2019: Roll Two

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul. January 2019.

It isn’t often I get through two rolls of film in a couple of weeks. Normally I shoot about two rolls a month.

Why am I shooting so much?

It’s complicated.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

I guess the first reason is travel. I shoot a lot when I am going somewhere. I shoot photos in the same time that people read books or listen to music. I take photos to not be bored.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

I end up with lots of boring photos like this. That said, I think the main reason I shot a lot in the last two weeks was the excitement for being back shooting film. I’d used the M10P for a while and hadn’t shot any film.

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, January 2019.

Lots of these photos too. They don’t always turn out well. Rarely do they in fact. That said, some of my favourite photos were taken through the window of a train or bus.

A long time ago in Canada I had my favourite lens stolen. Honestly, I change lenses a lot. People will say I have never stuck to anything. I used the 40mm Summicron exclusively for 4 years. I couldn’t afford anything else but I loves that lens. I recently got the chance to get another. I love this lens. Feels like coming home.

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, January 2019.

All the photos here are Ilford HP5 at 3200.

This is a boring roll, I apologize. They aren’t always interesting.

I do really love the next photo though:

Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, January 2019. Ilford HP5 @ 3200.

This was early in the morning. The air quality has been terrible lately, so much so that it looks like fog. The field had just been plowed. One of my favourite photos in a long time. It was very much how I’d imagined it would be.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

I’ve been doing this a lot lately too. Cat photos are boring as well I guess. I love my cats though. I think I would be perfectly happy for a roll to consist only of photos of them. In this photo, Spoko is sitting in her favourite spot in our living room under a Nicholas Dominic Talvola print. He named her, so it is fitting that she loves this spot.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

Maybe the next roll will be more exciting. I have several trips planned in the next little while. Including one to Kyoto / Osaka. Looking forward to that.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

That trip will be with team Leica Korea, haha. More on that in the weeks to come 😉

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.
Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

Other than that, I’m happy to say if you’re in Korea soon I’ll be opening an analogue photography class at the Leica Akadamie here. During the class I’ll cover all sorts of film related topics from the basics of loading film to developing and even perhaps some printing.

Seoul, South Korea. January 2019.

I just realized half of this roll is photos of trees.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

No trees here. Sucks this photo. They were all looking at me a split second before. I was super bummed when I saw it.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019. Ilford HP5 @3200.

This was second last photo of the roll. It is boring but I quite like it. Iksan feels like this to me. It feels like Iksan.

Iksan, South Korea. January 2019.

The last photo. It is usually of my wife or one of the cats. Wife wasn’t in the mood so Spoko stepped up.

That’s all for today.

Catch you next time 😉

-Josh.

Leica C-Lux First Impressions

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll probably know I’m a sucker for compact cameras. Many of you probably found me because of a compact camera of some sort. In fact, for my general street photography I have always preferred compact cameras. I haven’t used many lately, but the above generally holds true.

Iksan, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

So let me get the disclaimers out of the way before I continue:

  1. I work for the Leica Akademie here in Korea as organizer and head teacher.
  2. I am well aware there is a cheaper Panasonic version of this camera. In my humble opinion (work bias aside) I think the extra warranty, resale value (the Leica versions hold their value much better whether you think this is justified or not) and subjectively better looks are well worth the price difference.

Okay, now that that is out of the way let us continue with my Leica C-Lux 2019 first impressions.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I think it is cute the handsome camera. I very much like the blue tones and leatherette grip. I also generally love a silver lens on a black body. Of course, the lens isn’t silver but the multifunction ring is. I quite dig it.

The camera itself has a bit of a weird lens for my normal tastes. It’s a 24-360 that is only f3.3 at the widest. I find the former a positive. First, as this will be a travel / video camera for me I appreciate the range more than I might on a dedicated street camera. Second, the f3.3 doesn’t make much of a difference to me as I wouldn’t buy a compact camera for “bokeh.” That said, bokeh can be had because of the zoom range if you don’t mind using your feet a bit.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

As a street camera, it performs great. Even with the crazy zoom range there is little to no distortion or what happens to be there is well controlled with the software. I love the fact that Panasonic and Leica always include the ability to zoom their lenses in steps. I find 24 a little wide these days so I have the camera set to turn on at 28mm. It is very fast to turn on and shoot.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

There are some convenience features I quite like as well. The camera uses a low powered bluetooth mode to send photos to my smartphone as I walk around shooting. This it makes quite easy to sit down and edit in a coffee shop when I need a break. All the photos here were edited in Snapseed. They might be a bit much for you, I just try to keep all my photos looking somewhat similar these days. This is as close as I can get to my film photos.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.
Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I included the normal version of the photo above for your reference. I like this photo. I asked the woman to look more into the light and then we got talking. She grew up very close to where I live now.

Another feature I love about the C-Lux is its ability to charge via USB. I can charge it on the go with my laptop or a battery bank. I really, really wish it were USB-C but I guess we are a ways off of that on cameras yet. Maybe next year.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I didn’t find myself using the zoom very much during the first day of shooting. I did take a portrait of my wife with it later at night that I am saving for the full review. Much like the need for a viewfinder I find the need for a prime lens when shooting street photography to be a bunch of hipster nonsense. The only actual reason I see for this is size. With a camera like this it matters very little.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

One thing I won’t really talk about a lot until the main review is the flash. It is a bounce type flash that is similar to that on the RX100 series. Because of the zoom range the flash on the C-Lux is quite strong for its size. This is important if you want that Daido Moriyama high constrast blow out the highlights kinda look. I didn’t do much testing of this yet aside from a couple of shots around my house. Expect more in the review.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

I think the reason I like compact cameras so much is they so perfectly match the “moment” of capture to me. The photos I take with a compact camera almost always seem to be closer to my mind’s eye. I don’t think this is exclusive to any particular compact camera just those cameras in general.

So, surely I am not saying you go and buy this camera. I will say it ticks all the boxes I want in a modern compact camera. It has a 1 inch sensor, viewfinder, strong flash, nice looks, touch screen(also in the menus) self contained lens cap, bluetooth, and usb charging. The video is a big bonus since I have started to do a lot more of that.

Anyway, that is all for my first impression of the Leica C-Lux. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Upcoming reviews include the C-lux, the Leica MP (film), the Wotancraft Trooper, and the Pixel 3.

Much love from Korea,

Josh.

Seoul, South Korea. Leica C-lux.

First Roll of 2019

Frame 1: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

This was the first frame I took this year. My cat sits on the air purifier while I sit at my desk. I guess she likes the fan. We should have called her Marilyn. The light from the window to her left was particularly strong. I’m happy I got a full frame from this considering it was first. My wife said “how can you make the cutest kitten in the world look so scary?..”

Frame 7: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

So my plan for this post was simply to go through most of the photos from my first roll of the year. I had a bit of a contemplation during the end of last year. One thing that continually came to me was how much I needed to shoot film. I don’t know what it is honestly. It isn’t some hipster nonsense “look” or anything of the sort. It just works for my brain. I was sitting down last night scanning these mediocre photos and I felt near-on giddy.


Frame 3: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

These photos aren’t in any particular order. I’ll probably share 20 or so. The way I shoot film is I shoot 4 to 5 frames of most scenes. Even mundane stuff like my lunch (the Soju bottle actually houses sesame oil ;)). I got in the habit of doing this because I shoot without a meter. I guess you can call it self bracketing.

Frame 5: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Would I benefit from a camera with a meter? Maybe. I never end up using them after the battery dies. I never agree with the meters either. Maybe I’m weird. I end up second guessing myself with a meter. I prefer to just trust that I’m right.

Frame 18: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.
Frame 19: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

My way of developing is quite strange too. I develop a roll based on my brain’s version of what it thinks the roll was shot like. For example, if I feel I slightly over exposed the more memorable photos in the roll I will develop the roll slightly less than I might normally do.

Frame 9: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

People hate watching me develop because I don’t use a thermometer, don’t clean my negatives, and only use a wall clock for timing things.

Frame 10: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

As I developed this roll a friend from Seoul was watching me. He was cringing the whole time constantly saying I’m crazy. I changed the developing time midway because I remembered something from the roll. He wanted to bet with me that they wouldn’t turn out.

Frame 24: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.
Frame 25: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

I don’t want this to come off as I’m some kind of mad genius. In fact, I’m quite lazy, hate maths, and lost my thermometer years ago. The fact of the matter is, black and white film is so forgiving that it is a joke to care so much. At least for me.

Frame 27: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

One thing I’d say is clean your negatives before you develop. I never do aside from a slight dip in my magic sauce (classified information and no dirty ideas it is safe for work ;)). This is basically the reason for the cloudy look of my negatives.

Frame 14: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Well, that is what has been hypothesized by those whom have watched me develop. Who knows. I just keep doing the same thing. I hate being introduced to new developers or fixers. I’m too lazy to learn something new.

Frame 15: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Ah, I guess then I should tell you what I do use. I use T-max developer and Ilford fixer. I love Tmax with Tmax film but these days it has just become too expensive. It is also okay with HP5 like this roll was.

Frame 21: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

I didn’t shoot much street on this roll. It was the first roll with a camera I wasn’t used to. Wish I would have shot more “normally” though considering every frame (exposure / focus wise) came out great.

Frame 22: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

Forgot to mention some big news! Yesterday I started shooting the introduction for my YouTube channel. I know I’ve promised this many times. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever taken it seriously.

Frame 23: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

I even hired someone to take care of the filming outside. Yesterday was supposedly the “practice” session but there was lots of useable footage from the day.

And yes, I know you video guys are going to tell my the Olympus camera I have sucks for video. I’m sure it does. Basically it is what I have and it works. The footage looked fine to me. Maybe later I’ll get something “better.”

Frame 30: 2019. Ilford HP5 @1600. Leica M4.
Iksan, South Korea.

That’s about it for today.

What’s up next?

Well, I’m waiting on my 40mm Summicron to come back from service to shoot another roll of film. In the meantime, I’ve got two reviews coming up. One of the Leica C-Lux and another of the Google Pixel 3.

You can expect the Pixel review by the end of the week. Small spoiler, the camera is really, really good. Really good. Like, really. The Pixel has never been available in Korea so I’d never even held one until recently. I don’t know how I can go back to anything else.

Friends in Japan wanna be on call to send me one when needed 😉 ?

Anyway, kitten picture to end the day.

Manbo. Google Pixel 3, Portrait Mode.

Peace kids.

-Jt

General Update and Upcoming Review (Leica T)

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Leica T. 

Been a while again. I know I said I was going to try and blog more. I think I say that at some point during every post. Reality is, things are always so busy that I rarely have a chance to do anything aside from eat and sleep, ha.

So, consider this an update on things to come! May promises to be a busy month. My mom is coming on the 13th from Canada. I’m getting married on the 20th. I have friends from all over the globe coming on the 19th. On top of that, I spend 8 hours a day trying to renovate the house I bought before people come and spend the other 8 hours working my day job.

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iPhone X. Snapseed. 

I only really take pictures near my house because that is all the time I really have. I sometimes take a break to take photos in the neighbourhood. I mostly just use my iPhone because I’m too dirty to grab anything else.

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iPhone X. Snapseed. 

My nieces are becoming some of my favourite subjects. Sadly they aren’t round too often now since the house is a construction site.

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Leica T. 

So, the upcoming review! I’ve been “using” the Leica T for around a month. I say using, but in fact I’ve barely had time to use it aside from around my room. That said, I have been preparing some thoughts on the camera. You’d probably be surprised, but I really like it.

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stLeica T. 

I am completely over the idea that I need a viewfinder. I actually find it dumb when people say this. It is very rare that someone tells me they need a viewfinder and the reasoning is not related to some deep embedded hipster nonsense. The only excuse I can see for wanting a viewfinder is in super bright light and the huge screen does more than well enough from what I’ve seen.

As a bit of a precursor to my “review” I would say that there are lots of things I like but also lots of things I don’t like about the camera. The grip, being the thing I hated the most. I’ll explain how this was completely fixed by a simple accessory, though. Anyway, stay tuned for my full thoughts.

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Leica M6, 28mm Zeiss. HP5 at 3200. 

Also have a post coming up about Children’s Day here in Korea. I shot my school’s party with an M6 and a 28mm Zeiss on HP5 at 3200. It was a blast! I missed shooting flash on a Leica. Also, the results turned out to be great from HP5 at 3200. I’ll talk about all of those things in that post.

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Leica M6 “Panda.” 

I’ve been borrowing this M6 to shoot some flash and shoot 28mm and have loved it. Feels great to get back to the focal length that I loved for so long. I look forward to talking more about this in a future post as well. The 28mm Zeiss that I have been using on both the T and the M6 is such a great lens. About as “good” of a lens as I’ve used.

Anyway, that is about it for today’s update! Still more busy times ahead! Hopefully I’ll have time for some posts about my family and friends being here, moving into the house, and of course the wedding!

Iksan, 2018.

24 Hour Project: Busan (Final Kit Bag)

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24 Hour Project Kit Bag, 2018.

So, this is my bag for the @24hourproject this year. I’ll leave work tonight and head for the port/beach city of Busan. The cameras I’ve decided to take are the original Fujifilm X100, the Leica T (with 50mm Summilux v2), and my phone. I’ll use the Fuji for street, the Leica for portraits, and the phone if everything else dies haha. I chose the Leica T (which I’m sure will surprise some people) because the battery can be charged in camera with a power bank and the Summilux becomes a good portrait length on it. The Fuji, I chose because I literally have the most batteries for it. I don’t shoot that much but it’s meant to be cold tonight so they might come in handy. It’s the original x100 that I took some of my favourite photos with (smoking lady, for example). I’ve decided to take a MacBook Air just in case and since it’s small it doesn’t take up much room in my bag. The other stuff you can see are some airpods, the Fuji charger, and a huge power bank. The bag is a@vanguardworld Havana 48. I’m bringing my Leica M3, well, because I want to ;).

I did a live on my Instagram (@jt_inseoul) today talking a little about the kit as well as the project in general and some other things.

Also, just wanted to extend a huge thanks to my good friend Jay from @leicastore_seoul_bando in Seoul for helping me get the T on short notice! And for always dealing with the most difficult customer in the world 😉 If you need anything Leica related be sure to check them out! Plus, they have one of the coolest collections of Leica memorabilia that I’ve seen.

Anyway, that’s about it! Hopefully I survive. If you have any questions, leave them in comments or on my Instagram. Answering them might help keep me up.

24 Hour Project: Busan Edition 2018 (Prep 1)

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Fujifilm X100.

So I’ve done the 24 Hour Project for four years in a row. It is a difficult thing to do, in fact, sometimes it outright sucks. I don’t know why I keep doing it. Well, I guess I kind of do.

The memories. I do the project selfishly. Even though it is always a struggle the memories are always great. This year, for the first time, I’m doing the project in Busan instead of Seoul.

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Fujifilm X100.

The gist of the project is that the participants are to take one photo per hour (and post to Instagram) for 24 straight hours. I usually get a lot of questions about what gear I’m going to use for the project so I’m going to make a couple of posts (more on this later) outlining the gear I’m going to bring. Consider this a kind of warm-up.

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Fujifilm X100. 

The first camera I decided to take with me to Busan is the original Fujifilm X100. This camera has been with me forever (my wife uses it now) and I still love it. It looks as though it has been through several wars but still works perfectly.

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Fujifilm X100.

There were a couple of reasons I decided to take the X100. First is that I have three batteries for it. That’s a big deal when it comes to this kind of marathon event. On top of that, I am just really comfortable with this camera. It is the closest thing to my Leica I have that is also digital, haha. I’ve quite honestly sold more prints and had more “successful” photos from this camera than any other in my life.

One thing I haven’t decided is whether to shoot in colour or black and white.

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Fujifilm X100.

I’ll transfer the photos to my phone via a usb dongle thing I got from the Apple store. I’ll edit them in Snapseed. This camera is 35mm equiv and the second camera I’m bringing is 75mm so I think they will work well together. I plan to take some portraits with the 75mm and do more street with the X100.

Care to guess what the second camera is 😉 ?

I’ll write a short post about it, and the other gear I’m taking on the project tomorrow. Stay tuned 😉

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Fujifilm X100.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 / Pen-F Review

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news about this ‘review.’

The bad news first.

I’d been waiting to do this review because I didn’t have any photos. Literally, I didn’t have any time since I promised this review to even take photos. Not even a spare hour to walk around. Feck.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12-50mm 3.5-6.3.

My days most often look like above. Having recently bought a house here in Korea I haven’t really had much time for anything else. A fixer-upper would be being kind. That said, I’m loving the process of re-building. I will remember the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making it a house.

My house.

You might say, why not photography the process? There is one main reason for this:

  1. This is Korea and people here work.

What do I mean? Well, if I am walking around taking photos while other people work then I look lazy. I should be working just as hard as the people around me. If my wife is working harder than me I can’t help but feel guilty. Also, I’ve never done anything like this before and I think that the process of “doing” is more important than the “documenting” of the process.

I’ve taken some photos of the stages, but very little. I guess I’ve come to realize this experience is better experienced,

As it were.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

So, the good news! I have taken some photos during that time. I think I’ve taken enough to illustrate my thoughts on both the cameras in question. So, in the next 2000 or so words I’ll tell you about my experience with both the Olympus Pen-F and OM-D EM-1. I’ll tell you why I eventually got rid of one and kept the other. I’ll also talk a little about the system as a whole.

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Olympus Pen-F, 50mm Leica Summilux V2.

So, can you guess which of them I kept? In all honesty, it wasn’t a difficult decision in the end. Not even slightly.

Let’s start with the Pen-F.

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Olympus Pen-F, 17mm f1.8.

Let me say this first, I think the Pen-F is one of the prettiest digital cameras I’ve ever seen. I’ve used a lot of pretty cameras -Leica Ms, Leica Q, almost all the Fujis – but I still think the Pen-F is as pretty as any of them. It’s a beautiful thing to look at.

In use, I found the Pen-F to be fast and competent. That “dial” on the front to change from colour filters to black and white filters never bothered me and I even found myself using it now and then. I did find the Pen in general a bit uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time without the optional (and expensive) grip which I eventually borrowed. When I was using the Pen for a job about halfway through my hand started to cramp a little. The grip seemed to solve this, however.

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Olympus Pen-F, 17mm f1.8

The photos from the Pen looked great to me, but I have always been a huge fan of Micro Four Thirds cameras in general. I find this sensor size to be the absolute best compromise between depth of field and image quality. When shooting on the street, I love smaller sensors. The deeper depth of field makes things easier and allows for more context. Of course, when shooting full frame (or film) I just stop down and get a similar thing. That said, light becomes a bit of a problem in that case. It’s strange but, I think being able to get the light of f/4 with the same depth of field as f8 on film is a real plus to me. I’ll cover “bokeh” later if that is a reason you’ve decided this sensor might not be for you.

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Olympus Pen-F, 17mm f1.8.

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Olympus Pen-F, 17mm f1.8.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

The M43s sensor also seems to process better than any other sensor I’ve used. The photos take almost no work in comparison to files from a Ricoh, Sony, Fuji, or even Leica. They seem to look good almost straight out of camera a lot more often than anything from those other brands. I know, you’ll be thinking I’ve sang the praises of those other brands often enough. Fair, enough. All I can say is every time I use a M43s camera I am always surprised by how little the photos need. All my presets seem to be way “too much” for the photos. I like this a lot as I can do a lot more a lot more quickly. As you can see from the above photo, the original and the one processed to match my normal look aren’t far off each other. You’d find a much greater difference from something like a Ricoh for example.

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Puke. Olympus Pen-F, 17mm f1.8.

 

So, the big question regarding image quality that I most often get about M43s is something like this:

“Is it still possible to get bokeh like I can with a full frame camera?” 

First, let me say that I think bokeh is the most overrated cop-out of a photographic effect there is. It is for lazy people that don’t want to compose an image with “thought.” When I’m feeling really lazy I use it to get rid of distractions in the background of a photo. Otherwise, I just don’t get it. Anyway, I digress.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 50mm Leica Summilux V2 at 1.4.

The answer is simple. Yes, it is easy to get bokeh from a M43s sensor. In fact, I find it almost laughable when people talk about it. It’s laziness that creates this argument. Let me explain (apologies in advance for my terrible understanding of this – bare with me):

So, my Leica Summilux 50mm lens looks at 1.4 like 2.8 might on a full frame camera. That is to say, the depth of field is doubled? Doubly deep? Trust me when I say technical aspects of cameras are not my thing. How most people explain this to me the “bokeh” will be – ahem – half what it might be on a full frame camera. But then, the Summilux becomes a 100mm 2.8 (effectively in terms of depth of field) on M43s. A 100mm lens has more “bokeh” than a 50mm lens by double (assuming everything else is the same) as far as I understand it so what is the difference? Aren’t they the same then…? At least, to me, I can’t really tell the difference aside from compression.

Well, I guess lazy people will say they have to walk back twice as far to frame something. Sounds like laziness pure and simple. Sure, some situations won’t allow it but then that’s where that thing between your ears is supposed to come into play. Creative constraints have allowed me to make some of my favourite photographs.

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Newfoundland, Canada.

Take the above photo for example. I had left my Leica M5 and Summilux in the car. I had brought an ND filter in the thoughts to make a pretty bokeh-ed out portrait. Left with nothing but my compact camera, I had to think and compose the photo in such a way where the “distractions” worked in my favour. I had to elevate to frame her head against the road. That turned out to be one of my favourite photos of the year. The context that was captured here would never have been possible with my initial plan. Creative constraints “created” this photo.

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Olympus Pen-F, 50mm Leica Summilux at 1.4.

Anyway.

Recently, I took some photos of my film director friend Dong-bin in Seoul with the Pen-F and the 50mm Summilux attached. Even in the tight streets of Seoul I never felt “trapped” by the lens being 100mm on this system. In fact, it gave me an appreciation for a focal length I would never normally use. I’ve always sworn by wide lenses. I’ve evolved a bit though and now I kind of subscribe to the mindset that I should be able to get a photo with whatever focal length I have.

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Olympus Pen-F, 50mm Leica Summilux at 1.4.

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Olympus Pen-F, 50mm Leica Summilux at 1.4.

Anyway, in my humble opinion there is plenty of “bokeh” for those who like it available in this system. Of course, this is a pretty pricey Leica lens but there are cheaper options and literally any 50mm 1.4 lens can be adapted to these cameras and some of them are like $30.

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Olympus Pen-F, 50mm Leica Summilux at 1.4.

It shouldn’t be an issue.

Really.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

The other thing people often ask about when it comes to M43s is about the aspect ratio being natively 4:3. Well, this is a bit of a weird one for me. I find myself preferring 4:3 (for work) because it provides more context to me in a shot. I’m not sure why this is, but I find when I’m working on a job I prefer the look of 4:3 and seem to “see” that way a little better. In any case, purists who swear by 3:2 because it is the “same” as film are kinda off anyway. My negatives are never 3:2. Slightly wider from my M3, for example.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

Another weird thing is I found that shooting the Pen-F in 4:3 felt weird whereas it seems to make sense to my brain with the OM-D. WEIRD, I know. I can’t really explain this aside from the fact that the form factor of the cameras might have something to do with my craziness.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

Either way, I generally crop most images if I am posting them on Instagram to around 3:2 for continuity. This kind of thing doesn’t bother me very much anymore. Just, whatever works you know?

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

Anyway, I’ve gone WAY off topic. Back to the cameras. Have you been able to guess which I decided to keep yet?

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I call him Frank. Olympus OM-D EM-1 with Optional grip and 12-50 3.5-6.3.

Well, a lot of factors went into me deciding to keep the OM-D over the Pen-F. The Pen-F is obviously so much prettier. I loved to look at it. That being said, I already have a camera that is more beautiful to look at than even the Pen.

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Leica and a Beer.

I’m fairly certain if I wanted to go out with a camera that looks good I’d still take this. So, that was the first thing that made the Pen-F redundant to me.

Secondly, I needed to consider what I needed for work. I am not a full time photographer but I do have some more serious projects I am working on. For those, I needed a camera that was better to “use” – not just better to look at. The OM-D, for example, is so, so much more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The large grip just makes it so nice in use. Also, it generally just feels much faster. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but the OM-D feels more like a tool to me. Things are all where they should be. Settings just are where I need them. When I mount my 50mm Summilux the placement of the function buttons just makes the OM-D a much easier camera to focus and shoot. The viewfinder is also nicer to my eye (at least, bigger). I find the image quality to be about the same. Also, the battery seemed to last longer and the fact that the optional grip carries an extra battery (if I need) makes it a lot more of a “pro” experience. In Korea this is important as people expect a photographer to have a big camera. It’s funny, I used to show up to shoots with a 5D or an A7 and huge lens but take all the photos with an RX100 or X100. The other camera was just for show.

Also..

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Can you spot the OM-D?

I used to prefer pretty motorcycles. These days, I ride this scooter around because it is reliable and literally just works. No one would argue it being pretty, surely. The OM-D is kind of like that. I never feel the need to baby it. While the Pen-F is built very nicely it feels nowhere near as nice in the hand as the OM-D. It feels like there is no way it would take the abuse that the OM-D would. The OM-D is also weather and dust sealed which is a great plus considering the dust and things I’ve been dealing with lately. I picked up the cheap 12-50mm lens which is also weather-sealed and together they make a nice tight package.

Another reason I decided on the OM-D is video. While it lacks the pop out screen of the Pen-F it has a mic-input which I find a lot more important. I’ve been putting together some vlog posts (planning to launch first with new house completion) and I just generally found the OM-D to work a lot easier to use for video. It isn’t the best camera around for video, obviously, but is more than enough for what I need.

All those things aside, the OM-D was just the one I reached for all the time. I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about it. I can toss it around without care or worry. This part especially fits into my lifestyle these days.

Oh, and I forgot this part:

The OM-D costs about one third the price of the Pen-F used here in Korea. That alone means I’d pick it every single time. Building a house has made me frugal so this is probably one of the most important factors in all of this. I could buy the 12-50, grip, extra battery, 17mm, and OM-D EM-1 body for about the price of the Pen-F body and grip. Doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

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My niece. Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

Also, for family trips and what not the OM-D can be handed to anyone to use and I never worry about it. I wouldn’t in a million years just hand my M3 over to a kid to play with. At least not while sober.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 17mm f1.8.

The one thing I forgot to mention that many people asked me was about the electronic shutter on both cameras. Well, to be honest I am not the type to shoot in silence. I quite like to be seen or heard. I did try it a little but as you can see from above it is quite difficult if the lights are the cycling variety. Unless, of course, you like that sort of thing. In my opinion the shutter on both cameras is quite quiet so this shouldn’t really be a deciding factor. I just thought I would add it since some people asked. I found the problem to be very similar on both cameras.

So, this wasn’t much of a review. I apologize.

I don’t have the time I once did. I do hope I can balance things a little more effectively once the house is finished. I also will be undergoing some changes in my job soon which should give me more time for this sort of thing. I have a couple of reviews I want to get done.

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Sony RX100V.

I recently picked up the Sony RX100V for example, for my mom and spent some time with it before sending it off. A really nice little camera, and the fact it is the one I purchased for my mother should say quite a bit about how highly I think of it. That will be the next mini-review I plan on doing.

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Sony RX100III.

I took Eric Kim’s longtime profile photo with an older version of that camera. Also used two phones for lighting, but that is another story. A rip-off of the Irving Penn portrait of Truman Capote. So stay tuned for that post. Should be done before 2028. Maybe.

Considering how bad this review was, I wanna open up the comments to questions about the cameras. I figure if you have anything you want to know that I didn’t talk about I am more than happy to answer! I think this type of back and forth might be better than what I actually wrote… :/

Finally, thank you so much to everyone that ordered my zine, Neverland: Korea Volume I. I was blown away by the support. So much so, I’ve already started putting together Volume II (suggestions?). It will be slightly shorter and slightly cheaper and probably will be available sometime this summer.

Volume I is still available here:

MAGCLOUD.

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Neverland: Korea Volume I.

Thanks again!

Pen-F / OM-D EM-1 Review (?) – Soon

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 50mm Summilux v2.

Okay, a slight follow up to yesterday’s “pre-review” of the Pen-f. One thing I wanted to ask people is if they want to see some of the OM-D EM-1 in the review. I know, it isn’t the newest version, but to be honest this is the camera I use most for “serious” work.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 50mm Summilux v2.

I know it isn’t the looker that the Pen-F is and it certainly doesn’t have the same charm. That being said, in a lot of ways it is a better camera. It is also the camera I grab more often and until I started thinking about this review I am not sure I really knew why.

Anyway, just curious if people would be interested in hearing my thoughts on this camera as well.

To be fair, I guess it will find its way in anyway, 😉

For those of you who could give a f#$k about this sort of thing, my apologies.

Starbucks, Iksan, South Korea, 2018.

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Olympus OM-D EM-1, 50mm Summilux v2.