camera review

This picture taken by me with front camera of Samsung Galaxy J5. Foto ini diambil saat acara Gala Dinner 3th Anniversary VIP PLAZA at The Highland Park Resort Bogor. Ditemani si @saltyesplease dan @amoebabentjana yang senasib terjerumus di kantor yang sama. Jangan tanya kenapa hasil fotonya bisa se-kece itu meski tanpa bantuan aplikasi 360° dan filter apapun. Selain karena kualitas front camera yang beresolusi 5 megapiksel, faktor utama tentunya “objek” foto itu sendiri yang memang good loking dan camera face banget. 😎

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Allie 360 Camera - Hands On Review

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Samsung TL205 - Camera Review

So, I just found my camera again after a couple of months and I promised a review. So finally here it is. These two pictures taken above was taking by the Samsung TL205, a digital camera that has a maximum of 12.2 megapixels and 3 times optical zoom. I brought this two years ago and it still works and takes great quality pictures. Why I had brought it was because there was a little screen in the front of the camera where you can take self portraits, the sad thing is that after it dropping a couple of times the front screen was no long accessible. I’m a very clumsy person no matter how many times I try not to, but this camera has been dropped a lot and still works. I only have two small black holes on the camera screen but it doesn’t show up on the pictures. I’ll soon do a video. :]

10

Fujifilm X100s

Before I begin talking about the camera I’d like to quickly talk about this review.
This review isn’t a readout of stats or charts, you can find these in a hundred places across the web. You’re not about to read a documentation of features or specifications.

This is a purely personal account of my experience.

Fuji X100s ‘in real life’

Just over two weeks ago I was sent the X100s and since then it’s barely left my side.I’ve shot several genres with it so far, celebrity magazine editorial, fashion, street, commercial, boudoir, product, landscape and also a few family snaps on our travels.
In every instance this camera has shrugged off everything I’ve thrown at it, from dim low light conditions to catching subjects within busy high contrast scenes filled with movement. Don’t let it’s humble size fool you, this machine is fully mission capable!

From the moment I picked this camera out of the box it felt 'right’. The discreet grip fits perfectly into even my fairly large hands. Though the camera is small in size all the controls glide effortlessly into place and there’s never been a moment of fumbling through minute controls for a button. In fact, you need never remove your eye from the viewfinder at all!

It has to be said that the design of this camera and it’s layout could be described in three words:
elegant, concise, and intuitive. The camera will definitely strike a chord with anyone familiar with the old
film rangefinders. From anywhere but the back it would be easy for a passer by to confuse the two.
Far from a dated rehash, this camera is classic, sleek and refined.

If there is one thing that had provoked debate with the X100s it’s the fixed lens. A 35mm f/2 is hardly unusual for a rangefinder camera and there would be no denying that the quality is fantastic. The fujinon glass and x-trans CMOS II sensor are a match made in heaven and are clearly designed to work in perfect harmony. One look at the beautiful tonal rendition they capture will say more than I could put here. As someone who only shoots wider then 100mm equiv on the rarest of occasions, I expected to find the 35mm more of a hindrance than anything else. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Had I been the designer, 35mm equiv would not have been my first choice. That said, it was without doubt the right choice. Also, not having to worry about dust spots is rather pleasant.

The “S” in this instance certainly stands for speed, not only is the focusing blink-fast but everything about this camera seems to happen as fast as you think of it. There is a customisable “Fn” Button capable of being assigned to any of 10 different uses (I set mine as ISO) which sitting beside the shutter release makes quick alterations almost subconscious. Changing a setting just happens, it’s all right under your fingertips. My three main settings in constant touch and all other main settings accessible with one push of the Q menu button. Short of mind reading it couldn’t be more responsive!

On my recent shoot with faceon magazine and fashion tv we had a high pressure celebrity fashion editorial to shoot with a bustling team and quick changes to locations and constantly changing lighting conditions. The camera handled it effortlessly, didn’t even break a sweat. AWB was spot on in every shot, focusing didn’t miss a beat and the lack of physical bulk made it easy to capture the shot even when hanging from a stairwell.

The discreet size didn’t just make things easier here, when shooting street and location based fashion I was able to easily pull the camera out, get the shot and move on not only at speed but also without drawing too much attention to myself. Not something easily achievable with my usual dslr with grip and big lenses. To many this feature alone will be worth it’s weight in gold.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this camera has reignited my passion with photography and inspired me with a multitude of new ideas. The ease of use combined with the impeccable image quality is liberating to say the least. It’s true what they say, the less equipment you carry, the more fun you’ll have.

One final thing that really sets the X100s apart from similar cameras is its low light capability. Sharp f/2 lens and barely any visible noise even up to ISO3200 is an invaluable combination.

Understandably this isn’t the camera for everyone, the fixed lens will not suit wildlife fanatics and the small, retro-esque styling will not be to everyones tastes. For me however, it’s a dream. I’ve taken to carrying it everywhere and I’ve so much I’d like to shoot with that I never would consider with a dslr.

The gist of the X100s

It’s pretty.

It’s small. It’ll maybe fit in your jacket pocket.

Or it can fit into a tiny messenger, along with a jacket, eReader, spare batteries, tool kit, gaffer tape, twine, leatherman, a bag of almonds……

It’ll make you invisible–people don’t notice you, dead silent when shooting, easy to conceal.

It does a good job of staying out of the way. Quick to power on, shoot, and power off again.

It’s worth saying again: the camera is dead silent. No one will hear your camera while shooting. You won’t hear your camera while shooting. It’s wonderfully stealthy and inconspicuous.

Metering, latitude/dynamic range, and resolution are all spot on and high quality. Not great with texture/foliage, but solid enough. A bit of sharpness goes a long way.

Lightroom, 200%, zero’d/as shot, f4-5.6, ISO 200, 1/250-1/640

The lens is gorgeous.The bokeh is gorgeous.

Manual focusing is smart, intuitive, and seamless. Peaking works, and split view works, though I think split view is more novel than useful (and not truly like a traditional split finder as others have said).

AF is not faster than a proper DSLR, but it works great in good light. AF can work in dim light, but the assist light is practically mandatory.

Auto ISO works. ISO 3200 is great for dive bars.

There’s a flash. There’s a hot shoe. It has a leaf shutter and a commander mode. There’s a built in ND filter too. Lots of potential for lighting work.

Video. It’s there. Motion panorama. It’s there. I do appreciate 1080p/60 is available.

You can Instagram with Eye-Fi. Built-in Wi-Fi would be better though.

Weight is actually well distributed and balanced. It will stay upright on a table.

I got asked about Film Simulation a few times. I wouldn’t say they look like their respective stocks, it’s mainly contrast and saturation. Out of camera JPGs are nice in any case, but for RAW it won’t be applicable.

In order, Provia (default), Astia, Velvia, Pro Neg H, Pro Neg S

RAW files are big. About 475 images on a 16GB card.

With moderate use, I went 3 days before killing a battery. Haven’t done a proper analysis/done a full shoot day so can’t say how many shots. When it did die, there was no early warning and I didn’t have my spare on hand. Always have a spare.

Some other quips:

  • There is a learning curve compared with other cameras. Easy enough to overcome though.
  • Still room for improvement to the interface. “Q” menu not customizable. Additional buttons could help with more direct settings access.
  • The On/Off switch is a bit too easy to flick by accident. At least when in a pocket.
  • Doesn’t come standard with a filter thread on the lens.
  • Fuji accessories/batteries are expensive. Buy off-brand/3rd party. Just as good for 40-80% less.

This camera is for you if:

  • You want DSLR-like performance without the DSLR
  • You don’t want to compromise
  • You are tired of missed shots because you didn’t want to bring out a bulky camera and are relying on subpar cellphone/consumer cameras
  • You don’t shoot with a telephoto (you can purchase a wide angle adapter if you want)
  • You want something that fits with a grab-and-go lifestyle
  • You miss/enjoy the experience of an all manual film camera
  • You want to be invisible while shooting

It’s not going to replace a professional kit or overtake it in function and image quality. I’m still going to use my D700 for jobs. But it’s 90% of the way there in a package you can have on you 100% of the time. Of the few quibbles I have with the camera, none make it a dealbreaker or degrade usability.

I highly recommend this camera. It is well worth every dollar and cent. Compromise is a key term because I feel like many of the recent high end mirrorless and compact cameras make some form of compromise that’s a dealbreaker. Either the sensor is too small (Olympus, Nikon), the lens too large and poorly spec’d (Sony), the interface cumbersome (the older Fuji X cameras), the camera too dumbed down (Canon, Nikon), the operation too slow (Sigma, older Fuji X cameras), or the entire system priced too high (Leica, Sony RX1).

The X100s has a great sensor at a good size, a lens that is fast, well made, and small, an interface that is easy to navigate with direct access to settings and functions, fast operation, silent shooting, a leaf shutter, ND filter, good flash support, 1080p/60, and all of it well priced compared to the field. It’s a no compromise camera that will let you create images and stay out of your way while doing it.

In short, I like it.

Nikon Rumors posted rumored specs…

• 36MP sensor
• No AA filter (just like the D800E, this time Nikon will only introduce one model without the AA filter)
• Improved software to suppress moiré
• Expeed 4 imaging processor (they may call it Expeed 4a)
• New higher resolution LCD screen
• sRAW
• Improved video capabilities
• Same AF improvements like in the D4s
• Improved low light capabilities: one stop better ISO performance
• Built-in GPS
• No Built-in Wi-Fi
• Improved frame rate at 5 fps (6fps with the MB-D12)
• The new camera will be lighter (compared to the D800/D800E)
• The price is expected to be higher than the D800E ($3,296.95)
• The camera will be made in Thailand

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the most entertaining review

The (XT-) 1 that got away

(Full disclosure: I was given a month or so with XT-1 that was lent to me courtesy of Fujifilm Philippines. They gave me Carte Blanche on what I want to do with the camera and what I want to say with it. As opposed to a typical review, I tried to play around and ended up with what you would read below. Photographs are straight out of camera jpegs or processed with VSCO cam/Instagram)

It was not really love at first sight. I saw my friend Eric using an XT-1 and telling me how great it is. “I should be with one” as other people in our photography group would say to me. I was apprehensive but what have I got to lose?

Keep reading

Fujifilm X100 Real World Review

A few months ago Fuji were kind enough to lend me a press copy of their Fujifilm X100 camera which I took with me on a few of the cover shoots that I have Art Directed using it as a behind the scenes camera. Below is my real world review – not a technical review as there are hundreds on the internet already, to me the most important thing about a camera is a) how it feels in my hands and b) the image quality, I am not interested in the megapixel race nor constant pixel peeping for any sign of “noise” as once the images are printed these things generally become irrelevant.


The first impression, the minute I picked up the X100 I was pleasantly surprised at the weight of it, so many cameras are plastic and flimsy feeling, but the X100 felt solid and robust, something that felt quality, it’s predominantly made of metal so it feels like a premium product. The nicest thing about the X100 and the reason for my interest in it is the separate aperture dial and shutter speed dial on the body & lens, I have been longing for a fully manual camera that feels like using an old Pentax K1000 or even better a Leica, Fuji have achieved this as forgetting the screen on the back you could well be fooled into thinking this is a 35mm retro film camera. It has the intuition and feel of the metal SLR’s I grew up using.


I was skeptical about the viewfinder on the X100 as so many viewfinders on small cameras are little to no use at all. I can gladly say that Fuji have nailed it on the X100, the viewfinder is large bright and displays a wealth of information interchangeable in the menu system. It also sports an EVF which is selectable by flicking a switch on the front of the camera which transforms the optical viewfinder into an electronic viewfinder, giving you a “what you see is what you get” view, changes made appear in real time in the EVF. Although good, I preferred using the optical viewfinder, the nicest thing about it was that it gives you frame lines so you can see “outside of the frame” meaning you can predict what is coming into frame as opposed to just seeing through the lens like on normal DSLRs. It does of course have a LCD screen on the back of the camera that one can use to compose images or video on, but whats the poin when it has such a great optical viewfinder, I purely just used the screen for reviewing the shots or accessing the menu functions. You can actually review the last shot taken in the viewfinder after taking it, but this slows you down as you have to touch the shutter button to reactive it to make it ready to take another image.

After switching the camera on and working my way around the menu system I started to take my first shots and was instantly amazed at how quiet it is. Literally just a “snick” or “click” barely audible, you can’t even feel it through the body, at that moment I knew I would like this camera for unobtrusive behind the scenes shots. Because the X100 has an electronic shutter this gives little to no effect in terms of camera shake from pressing the shutter button, on most DSLR’s you can feel the mirror slapping and shaking the camera every time you click the button, but the tiny “snick” of the shutter on the X100 allows you to use the camera at lower shutter speeds without the risk of camera shake, which is especially helpful when shooting in dark conditions where you are often operating with very slow shutter speeds.


Previously using my Canon 5DMkII I find that unless I am using a telephoto lens, the subject is aware that I am taking pictures because of the large mirror slap noise every time you take a frame, but the X100 is so quiet and discreet that it’s hard to know when you have taken a shot, even for me I found myself sometimes checking if I had taken a shot because the shutter is so quiet!. It’s perfect for unobtrusive photography like street photography or behind the scenes stuff as there is little to no audible shutter noise.


Autofocus on the camera seems to be fairly fast & accurate, it becomes a little bit slower and more sluggish in dimly lit situations where it struggles to find a focus point, bit normally after a few tries it locks on. I didn’t try manual focus on the camera and from what I have read from other users it’s not really practical as the focus ring is constantly turns making it very slow to manual focus, maybe fine for static product photography, but not very practical for shooting moving people.


I found that ramping the iso up to 800, 1600, or even 3200 iso still gave me clean & detailed results, what “noise” that was present was like that associated with film grain rather than the blotchy mosaic look so many cameras seem to have at higher iso’s.

The X100 has a 12 megapixel sensor. I believe that the whole megapixel race is corporate marketing tool to make the consumer think that by purchasing the newest camera with the biggest pixel count will make your images better and make you a better photographer. There is a fad for camera manufacturers to cram in as many megapixels they can onto the sensor which actually has a detrimental affect to the actual image quality, it makes the images much more “noisier”. In the real world to the average consumer 10-12 Megapixels is more than enough to print full page or even a double page spread in a magazine, let alone billboard size through image interpolation. The only advantage in having a higher megapixel count is the ability to crop in on an image. These days the majority of people view their images on the computer screen, so immediately they are zooming in to 100% to see how it looks, but in practical terms this generally has no relation to what an image looks like once printed, be it on paper or in a magazine, something that looks “noisy” on screen will often look different in print. The 12 Megapixels is more than enough for my personal needs and professional needs, the image quality from the files speaks volume of Fuji’s choice to keep the pixel count to a sensible level.

The raw files from the X100 have a lot of range for adjustments and I was really pleased with the quality to the files, they didn’t feel like they came from a small little camera like the X100. The files I produced were cropped to 16:9 just because I like that format, but they hold up well to cropping into them.

 

Overall in practical terms I really enjoyed shooting with the X100, it was a really nice change from holding a large DSLR, the limitations of a fixed lens meant that I had to physically move closer to the subject, but I found that I was experimenting more with composition via the optical viewfinder as the frame lines allow for you to have that extra control over what you put in the final image.


Would I recommend one? Yes, if you like small unobtrusive cameras, can live with a fixed focal length and appreciate high quality products then bar spending £1,000+ more on a digital Leica body alone then glass on top, the Fuji is the next best thing in my book and will give you an enjoyable experience with quality results.


*EDIT* I have since purchased the X100 for my own personal work, preferring to leave my cumbersome 5DMKii at home, the X100 is a dream to shoot with & carry, the newer firmware update V1.3 has addressed a number of bug bears, most improved is the autofocus which is now much more stable and snappier. All in all this is a near perfect camera, Fuji have really nailed it on the head with the X100 & I look forward to seeing future developments on their models.

 

Reviewed: Olympus Infinity Stylus

First review! First review! First review!

I can’t remember exactly the first time the nicer Olympus Stylus cameras came across my radar. I think I was hunting through the bags at Savers Thrift Store (if this sounds like a weird shopping experience, find a Savers near you and peruse the bags for some sweet deals yourself!) a couple of Summers ago, and thought “there are so many Styluses, did Olympus ever make nice ones that go for decent money on eBay?”

Well, as it so happens two of their fine little Stylii are pretty sought after: the Infinity Stylus and Stylus Epic. The Epic comes in several variations, many of which fetch a decent piece of scratch online.

The Infinity goes for a lot less than the Epic, however it’s still a great camera with nice glass.

I picked mine up for a grand total of $20 shipped, pegging this one right in the middle of the “Risky” level. Alright, it may not be totally risky as I didn’t pull it from a bin, as “shipped” indicates I bought it on eBay and the seller with good feedback listed it as working perfectly. 

So, how does the little fella shoot?

I really like this camera! The sensor, glass and pure simplicity in it’s function make it a fine point and shoot camera that can produce some crisp, nicely-exposed images. It has a fixed 35mm focal point with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 which is to be expected of a camera of this size, price-point and duty. All you have to do is indicate whether or not you’d like flash, then aim, half-press the shutter button for the meter and focusing to jibe together, and then BOOM a nicely exposed image is copied onto the roll. I certainly find this to be a refreshing experience after fiddling with SLRs for most of my photographic tenure. I sometimes over-think exposure compensation/the zone system so having a lack of options and fine tuning is certainly appealing.

Of course, having a lack of options and customization means you’re limited as far as shooting situations. For instance, I shot these pics with my Infinity around 11:30 AM on a sunny Autumn day, which make for some easy conditions to shoot in. Direct/harsh light, lots of shadows, low-light, etc would probably not produce as nice of results, and would demand some exposure compensation and more aperture flexibility. 

The lack of focus selection is also limiting; it pretty much just focuses hard on whatever’s right in the middle of the frame and you cannot convince it otherwise.

To be a tad picky, it can be a little annoying that you cannot just set it to no flash and leave it that way until you change it back. As soon as you shut it off by sliding the front cover closed, it resets and goes back to having the flash on as default. This is annoying if you’re trying to be stealthy with some street photography in low-light, such as this shot. You essentially have to plan to have the camera ready to fire before you come across an enticing image. That’s fine, but I’m the type who likes to keep their camera on-the-ready in their bag or pocket, and then draw and shoot when an opportunity presents itself.

On the whole, despite its drawbacks this is still a great camera. The glass is very crisp and the meter is very intelligent, which definitely ensured the quality of the images I was laying on the roll of Kodak Portra 400 I had loaded in the bay. The size is definitely a big plus as well; it’s a tiny camera that contains nice glass, a shutter, some fancy electronics/light meter, a focus motor, roll of film and a CR123 battery, and it easily fits in a pants or coat pocket! I would recommend going with 400-800 (or even 1600) speed film to ensure you can have a fast enough shutter speed in good and lower light, the slowest the shutter will go is 1/15th and the max aperture is f/3.5.

I definitely recommend you, dear reader, purchase an Olympus Infinity Stylus if you come across one a thrift store, resale shop, antique store, rummage sale, garage sale, etc. Don’t let anyone charge you more than $12 for it though unless you’re buying it on eBay. The beauty of this camera, the Epic and all of the other really nice point-and-shoot cameras out there (Contax, Rollei, Fuji, Yashica, etc all made nice ones) is that most people don’t know what they are, they just think it’s an old film camera that looks like the one their dad took pictures of them at Buckingham Fountain with.

They’re also great to flip on eBay/Craigslist for a little extra cash if you find a great working example! They’re always in demand as there are plenty of people in the know. BCF Top Tip #1 (omg my first top tip of the blog): stay away from the zoom models unless you know for sure they’re working. The zoom models tend to break/malfunction and don’t go for as much as the regular Inifinitys and Epics.

Thanks very much for reading, stay tuned for future reviews about the every-millennial’s-first-photo-class-slr Canon Rebel, the hard-boiled Nikon N90s SLR, the budget-family-beater Fuji Discovery P+S and more!

Plaza de Armas, Lima | Fuji XT1

If you ever find yourself in Lima and looking for a place for street photography, Plaza de Armas is a great place to go. This is the main plaza at the center of downtown Lima, surrounded by the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, the Archibishop’s Palace, and the Municipal Palace. Yes, it’s a bit touristy and you’re definitely not getting the whole local Peruvian flavor when you go there. However, many people do actually just hang out at the plaza, whether if be families, tourists or stray dogs.

Something which I’ve never encountered before until travelling to Peru are “official” photographers which I assume are hired by the city to help people take inclusive group photos either using people’s cameras or their own. I assume if the official photographer uses his own camera, they’ll try to sell the picture to the people. 

There is a long pedestrian only boulevard at the end of the plaza where you’ll find surprisingly few stores which sell touristy souvenirs but instead sell touristy food.

Not sure why this woman held that pose, but she was there for at least a minute, then moved along. Maybe she knew I was taking her photo. Maybe the XT1 wasn’t as inconspicuous as I thought.

One thing I noticed as I wandered around was the there are alot of kids. You’d get the child shopping with his grandparents.

The modern, young family laughing while their child falls on his face.

The chess whiz figuring out how to beat his dad. Again.

And the hustler. I’ve been to Peru six times now and I’ll never get use to seeing so many kids hustling for a living selling snacks, souvenirs, performing dance routines, or shoeshines. And not once did I see an able bodied child sit on a street corner and beg for money. I’m not sure under what circumstance they need to do this, whether their family forces them to or they’re out their on their own, but it breaks my heart every time I see these kids.

If you want a diversity of subjects to photograph Plaza de Armas is one place you should visit if you’re in Lima. And the XT1 was a great camera to capture these moments with.

I’ve had the XT1 for since it was first released and I never enjoyed a digital camera as much as I have the XT1. By now you’re probably read countless reviews telling all the great features, all the advantages and disadvantages of the camera and I don’t want to take up space and repeat them all. I just want to say that for me, the XT1 is a great camera to have with me at all times, whether its day to day at home taking pictures of my family or out wandering the streets of Peru. It’s light, compact (I only have the Fuji 18mm and 35mm lens) and well built, especially with the benefit of weather sealing. Oh, and I can’t forget about the dials! I live on dials on a camera and the XT1 has all the important ones I need, as dials. Aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and new on the XT1, ISO! I’m not a fan of Auto ISO, although I’m sure it works great on the XT1 as some have said, but I’d like to have as much control as I can with a camera and having the ISO button makes life so much easier compared to either diving into a menu or, like some other X cameras, press a Function button, then turn a scroll wheel.

And one great feature which I never thought I’d enjoy using is the LCD flip screen. Most of the above photos I’d flip down the LCD screen 90 degrees and use it as a waist lever finder. People generally view people taking photos by whether they hold the camera up to their eye, or directly in front of their face. When holding the camera slightly down and in front of you, it looks like you’re just viewing photos on your camera. By using this method, I feel more comfortable getting closer to my subject without them noticing I’m taking their photo.

Fuji has been doing great things with their X line of cameras and the XT1 is another great addition. With Fuji’s history of supporting its X cameras with firmware updates long after their release, I’m confident that the XT1 will be a very capable and up to date camera for years to come.

* The images above were taken with the Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses. Edits to the images above include brightness adjustments and croppping of select images.