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            Showing posts with label Tokyo-X-Vario. Show all posts
            Showing posts with label Tokyo-X-Vario. Show all posts

            Thursday, December 26, 2013

            Tokyo-X-VARIO: Final Look @ Leica X-Vario

            X-VARIO @ 31mm.   1/15th sec F/4.1 @ ISO 400.  JR Yamanote Line, Tokyo.

            Playing with a test camera in a city like Tokyo is a lot of fun... but all good things come to an end. I'm finally back home and now starting the daunting task of going through all my pictures. When you're gone for a month you tend to take a lot of pictures... thousands in fact (2583 to be exact, minus film rolls and iPhone pics). To get a good idea of a camera's characteristics of capturing an image, you need to do more than chimping (a sneak peak at back LCD screen). You need to open up the files and take a good look, trying to find specific qualities (not just resolution and colour accuracy) and image distinctiveness that make the pictures stand out. I did so with the Leica X-VARIO and I've come to appreciate the camera and the images I was able to create...

            Tuesday, December 24, 2013

            Tokyo X-VARIO: Shooting Light in the Dark

            Leica X-VARIO @ 28mm zone focused. 1/60th sec F/3.5 @ ISO 1600. RAW image converted in CS5 and cropped and adjusted in Photoscape. Shot in Sugamo, Tokyo.


            I love shooting at night. I know technically its more difficult, but if you can get the exposure right, and you know how to shoot RAW and adjust later in post production, you can capture amazingly moody images of typically normal scenes. The reason? Light. Unlike daylight, where the light is coming from a single point, or on a cloudy day where the light is diffused and flat (and often boring), night allows for multiple light sources, direction, colour and shadows. But how can you use this to your advantage when shooting?

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting Bikes in Shibuya

            X-VARIO @ 28mm zone focus. 1/500th sec F/7.1 @ ISO 1600.

            I know the X-VARIO was never designed to be an action camera...and that's ok. But it doesn't mean we can't use it to capture action. That's exactly what I did when I decided to shoot bike riders in action in the trendy fashion district of Shibuya. This area is known for it's crazy pedestrian crossing (remember that scene in Lost in Translation when Scarlett Johansson crosses the busy intersection with the big screen of the dinasaur?) and lots of fashion shops, like the famous 109 and 0I0I (Marui Marui) buildings. I noticed something else: lots of super-cool cyclists!! 

            While my wife went into the shops, I hung out on the streets to take pictures of guys (and gals) whipping past on their fixies, single-speeds, mamacharis, and geared bikes of all sizes, colours, shapes and styles. I came back a few more times just to take pictures, and you'll notice lots of pics from the exact same location of cyclists on my Instagram account. The point is I was shooting with two cameras that you would never associate with shooting action: Ricoh GR-D IV and Leica X-VARIO. Neither have blazing fast autofocus, nor do they have a true telephoto focal length, two things people think you need to shoot action. You don't. I've already posted pics of bike action with the Ricoh GR, so here's some with the X-VARIO...here we go!!

            Friday, December 20, 2013

            Tokyo-X-VARIO: Portrait of a Photographer

            X-VARIO @ 50mm. 1/500th sec F/7.1 @ ISO 1600. Shibuya Crossing. 


            I saw the coolest guy coming out of a taxi. He was a taller Japanese fellow, probably about my age and he was adjusting his scarf as he was readying himself to shoot with his super awesome leather-cased twin reflex camera. I wanted to introduce myself to him, but I was so busy looking for my business cards and scrambling with all my camera equipment, he started walking away and disappeared into the busy Tokyo crowd. I frantically chased after him into the Shibuya crossing, wondering which of 5 directions he could have gone to... I chose the North-East corner and headed that way but it was too late. He was long gone. 

            But wait! What do I see? Another cool photographer. Completely different looking but similar. The same coolness and determination and in the zone, ready for the next great shot. The first thing I did was show him the Ricoh GR-D IV I was shooting with and asked if I could take a picture of him with my GR with his GR (image posted on my Instagram). Then I decided to shoot with the Leica X-VARIO but at 50mm equiv. This is when I really appreciated having the X-VARIO. The Ricoh GR is a great point and shoot, but not great for a proper portrait. The 50mm angle of view has the right distance to subject and the right amount of compression for a waist-up portrait.

            Sunday, December 15, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Sitting and Waiting at 50mm

            Leica X-VARIO @ 50mm equiv. 1/500th sec F/5.1 @ ISO 1600, manual focus. RAW file, converted & cropped in CS5 and Photoscape.

            I love it when I find a great background to use as the foundation of my image. It's like my canvas. Once I find it, I test focus, exposure, and then I just sit and wait for the right moment to come my way. It's like fishing in a way I guess... I'm fishing for people...you never know what you'll get. 

            Sunday, December 8, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting with a 50mm Lens

            Leica X-Vario at 50mm equiv. 1/1250th sec F/5.6 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, edited in CS5/Photoscape and cropped

            I find many people use their zoom lenses as a way to crop their image, and in some instances, it makes sense. You can't get closer, nor can you back up. But I find many don't really understand what a focal length does to the actual relationship between the subject and the foreground and background. When you zoom in, you are compressing the image, not just creating bokeh. As a general rule, a street photographer doesn't need a 70-200mm lens. That's for paparazzi. Between 28 to 50 is a good range for street photographers, even though a bit above or below this range is great for specific effects as well. 

            Thursday, December 5, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting Motion and B&W

            X-Vario @ 70mm equiv. 1/30th sec F/6.4 @ ISO 3200. Handheld through a window. 
            Sometimes you think a shot is impossible. You're tired. It's dark. You have to handhold a 1/30th of a second shot at 70mm with no image stabilization. But there's a really cool looking guy standing very still, obviously waiting for someone along a busy sidewalk. You know it'll be a great shot from the angle you have (upstairs at a McCafe in Harajuku looking down) if only you can keep the shot still. I took about 10 shots, but this one was the keeper. I'm happy I decided not to give up on the camera and its ability to capture the image that I had in my head. 

            Tokyo-X-Vario: More Night Shots with Leica

            X-Vario at 28mm equiv. 1/30th sec F/3.5 @ ISO 800. Manual focus and exposure

            Wednesday, November 20, 2013

            Tokyo X-Vario: For Serious Shooting Days

            Leica X-VARIO at 30mm equiv. 1/250th sec F/4.1 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, CS5 and cropped.


            I was hanging out in Shinjuku West in the Yodobashi Camera electronics district when I saw these two guys sitting outside a Starbucks. Wow did they stand out. Not only were they foreigners in a sea of Asians, but they were dressed in white newsprint themed suits! I asked Wendell (left) and Leo (right) if I could take a quick shot of them and they agreed. Luckily I was already in RAW mode and didn't have to fiddle with white balance or worry too much about the exposure or contrast since I could adjust much of it in post production. That's the beauty of shooting RAW on a larger sensored camera.

            Monday, November 18, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting at Night in Ginza

            Leica X-Vario at 28mm equiv. 1/15th sec F/7.1 @ ISO 1600. Leaning camera against light pole.

            I thought I would continue testing the X-Vario at night to prove that it is possible to get great shots without having an F/1.4 lens or image stabilization (optical or sensor based). We use these types of specs as tools, but sometimes we need more than tools to get great images. In fact, sometimes limits help us to come up with unique solutions, and often we create images we would never have done with cameras with more tricks and specs. 

            I like the mood of artificial lights at night, and how the direction of light is also very different from natural daylight. However, to capture this type of lighting correctly, you have to shoot at the right shutter speed. I find that shooting at night at super-slow shutter speeds is great for creating a sense of  motion. 1/8 to 1/120th of a second is best for painting this motion , such as moving cars or people. How is this possible with the X-Vario?

            Friday, November 15, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Street Photography at 70mm

            Leica X-VARIO. 1/1000th sec  f/6.4 @ ISO 1600. Shot at 70mm equiv
            The X-Vario is a very powerful tool for street photography. Leica has chosen a reasonable focal range of 28 to 70 equiv, with 35mm and 50mm also labelled for convenience. I would say most Leica shooters are in the 35 to 50 range, but 70mm at F/6.4? Many like using telephoto lenses to create a shallow depth of field to isolate their subject, but there's more to a telephoto lens. I decided to give it a try and found it really useful for compressing images that have a background that progressively gets further away, such as buildings. Notice how the lens compresses the buildings, but at the same time, due to the small aperture, everything from the foreground to the background is in focus?

            Thursday, November 14, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting at Night Handheld

            Leica X-Vario in AV mode. 1/20th sec F/6.4 @ ISO 800. Focal length at 70mm equiv
            I've been in Tokyo for a week but I've only just started taking pictures with the Leica X-Vario. I was sick before I left Vancouver and I was sick when I landed, and I've been sick all week. I'm only now starting to feel a bit better so it's time to get shooting. The first thing I wanted to test was night shooting with the X-Vario. So many complain that with such a small aperture and no optical or sensor based image stabilization, shooting at night would be next to impossible. I didn't agree so I thought I would give it a try.


            Wednesday, November 6, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: View Japan Through a Leica

            Image taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/42 sec F/1.9 @ ISO 400

            It's always been a romantic concept of mine to wander the streets of Tokyo with a Leica. I know I'm not alone as there are a few 'foreigners' in Tokyo who have become quite well known in the photography blogosphere as Leica photographers. I've been back to Japan many times, and I've taken a variety of cameras over the years: Argus, Minolta, Fujifilm, Ricoh, Pentax, Canon, Panasonic; but never with a Leica. 

            But why a Leica? I don't know why really. Is it perhaps because both the Leica brand and the Japanese culture seem to both be entrenched in tradition, but at the same time adapt to the present without forgetting their past? Is it the red dot? Is it because of that movie with Clint Eastwood? Who knows...
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