Essays / s /

musing: thoughts on X100F as an upgrade from X100T

Other posts I wrote prior to this one regarding the X100F: Stealth thumb grip, Fuji case vs Gariz caseX100F Sugru focusing tabdust proof X100F viewfinderUSB camera battery chargerstacking WCL and TCL converter lensesconvert TCL/WCL I into version II

In Jan 2017, Fuji released the next successor to the x100 series, bringing with it welcoming changes that I’ve always hoped the x100 series would have. During January, I was in China and I didn’t think about purchasing the X100F (yet). In April of 2017, while in Tokyo, I was browsing camera store out of habit and had learned of the last X100F in the area surrounding Tokyo and decided to immediately purchase the it. Since then, having both cameras side by side, I was able to compare the two cameras to arrive to these observations and conclusions.

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Stealth Grip on the X100F using Leather Grip Tape

Click here for X100F main page

I've always used thumb grips with the X100F (T,S,0) since it improves the grip tremendously. When I use the hotshoe however, the grip must be removed and once again I return to a hard to grip camera. When I was in Japan, I bought a sheet of camera leather tape in a hobby store.  I didn't think much of it then but it became useful very quickly as I started using it on many parts of the camera.

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Travel Tip: USB Camera Battery charger

I often carry 2-3 different types of camera with me when I travel. To keep those cameras charged, I have to bring chargers from 3 different manufacturers, and sometimes double up on the chargers and cables to make sure I'm covered. In no time, your charging station will look something like this:

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X100F Focusing Tab using Sugru

One thing I miss very much from Leicas and other rangefinders lenses is the presence of the focusing tab. With a focusing tab, you can learn the focusing distance / position of a lens and get a feel for the distance and also making precise fine-tune possible with the slight move of a finger. There has been a few excellent commercial products made available, one of them being TAAB, and other various 3D printed solutions available, though in my opinion they all take away from the compactness of the X100 cameras.  With the extra Sugru I had left over from dustproofing the viewfinder, I opted to make a focusing tab on the ring of the X100F.

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Dust proof the X100F Viewfinder (any version)

Do you want your viewfinder looking like the picture above? This is what happens to my viewfinder on the X100T after nearly 2 years of normal usage. I don't think any of us wants to, except over time this WILL happen as somehow dust always finds is way into the X100 viewfinder. The X100F is not sealed, and there is no way to open the camera up yourself to clean out the viewfinder. Having owned all previous X100 versions, I have experienced this phenomenon happening to every single X100 I've had.  Thankfully, there is an easy way to slow down the accumulation of dust over time (besides not using it).

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Simple tip for stacking TCL-X100 and WCL-X100

Since getting the X100F, I've been looking to refine how I use the camera and carry it's accessories. In a few days, hopefully I'll have up on the blog my impression of the X100F compared to the previous generations of X100.

Even though the X100F is built to be a single lens camera, the converter lenses helps a lot in bringing more versatility out of the already excellent lens. When traveling light, I carry only the X100 and both of the converter lenses (TCL-X100II & WCL-X100II). My camera bag all have been deeper than it is wider, and I felt like it's really a waste of space not to utilize the vertical space.  So a while back I've started with experimenting with double sided caps for securing the lenses.  The lens stack feels hefty, like a single lens, and can take up one precious space instead of two inside the camera bag.

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Convert Old WCL-X100 and TCL-X100 into Version II with Magnets

I used the X100 converter lenses extensively, and have always wished for a way to have the X100 detect the attached converter lens and change the profile automatically. Up until the X100T, I've assigned a button to change the profile, but during the heat of the moment I have forgotten to change the profile back more than once, shooting WCL using TCL profiles and vice versa.... With the recent release of Fuji X100F however, it's now possible for the the camera to detect the installed lens. The camera uses magnet installed in the converter lens, using different polarity, to make contact with the camera and automatically switch out lens profile according to what is attached. The bad news is that only the version II of the TCL and WCL has this feature built in, while remaining optically identical. The good news, however, is that we can add a simple magnet to the TCL and WCL to make them X100F compatible (detection). This is very good for previous X100 users who has already purchased the lens. You can even buy used lenses at a much discounted rate and apply this hack, and it'll be exactly the same as the version IIs, not having to spend 350 dollars for the inclusion of an extra magnet.

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Hacking Rugged Cases

Rugged cases like Pelicans are great at protecting your gear. They're waterproof, climate proof, indestructible and makes a great apple box when you need to sit or stand on something. After having more camera equipments than I am willing to carry on my shoulders, I bought a Pelican 1560 with padded dividers to carry it all.  The way the cases are structured, it is very difficult to put inside anything large, like reflectors or umbrellas into the case, and it is also very space consuming / uneconomical to put things like clamps and power cables and grip equipment inside the case, and almost always stupid to put water bottles inside the watertight case.

I recalled back when I assisted, the photographers used to stuff reflectors and cables inside the outside front pocket of the soft camera rolling cases.  Wouldn't it be great if the Pelican case had something like that on the outside?

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Experience of extended warranty with Best Buy

As you know from my latest post, I broke my D810.

More than two years ago, I spent the extra money to buy Geek Squad Protection with the camera from Best Buy. At the time it was expensive, the camera along with the protection and tax was north of 3800 USD. You might ask, "Why Best Buy?" It was because of their Geek Squad Protection. I was told by my peers that they received full value camera replacements for their camera repairs.  I didn't know how it was going to work out, how effective or what not, but it was time for me to find out. 

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Camera Down

This happened a little while ago:

I had a weekend long job in SF where I was traveling throughout the city and as well as along Highway 1 to capture photos. During the first night, I dropped my camera (d810), prism first, onto carpeted ground. It actually fell out of my bag.

It shot fine, but what I didn't know was that it killed something internally that I was unable to trigger anything flash related on the camera. That includes PC sync, hot shoe and built in flash. My extended trip plan was quickly cut short when I was called to fly back to LA for another shoot the next right after the end of the weekend job. Between flying red eye, prep, and shoot the next morning, I didn't figure out nor realize the fault with the camera body.

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A formula from 1971

In 1971, Nikon made a resign of their 105mm manual lens. That same lens formula has been used for the next few decades to create several more lenses with progressively better coating and ergonomics. I recently bought the 105mm 2.5 AIS off of Craigslist on a whim. I've always heard about how amazingly sharp this lens is along with how much historical value it holds though I've never tried one myself. Being a skeptic, I tested the lens in the studio.  To my amazement, it exceeded every expectation I had.

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Use Rosewood to Improve grip

Read this for how I set up my beloved X100T.

I've found a great grip for the X100T. As an alternative to leather half cases and other grips, it retains a small profile. It is unobtrusive, grippy and best of all it is made from a natural material.

For a long time I've used the Gariz Leather case to improve grip, though I've always had some issues with the leather case making the camera too thick.  Enter the Rosewood grip.

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Tokyo Blues featured in Inspired Eye Issue 27

I was fortunate enough to be featured and be on the cover of Inspired Eye magazine last month. Inspired Eye magazine is a monthly online publication featuring street photographers from all over the world, sharing their projects and their stories in a well curated platform. As the name suggests, Inspired Eye is there to inspire us. It interviews those who are featured to help us better understand their stories and get more into their personas in order to understand them more.

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musing - Coolpix A, a love and hate

There seems to be a specific category of point and shoots somewhere along the spectrum of cameras that are considered painfully classic. They all have one or more redeeming qualities that make them a joy to use, yet still the nature of the camera and or it's film habits makes them very impractical to shoot casually today. In that category, there is special pedestal for cameras such as the Fuji Natura Classica, Nikon Ti35 and Ti28, Contax T3, Ricoh GR1v, and even ones with worse image quality like the Lomo LC-A. Each one of these cameras has enough character to them that using them is still really worth the trouble (depending on who you ask).

Nikon Coolpix A is such a camera.

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Lighting with a Tube

Flash is harsh, direct, raw, and is something I will use only when I want these qualities. For soft, emotive, moody lighting I would often go with available light. Even so, often the available lights cannot really create the kind of look one would want without any modifications. In my kit I carry 3 LED lights with me, 2 of them being small panels and one being a tube.

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Quick tip: traveling and charging camera batteries

Often I take 2-3 different types of cameras with me on jobs and trips. You can imagine how bulky the chargers adds up to when I shoot with 3 cameras during a wedding.  So I've discovered these small Micro USB powered chargers for various camera batteries.  If you use the generic 3rd party chargers then you're already familiar with these.  Basically these are the generic chargers without the AC-DC circuitry.  So what it allows is space saving of 50% over the generic chargers and much more over the OEM chargers.  I have two of these for every camera battery type that I own.  They're great for back ups to your bigger charger and as well as being the main charger too.

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Ricoh GR II - Unabashingly direct

Click here for an update of what's currently in my bag.

If the Fujifilm X100T was the argyle wearing soft spoken scholar, then the Ricoh GR would be his young mingling party going brother. And rightfully so. With the focusing of the Fujifilm X100T not being built for run and gun and the size of it being too big for the pocket, it is the go to camera for when I want excellent image quality without any of the bulk of a big camera.

I use the Ricoh GR II the exact same way as I use the GR I, the upgrades to the GR II doesn't make the GR I obsolete at all.

The first words comes to mind when I describe the Ricoh GR II to anyone is that the camera is "in-your-face". I often turn on the on camera flash and photograph my subjects from a few feet away. The small size and the ordinary look of the camera also helps to disarm my subjects as I approach them and shoot them at a close distance.

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Fuji X100T - Reconnecting the past

Click here for an update of what's in my bag.

I've used the X100 series of fixed lens 35mm cameras from the original version. With it I've taken some of my most memorable photos. I always find the camera to be an interesting medium itself, as in different cameras allows me to approach different subjects differently. The DSLR forces me to be vanilla and professional, the Ricoh GR allows me to open up and be wild, while the Fuji X100T series of cameras requires me to really slow down.

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Changing the approach - what's in my bag

Click here for the two detailed articles regarding Ricoh GR II and Fuji X100T.

I want to briefly talk about what and how I configure my go to gear in the next few articles. A year ago when I was in Tokyo, I carried my DSLR along with bunch of prime lenses for the completetionist in me. Though I ended up finishing a series done with only a point and shoot (!). At least 20 pounds of gear on me and I didn't even use a few pounds of it. At the end of the day, my knees hurt from walking everywhere.  So in response to that I've decided to change and separate what I use for big jobs versus what I use as I wander about the world.

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