Dissecting the mood, reflecting on productivity.

Photography

Every once in a while you get to use different cameras to shoot photos (extensively) with, it can be a brand new camera, used camera, your backup camera, or even your camera phone. The way how a camera handles, how it feels in hand, the mentality on how you use it greatly affects on the images you wish to make.

When I’m using my Ricoh, I feel like a complete idiot. A typical point and shoot compact camera look with an optical viewfinder, making me look like I’m onto something while shooting with it. It’s the stupidity that let go my obstacles which I found myself very comfortable with it other than the camera design itself.

And then there’s my cellphone camera, I use it as my ultimate backup camera. It’s the only camera I’d dare using in pouring rain. It was also my go-to camera for instagram (I gave it up). Last time I used it was at the museum, it’s a nice casual camera when with friends. Not a flashy/showy camera after all when friends or even colleagues are around. And yet, It feels very personal.

Kiting
(It’s an old photo taken in April 2012 with my phone)

Finally, my Leica X2.
It’s new but I know how it handles very well due to my experience with a rangefinder-like camera – X100. They are similar in many ways. They’re both 35mm (36mm on X2), get to zone focus in most situation. In a way, it’s also similar with the GRD – the optical viewfinder experience, how I switch between LCD and OVF. The X2 is not a completely new animal to me.

I’m still trying to figure out why I feel hesitate so much in making shots.

Is the camera looking too serious? Perhaps.
Is the camera relatively heavier/thicker, slowing down my lifting action when bring it to my eye? Yes, but it’s not a vital cause.
Is the zone focusing method kind of limiting my distance? A little. But AF is just two clicks away!
Am I afraid to be a Leica owner and not shooting good photos with it? No, never. I’m what I’m, I see and interpret the world my way. But when I think of it, a little. While, when I use my Ricoh, I think differently; I actually want to show how good I could make use of it.
I do not want crappy photos to be in my Leica camera?Applies to all my cameras.

I’m currently jiggling with ‘I like my X2 a lot’ and ‘Is the X2 helping me to get my shots’? It’s a mental block I’m having that requires me to get through. My doubt on pairing myself and X2 has been decreasing my productivity greatly. Only I’m not realizing whether subjects on the street worth capturing. Plus, lately my mood is not too opened-up due to some unsolved office political conflict with personnel+worry+tiredness at my day job. My solution: being lifted and happy contributes to good photography. Photography is also a reflection on the photographer’s mind. Anything to keep ourselves mentally in shape 🙂

X2 is repaired and took just 1 day!! Parts were being replaced, including sensor, lens(?), leather…
Thank god my camera could be fixed locally. And yes, the ridiculous line on my images are now gone.

1 hour with Leica X2: AF, Controls, High ISO

Photography

Sunny Day by the harbor
ISO 100 f4 1/2000

It’s really not my first hour with it. But it’s the time spent as soon as I got my camera set up (AF area mode, image stabilization, OVF mode and some more). I only spent approximately 15 mins during the day and 45 mins at night. Many of you know I do not shoot just about any photos. Only those that impresses while I see them. So although I specified the time I spent shooting, it has nothing to do with the quantity of photos. I care more about quality. I would really want to keep more photos and select them off as a post. However, I wanted to do a brief run through of my further first impression after setting up the camera and end with a period. I’ll shoot extensively with it starting tomorrow.

Baby girl
ISO 6400 f3.2 1/250

It did not take long for me to familiarize with all the controls (thanks to the experience I had with X100). I read the manual and it’s a perfect guide to understand what owners should know to set up the camera properly. I fell in love with it already.

Autofocus
AF is something I do not dare trying in street photography, until I often found that it’s not possible to zone focus in dim places or at night which I usually spent time on. My Ricoh GRD allowed me to AF in just about any situation. I learned how I should be shooting at night effectively without blur. It’s no trick but to stand still and steady the camera.

Same school uniform, a very different life and environment
ISO 6400 f3.5 1/200

How does it translate into the X2?
I think it’s the AF area mode that makes this camera so great as a whole. Sure, I would prefer zone focus over it during the day for quicker action. Like I’ve said, when situations don’t allow (at night); the only way to do it effectively is the AF area mode. And I had acceptable results from it. It even makes framing a lot easier (traditionally 1-spot center focus). With an OVF, I do the framing; it does the focusing. How sweet?!

Controls
All the control buttons, dials, wheels make sense. What I love best on the X2 is actually the aperture dial. In the OVF mode (LCD screen turned off when not doing setting adjustments), I could still know what f-value I’m shooting at from the markings. And better yet which I found myself keep track of, is how many steps I’ve turned without even looking. I found myself using this dial a lot at night rather jumping into the ISO adjustment.

Black dog guarding
ISO 6400 f4 1/200

The very same dial position is an EV dial on a X100 which was something I rarely use. Leica has the EV control as a button, makes sense? The AF/MF switch is actually a button which I could be used to pre-focus in AF before going to MF. In other words, the AF can be used as a AFL in tricky situations.

The menu is a one long page of list. I found it easy to navigate. No complicated submenus and tabs. Make sense?

High ISO
I have not been shooting with the max ISO. I limited it to 6400 and images can get noisy. I do not have a choice really. I can certainly try 3200 in the future but that’s going to decrease my shutter speed quite some. I tend to shoot between f2.8-4.0 in the evening mostly with ISO 6400.

I’d mention about the noise grain in the future. As it’s something I’m experienced or good with. All I can say in this stage is, the grain is very solid vs Ricoh’s softer ones.

I get the type of candid shots I wanted from my GRD with the X2. I think more or less has something to do with the all black body?

Remembering the Victims of 10/1 Ferry Crash

Finally, you might not have heard of the tragic ferry accident in Hong Kong happened on the National Day (October 1st, 2012) for Republic of China, left 39 dead; including a young child just passed away tonight – Oct 5th. It was happy day once and turned into a chaos. It’s a day which we won’t forget. It’s the first serious incident that I’ve ever witnessed, required the entire city to mourn for the victims.

(Photos are not SOOC and I’m still working on the color saturation, etc.)

Bonding with a camera.

Photography

Remote Toy Car

There’s no secret in how to bond with your favorite camera. The first and only thing that you have to do is: You must have a strong desire to shoot good photos. The more you shoot with just one camera, the more you and your camera would become ‘one’.

The best advice i could give if you really want to ‘do photography’ instead of becoming a camera collector. Use your camera until you feel like selling the rest of your gear. It could be a bit too harsh. However, It’s true that I’d been in the mood for selling my X100 for weeks now. It’s strange that I’ve not ever thought about the opposite – selling my GRD….Ricoh you’ve won my heart!

For those who don’t know me. I only own two cameras (GRD IV & X100). I can’t imagine someone with ‘a collection of cameras/lenses’ at home. I know certainly there’re camera collectors out there. But I’m more fascinated into actually shooting with one that gives me constant results.

I think it’s a very good sign to come to this point, thinking about actually selling my beloved X100. In a photography standpoint, it means I finally found a camera to work with (rather than just use it).

The image quality of X100 is far superior than the GRD for sure. When it comes to the focusing system, Ricoh is far more ahead and easy thumb control over all the settings I need; It’s like telling myself why persist and linger on a sluggish piece of gadget (the X100) that would not improve my photograph as a whole.

I can’t ask for more with the mount-on OVF and snap focus combination. It’s quick when I squint thru the OVF and click. It’s accurate to frame it this way with fixed frame marks versus jumping frame marks when hitting the shutter on the X100. I just won’t miss.

One tip I would like to share with you. If you use your camera long enough, your camera should appear some kind of wear on the body (at least on my GRD). I appreciate the scratch and wear so much. It’s become a tool not a collectible. And that makes a camera sexier!

*Image 1 & 3 shot with my cellphone and ran it with the Flare app on my mac. How do you like the artificial grain 🙂 It was for fun.