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

Missing Someone (Portraiture)

malaysia best photographer

Have you ever missed someone so badly, it felt like its hard to breath sometimes?
Thats the emotion i wanted to portray in this album with the amazing Kim Goh as the model and a unique location in Penang, Malaysia.

Do note that in this album, the images are mostly out of camera Jpeg, and none of them have any editing done to the model. I wanted to preserve the emotion as is with the location’s ambience.

Click on to see the album: Missing Someone

A side project, 100 most beautiful Selfie

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_DSC4119-EditThis post will always be updated with the collection my project, entitled “100 most beautiful selfie”.
These selfie are done using an angle similar to selfie, except i will be using a monster 36mp A7R with 18mm F4 Zeiss.
The update will ceased the moment it reaches 100 selfies. Whether its a chanced encounter, a friend, a family or just strangers, if a suitable person happens to cross my path, i would offer to take a shot of the selfie for this project.
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The beautiful 18mm f4 Zeiss for portraits

This is a tricky lens to use for portrait. The challenge lies in the peak focusing recognition because at this width almost everything seems to be in focus with a slight twist. However it is a beautiful lens indeed. AT 18mm, Zeiss gives very interesting colors and mood to the images. I haven’t have a proper session to do a full model shoot yet, so most images here are just casual images. (updated, check out how its used on portraiture here)
Wide angles such as 21, 18 and even 15, gives the subject a very slim profile, something which almost any ladies would appreciate. Like one of my master says “any lens can be used for portraiture”, its just a matter of recognizing its advantages and using it. One thing though, do not use the hood on the FF Nex. The hood causes an unwanted vignette.

Here are some images taken with it, at 18mm F4. Those “selfie” images are taken from my project of 100 beautiful selfies.

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In fact using wide angle for 2-3 meter of portrait photography is something that should be explored more especially for outdoor photography.

Here are 2 more examples, unedited straight from camera. Using wide angle gives a flattering view of the subject, if used at the right angle and distance, even the skin looks better!

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You can get this lens here: 18mm f4 Zeiss M mount B&H photo

I personally use Fotodiox M to Nex. Its a very solid piece of adapter and the release tab is so much better than those typical china made that i’ve seen. You can get that here from B&H too

* check out more services and my photos at cocoa-dream