Feeling Nostalgic – Nikon FM3A

Nikon FM3A
Nikon FM3A

Feeling a little nostalgic today, so I’ll talk a little about gear that I used to own and missed dearly. On top of the list will definitely be the Nikon FM3A. A friend of mine sold this camera (Nikon FM3A + Nikkor 50mm F1.8E) to me, and this is the starting point of me venturing into photography with film. This is a very well made and sexy camera. Feature wise, I would consider it to be pretty “advance”. It has built-in light meter, able to sync with flash, aperture priority, DX automatic ASA setting and so on. It can run with or without battery, which made it a very versatile camera.

I can still recall at that point of time I wasn’t really sure whether shooting with film is something I’ll like and enjoy. I shot a few rolls with it for a few months, and then I realized that “Yes, shooting with film is something I would love to continue on”. However, the cost of the film, development and scanning was rather high to me. So I ended up selling off this kit and head back to digital.

At the end of the day, the bug of shooting with film came back to bite me, and after about a year later, I got myself a Zeiss Ikon and a film scanner. I was in a better financial position too, hence I decided to make a return back into shooting with film. I’m glad that I did, but I do feel a little regret for selling off this great piece of camera. Perhaps someday I will own this back in my collection, perhaps someday…

Year in Review 2015

This is going to be a long post to close the year of 2015, so please bear with me. This year marks the 5th year of my photography journey, and this year has been a roller coaster ride for me. A lot of changes in terms of gear that I’m using, and there are a lot of things that I learnt throughout the year.

This year, I managed to get a real taste of shooting with a “real” film camera… the Nikon FM3A. I shot quite a number of rolls ranging from colour film such as Kodak Gold 200 and Pro 400H, to black & white film such as BW400CN, T-Max 400 and Neopan Across 100. The experience of shooting with film camera has been very enjoyable, and I get to understand more on the roots of photography, like how the classic metering system works, manual focusing, focus and recompose and so on. I also get to appreciate different types of film and their output, and to train myself to become more precise in executing a shot before triggering the shutter. Eventually, I have sold the camera off and yes I’m regretting on this decision.

The year of 2015 marks the beginning of my journey through the world of rangefinder. I’d always been curious and eager to try out a rangefinder, but the price of the camera has always put me off. It’s not cheap and I don’t feel comfortable to just asked for one from my friend to try and shoot for a period of time. There came the opportunity for me to buy over a Leica M9-P from my friend at a very attractive price. I bought it over, battled my way with the rangefinder and eventually fell in love with it. Later on, I decided that I “need” the better performance from the new Leica M Type 240, and so ended up selling the M9-P and got myself the Leica M-P Type 240. Actually both are brilliant cameras, but I’ll talk about it a little more next time on the story surrounding this change.

And last but not least… the year of 2015 also marks the end of my 2 years journey with Fujifilm cameras. Yes, from X-E2 to X100S, from X-Pro1 to X-T1… I have sold them all (technically speaking I still have a X30, which belongs to my girlfriend). There are many reasons why I decided to do so. I still can’t seems to harvest all the greatness of Fujifilm RAW files, and the fact that new lenses are getting bigger and heavier were a big let down to me as well. Of course there are many other things which brought me to this decision, but most of them are just my personal opinion. I’ll talk about those next time in a separate post. For now, the only Fujifilm camera left that I might still be shooting with will be the X30.

Gears aside, I’m glad that I’d been shooting more frequent than the year before. Almost every weekend or every other weekend I’m out to shoot, to learn more about my camera, to practice more about what I have read from books or forum and to see things and visualize them in different perspective. Perhaps I’d planned too many projects with too little time to complete them. Anyway, I managed to complete a couple of small projects like the “50 Shots with my Zeiss Planar” and “Goodbye 74 to 80 Commonwealth Drive”. The “to do” list is still pretty long, and I’ll see what can be done in the year of 2016 to materialize them.

The year of 2015 has been a fruitful year in terms of traveling and photography. I managed to cover Japan (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara), Hong Kong and Cambodia (Phnom Penh), and I’m glad that I managed to grab some shots that I like from these trips. It’s always nice to be able to travel to some foreign places, it feels refreshing and gets you excited and wanted to just go out all the time to look, see, experience and shoot.

So what’s there for 2016? For a start, I’m planning to revamp my flickr account, though I’m not too sure how to do it, I’ll just try and see if I can keep them organized better. Blog post will continue over here, and I’m actually planning to shoot lesser for 2016. I’m toying the idea of revisiting my archive of images and relook into some of the forgotten gems and process them all over again. I have not been improving much in terms of post processing, hence I would certainly hope I can do something about it in 2016. Photo project wise, I’ll be downsizing and only be selecting a few projects that I’m really keen to work on. And last but not least, a lot of money has been spent on gears in 2015, so for 2016, I would like to spend more on developing my skills instead. I’ll probably grab some useful books or attend some workshops, we’ll see how everything unfolds. Besides that, hopefully I can embark on a solo trip as well for next year.

Gear wise, I don’t think there will be any major changes moving forward. It’s likely that I’ll grab a camera to replace my X-T1 as a AF-driven system alongside my Leica M System. Perhaps adding a film camera body if I can get something cheap to play with? Lens wise, at most I can foresee is getting a 28mm lens or “upgrading” one or two lenses in my current line-up. Otherwise, nothing much that I can think of for now. Oh well, we all know how the G.A.S. strikes out of nowhere, no one will be able to predict what camera you will be holding next anyway.

All in all, 2015 has been a pretty good year for me in terms of photography. I learnt a lot, get to know a lot of new friends and fellow photogs, get to explore more places and above all, get to take some nice pictures that I’m happy with. Hopefully 2016 will be another great year ahead for me and my photography. Till then, Happy New Year.

The Diamond of Jurong


A walk down Yung Kuang Road and you will be greeted with 21 storeys HDB flats that used to be the pride of Taman Jurong. They were the tallest flat in Jurong when they were completed in the 1970s.
What’s so unique about a HDB flat? The four blocks formed a diamond shape that can only be described as… iconic. Hence, it is broadly regarded as “The Diamond Block” by many.
Unlike the modern HDB flats which has void deck on level 1, the level 1 of the “Diamond Block” is occupied by shop lots.
The flats were previously under a demolish plan, but were now seems to be under refurbish and upgrading work.
Hopefully the building will stay for the years to come. I’m sure it brings back memories for those who have lived their childhood at this vicinity.

Saying Goodbye to My Nikon FM3A

Nikon FM3A
After completing all my film rolls, I decided to let go of this film camera. This camera has accompanied me for quite a few months, and I really enjoy shooting with it. It’s a great camera, really. Handling is smooth (except the rather odd exposure compensation dial), metering is rather accurate, and it’s not heavy or bulky at all.
During these months of shooting with this camera, I dare to say my shooting habit has changed a little. I have become more selective in shooting. I’m not sure if my framing has improved, but certainly I have grew to enjoy shooting in 50mm focal length, which is a focal length that I’m not used to before this. Other than that, I do get a taste of “full frame” depth of field with this camera. I have also improved in terms of handheld slow shutter speed shooting, which can be useful for me as most of my lens do not have image stabilization built in.
It’s a sad and heavy decision to make. The main reason I decided to let go is mainly due to the cost of shooting film, developing and scanning them. If I were to develop or scan the film myself, I can still see a point to keep shooting. But as the cost keeps increasing, it’s getting less economical for me to continue. Perhaps is time for me to move on to a new chapter. The time I spent with this camera will definitely not get wasted.
Goodbye to my Nikon FM3A.

Analog Film Photography


Everyone has different reasons for shooting film in digital era. Some like the output of the “filmic look”. Well, people keep imitating filmic look through digital post processing anyway 🙂 shooting film simply means you save the hassle of applying all the presets.
Anyway, what I like so far about shooting film is not too much about the filmic output. Is more on the shooting experience. You only get as much exposure for each roll of film, and film are not cheap nowadays. So it really makes me to think, to seriously look into my view finder, to try composing properly and to try not making mistakes on the exposure before taking a shot. I’m not too good on full manual control yet, I’m still relying on my camera’s metering and adjust from there. Hopefully I can improve in this regard in the future.
The process of waiting for the film to be developed is rather nostalgic to me. The excitement of waiting to see the end result of what you have shot, are they properly exposed, are they shot as per what you have imagined and so on. And when the moment you get your print or scan, viewing through the pictures taken gives you a certain level of satisfaction.
I’m not saying that you won’t get the same level of experience with shooting digital. It’s just… Slightly different for both. On film, you will shoot less and tend to be more selective, more careful and really think through before pressing the shutter. On digital, you can actually do the same thing, but people tend to get lazy with the abundance of convenience. You get the real time exposure preview, you get to see what you have just shot and re-shoot if you want, and you can even take a few shots of the same scene and go home to pick the best later.
I think I kinda get the reason why there are “purists” who are still shooting on film, some even shoot solely on it. As for me, I’ll still be shooting on both film and digital and enjoying the best of both world for now. How long will this last? I wonder. I hope to find out the answer by myself too 🙂