Recently I have been shooting on both the sigma dp2x and the canon 6d digital. It’s Chinese New Year and the film labs are not open so i invited Stephy chang over for a session.
Sigma have amazing colors but highlights often blown easily. Despite what some die hard sigma fans will defensively tell you, it’s pretty much Sigma’s silly decision to put the AFE conponent into an otherwise usable camera.
Well regardless of brands and advantages, let’s just enjoy some of these images.
I have a lot of beautiful images taken by the canon 6D, it’s amazing how easy the common cameras are in delivering results vs sigma. There is this beautiful airbnb site “sekeping jugra” that allows various interesting scene with the play of light. If you happened to be in KL, do drop by this place or make it your accommodation.
The sigma images are shot on 41mm and the canon images on 35mm. I am a fan of using non standard portraiture lenses focal length because I needed the outdoor scene for context . I find it often hilarious how some would travel far and shoot models on 85mm losing any relevant context to the images.
There was a story about this guy who went to Nepal in search for peace and simplicity. The guy have half his lifetime focusing on his career and building a corporate life that he soon got tired of it all, gave away bulk of his money, sold his house and took a one way ticket to Nepal.
As the story goes, after 7 years in Nepal, he came to a conclusion. Peace and simplicity isn’t found in Nepal or anywhere else, he could pursue the same objective of living a simple life back in an apartment in Amsterdam. Nepal and its basic lifestyles and people gave him a chance to know himself better.
I started off photography on a peculiar camera, the sigma dp2. From there i went all the way to nikon D4, Leica M9, A7R, Canon 6D and a lot more gears that i am more shameful to bring up than to boast about. Did i improve? Nope. My improvement came from lots of practice, 2 workshops that i attended on portraiture and film photography.
Yup, like the story of that man, film gave me time to discover myself. Now after one full year on film, i decided to find two cameras that have the same inconveniences of film but a digital unlike any other. I call them the “twins”. The very thought of owning these two cameras and carrying them around with me tickles me somewhat, it is like cowboys in the older days where the top gunner would carry two guns on each side of his belt.
These two twins are the Sigma DP1x and Sigma DP2x, fix lens, APSC cameras with a strange, weird sensor.
Let me just provide a note of warning here. Do not follow me on this path, haha, no kidding, i would go so far as to say that shooting film is much easier than using these two cameras.
But i have come to a point whereby limited gears don’t really trouble me much. These two cameras main selling point is its Foveon sensor, it’s what i would call, an anomaly sensor that produces results between a film and a digital.
At 4.7 megapixel, its even smaller than my regular film lab’s output. I wouldn’t have come to this mindset of accepting such low-res results if it wasn’t for my one year film pilgrimage, it reinforces what i already knew about megapixels and what we really need in our image sharing and even printing.
The image above is unedited jpg straight from the camera’s raw file. Man, it already feel so film like even without going thru VSCO.
Here is another sample.
The uncertainty that these “twins” presents, the dog slow auto-focus and the availability of a crappy manual focus are just so similar with the film cameras that i use. Instead of labs, i have to wrestle with Sigma Photo Pro, an obscure software that can process the raw files or extract the jpg as shown above. It’s a bit like waiting for the lab results.
I am not giving up on film, don’t get me wrong here. It’s amazing that the DP2x 41mm focal length is so much like my favourite Olympus 35UC’s 42mm focal length. The DP1x’s 28mm would cater for wide angle shot.
Note : I wouldn’t recommend Sigma cameras to anyone, personally I felt Sigma is a company that continuously betrays its camera users with experimental, unproven and stupid decisions. If you google up the reviews of their new cameras e.g. One such review, those are plainly evident.
I have lost this camera. This camera has been stolen on 27th January 2016 near VCR cafe, Kuala lumpur malaysia, together with a hood and AML-1 lens and 2 wasabi backup batteries.
– Update : 24th jan 2017.
What do you think of these images? Drop me a line or two in the comments below.
One of the unexpected nice location for photoshoot in Penang is this small opening at Babylon restaurant .
I have always strived for taking portraits that are natural with an element of candid feel to it. With the wind on my side and a close and happy model at the scene, the right recipe for a beautiful album that presents itself.
Eilein Pang have collaborated with me for over a year now for her albums and her popularity and freelance jobs have grown too. Often we would chat about some local issues that are faced by the freelancers and the individuals that we could draw inspirations from.
She has never doubted my constant preference to try new ideas on different mediums and gears. When I pursued film for the skin tones and organic feel she was pretty patient with the waiting period that her generation have never experienced before.
I will be visiting this place again if I visit Penang. Curious as to how the light would be at sunrise. I hope you enjoyed these short series of images.
On the last week of 2016, I visited penang, a northern state and island in Malaysia. Penang have a heritage site recognised by UNESCO for maintaining its vintage streets and architectural aesthetics.
My first stop was Lebuh melayu where I rented a room via airbnb. Two of my model friends visited me and I took the opportunity to do some albums.
The street outside here looks like it’s stuck in the 1940s. Some shops have been converted to lodging and cafes while the corner shops are hosting hawkers like stalls. These hawker like stalls are infamous for its local dishes.
If you travel to Malaysia, you have to visit Penang. Rooms here cost a mere usd $50 per night , complete with breakfast. I wouldn’t mind the breakfast though, the food at the streets and cafe are so much better.
Just another 12 km away from the city you will reach Batu feringgi, a stretch of beaches for those beach lovers . I visited that part for some shots but in this piece I will just share images done at the street .
I took both a film camera and my canon digital with me . My pretty friends actually prefers digital since the results would be fast but nowadays film development in Malaysia won’t take more than 2 days.
There are plenty of specialise cafes as well, from ice cream centric ones to those offering own cakes.
So walking in the humid and hot tropical streets here I have to occasionally stop by a cafe or two just to escape the heat and chat with my friends .
I hope you enjoyed these images and visit Penang one of these days.
I take it that you are here is because either you are curious about shooting film or that you read about the revival of kodak ektachrome. I been shooting ALOT of film in 2016, fueled mainly by the desire to slow down (you will hear this reason from almost anyone who shoots film) or the cosmetics tones that film provides.
Film labs in malaysia are cheap. So cheap that the labs like ColorDotCom and Bang Bang Geng have films from all over the world posted to it for development and scanning. The results are uploaded via wetransfer or google drive the moment its completed and owners can enjoy the results while their negatives takes its time to return.
Total cost per roll? USD $3, that includes both development and scanning.
Don’t get me wrong, i am not giving up on digital. But digital, like a genie from the lamp gave me so much power that i forgot whats it feels like to enjoy the process and to stop being a gear head or reading up exciting new gears every quarter. Moore’s law guarantee that your current digital gears will be crappy in comparison to new releases faster than the new car models.
Film cameras on the other hand had reached its golden age somewhere in the middle of 1970s. Since no “sensor” was involved, manufacturers had to think out of the box on how to make the next release. Premium and even mid level cameras were built so well, they have a heft to it when you carry them and they easily lasted over 20 years. Most of these manufacturers focused on quality and build and the vast amount of film cameras available today and still functional are a testimony to these decisions.
Truth is, digital cameras have reached a level whereby you don’t need to buy a new one anymore. The nikon d3000 that i purposely buy because of its large CCD sensor produces amazing results. Yup, d3000, the supposedly weakest camera released by nikon according to Ken rockwell ;-).
Around 6 years ago, the camera that got me interested in photography in the first place is the quirky Sigma DP2. I was interested in why would a manufacturer go against all odds to pursue and release a camera using a different sensor than everyone else is. I soon gave up on that camera after realizing that i am addicted to pixel peeping but produces nothing interesting in actual photos. Film on the other hand is at the far right side of the spectrum, where one no longer pursue sharpness, latest and greatest or burst speed, but rather the communication with the subject and the process to think more before pressing the shutter.
Shooting film enables me to appreciate the digital gear that i had, the awesome power of technology and how much it has progressed since early 2000.
My only FF digital camera is the Canon 6D and i have only 1 lens to go with it, the 35 mm 1.4 L. This to me is more than sufficient to create albums that new models and existing models friends would want. When the album are not urgent, i would use film as well. In the world of film, a Leica M7 with a Noctilu f1.0 do not have much advantage over a cheap USD $100 camera like the Olympus 35 uc, they are both used depending on my mood for the type of results i want to get, instead of showing off Leica as a brick around the neck.
As i went one full circle from 2011 till 2017, i began to appreciate and understood the reality and truth that “gears” are not really the important factor, but rather the photographer.
I bet if i had my hands on the tragic Sigma DP2 again, perhaps this time, things would be different.
Just wanted to share some of the images i took in the last months of 2016, between November and December 2016. Some friends call me the best portrait photographer in Malaysia jokingly, looking back, i have done portraits without any limitations on myself, pursuing whatever medium and gears i felt is inspiration for the album and experiment and learn at the same time.
I have been using mostly film exclusively, some on the medium format Mamiya rz67pro film with Kodak Porta and some on the leica noctilux f1.0, M7, fujipro 400h film.