Classic Negative Film Simulation (Changi Jewel)

I meant to post this weeks ago, but it was only recently that I managed to find time and get around to doing it.

I went to Changi Jewel for a mini photoshoot with a couple of my friends. They have not been to Changi Jewel and they wanted to take some photos of the place. Armed with my new Fujifilm X-Pro 3, I took some photos of this beautiful place, sticking to Classic Negative Film Simulation. Just like with previous photo session with my family and relatives during the Christmas gathering, I stuck with one film simulation and just shoot.

Classic Negative is really beautiful. I can understand why this particular film simulation is great for street photography. It has a certain look to your shots that captures the essence of the scene, without saturating any colours that might potentially pop out in the picture. Although I find that this particular film simulation is weak against greenery and natural foliage (other film simulations can capture green really vividly), Classic Negative is still able to provide a unique look to my photos. Although I have been to Jewel before to take some photos, previously with my Olympus camera, but coming here again and sticking to just Classic Negative provides a totally different look to the shots I took. Here are some samples below.

Changi Jewel, captured at the moment the sky train zips past.
People standing on the glass bridge, offering a magnificent view of the entire Changi Jewel grounds.
Order and balance.
Sun rays providing natural light into the dome.
My friend seeing Jewel for the first time. He is using the Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II camera, exactly the same camera that I had before I made the switch to Fujifilm.
The lighting was absolutely magical on that day. Coupled with Classic Negative Film Simulation, it makes the shot even more magical.

Fujifilm Eterna Film Simulation

On Christmas week, my extended family had a gathering in one of my cousin’s place and I had the opportunity to put my new Fujifilm camera through its paces. Specifically, I wanted to shoot and take pictures of my family members at the gathering using only one particular film simulation.

As you know, the new X-Pro 3 has a range of film simulations that Fujifilm developed to mimic the look and feel of their traditional film counterparts. However, as a photographer using Fujifilm camera systems for the first time, I am still largely unfamiliar with the different film simulations and how they are best applied. So rather than worrying about what film simulation I should use for the Christmas gathering, I randomly chose one and stuck with it throughout my shoot. Overall, at the end of the day after reviewing those photos and tweaking them a little in Lightroom, it turned out really great.

I used the Eterna film simulation and surprisingly it worked well for portraits. Skin tones are beautiful and while the colours are more subdued, it has that movie film quality to the pictures I took. The pictures are less punchy, but portraits stood out really well. Just look at some of the samples below.

I must have been really lucky to have chosen a suitable film simulation for these kinds of shots. I am extremely excited to try out the other film simulation modes Fujifilm has to offer built into my camera.

X-Pro 3 first impressions!

On the 28th of November, during lunchtime, I received a call from my local camera store. He was calling to inform me that the Fujifilm’s latest camera, the X-Pro 3 has finally arrived.

I was super excited. I headed down to the store after work, and collected my camera.

What a beauty! I got the normal black version of the X-Pro 3. It does not come with the special Dura coat on the titanium plates.

I brought it out for a spin today, walking around Fusionopolis, close to where I work. It’s a complex of buildings with ultramodern architecture, housing various engineering institutes under the A*STAR umbrella. It is a place I am very familiar with and because the place becomes relatively quiet during the weekend. It was a suitable place to experiment using the new camera and to get a feel on how the camera handles in my hands without too much distraction along the way.

I did not choose the camera. The camera chose me!

I also brought it to Orchard Road on Friday evening, to soak up the festive cheer and also to revel in the Black Friday sales that every mall was promoting to test out the camera is low light conditions.

I paired the X-Pro 3 with the Fujinon 23mm f2.0 lens. Perfect for street photography.

So what were me initial impressions after using this camera for about 24 hours?

Right off the bat (and also during the demo sessions I had with the camera before it was launched), holding the camera is really comfortable. The grip is not too big and bulky, yet not too small to be insignificant. It felt just right. The body isn’t heavy. Paired with a light lens like the 23mm f2.0, the weight feels perfect. The camera grip, paired with a suitable wrist strap, like the one I got from Deadcameras, makes carrying the camera around a joy.

I am a wrist strap kinda guy when it comes to lugging my camera around. I don’t really like to carry my camera around my neck. Instead, I prefer the wrist strap. And paired with X-Pro 3, its a match made in heaven.

The dials are solid and have a solid click whenever it is rotated. It is made of metal and the inscriptions and markings on the dials are meticulously painted. It is just oozing with quality. The placement of the dials are well placed, allowing easy access to all the dials without over stretching any of your fingers or contorting your fingers unnaturally or uncomfortably.

I have primarily used only the EVF so far, or the electronic viewfinder. It is nice to have the option of the OVF, or the optical viewfinder. I will definitely attempt to take pictures using just the OVF. It will definitely be a fun and interesting experience to see the world through the OVF and take creative pictures with it.

First shots with the X-Pro 3. Colours are out of this world! Fujifilm’s color science is top notch.

And the film simulations. There are so many options to choose from. All of them look gorgeous and some of them are better suited for certain kinds of photography. I have yet to familiarise myself with the different film simulations. But with time, hopefully I will master them and apply them in the correct conditions to achieve specific photography styles.

Experimenting with different film simulations on the X-Pro 3.

There are more features that I have barely scratched the surface and it will be an interesting journey for me to experiment and try all of them. The X-Pro 3 is a really fun camera to use, one that I am sure will enjoy using it for many years to come.

The camera does low light really well.

To view the album of the shots I have taken with the X-Pro 3 on the first day, please visit the this link.

I am getting the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 after all.

Two weeks ago, I made the plunge. I paid the deposit and pre-ordered the X-Pro 3. Such a big purchase was not done lightly. As always, I imposed a two-week cooling off period, where I will not think, read or watch anything related to the X-Pro 3 and only revisit that thought after the cooling off period is over. When the cooling off period was over, I still had the strong desire to purchase the camera and had this strong feeling that this is the camera for me. In other words, this was not an impulse buy. I am in the market for a new mirrorless and the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 fits the bill.

I chose the black with none of the DURA coating. The DURA coating options costs a couple hundred dollars extra.

I believe the camera will launch on the 28th of November, sometime next week. I should be expecting a call from my local camera shop, informing me that the camera has arrived and is available for collection. I have decided to pair the body with the 23mm f2.0 prime lens, which based on what I have read, is a good prime lens for street photography, my main focus in using the X-Pro 3.

Paired with a prime lens such as the 23mm f2.0, it will be interesting to see how it will change the way I take photos. It is going to be an interesting learning journey for me to just rely on a prime lens as my daily driver.

I am very excited to use it once it arrives. I guess getting used to the menu system will take some time. As to what I am going to do with my Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II camera, I have decided to keep the body and the pancake lens after all. I will be selling the 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens to partially fund the new camera. The Olympus camera, paired with the pancake lens, is still a fun camera to use and I see myself using it from time to time just for the sake of fun.

Smartphone pictures deserve some Lightroom treatment too

I was browsing through my trove of photos I have accumulated in my iPhone and I realised that there were pictures from two recent vacations that I didn’t really find the time to review them and select the best for further editing. I did edit some of them for Instagram and Facebook, but a vast majority simply didn’t see the light of day and remained buried in the photos app in my iPhone.

They were photos taken from my solo trips to Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. Granted most of the photos were taken using my iPhone, namely the iPhone X while I was in Sydney and the iPhone 7 Plus while I was in Vancouver. That was quite a while back.

I created an album on Lightroom and uploaded the pictures inside and I realised that there some really good ones among the sea of pictures I took while I was there. And they deserve to be showcased online. I have selected the best and hopefully soon with the help of Lightroom, I can spruce them up to look great on a bigger screen and write my travel experiences in both countries together with pictures.

And the motherlode of all, pictures that I took while I was in Tunisia back in 2012! Back then I didn’t have Lightroom, so I basically took photos that I shot from my Canon 550D (my first ever DSLR) which were saved in jpeg and simply dumped almost everything on Facebook without edits. Now looking back those photos again, there were some really good ones (and lots and lots of really bad ones, since I was still learning the ropes about photography) which deserves the Lightroom treatment. I blogged about my experiences in Tunisia back in 2012, if anyone cared to look at my archive, but never really had any photos to pair my experiences with.

That is about to change. I am reviewing every single photo that I took during my time in Tunisia and I am going to pick the best of the best and try to bring these pictures back to life. This is going to be a project worth doing.

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 could be my next camera

I have loved photography since I first own a Canon DSLR. Though I am by no means an expert in photography but it has been a consistent hobby of mind. I have never grown tired of photography. And my love of travel simply magnifies my love of the art of photography.

Recently I have researched intensely on what my next camera could be. I have owned the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II mft system for nearly 4 years now. I love the camera a lot but I also feel that technology in photography has advanced quite significantly since then. The new Mark III is launching really soon. It was immediately clear from the the get-go that getting the Mark III would be a natural progression when it comes to camera upgrades. I can use the same lens and I will be extremely familiar with the handling and use of the camera right out of the box.

But after scrutinising the technical features and reading the opinions of other fellow photographers on the new features being introduced in the new model, there seems to be a grain of truth that the new Mark III is simply a rebadge of the EM1 MarkII. And that camera was released in 2016. So essentially you are buying a 2016 camera at exorbitant launch prices!

That is something that bugs me a lot. And it suddenly made me realise that the value proposition was just no longer there.

So I did more digging, looking at the various camera brands and what their latest offerings were, till I stumbled upon fujifilm’s upcoming X-Pro 3 camera.

The new X-Pro 3 camera from Fujifilm is highly intriguing. Touted as the photographer’s camera, it specialises in applying classic film filters to your photos just like in the old days of film. In addition to that, the style and design of the camera is very similar to the rangefinder cameras back in the old days

The X-Pro 3

I am not going to discuss the specs this camera have, rather I am going to talk about their controversial new design pertaining to the LCD screen. In their upcoming model, they made some design changes to intentionally hides the LCD screen. It’s still there, but it’s hidden from view. That seemed strange to me at first, especially when Photographers nowadays would like to check how their shots turn out right after taking them. But I soon understood why they decided to do that.

It may sound like a marketing gimmick, but I kinda agree why Fujifilm decided to go in that direction and carve a niche in the photography space. It’s a photographer’s camera, and as such the viewfinder is your window to the world, not the LCD screen. It’s meant to slow you down, view the world through the viewfinder and to reduce the impulsiveness of having to check your shots. Essentially, just focus on shooting and less on worrying about how your shots will turn out. Go back to photography fundamentals; shutter speed, iso, aperture, composition, focal length and trust in those parameters in taking great shots.

Camera gear upgrade path is a little clearer now

So two days ago I took a gamble and invested S$150 off Carousell to buy a new pancake lens, the Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6. Its part of a kit lens in some of the Olympus camera systems. Being a pancake lens, this is, according to Olympus, their slimmest zoom lens they have ever made.

Olympus’s slimmest zoom lens. Cheap and decent.

I thought really hard at what are the core issues bugging me when it comes to carrying a dedicated camera around during my travels to take good photos when my new iPhone 11 Pro Max can do it’s job pretty well. Weight and bulkiness of the overall system are my main annoyances. The camera body is not the issue. MFT camera systems have small bodies to begin with. This is why the MFT system exists in the first place. But you cannot defy the laws of physics. If you want good quality lenses that are bright and sturdy, you have to sacrifice size and weight to have those qualities mentioned (not to mention the price). And so, following that logic, I initially (and almost) bought a compact camera to solve that problem.

However, there is another, cheaper alternative that I did not really give much thought until two days ago: What if I simply get a pancake lens and attach to my current OM-D EM5 Mark II camera? Indeed there was a pancake zoom lens that Olympus offers in their lens lineup. Reading the reviews, I was pretty satisfied how it decently performs optically, given the fact that this is a pancake lens that comes as a kit lens in some cameras. Kit lens don’t really have a good reputation when it comes to image quality. But considering the size and the potential convenience carrying it around, I was ready to take the plunge.

I was fortunate enough to catch someone on Carousell selling their 14-42mm lens for about S$150 (way cheaper than the S$400 or so retailers were selling). I thought to myself; this is my calling. The lens was practically calling out to me! This is what I need after all to solve my problem!

Truth be told, the OM-D EM5 Mark II camera body itself is actually small enough for me. Luckily, adding the pancake lens didn’t add much to the overall weight and bulk of the system. I was thrilled. For S$150, I solved my problem.

On that same day as I collected my lens from the seller, I headed down to Haji Lane to take the lens for a test drive.

And you know what?

It actually performs really well. It’s not the sharpest lens I have used, but for the price and size, this is perfect for street photography! I have some photos to show you, but until I have done editing them, I guess my first impressions about the lens will have to wait for a little while longer.

Just a sneak preview of what the shot I took down at Haji Lane using the Olympus 14-42mm pancake lens. I was surprised by the optical quality of this lens, given the price.

Such an elegant solution. Now my OMD has a new lease of life. I am loving my camera system again! Why didn’t I think about this earlier? Who knew that you do not have to sacrifice so much just to have a smaller, lighter camera system? At the end of the day, don’t worry about the images being ultra-sharp. Just enjoy the process of taking photos!

Don’t get me wrong, I am still inclined to upgrade to the Mark III system slated to release at the end of November. It’s just a matter of when. And the best part about upgrading to the Mark III is that I can use the lenses that I currently have. Now, one thing I do know, is that my upgrade path is now much much clearer.

The more I look at this Fujifilm X-Pro 3 camera, the more I want it. This camera has character. But it also comes at a steep price. And the portability is questionable since I have yet to personally try the camera out myself. Image credit: TheVerge.

But recently, I have been intrigued by Fujifilm’s upcoming new camera, the Fujifilm X-Pro 3. I am going to talk about why I am so intrigued and attracted to this new camera in my future post.