Jun 052014
 

7 Months, 19 Countries, 5 Continents, 1 Camera

By David Szwarczewski

Dear Steve and Brandon,

Please consider my article for your site, having been an onlooker and admirer for quite some time I would finally like to enter my own contribution.

I am a long-term follower of your fantastic site, and I’m personally grateful for your excellent reviews as I chose my existing camera system almost solely on the basis of your review. At the time the camera was not yet available in my country and so I preordered it without ever having the opportunity of handling it.

I took an interest in photography in my early teens and have since explored a wide variety of photographic genres. As a keen traveller I would say documentary would be my favourite style of photography, perhaps compounded in the belief that this is a particularly difficult art to master. If an image isn’t captured perfectly that fleeting moment of aesthetic perfection may be lost forever.

Having recently graduated from University together with my girlfriend, I was fortunate enough to embark on a Round the World trip for 7 months last year. This was something that in one form or another I had been dreaming of for at least 10 years. Our trip was in a way quite extensive, considering the vast number of countries and areas visited in the relatively short space of time. Although in many ways we barely scratched the surface of what there is to see in each of the places we visited.

When setting out on the trip I had three things I desired to return home with: my passport, photos and health (not necessarily in order of priority). Consequently, all of my images were shot as JPEG’s. I wanted to be able to upload them to a cloud storage service (done via a smartphone connected to a card reader), the smaller file sizes allowed faster uploading when WiFi was available and I didn’t have the time or facilities to edit RAW files anyway. In fact, none of my images has been edited in any way, including cropping. This is partly because I like to think of myself as somewhat of a purist, preferring to get the image right directly through the lens; but this is also equally attributable to the slow and arthritic nature of my very aged laptop no longer being able to cope with editing software.

My weapon of choice was the OMD (EM-5) with Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 12-50mm and Panasonic 100-300mm. The relatively low pixel count was a big draw for me, as was the great IQ, good JPEG processor, small size and weather sealing. The 12-50 was chosen due to its versatility, weather sealing (useful for rainforest etc.) and macro mode. The 20 stayed on the body 99% of the time and is a great compact fast aperture prime and the 100-300 was essential for shooting wildlife. I also carried a pair of Swarovski CL Compact 10×30 binoculars (I adore them).

I hope you enjoy the images, thanks for looking.

David

 

Little India, Singapore

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Taman Negara rainforest, Malaysia

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Ko Tao, Thailand

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Venice Beach, LA

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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My very cold girlfriend in the kitchen of a local family we stayed with in Peru (below freezing in the kitchen due to the altitude, 3600m above sea level)

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The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru

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Lama with Machu Picchu in the background

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Cusco, Peru

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Colca Canyon, Peru

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Lago Verde, near to the Uyuni Salt flats in Bolivia

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Uyuni Salt flats, Bolivia

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Running down Dune 45 in Namibia (my girlfriend took the pic, I’m the one in the middle)

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Elephant sick of having to look at tourists, Zambia

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Female Leopard, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

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Jan 272014
 

My thoughts about photography-gear

By Henrik Ersgård

It’s a cruel world we live in. We have so many options, so many choices and (some of us) an unlimited budget. Does it ever stop? Will we soon be satisfied?

“The best camera is the one you have with you” When it all comes down, this is the truth. The holy grail!

When I first find my interest in photography I was in school and I was 17 years old. Lessons in what aperture means, shutter times, lenses, ISO etc. At first it was OK. Then it went fun. Then I became obsessed. I bought my first DSLR and the journey began. But the journey has not been easy… I am now a part of a company as a photographer. I do not (yet) work fulltime as a photographer. It’s my side-on living/loving/hobby.

I have switched systems maybe 6 or 7 times. I have lied to myself and talked myself into crazy things. Just because this thing called GAS… From DSLR-(new)DSLR-FUJIX100-DSLR-NEX6-FUJIXE1-DSLR-FUJIX100 & DSLR. I now sit here with my second Fujifilm X100 and a huge DSLR. Do I love photography? Yes. Do I think that it’s fun? Yes and No. Why I say No is because me, myself and I have somehow spoiled the fun because I just want to have new gear all the time. New things, because with new things, there is new possibilities! Or?

I, it’s hard to say “we, are creating own problems that somehow was not there in the first place. Instead of picking up my camera, go out and just shoot and have a lot of fun, I start to wonder instead. Wondering and thinking that maybe if I had that new camera, with those beautiful new lenses (who everybody else has) I would have much more fun and take hundreds of keepers! I’m sorry for disappointing you, but that won’t help. But I admit, I am a sucker for things/gear. Especially photography-gear. It is a wonderful feeling you have when you have purchased something new, something new that you have read all the reviews about, something new that just looks so goddamn good. And it feels so right. A big happy moment! A short big happy moment? There are reviews everywhere. This camera can do all this, but it can’t do that. But hey, this camera can do that, but not all this! Choose this one! When you read it, it’s easy! Then why is it so hard? Truth, choosing photography-gear has sometimes been the worst I have done in my entire 24-year-old-long-life. (a little ironic maybe…) All the talking about APS-C, Full Frame, m4/3. Will you not like my picture if it’s not captured with a Full Frame? That’s too bad. Maybe, I can sell my gear and go Full Frame then!…

I need to get back to scratch. Who am I (just kidding…) Seriously, what do I need? Do I need a really blazing fast camera? Do I need all the available lenses? My father once learned me to think like this in nearly every situation; “What’s the purpose?” Now, it’s very clear to me what he was trying to say.

After spending a lot of hours on your site (such a wonderful place) Steve, I stumbled upon this; http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2013/10/09/a-vintage-year-with-the-om-d-e-m5-and-e-m1-by-neil-buchan-grant/

Such an amazing article! If you have not read it and looked at the photos, you MUST!

And oh, look! The pictures are captured with a Full Frame… m/43 Olympus OM-D E-M5! In almost every forum, there has been some whispering going on. M4/3 is too small. You can absolutely not get the same results or print bigger then A4 with a small sensor like that. Really? What about the “picture”? The purpose why I use my camera, isn’t that about the picture? The final result? Am I a bad person for choosing a small sensor?

Find yourself a camera that can do what you need to do. Then get a lens that you love, the kind of lens that is mounted on your camera most of the time. Maybe two more lenses, regarding the purpose. Because without those lenses, Its’ hard to get the picture. Right? Why I’m writing this is because that I just need to put it on paper and read it for myself. Maybe there are many of you out there who has gone nearly as insane as I have about cameras/lenses/sensors so that you nearly forgot about that it should be fun to photograph. Smile when you pick up your camera instead of gently picking ut up with rubber-gloves so that it won’t be any scratches on it. If there are scratches, then I may not be able to sell it later when I get a new one!!!… That really sounds terrible. It really does.

I read somewhere about a guy who’s wife was about to have a baby, his camera got hit and it became a noticeable mark on it. Instead of crying out loud (who would do that??) this mark on his camera now reminds him of the day his baby was born. That’s how feelings about photography should be. Like a love story. Because all good things DON’T need to come to an end. And oh, because of my purpose I’m about to settle with a Olympus OM-D E-M5. The size, the quality, the feel. Enough!

Thank you very much Steve!! Your website is Nr.1!

Henrik Ersgård from Sweden

Link to my website/blog; www.hersgardphotography.wordpress.com

breakfast

portrait

sjön

chat

harbor

horse blackandwhite

yellow and blue mindre

tiger mindre

to your love mindre

Curious

 

 

Jun 222012
 

Crazy Comparison! Leica X2 vs Nikon J1

OK! Many of you have asked for a Nikon J1/V1 vs Leica X2 comparison to be done as a “Crazy Comparison” so here it is! There are a ton of Nikon 1 series fans who read this site and some of them thought this would make a cool post. So what do I do about it? Well, yesterday I headed down to Sedona AZ and I brought both the Leica X2 and  the Nikon J1 along with the Olympus E-M5 to see how each one would do shooting the same scenes, same aperture. I used the E-M5 for one shot only because this is mainly between the X2 and J1.

Keep in mind that the Leica X2 is $2000 and the J1 is $499 with a kit zoom, bag and SD card. So this is NOT a fair fight which is why it is called a “CRAZY” comparison. Just for fun guys so enjoy it!

The 1st one is from the Leica X2 from RAW – f/5.6 – click it for FULL size file

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and now one from the little Nikon J1 – The sensor is much smaller and the J1 is only 10MP but the file looks pretty good! This one used the 10-30 Kit Zoom at f/5.6 and is from RAW. Click it for full size file.

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and I couldn’t leave out the OM-D E-M5! This one is with the kit zoom at f/5.6

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So here are a few more X2 and J1 comparisons…

The X2 at f/5.6 – from RAW – click it for full size file

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and the J1 file

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One more from the X2 – click it for full size

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and the J1 – same deal, click it for the full size

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So there you go! For those asking this should be cool – a few full size files from each camera. The J1 can put out a sharper (but noisier) file no question, but the X2 has the capabilities to print larger of course. The X2 also has the capability to shoot at f/2.8 and with the larger sensor would help speed, noise and depth of field (for those who want more shallow DOF). I can not tell a lie…in use, the J1 destroyed the X2. It was much faster, focused as fast as lightning, never missed and it was a piece of cake to use and shoot. The X2 was slower, missed a few times and had more motion blur doing indoor shots at the same shutter speeds (due to the IS with the Nikon V1 lenses).

These are two totally different cameras though with the J1 being a glorified point and shoot (but an excellent one at that) and the X2 being a more advanced enthusiast point and shoot :) Below are a couple of shots I snapped inside of a restaurant with each camera. These were not ever meant to even be comparisons and I did not use same settings but it is cool to see that either camera can give good results inside.

The X2

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The J1

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and more from the little $499 J1 – click them for larger versions – I went a little bold on the colors here…

One thing I learned from this test is I still stand by my opinion of the Nikon 1 series and that the J1 is a kick ass little camera for $499 that IMO beats something like a Canon S90 any day of the week. The Leica X2 is also a beautiful camera but is for those with bigger wallets of course, and for those who want the Leica experience, which many of us do it seems!

I am a huge fan of the Nikon V1 and if you are someone who mainly posts to the web and prints 8X10’s or smaller than there really is no need for more camera than this. One thing to also note is that the video on the 1 series cameras is also SUPERB..all Nikon needs to do is release some faster glass for these little guys and then we will really be talking. As for the OM-D, I still have yet to find any issues or problems with it. Flat out great camera, period.

UPDATE: Just for giggles, why not?

Just to test things I snapped this AC unit at f/4 with the X2 and Nikon V1 (yes the V1 not J1) – I used the 10-30 Kit lens for the V1 and both were at ISO 100.

I then took the 10 megapixel file from the V1 and blew it up to 16 Megapixels to match the X2, just to see how bad it would be

Those are 100% crops but you must click the image to see the full size crop!

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and below is the Nikon V1 10 Megapixel native resolution crop – again, to see the full 100% crop click the image

You can see the warm color signature of the X2 (a little bit overly warm IMO) but the V1 is sharper without question. The X2 is “richer” and “warmer” and has less noise of course due to the larger sensor. The V1 has a built in EVF, is much faster, a bit sturdier, has great video capability and is $1850 cheaper (when adding EVF into the costs). I was going to sell my V1 but decided to keep it as it is amazingly fun to shoot and it makes me want to grab it when I go out the door, moreso than the other cameras around here.

I do not get the creamy files of an X100 or the color of the X2 or the lenses of the OM-D but I do get no muss, no fuss, sharp images and huge DOF, which sometimes is a good thing.

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