinely photographed in his journalistic work.

In some ways this is a very different book from the others in here but I think that, like me, many people will appreciate how the delicacy of the photographic situations and Peter’s obvious love for Paris and people make this a very worthwhile addition to any photo book library.

Twentyfifteen

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Finally, something a little different and closer to home to finish with. I have been working and living in Singapore for over six years now and find it an exceptional place to live, and, as an added bonus, there is also a thriving photographic community. From that community twenty locally based photographers have gotten together to produce a set of books in commemoration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee in 2015. The books are very innovative and high quality in their concept and design and each photographer seeks to show a unique aspect of Singapore from their perspective. There are currently only four published but their intent is to complete the entire series prior to the Jubilee events. Needless to say the photographers are very different in their style and approach and this is one of the things I enjoy about the series. I know that this is really of most interest to Singaporeans’ but if you are interested in the books have a look here to find out more:

http://twentyfifteen.sg

Also, if photography in Asia interests you there is no better place to find out what’s happening and see very original work than Invisible Photographer Asia

Well that’s it for this year folks, please take this article in the spirit it was intended. This is not a definitive ‘best of’ list, this is simply my favourites from the books that I have personally bought recently and, as such, I am sure there are many, many other great books that I have not yet seen or enjoyed. My intent here was to share, and hopefully some of you will like these choices and enjoy and learn from them in the way that I have.

Colin Steel Portfolio 2013

Colin

Dec 192013
 

Lost Angels

By Lee Jeffries

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I guess “Lost Angels was a “process” that started for me five years ago. I was in London to run the marathon and found myself wandering the streets with my camera the day before the race. I trained my long lens on a young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag from across the street. She noticed and began to shout at me in an objective manner. I was obviously very embarrassed and at the time two thoughts went through my head. Turn away and get out of the situation quickly. Or go over and talk to her. I chose the latter. Doing so changed my perception of how I wanted to approach photography. The photographs became of secondary importance. Making contact, stopping to chat and helping out where I could become much more significant. Loneliness goes hand in hand with homelessness and alleviating that for 20 minutes..or an hour…or sometimes for a few days then it’s that reaction, nearly always positive, that I take away from an encounter. The intimacy of my portraits are perhaps a testament to this.

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My images have become more like art. For that reason I never dilute them with “document” or “circumstance” unless it’s absolutely warranted. I try very hard to capture both an emotional element and supplement that with a metaphysical quality that grabs and holds the attention of the viewer. I like to allow all of that emotion to breathe inside the mind of those that “see” and allow them to make their own conclusions on the “reality” of the situation. There is enough packed into any one of my images to take the viewer on a journey. They are an exploration of humanity. It’s as much an exercise in self-examination as it is in photography. They carry a social message, a message of injustice and suffering. They are about faith. Love. Compassion.

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Cheers

Lee

You can check out Lee’s book “Lost Angels” at the link HERE. His 500px is HERE.

Dec 112013
 

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Around the World with the Sony Nex 7 and the Metabones Speedbooster

By James Vanderpool – His website is HERE, his Facebook is HERE

Hello all. I’ve been a fan of Steve’s site for a while, among others. I’ve always liked his real world reviews, and one thing that seems to not have many reviews in terms of photography is the speed booster from Metabones. (The vanilla way to get full frame in mirrorless!) I got the Nex 7 in about July of last year and had been using it almost weekly on photo trips. Though I was mostly pleased with the camera, there were a few things I was unhappy with like the low light performance and APS-C cropping of my all manual full frame lenses. When this adapter came out, I was extremely excited and purchased it almost immediately. Some things turned out like I expected, but there were a few surprises.

The very first time I used this adapter was shooting an event for a Roller Derby team. The adapter really came in handy that day, because the scrimmage was indoors and light was fading fast. I was able to get shots at much lower ISOs than I thought possible.

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One thing that did surprise me was the focusing. When I first got my adapter it couldn’t focus any lenses to infinity. Though I had read it about it online in EOS HD’s preview of the Metabones adapter, I hadn’t thought it would make it to the final product. This was really annoying, actually, as the farthest away I could focus was about 15 feet! (Which is why I’m almost stepping in on the action in all of my shots there, haha.)

The next day, I had the opportunity to be an assistant on a portrait shoot for the Derby team. The adapter really felt better suited for this sort of work. I could get in real close to get some amazing shots, and it worked wonders for isolating the subjects. You can see in two of my shots below that I also appreciated the extra space it gave me over a standard APS-C adapter.

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It took me a while to figure out how to properly adjust my adapter. To fix it: I had to 1) find tiny screwdrivers, 2) guess and test. Both steps took a few days, but number 2 was particularly difficult. The biggest problem was remembering that there wouldn’t be as much detail in landscapes (my testing method) as there would be in the standard adapter. When I remembered this, I checked my 35-70 zoom at 35mm with the standard adapter against my 50mm with the Metabones. They matched up, mostly. Since I don’t want to take up all Steve’s storage space, I won’t show all the photos I took but there are a few good examples of low light, landscapes, and street you should see. (Demonstrating speed, wide-angle, and ability to focus in an unstaged environment.)

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The next place I went to in my travels was Shanghai. Truthfully, I was only there for a 24 hour layover. But when I got an offer I proffered my wallet and went on a tour. (When was I going to be in Shanghai again?) I only took along my 50 1.4 for this trip. No tripods, no wider angled lenses. I had a lot of landscape shots, and a few street. I spent the most time (about two hours) in the Shanghai Pearl. When I got to the top I really wished for my tripod, but so it goes. Make do.

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I was able to stay in San Francisco for quite a while after I got back on account on free-living space. It is, to my mind, the perfect city for photography. You can walk anywhere and everywhere is beautiful, has character, and is full of history. I wish I could live there and photograph forever, but alas, it’s a pretty big investment to live there with no job already lined up. I’ll have to content myself with images for now and plan to visit again in the future.

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So by now you’ve seen the ISO, the shutter speed, and the lenses I use. I tried to keep ISO below 200 when possible, but I also tend to use my camera on shutter priority when not shooting landscapes. Before I get a bit deeper into the pros and cons of this adapter, I wanted to be sure you saw the pictures I shot with it. Though I may not be as talented as some of the posters on this site, I’d like to offer these as proof that yes, the Metabones does give your APS-C camera most of the characteristics of a full frame. Yes, you can take good pictures.

Now, for you detail oriented types.

Ergonomics

You know what my second favorite thing about this adapter’s ergonomics is? It’s small. With my 50 1.4 on the Nex 7, it’s barely larger than the 24 1.8 E-mount I started with. Considering that A) it gives a full frame field of view, and that B) on the Metabones adapter, it’s effectively f/1 in terms of light gathering (but not depth of field!) that is quite an incredible feat. Even my 35-70 3.4 is APS-C sized when you consider that it’s about an 24-50 f2.3 equivalent. Eat your heart out Sigma! (Only 17.6 oz, compared to the Sigma 18-35’s 28.8.)

My favorite thing about this adapter’s ergonomics is the tripod mount on the adapter. It is incredibly sturdy, so you can mount other accessories on an accessory. Madness! My personal favorite is my L-bracket from Really Right Stuff. Why not just mount it on the camera? Well, unless you have really expensive tripods you will always have a bit of drop between when you lock the camera into place on the tripod and when you let it go to take the pictures. This is especially a problem using the Nex 7 with my Contax lenses, as they’re often heavier than the camera. (I suppose with light enough lenses that wouldn’t be a problem, but then you wouldn’t be considering this article would you?) By attaching the camera to the tripod at the adapter instead of the camera, you change the center of gravity and make focusing much easier.

What bugs me, ergonomics-wise? Well, I can’t put my camera in the bag with the L-bracket attached. Time to bust out the Alan wrench!

Resolution

Now for the details! If you read the white paper, or the lens rentals blog post about the adapter you’ll know that resolution is better in the center with pretty much any lens. Also with any lens, it’s worse in the corners. Well, how bad? Have you noticed it?

At lower apertures, I wouldn’t focus anywhere near infinity. I’ve had a few photos I had to throw away because the corners were bad enough to distract from the image. However, this problem mostly clears itself up at higher apertures. Not entirely, but I don’t think you noticed and I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to print large. Here’s one last picture of San Francisco, followed by a ~90% crop at f/8.

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So, if you’re worried about corner softness just remember this: it’s only a few blades of grass.

Focusing

After the initial troubles with infinity, I found this was easier to focus on my Nex 7 than the standard Novoflex adapter due to the increased control over depth of field. In generous light, I don’t even need to use focus magnification to get critical focus. When the light isn’t so generous (admittedly 80% of the time) I still need to use focus magnification, but it’s a quicker process of getting in range before I activate my focus magnification function.

That being said, this will not make it easy to focus on fast-moving subjects like athletes, or even subjects just moving at street speed. It takes time, practice, and in the case of sports hundreds of exposures. (With the 50 1.4. My 100-300 4.5-5.6 was much easier to focus, but that is telephoto lenses, smaller apertures, and an APS-C depth of field.) Even though this allows you to use film lenses with most of their functions intact from 35mm it will not replace a split prism or rangefinder focusing system, let alone pro level phase detection autofocus. (For pro phase detect, think Canon 1 DX/C.)

Compatibility

My one true disappointment with this adapter was that it wasn’t compatible with all of my Contax lenses. My 100-300 4.5-5.6, a beautiful (if massive) lens had stabilizing metal flanges coming from the lens mount. Due to the glass elements of the Metabones adapter, this was impossible to mount. Other large lenses might run into the same problems.

Protection

Those same lens elements that stop me from mounting my 100-300 lens also protect my sensor from harm. A silver lining, indeed.

Well, in a little over 1500 words now I’ve told you everything I know how to tell you about my adapter, and a little bit about the travels I took it through. Feel free to ask me any questions about the adapter I didn’t already think to answer, or give me comments or criticism about some of my photos. I’m still learning.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the article!

Dec 062013
 

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USER REPORT: The Sony A7R and Voigtlander 35 1.2 by Gianmaria Veronese

I spent this weekend in Paris in company of the new Sony A7R and the Voigtlander 35mm 1.2. This article will therefore be a summary of the on-field-test of the new Sony A7R.

Before I get into the review I would like to make an introduction about what you will find in this article and what is not. Well, I tell you now that you will not find photos of walls or pencils to see how sharp the lens is or how much resolution the A7R has.  I can assure you that, with 36MPX and without AA filter, the limit on the size of your prints will be your walls and not the sensor. This article is designed to give you an idea of ​​how the camera behaves on the field and whether if it’s possible to leave your DSLR in favor of this Sony A7R.

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First let’s understand the ergonomic feeling and what are the differences from a traditional digital SLR. Well, the first thing that catches the eye and the touch is the size. It is really small (relative to the size of the sensor of course, FX 24 × 36 remember). The fact that it is small, however, has both the pro and cons.

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The pros are definitely weight, size and discretion. When you travel, you just need nothing except body, lenses and battery charger. Dedicated backpacks are just a distant memory. In addition, the smaller distance from sensor to bayonet, allows you to mount any lens in circulation (with an adapter of course)! I used the excellent Novoflex. Impeccably made, it can be combined with an L-shaped bracket for heavier lenses (in my case the Nikon 14-24 that I didn’t bring to Paris).

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The counter is a small body that in your hand is comfortable, but not as much as a DSLR (especially for those who have bigger hands). In short, after a while you feel a little ‘lack of something more comfortable in your hands, but I did survive without major problems.

In terms of dials, you’ll find the same of a classic DSLR, nothing new a part of the exposure compensation dial. Very comfortable to have it available, but a little ‘less practical to use. Looking through the viewfinder and looking for it with your thumb, it is easily confused with the dial on the back (the one for shutter or f-stop), but location aside, it’s a good thing there is.

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Regarding buttons, in my opinion, there’s too many.  I would have preferred a more essential camera (more like a Leica M than a DSLR), but well, since most of these are customizable, I’d say better to have them and ignore them rather than the reverse. The thing that I do not like instead is the shutter release button. It ‘s too backward on the body and, being upright, your finger stays in an unnatural position. Also, the worst thing is that no threaded hole has been designed on it for an eventual soft release in order to get a more comfortable feeling.

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Let’s come to more interesting part of this camera, the electronic viewfinder (EVF). Let me reassure you by telling that it works very well. The vision is quite natural, and the eye does not get tired as I feared would happen. The possibility to customize it is the real gem. We can preview the final exposure and we can also see the final image with picture style such as Black & White, Sepia, etc. Moreover, the presence of the EVF translates into the possibility of using the focus peaking and live magnification of the image. In practice, we have a chance to see highlighted in red (or yellow or white at your choice) areas of the image that are in focus, helping us in the correct focusing, especially with manual focus lenses. Manual focusing with this feature is very handy and works very well, but it will take a bit of practice (especially with fast lenses). For those who care about pixels, the live magnification will allow you to perfect focusing, good for peace of your monitor magnification. In short, focus is not a problem, as all the instrument, you just need the proper period of training. Unfortunately I cannot say anything about autofocus, because I haven’t any AF lens.

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Let’s come to the battery, the real sore point. It discharges very fast and you cannot stay without a second battery. Especially at the beginning, when you go through all the menus looking for the function you need, the battery consumes impressively fast. The thing is exacerbated by a severe lack: the impossibility of leaving the display turned off and only use the EVF. Or rather, you can use ONLY the EVF, but the main screen becomes completely inhibited even by turning to the menu and viewing images. In practice, we can do everything only through the EVF (i.e. going into the menu and reviewing taken pictures). Not really a good thing. The alternatives are to use ONLY the screen with liveview (completely inhibiting the EVF) or leave it in AUTO mode, where the screen turns off only when eye is approached at the viewfinder. But in this case, every time I walk away the eye from the viewfinder, the screen turns on again showing you all the settings. I did found the possibility to customize one button in order to switch off the screen, but it turns only black while remaining backlit! Incredible! I sincerely hope that this management is improved with new firmwares.

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Another thing I do not like much is the shutter sound. Of course it is fantastic, sounds like an old SLR, sounds solid. But it’s definitely too strong! In street photography this is not a good thing at all. In short, from a machine without a mirror I would have expected a lighter “click”.

Nothing to say except notes of praise on the image quality. Optimal dynamic range and very malleable files in post-production. The behavior at high ISO level is very good. We can work safely at 3200IS. Going over it is certainly possible, but you must expose very correctly. By the way, I personally think that over 6400 is completely useless.

Paris_10_web

Paris_11_web

In conclusion I would say that this is an excellent camera, which can easily replace our dear old DSLR. Reactivity to shoot and feeling are identical to an DSLR and I am fully satisfied after just few days of use, then I can only hope well for the future.

All the shots below were made with Sony A7R and Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 freehand.

Paris_02_web

Paris_01_web

 

Gianmaria Veronese

Blog: www.gianmariaveronese.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/photogmv

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