Fuji x-Pro1

Michael Taylor AKA TeaPot from Shoreditch

Michael AKA TeaPot in front of Brick Lane Coffee

Michael AKA TeaPot in front of Brick Lane Coffee

Sometimes life surprises you by meeting very special people. That happened to me with Michael Taylor better known as TeaPot. Michael and I became friends while I was working on my documentary photo project of Shoreditch.

This charming guy is full of stories of his life. He was born in 1945, worked  as a demolition man and enjoyed life in all stages. He must have been a real heartbreaker - and I think he still is. This man is packed with happiness, even so life can hit you hard from time to time.

Last year he got sick and it must haven been tough couple of months. Now he is getting better and better which makes me very happy to see!

I was so glad to help him out a bit this time. Last year I mentioned to him, that he would be the perfect model for commercials. He liked the idea and so I called my model friend Sam who gave me a contact of a model agency. When I got back to Munich I edited some pictures of him and send  a portfolio of different shots to the agency. They replied immediately and invited him for a meeting! Me and my friends from Brick Lane are so thrilled that it worked out!

...it feels so good to help! Michael is not having lots of money and this could be a jump into a second career and to polish up a bit his income. I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything is working out with the agency. I am sure they can't resist his charisma and personality. 

Whenever you are around Brick Lane. Have a look around, he likes to sit in front of Brick Lane Coffee. Talk to him and asked him for pictures. Pay him a few pounds - you will get awesome pictures of him and a few stories extra! He is very special and I am so happy to know him...

Selfie of Michael and me

Selfie of Michael and me

Broadway / Downtown L.A.

Whenever I am in L.A, I like to take pictures Downtown. The Broadway is one of the oldest streets in L.A and was the main commercial street of Los Angeles, and one of its premier theater districts as well. 

If you are walking todays Broadway, you can just  imagine how beautiful this part of L.A. has been. Right now it feels pretty fucked up - but there is still the beauty of the old buildings architecture and a very special spirit . For me this part of L.A. was always very inspiring. 

I have just found out that there is a initiate Bringing back Broadway. I would like to see this part of L.A. back in glance. 

#Shoreditch / The Second Hand Store

While strolling around  Brick Lane I came across THE SECOND HAND STORE in 14 Bacon Street. TY, the owner for 30 years, invited me taking a look inside. 

Honestly the store didn't look very inspiring from outside, but inside it was like a journey through the last century.  All this bits and pieces, vintage stuff, industrials, furniture, records, radios etc...  It is a huge mess, but I absolutely enjoyed my visit and can recommend all of you taking a look inside...and who knows, maybe you'll find little treasure.

Back to old habits... or looking foward...? Leica or Fuji?

I used to be a Leica photographer, loved my M8, X1 and still love my D-Lux 5. The image quality of the Leica DNG files is brilliant and the way to shoot with a rangefinder is fantastic. It slows down the whole photography process and you concentrate more on the composition of the pictures than shooting images like a machine gun.

But I got some eye problems, while shooting all day long with the rangefinder. So I started looking for another street camera and ended up with the Fujis. First I got the x100 and not long after the xPro1. I sold my Leicas and the Fuji journey began. 

On my 6 week roadtrip through the US I just had my x100 and xPro1 with me. I had so much fun shooting - the cameras are light and great to travel with. The only problem I had and still have was the RAW file processing. I mentioned this in my latest blog post. I got a bit frustrated about the editing process with the Fuji files. 

Last week I was passing by my Leica dealer in Munich. I told him that I switched to Fuji - but wasn't very happy with the RAW file management and miss the workflow I had with the M. Surprisingly he offered me to test the new Leica M 240!

 

Steve Huff, Eric Kim and others are thrilled with the new Leica and so I was curious how the new M is. Last year my Leica dealer and I were talking about the upcoming M - and he wasn't very optimistic about the new CMOS sensor, video tool etc. 

I hadn't had too much time to test the camera in detail. Just 30 minutes - but that was enough to get a first impression! I must say, the new M is the best digital camera Leica has ever done! It is a pleasure to have in my hands and the IQ is superb! Here are my pro & cons:

PRO: 
 + superb IQ  
 + white balance
 + superb color rendering
 + sound of the shutter release
 + improved ISO
 + handcrafted
 + Live View - it works well

CONS: 
 - heavier than the M9
 - expensive

The Leica M is fantastic to shoot with... Most of all I was impressed about the automatic white balance and the color rendering. The colors look 1:1 ! 

I had my xPro1 with me - and was curious how much different the files would look to the M. I did some test shots with ISO 200 in Aperture Mode but forgot that the automatic time settings are different with the cameras - so I cannot do an exactly 1:1 review.   

Here are 3 pictures I shot with the Leica M240 and 35mm Summicron. These are DNG files right away out of the camera - the weather was grey in grey. Please forgive for the picture selection - but there was nothing interesting around to capture :)

Pictures taken with the xPro1 & 18mm lens

My opinion is, that the xPro1 is doing a very good job but the M is a bit better. 

The question now is,  would I go back to Leica? 
Well, a though question - I still love the Leica feeling, the way to take pictures and the Leica look of the M - but after shooting for one hour with the rangefinder, my eye problem were back.

But, even if I wouldn't have the issues with my eye, I am not sure if I would purchase the new M. With a 35 mm lens the M costs around 8000€ - 9000€.  That is a lot of money!  

There was a customer at the Leica store who was asking me if the new M is worth it?
 
 If you have the money and you love shooting with Leica YES! Instead purchasing the new M getting a used M9 or M-E - NO! The M9 is having a great Image quality but you will get the much better package & deal with the Fujis! 

I will stick with Fuji! They make a brilliant job! Using the xpro1, x100 etc. is fun, it is light, fantastic lenses and the IQ is awesome and I don't have any eye problems! 

...so, what about the RAW workflow?
 
Last week I decided to give another try - to work just with the jpegs and change a bit my settings. But it seems that the RAW file issue is now solved!  Today Adobe released the new version of Lightroom. It includes now a correction to the demosaic algorithms for Fujifilm cameras with the X-Trans sensor. YEAH - problem solved! I just downloaded the new version and I am thrilled!  The files look awesome... I can get now the look I want and cant wait to start my editing process. My pictures are getting back their soul and that feels damn good! 

So, back to old habits?
No - I am looking forward to I stick with Fuji - for two reasons: First of all they make fantastic cameras and lenses and secondly they hear what customers say! They improved the X100 after getting feedback from Pro photographers and customers and worked together with Adobe to solve the RAW Processing problem. I just purchased the new x100S and I'm very curious to find out about the faster AF and improvements! 

 Is Fuji the new Leica?
In my opinion, NO - Leica will always be Leica. These are 2 different camera systems and brands... Owning a Leica is much more than owning a camera or a tool to take pictures with. You'll get a hand crafted camera with soul. It is a lifestyle and everyone who ever owned a Leica knows what I try to say. 

 

Aperture, Lightroom...Capture One! Finally the Odyssee ends.

It's been a while since I posted something on my blog. I needed a little break from photography and time to reflect last year!  

I have been on the road for more than 6 months lately. It was an exciting and fantastic year! I got a contract with a press agency, shot at the Olympics in London, the US-elections and switched my gear from Leica M to Fuji X-100 & Fuji X-Pro1. 

The x-Pro 1 is not a Leica - honestly I miss my Leica from time to time - but the xPro is a trusty partner in nearly all situations. But there is one thing that I don't like with the x-Pro - working with the RAW files!  

I used to work with Aperture. But till now they don't support the RAW files of the x-series of Fuji. I hope that this will change with the upcoming Aperture X ! There are so many rumors with Apple releasing the new Aperture X - but I finally came to the point that I am not willing to wait anymore! 

With the x-series, I switched from Aperture to Lightroom. I have never been a huge fan of Lightroom - I never liked the interface - but with every software there are pro's and con's. So I tried to make the best of the situation to get along. I have to admit - I have never spend so much time editing my files! Till now, after hours of editing I still don't get the look I want with Lightroom. It really sucks, cause usually I uploaded my Leica DNG files, edited a bit the curves and that was it. 

You can imagine that I was very excited when Capture One announced the support of the x-files! I downloaded the trial version and I tested C1 for a few weeks. All I have to say - it is such a relief! The RAF files are looking great! The colors, the details & skin tones of the pictures look amazing! 

Here is a comparison of 2 random shots from Venice Beach last year. RAF files straight out of the camera - not editing at all.

Fuji X-Pro  Lightroom 4.4 vs. Capture One 7

Fuji X-Pro Lightroom 4.4 vs. Capture One

In my opinion the Capture One files look much better - there are more details, the colors look nicer and the picture don't look flat as in Lightroom. 

I also checked a jpeg file in Lightroom, Aperture & Capture One of my new Nikon D600. Here a shot straight out of the camera of our foster dog, Mr. Bootsmann.

 

Nikon 600 Lightroom, Aperture, Capture One

The jpegs look great in Capture One, but I have to admit, that I do like the Aperture file a bit more.  

So finally after months and weeks I came to the decision that I will work with Capture one & Aperture! Capture One - because of the fantastic RAW Converter & Aperture for the interface, the file managing and the plug-In's (VSCO, Nik Software) I use.

I know that Capture One is not cheap at all and again I have to get used to another software - but at the end of the day I want to achieve the best result for a picture within a minimum of time. I know it will take a bit of time to get used to Capture One - but there are fantastic Online Tutorials on youTube and everything looks pretty easy so far. I also like that u can switch the interface & tools the way you prefer it.

For me - my Odyssee has ended and I feel pretty good with my decision. I hope I could help some of you who are in a similar position but at the end of the day it is a personal question of the preferred look and feel!