Between the Line of Film and Digital

Dakota Crescent. Shot with Sony A7R Mk II. RAW files edited in Lightroom.

Recently I had noticed something when I switch between shooting film and digital camera. When I shoot on film, usually I will end up with a roll or two rolls of films after each walk, and I will get them developed by a local lab and once done, I’ll scan the pictures, clean some dust spot, follow by minor adjustment on level and curve and that’s about it.

When I shoot digital, I’ll probably start by selecting good pictures from all I have shot, then edit them to taste. I’ll probably spend more time experimenting things like HDR, playing with colours and HSL, deciding whether to convert one to monochrome and so on.

Dakota Crescent. Shot on Fujifilm X-Pro1. Straight out of camera JPEG.

Based on the way I work on film and digital, there are a few notable differences that interest me:

  1. Obviously, I will end up with less picture and, in a way, more keeper when shooting film. Less picture means less to be processed.
  2. There will usually be a gap from the day I took the shot until the day I get the processed film back in my hand. Hence, I’ll have some time to “cool down” myself before processing them. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Usually I will process the digital files very soon.
  3. I’m more lenient when it comes to flaws on my film picture as compared to digital. I can accept some degree of out of focus, or some minor dust or scratches on them. But when shooting digital, I’ll try to strike for “perfection”.

Reflecting on both mediums, it seems that shooting digital is a more “tedious” and time consuming process for me, and it certainly defeats the purpose for those who wanted instant sharing of their works on social media.

Dakota Crescent. Shot with Zeiss Ikon and Ilford Pan 400. Scanned and slight adjustment in Lightroom.

I certainly enjoyed the process of shooting and editing my film pictures more. So does it mean I should shoot more on film instead of digital? The easy answer is yes, as instant sharing isn’t really something that I really need. But why don’t we look at it from another angle, can I simplify the digital process to be as close as the process I have while shooting film?

Perhaps it’s possible, and that’s something I’ll try out and see how things unfold eventually. Shoot with smaller capacity SD card maybe, be more critical on the shot I take, let my pictures sit for awhile before working on them, don’t be too fancy with post editing and so on. Sounds about right. Hopefully by simplifying my digital workflow I will get to focus more on shooting instead. Till then.

My impression on the Fujifilm X100F

DSCF0032-5I have been using this camera for awhile, and here are some of the thoughts and findings I would like to share:

The Bad

  1. The ISO dial is gimmicky. It’s good to have, but it’s hard to turn to get the actual setting that you want. It’s even more odd if you want to change ISO while holding the camera to your eye. You need to preset it before lifting your camera, or assign the ISO function to be controlled by the front command dial.
  2. Exposure compensation dial is a bit hard to turn at times, perhaps too much torque was given when securing the dial, or perhaps things will loosen up as time goes by. Sometimes I do wish the dial was flushed with the top plate instead of protruding out.
  3. I am still unable to make use of the optical viewfinder, which makes me use the EVF all the time. This could be my problem, but I do feel that Fujifilm can improve on this area.
  4. Auto focus speed is of course better than what I can remembered on the X100S, but it’s really not that fast when compared to the competitions. The size of AF point does affect the speed significantly, larger AF point gives faster focusing, but you are risking it over focus accuracy. Overall accuracy is acceptable, however it will still fail at times so better be careful.
  5. Still the same old lens, which means you are going to expect soft image when shooting wide open especially when shooting close up, and I suspect the lens is dragging the focusing speed as well as it seems like the whole lens group will need to shift together to achieve focus.
  6. Need to turn on camera to view pictures, could have allow long press on the playback button to activate image review without the need to turn on the camera. Even a disposable compact camera has this feature, I really don’t understand why this can’t be implemented?
  7. EVF magnification is rather small, there’s room for them to improve here. EVF can be set to rotate and display information according to the orientation of the camera (portrait or landscape), but sadly this does not apply to the rear LCD. I wonder why, am I missing something?
  8. AF point does not follow when you rotate your camera from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa, which can be annoying at times.
  9. Only horizon level available, it would be good if Fujifilm can add in lens angle level too to aid panoramic work.
  10. I constantly lay my thumb on the Q button, which is very annoying. I’ll see if I can get my muscle memory programmed to avoid it. A cleaner design like the new X-E3 will solve this problem altogether.

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The Good

  1. Front command dial is extremely useful as it can be used to replace the flawed ISO dial. It can also be used to set exposure compensation. The tactile feeling to the front command dial is solid.
  2. Almost all of the buttons on the camera can be customized, which is a good thing for users to make things work for them. And the front lever now incorporates another function button on it, which is a clever design move.
  3. The improvement in battery life is welcomed, but not that I had issue with the previous version. USB charging is also possible.
  4. AF joystick is a good addition, but the design of the joystick is a bit hard to fiddle at times, and I would prefer the position of it to be slightly higher and slightly to the right, but this is just my preference.
  5. Revamped menu layout is reasonably easy to access, but some features can be messy and hard to find as more and more stuffs are being added into the menu. Make full use of the Q menu, My menu and buttons customization to avoid being lost in the menu.
  6. “EVF only” view mode which is activated only when eye sensor detects your eye. I think this is something new and is a nice addition for EVF only shooter.
  7. Rear buttons now are protruding out with solid tactile feel when pressed, which is good. The bad is when you wrap your palm over you may accidentally pressed them at times, but this is only minor issue.
  8. 24 megapixel is good enough, giving you a little room to crop when required. RAW file is finally usable as compared to the old files from X-Trans II sensor. High ISO noise control is pretty good.
  9. Digital teleconverter is a nice addition, but only usable when shooting JPEG. Fujifilm should implement something like what the Leica Q did, which crops in the picture in order to achieve the zooming effect while leaving the original uncropped RAW files available for you.
  10. Acros film simulation gives very nice monochrome rendering.

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X100F, F for “Final”?

I think a lot of people are wondering what will the next X100 be named, as the current F stands for Fourth, the following fifth, sixth, seventh which denote by F and S were already in used. So it will end up as X100E (Eighth)?

The question is probably whether will there still be any further improvements that are able to squeeze into the X100 body. There are a few areas which I think can still be improved in the coming iteration:

  1. Fujifilm needs to find a way to make the OVF work better (or maybe I need to find a way to adapt to it and make it work?).
  2. Some would ask for a weather sealed body, but I’m neutral on this.
  3. A new and improved lens, please.
  4. Auto focus still need improvement, this might be due to lens design and sensor design, so Fujifilm really need to find a way to engineer something here.
  5. Flip out LCD would be handy, but I can live without one.
  6. Some may ask for touch screen implementation, but I don’t think it is necessary unless this camera can performs better in terms of video recording.
  7. Improve on the ISO dial and exposure compensation dial, please.
  8. Software improvement on some of the quirks mentioned above, there are still room for improvement on Image Quality and video output.
  9. Built in filter thread to the lens itself while leaving the hood as optional items.
  10. Allow user a way to export all the settings made onto SD card, so we can easily backup our favourite settings and do not need to spend time diving into the menu all over again should we ended up resetting the camera.

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All in all, I’m very pleased with the X100F. It certainly isn’t a perfect camera. However, it’s perfect for me to toss it into my bag and carry it on daily basis. I was amazed that my muscle memory can still be recalled quite easily despite haven’t really shoot with a Fujifilm camera for the past two years. That means Fujifilm has really developed a very well designed platform as a base for all their camera design. If they can start to work harder to improve further on some of the quirks mentioned above, I believe the next X100 camera will be even more awesome. Yes, I do think there will be another successor to the X100F. As for now, I’ll shoot more with my X100F and hopefully being able to create some pictures that I can be proud of. Till then.

Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2017

Last year was the first time I got a taste of Formula 1 live action courtesy of my friend. I got to watch the Free Practice 1 and 2 sessions and I must say I was hooked by it. Hence, I decided to purchase a full 3 days ticket myself for this year’s Singapore Grand Prix. There was talk that this might be the last time for Singapore to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix, but in the end it was good to hear that they will continue to host until 2021.

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Singapore Grand Prix has always been a special one. It’s on with the longest lap time and the most turns and corners. It’s a street circuit that built from all the familiar streets that I passed by on daily basis. Hence, it added a touch of familiarity and coziness when seeing the Formula 1 race cars blazing passed all the familiar landmarks around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

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If you are a Formula 1 or racing fan, please try to experience the race in live for at least once in your lifetime. The roaring of engines, the smell of burning fuel, the smoke from brushing rubber, and above all, the atmosphere and the crowd is simply amazing. Singapore Grand Prix goes a step further as you will get to be just a few feet away from the race track due to the street circuit’s design, which literally puts you in the action itself. Other than the race itself, there were other races such as the Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia going on throughout the weekend. Besides that, there were also concerts and performances by popular artists around the world. I went for the One Republic concert on Friday and it was awesome!

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I spent time exploring every corner of the tracks on Friday and snapped some pictures along the way. On Saturday, the qualifying session was so intense that I can feel the rush of adrenaline and the increase of my heart beat! In the end, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel managed to snatch pole position ahead of the Red Bull duos. Yes, I’m a big fan of Ferrari team.

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The race day itself was eventful. I was there right before the first corner, and once in a blue moon, the cars from the front row got wiped out. Yes, my Ferraris and a Red Bull just crashed right in front of my eyes during the first ever night race in wet condition. What the hell had gone wrong?? Anyway, the remaining part of the race was just cheering for Ricciardo whenever the safety car was out and he got to close down the gap with Hamilton. Too bad he failed to seize the opportunity in the end. Hamilton drove a better strategy and race overall.

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There goes my first experience of a full weekend of Formula 1 Grand Prix. Very interesting and addicting indeed. Will I be back again next year? Probably I’ll just go for one day instead, we’ll see. These are pictures taken throughout the weekend. Most of the pictures were taken during the free practice sessions. I didn’t want to waste it for not indulging on the actual moment itself. I can live with less picture, so I just enjoy every moment to the fullest. Till then, looking forward for more Formula 1 Grand Prix experience in the future.

Back to where it begins: Fujifilm X100F

X100FIt may come as a little surprise to some, but yes I’m back owning a Fujifilm camera, and this time it’s the X100F. Those who know me or followed my blog will remember I am a big fan for Fujifilm camera in terms of their controls and JPEG rendering, but I sold off the whole Fujifilm X system two years back for a couple of reasons.

I had also owned the Fujifilm X100S briefly for a few months when I’m using it alongside my X-E2, but sold it because of some issue with the configuration and ergonomics of the camera, which was annoying when use alongside with X-E2 at that point of time.

X100FNow, enters the fourth generation. Is this the ultimate Fujifilm X-series camera that will lure me to switch back to Fujifilm? Well, I guess that’s not the question here. I know when I decided to ditch my Fujifilm system, a lot of people started to label me as “anti-Fujifilm” and seems like I had become the traitors of the local Fujifilm community here in Singapore. It didn’t bother me, it’s my photography journey anyway, and I don’t need anyone else to dictate what should I use.

All I can say is, I know what I want, what I need, and what my camera can deliver. Hence, I choose whichever camera that I want regardless of the brand it is associated with. For those people who choose to remain as a fanboy (doesn’t matter what brand), I wish you all the best and please stay out of my life.

X100FThe reason why I decided to get this camera is because I’m looking for a simple go-to camera for daily use, preferably not too pricey and flashy. In fact I had been looking around for quite some time. I pondered about micro four third system with a pancake lens, I pondered about other mirrorless camera with a pancake lens, I pondered about 1″ compact cameras, I pondered about the “ultimate” compact camera which is the RX1 series… but in the end, after considering the size, weight, ease of use, ergonomics and other factors, I decided to give Fujifilm another chance by trying out on X100F.

I knew that lens, I’m still familiar with their menu, I can grasp the control quickly, the only unknown is how well will the new X-Trans III sensor performs. I won’t be doing a review on this camera as there were already a whole lot of them on the internet, but I will definitely share my unbiased thoughts and feelings about this camera once I clock enough milage on it. Let’s see how everything unfolds. Till then.