Sunday, 26 February 2017

the X100F - first look

Yesterday I got rid of my XT1 and my trusty old X100S in Exchange for a X100F (and some extra cash). After a little set-up in the shop the camera was instantly ready to use. When you're a Fuji user that also owns a XPRO2 this little tool has no learning curve.

After leaving the shop I took some photos to test the camera. This is not an in depth review, I will write about my real life experience with this model in the coming days. If you want to know something...just ask me.


Same same, but different


I don't need to write about the build quality or the integrated lens because there is no real difference to the predecessors of this model. But the placement of the buttons has changed. In case of the Q-button it was a little misplacement for my taste. It is placed at an area where I rest the thumb of my right hand. You can look this button by holding down the menu button for a few seconds so this is not a real problem but a little hollow grip to put your thumb into would have been a better choice for my taste.

Behind the window - CC (320 ISO, f5.6, 1/250)


Inner values

The sensor has changed and the camera is now in the same ballpark as the XT2 and the XPRO2. Fuji has managed to maintain that organic look of the resulting photos even with a higher pixel count and less noise at higher ISO. The processor is fast and the auto-focus is better but not as fast as you might expect when you are coming from a X100S. It is more accurate and has this fantastic joystick attached for a fast point selection, but it is not the auto-focus system that is up with the competition. I can live with that. Maybe there are some tweaks via future firmwares to speed it a bit up.

Also worth to mention is the ability to set shutter values above 1/125sec in conjunction of auto ISO. I don't know if it was an issue with the processor etc. of the older model but now you can go up to 1/500sec what allows you to capture faster moving objects when you use this mode.

That soft f2-look - ASTIA (1250 ISO/f2)

More juice


Fuji did one awesome change. They managed update the battery compartment to hold the same battery as the bigger brothers now. That brings some more juice (for the new processor etc.) and it reduces clutter for many Fuji shooters out there. You only need one type of battery in your pocket now. A great decision and for me even more important as the second card slot many people anticipated.

The fist day with my new tool feels good and it serves my needs well.

I will write some more about my experiences with this camera the next days. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

Nils

Monday, 20 February 2017

My camera is a social tool


Look at the photo above. It was taken at a cafe where they serve third wave coffee (research it if you love coffee) and this guy suggested us a Brazilian blend as we were talking to the guys behind the counter. After taking a seat I pulled my camera out and took the image above. He was drinking his coffee like a monk and he contemplated over the whole thing for half an hour. I pulled my card out and walked over to his table. I already transferred the image to my smartphone and did some retouching to it with snapseed (it has curves!). I showed him the photo and asked him if I can use it on my Instagram account. He looked at the image and his face was delighted.

He said that he loves the photo and that he is a design student from south Germany and working on a special project for a new coffee brand. We were ending up in a little conversation about his project and my style of photography. We exchanged our contact data and I wished him maximum success with his great idea and told him that I will support him with more photos if he needs further images. A great contact and we both shared some insight into the things we do.

Strangers?


I does not mean that you don't need to talk to strangers. This photo was the result of a birthday party me and my wife were invited to. I took some photos of the event held in a billiard saloon and tried to capture the event like documentary photographer would do it. I shared the resulting album with all the persons present and received a lot of good feedback for it.

There are many ways to interact with people you know and people you don't know through your camera, if you want. You learn new things and a great portrait etc. can always be a good starting point for a nice conversation. It also makes the camera appear less technical. Just think how most photographers are perceived by the public: nerds with lots of equipment who just ran away after taking a shot. And modern digital cameras offer a way to show your photo after you took the shot.

Photography is not a one-way-road

This goes even with landscape or nature photographers. People can show you places and the stories that are tied to them. When you explain what are you doing you give interested people a better understanding of your story and a new insight into your understanding of arts. An example: maybe you see a great castle in the Scottish Highlands and you notice that there is someone taking care of that building. After a little conversation he let's you inside the building to take some photos and you sum up the whole thing by taking a portrait of him and creating a story out of the shots.

Don't think that photography is a one-way-road and street photography has to be candid. The shot on top of the article also was taken candidly but I spoke to that nice fellow afterwards, because it was'n meant to be a portrait.

But what if you get a rejection or some is angry at you?

That's fine, because a bad experience is also important to improve your social skills. How will you react to someone who is rejecting you? Can you deal with it? Can you calm down angry people? You can learn a lot from bad experiences if try not seek them or risking too much. It is always good to stay out of trouble, but if you are in such a situation you can always learn something new. Trust me.

Don't be afraid and use your camera as a social tool. You are not alone...

Cheers,

Nils

Thursday, 9 February 2017

I need the new X100F because of the improved image quality

Despite the fact that the bigger sensor delivers more pixels for larger prints and higher ISO with less noise, there is no real noticeable improvement in image quality in most occasions. Who will pixel-peep at 100% into every photo? It is the overall look to the photos that does the magic. And this magic is still there since the x-trans-sensor was introduced to the photographic world.

I was recently invited to a birthday party that was celebrated in a billiard pub and I took my X100S with me to capture some photos of this event. This small and quiet photographic tool helped me a lot to be invisible most of the time. Back at my mac (nice rhyme) I took the raw photos and applied my black and white tone curve to them. And after turning off any noise reduction I saw the magic in front of my eyes: the sensor noise looks so organic! It looks like an grainy high ISO black and white film. There is no need to reduce that kind of noise. You want it. Trust me!



But how about color photography? Let me show you this photo I took last week. The sun was low and the light was warm in the background. The contrast was high and the old Fuji sensor of my X100S handled it like a boss. Back at the desk I just boosted the shadows and added a vignette to lead the viewers eyes to the warm center of the image. The camera did an awesome job in preserving the details and colors in this image.


So do you need the X100F to take better photos? No. I've ordered the new model to have WiFi and a better auto-focus system on board. I skipped the X100T because it wasn't such an improvement compared to it's predecessor and I knew that a major update in sensor technology would happen after the X-PRO2 was announced. If you are satisfied with your X100S there is no need for an upgrade. It is still a camera that delivers awesome results. Maybe you spend the money on a nice vacation instead!

Cheers,

Nils


Thursday, 26 January 2017

I don't want to make money from street photography

Back in the days I thought I was just too afraid of not being a commercial photographer. But do we always need to turn our passion into a paid job? Yesterday I had a little conversation with a workmate. She works at the lounge area and is taking care of the coffee machine and meals served. She told me about her talent to refurbish old furniture to turn them into little treasures. She showed me some photos and I was blown away by her skills and creativity. The first question I asked her was: "why don't you start a busines?" and she responded: "maybe I outsell my passion and it becomes just ordinary work with too much pressure".

Is it okay to think that way? Is she just afraid of starting a business? I don't think so. There is not one way to do things and we live in a world where nearly everything has a certain value in terms of money. You can easily outsell your whole passion and get sucked into a business thing that will leave you unsatisfied and stuffed with customers, bills and taxes. Trust your inner voice if you really want to start a business. Don't follow other people who did it. It was their decision, not yours. If people telling you that real success is becoming wealthy with you own company they may just have a different definition of what success means for them.



Trust me, there is no black or white. Maybe you can just reduce the hours you spend at work (just ask your boss) and start a smaller version of your business in the spare time and decide later if it feels right to you. There are thousands of possibilities. If you see other people being successful it doesn't mean that it will work for you the same way.

I don't want to start a street photography business. This kind of photography is too personal for me. It is my kind of "Wanderlust" and a kind of meditation. I have the feeling that it should not be taking place in my life as a business.

And don't forget: the most important thing is to not lose your passion by imitating what other people do. Get inspired by the work of other people.

Cheers,

Nils


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Are you an artist or a follower?

Sometimes it seems that art is like a club you can join to boost your fame. But when you meet other artists, most of them are working on their own. They get some inspiration from other people and can be a part of a collective (think of an actor) but most of the times they follow their inner voice sucking in the outer world as a kind of inspiration.

So ask yourself, what is your motor behind your kind of art? Do you want to be a part of a collective or do you just want to join a club to call yourself an artist. If  you have to pass the bouncers and if you desire to be part of a certain collective it may force you to do things that lead away from your inner path. Does this thing drive you or are you the driver in the front seat?


Is this really the thing you wanted to do as you started with your projects? Is art like the Berghain in Berlin you want to get into? Do you depend on that?

I remember when I first started to upload my photos to flickr twelve years ago. I tried to get views, awards and wanted to be a member of a certain group (I also ran a successful group). I looked at other photos that were successful and tried to imitate them a bit. I think this process is okay when it leads to your own personal style, but when you are just focused on clicks, likes or whatever you start to miss your thing, your vision. You start to live the life of someone else...

I know from studying ancient and modern philosophers and my own experience that this road can lead to success but not to inner peace. And why are we doing this whole thing? Only to get as much likes (or money) as we can or to reflect on the world we see in our way and as a kind of meditation.

So ask yourself if you're doing your kind of art. Don't let other people spoil your thing. A good critique can be useful but it is just an opinion floating away in a sea of opinions.

As a street photographer I try to connect to other photographers to help them spread their art and to share thoughts and content. But I try to take this thing not too seriously. Do you want to follow your imagination or join an art scene? If they won't you let in it doesn't mean that the thing your do is crap. ;-)

Cheers,

Nils

BTW: Vivian Maier never showed one photo to someone else.

Friday, 20 January 2017

I ordered my X100F

Yesterday I told my Fuji dealer (a real shop! support them!) that they should put me on the list for a black model. I own a X100S and I don't regret the long wait. I started with the X100 back in the days and this camera was just too sluggish and painfully slow. I had the great opportunity to trade it for a X100S that is slightly better with the brilliant Trans-X-sensor. As the X100T came out I was not convinced to buy this camera because the only major things that have changed were the OVF (pip) and the in camera WiFi. Too less for a change.


The implementation of CDAF and PDAF (auto focus methods) in the X100S and X100T was poor, even in bright light they are inaccurate and slow. So I decided to wait for a model that at least keeps up with the XT1. And now the gap is closed and the new X100F supports the same auto focus system like the XPRO2 what is great because I love to use the OVF on my XPRO2 and it works great. The new button placement and the ISO dial are a good evolution of the the product range. I am happy that I skipped the X100T and waited for it's successor to come. It was very obvious that the new one will incorporate the newest features. And Fuji's decision to use the bigger NP-W126 battery in the new model was such a relief. Now everything fits together in a streamlined product line without too much clutter when you go traveling etc.

What are your opinions? Is the new model a step forward? Are you buying it even if you own a X100T? Just let me know in the comments...

Cheers,

Nils

PS: If you want to know why I love to shot through the OVF than read this little article.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

We are remixing stuff

What is creativity? Can we do something out of nothing? No. We can only create things based on other things that inspired us. In a modern sense you would say that you remix things. Remember the science fiction stories you read in a book. Fictional stuff about different planets and different species. But if you think a bit deeper you will realize that most of the things are not new. They are just remixed from things we already know. Even electricity and light (flashes) were always there. We just found a way to generate, store and use them in a different way.


With photography it is the same thing. We are just remixing the things we see. We can be inspired by music, literature, nature, paintings and many of the other million influences, but at the end it was already there. You just apply a new angle of view, your personal taste to the whole picture. Sometimes it is good to think about this philosophical side of creativity and realize how important inspiration is for us. It is not important to shot as much photos as you can. It is important make experiences in many different ways to get new ideas that maybe inspire other people to do new things. And at this point you realize that you're new walk alone (a very Buddhist view). It is a collective thing on a giant play field sponsored by nature.

Start sharing things and remix on!

Cheers,

Nils