Heresy, a camera that has film output but digital

DSC_0227

I would go as far as to say that the output resembles the leica M9 files, where objects with outer edges are more distinct and whose colors are just beautiful but not natural.

DSC_0240

Go ahead, make a guess, what camera is this?
DSC_0256

The tones are just amazing and although some of my shots here are shaky, thats largely due to my hands.
DSC_0302

So what camera did this? Dig deep into your arsenal of camera knowledge and make a guess. Refrain from downloading the images and using Exif data.

Photography Reset : One single truth that you can’t afford to miss out

Photokina 2014 is here and over. New gears, new lust, new features, new comparisons.
While the world goes on its normal course and manufacturers praying to increase its fair share of the market, i was totally oblivious to it. I was on a course of self discovery. Discovering the things that really do matters to me and why. In short i pressed the reset button.

Since this blog is about photography, i will just focus on the “reset” effect on my photography side of the story and the one(1) truth that makes all the difference.
Last few weeks it was all about using film. I had my hands on a vintage kodak, the Leica M6, Mamiya 645 and the GW690ii.
Kodak and M6 is now in my cabinet, in their respective coffins so to speak, service no longer needed. Mamiya was returned due to shutter fault and GW690ii did four(4) rolls of film.

Once you used film, you be very grateful when you looked at your current digital cameras. So much so that i took two(2) steps back and took a look at my journey so far. My love for Sigma Foveon and how its SPP software continues to disappoint me when i even volunteered to fix up the code for free and wrote to the CEO. Enough then, Sigma and two(2) lenses sold and shipped out to a Russian buyer.

Took out the Xvario and did some shots. This is the camera that was way overpriced in Malaysia, selling at more than USD 3k. I chucked it into the cabinet previously because it does not have enough shallow dof. I tried using it and trained myself on composing and doing portraiture without shallow dof, did that, done that and my verdict was that its just not suitable, or is it?

Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.
Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.
Xvario. Gaussian blur added  to bg.
Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.

Took these two(2) shots outside a photo exhibition and the colors are just beautiful. Clear, sharp and some tweaks in PS and i have some satisfactory images. The Xvario has always produce beautiful skin tones and colors, right out of the camera. Nevermind that its optics results actually involves some cheats of software correction in raw, the results are beautiful.
So why stop here i asked myself, lets dig out other “useless” cameras from the cabinet and see what i can do with it. I went thru my list of cameras in my cabinet and took out the very first DSLR that i bought in early 2005, the Nikon D50.

The Nikon D50 uses a CCD sensor, type of sensor that “snapsort website” labels as “low” sensor, inferior to CMOS. I took it out, put in the old SDCard 2GB and took it to the exhibition hall to shoot with a 50mm 1.8d lens (another old lens that uses screw to focus). I took this featured image, using built in flash, you know, that ugly pop up flash.

Nikon D50. 50mm 1.8d. Flash 1/16, built in.
Nikon D50. 50mm 1.8d.
Flash 1/16, built in.

I was surprised at the results i got when i load it up and did the same post processing as i would with any other camera. Hence the realization of the one(1) truth that hobbyist photographers should know.

#1. Your Gears are more than sufficient even BACK THEN.

D50 didn’t change while it was in the cabinet. I did. Most of the features and knowledge on using cameras back then wasn’t available to me because i am not who i am yet, the same camera did wonders now. There is a reason why film died or rather got frozen in the ICU state, its because our gears entered digital and like any other digital stuffs, it went on hyperdrive every six(6) months and declared obsolete any previous versions and everyone voted yay.

Truth is, at some point in time, Digital Photography jumped over the acceptable limit. Do we really need to pay for PS and LR every month because our new cameras and raw files needs them? Do you really need those 20 sharpen features if you got your image sharp in the first place? Was CCD obsolete because CMOS is really better, was that a quality choice or a choice made because of manufacturing cost and that we want to see images taken in crazy ISO that our eyes can’t see.

Looking at my Sony A7R in the Lowepro Runner bag and looking at the D50 in this small crumpler bag, i honestly don’t know if the Sony would produce any better images than the D50, in my hands. It never did. The wifi function? nice to have, but transferring 6 mp images on the D50 was even faster. One hundred an seventeen focus points(117) vs five(5) focus points on the D50, gee, i only used the middle one as an electronic rangefinder, selecting other focus points was just pointless and slower to operate. 5 fps, 10 fps? Use a video if you need more.

If there is any features on any new cameras that anyone might really need that wasn’t already available few years ago, it must be a very niche type of photography which one could already live by without or without it. Today there are still die hards using films to shoot wedding photography commercially, think about it, that whatever entry level digital SLR or mirroless camera you have, most probably blows it out of water. It didn’t stop them from making beautiful images in film and happy customers paying for it. I am pretty sure clients don’t do pixel peeping unless he/she is a photographer too.

There are enough pixels on your monitor today to form smooth beautiful fonts, definitely enough to display images that you eyes can discern and unable to discern even if it goes higher. So how much resolution do you really need. I personally can’t see any differences on 6mp images vs 36 mp images without zooming in 100%. I bet you have an APSC that is already doing 16 mp.

#stilwithyourgears #morethansufficient

Photokina 2014, how to fight the GAS.

L1034385

Photokina is here again, with some brand new Leica lusts like the Medium format Leica SE, Leica X 23mm 1.7 Summilux and the M-60 Edition. Samsung NX1 and Canon 7D MKII probably have some folks sleepless over them.
Previously i wrote that a camera without an LCD is high in my wish list, but its definitely not $18,500 high. Nevertheless i find myself very different now, compared to the last two(2) years when it comes to handling GAS.

Here are five(5) reasons why GAS addiction has lost its grip on me. Hopefully they would be of help to you, before you click on that buy cart. Brew that coffee, have a sip and read on.

1. I tried film
In my last few posts, its mostly about shooting film. Frankly, 35mm film has nothing on Digital, digital has way surpassed film in any way you can imagine but film has an “X” factor that surpasses whatever digital throws at it. Today i passed a roll of Fuji Superia 200 to my friend Stephan. He was struggling initially and complaining and was blessing the fact that he uses the digital Fuji X100s. But an hour later, he is still shooting film and was running all over the street.
Why? Because Film causes you to enjoy the process but at the same time makes you realized that whatever digital camera you have now is already God sent.

fuji GW690ii
I took my Fuji GW690II with me today to the streets, shot 7 shot after 6 hours. I could actually recall each of the7 shots. If you think you need a new gear or whatever photokina is offering, try film. It will reset your GAS and you be so happy with your digital that you have now.

2. That gear in your hand.
I have the Sony A7r with tons of vintage lens. I can have all kinds of bokeh with this camera, but i have also come to appreciate that i don’t need any special bokeh. I just need to shoot simple stuffs and focus on light,subject,composition and idea. The Xvario that i had was given a firmware update and its the camera i rather take to any trip.
As MingThein (a prodigy) always says “we have long passed the point of sufficiency” when it comes to digital camera performance. Although he is a victim of GAS too, he is the smart type, he makes money from GAS. We don’t.

Xvario at iso 800, 1/15, zero edit.
L1034384
In my drawer and box is the nearly unused Titanium M6, the Kodak Retina II (type 011)

3. I sold off unused gears
While it was easy to justify buying, try selling. Today i sold off my Sigma SD15 and two(2) lenses. Selling them off is such a relieve because it frees the physical space its occupying in room and also, more importantly, it frees me mentally to focus on using whatever that is left. I am selling off some of the best lenses i have for my A7r collection too, reason simply is because reality is, i don’t need them.
Try selling your unused gears, you will have less inclination to get new ones. The responsibility associated with getting rid of items before getting new ones, would probably gives you resistances to acquire new ones.
I have plans to sell off the Titanium M6, Kodak RetinaII (type 011, 47mm f2) and all other lenses too, keeping just the Voightlander 28mm f2 and Leica R 90mm 2.8 for the Sony A7r.

4. They don’t really help.
Lets look at it this way. I am impressed with the Film Medium format results and focusing than i was ever with any 35mm digital’s autofocus and result. What this tells you is that, digital lure will just be a big circle of marketing and features that clearly adds nothing to your results. In fact, the experience and process of shooting is probably more important than result itself. Leica knows about this very well, thats why they are selling inspirational tool and is feature crippled in every way and still sell film cameras at Martian prices.
Do you need that new 23mm 1.7 Leica X? Your current fuji Em with 35/1.4 is so sufficient that you should use half of that savings into tutorials and education to improve your shooting. Heck, its probably enough to hire models for a year for your practice.

5. I stop reading Steve Huff’s site, or any gear lust site for that matter.
Steve’s a great blogger that writes excellent, salivating articles on gears just like many other sites. I have come to notice though that if you visit those sites with some small gear lust in your head, they will just ignite it for you, complete with links to buy now. Almost every new gears that is reviewed comes with subtle “buy” reasons such as “filmic grain”, “leica colors” and really nice images samples. As one old saying around here goes, “don’t visit the bar if you don’t intend to drink”.

If you don’t currently own any Camera, well that is a completely different story, drop me an email and your preferences and i will give you loads of free advice.

GAS Alert?
Free yourself and while ur at it, u see that coffee button up there on the right, buy me a coffee will ya. 😉