Posted by Mark
Late last month I picked up the Fuji X-Pro1 camera from Xcite to review and after spending a lot of time with it I can confidently say I loved it. How much? Well I wouldn’t mind it over the much more expensive Leica M9 but more on that later. I took the camera with me to Lebanon while on vacation and I carried it around and shot with it as much as I could.
The first thing I loved about the camera is the way it looks. When I first saw pictures of it online I was like I need to have it! It’s a simple black boxy looking camera that has a very timeless look to it. It’s bigger than I expected it to be but not that much different from the Leica M9. One thing that’s a lot different to the Leica is the weight. While the Leica M9 is a pretty hefty camera, the X-Pro1 is a lot lighter and that’s a good thing. I walked around with the X-Pro1 strung across my shoulder and I never felt the camera was bothersome or heavy. On the other hand I’ve walked around with a Leica M9 slung over my shoulder before and it’s presence was felt very quickly. Although the camera doesn’t look very ergonomic it felt comfortable in my hands and during use.
The X-Pro1 is a 16MP camera with a sensor that’s similar in size to most DSLR’s. I had the very bright 35m f/1.4 lens for the review and it’s really the only lens you need. The 35mm lens is equal to a 50mm lens on a full frame camera and that’s generally considered the most popular focal length since it’s close to what the eyes see. There are two knobs on the top, one for the shutter speed and one for the exposure. The camera also has a quick menu button which brings to focus the most commonly used options and a customizable FN button which in my case was calling up the ISO list.
Carrying the camera around and shooting with it was a lot of fun. The camera has a hybrid viewfinder similar to the Fuji X100 which is always fascinating to use. The hybrid viewfinder is something unique to Fuji and it’s basically an opticalviewfinder with information digitally displayed on top of it. There is also a switch on the front of the camera which when pressed turns the hybrid viewfinder into an electronic one. I didn’t use the EVF much since I’m not a fan of them but many people will appreciate it’s accuracy over the hybrid viewfinder. Although I read online about the camera’s focusing issues I didn’t run into any while shooting with the camera. I didn’t shoot any sports or fast action but I was shooting with the camera wide open and in different lighting conditions and maybe only once or twice did I have difficulty getting focus. ISO performance is another thing this camera is good at. At ISO1600 the noise is barely noticeable.
I have a few issues with the camera but none very major. First the on/off button gets switched on by mistake all to often and I can’t even count the times I found the camera on when it should be off. I have a similar issue with the aperture ring on the lens, it’s too loose and easily rotates with a minor bump or rub. Another more important issue is manually focusing with the camera. Manually focusing using the hybrid viewfinder isn’t an easy task since there are no markings on the screen to aid you and you can’t estimate using the focus ring on the lens since the focus ring works digitally (it also rotates infinitely).
Now the difficult part is deciding if this camera is right for you. If you’ve always wanted a Leica M8 or Leica M9 then get this camera. Other than the fact the Leica is nearly 4 times more expensive, the X-Pro1 has another advantage and that is the fact it has auto focus. The lenses are also like 10 times cheaper so really it’s a no brainer. If you’ve considered the Sony NEX-7 at one point then you should also consider the X-Pro1. I think the NEX-7 is a great camera but let down by a terrible collection of lenses. Personally I want this camera but I can’t seem to figure out when I would use it. I have the Panasonic GX1 which is my compact camera I take on vacations and dinners. Then I have the Nikon D800 which is what I use for my important stuff. The Fuji would have to replace one of those two but it wouldn’t be able to do the job of either of them right. It’s not compact or versatile like my GX1 and it also doesn’t have the large full frame sensor of my D800 or the lenses to compete with it. As I said earlier, deciding on this camera is the most difficult part.
The camera is selling as a kit for KD646. The kit includes the X-Pro1 camera, the 35mm f/1.4 lens and the original case kit.
It’s only available at the new photography section in the Xcite store in Avenues. I just found out the camera kit is actually available at three Xcite branches:
X-PRO 1+X35mm Lens+X-Pro 1 Case (kit) – KD646 – Available in Rai, Fahaheel & Avenues
X18MM (Prime Lens) – KD159 – Available only in Avenues
XF60MM (Macro Lens) – KD182 – Available only in Avenues
EF-X20 (Shoe Mount Flash) – KD58 – Available only in Avenues
Posted by Mark
Over the weekend I was at the Avenues and ended up passing by Xcite’s new photography section. Two things grabbed my attention, the first is the fact they have 4 incredibly expensive Nikon lenses on display including the 400mm f/2.8 which I’d love to have at the next Gulf Run event. The second thing that grabbed my attention was the Fuji X-Pro 1 camera.
When the camera was first revealed online my heart sank into to my stomach since I had just purchased the my Panasonic GX1 and there was no way I could buy this as well. The camera was everything the Fuji X100 was except it was better in every way.
Once I got home I sent an email to my contact at Xcite and asked him if they’d be able to hook me up with one to review and they did. Not only that but I’m traveling to Lebanon for two weeks and I’m going to have the camera with me there which is perfect since the X-Pro 1 is a great camera for street photography which is something I like doing in Lebanon.
I’m going to be using the 35mm f/1.4 lens with the camera and expect a thorough review in around 10 days time.
Update: Below is a picture of the X-Pro 1 next to my GX1.
Posted by Mark
The Historical, Vintage & Classic Car Museum is holding their 2nd ever Automotive Photography Contest starting from now till June 2nd which will be the last day you can submit your shots.
The following are the categories of the contest:
Best Photo of a car
Micro Photo of the Car
Black and White
People’s Choice (voted on by the museum visitors)
The prizes for first place are KD500, second place 300 and third 200. Each of the top 50 will also get KD50. The overall winners will also get KD1,000 for first, 750 for second and 500 for third. So there is a substantial amount of money to be won here.
I went through the rules, everything seems ok, the only issue I had was with the following statement:
- When you participate in the competition you will grant the Museum ALL copyright of the images submitted, and you may not reclaim any rights.
At first I thought they meant that they will basically own the photos after you submit them but turns out they just mean they will have the right to use and reprint the images for calendars, posters etc.. without requiring your permission which is fine by me.
I’ll most likely be taking part with my McLaren and Fiat 500 shots if I can figure out where to get my photos printed and boarded. If you’re also interested to participate then download the PDF with the full details of the competition from [Here]
Posted by Mark
I found out about Instajelly from a Forum user and after trying it out I think it’s the best web Instagram viewer out there. I like the way it displays all my images in a nice clean format and I also like the fact you could read the comments and then comment on photos all from within the website.
I think I’ve kinda slowly slowly been moving away from Twitter towards Instagram. Pictures are always a lot more interesting than words. Anyway you can check out my Instagram account using Instajelly right over [Here]
Posted by Mark
I passed by this strange abandoned old villa over the weekend that was full of random quotes (that barely made any sense) spray painted all over the walls. Here are some I managed to make out:
- Nothing is real unless you think it is… way cup
- Everything starts with a puff
- When I smoke dyin’ to live… penis
- House is made of brick and stone a tree house is made of weed
- All the other kids with the pumped mess you’d better run better run faster than my bullet
Pretty weird funny stuff.
Posted by Mark
Last month I posted about how a friend ordered photography gear from DigitalRev.com and ended up paying just KD12 for customs. Shipping was free, they cover warranty in Kuwait and more importantly their prices are either similar or cheaper than Amazon. Since I posted about them I know of at least 3 other friends who ordered gear from DigitalRev as well as two other forum users and everyone reported the same thing, that DigitalRev is basically the best place online to order photography gear from.
There are a few advantages to ordering with DigitalRev over for example Amazon. First of all shipping to Kuwait is for free and they use DHL to ship the items so they arrived in just a few days. That’s quicker than the Amazon+Aramex combo. Plus you have to pay Aramex while they ship the stuff for free. Secondly on average people are paying just KD8 for customs which is pretty cool, I was expecting at least double that. The items are also wrapped as if DigitalRev are aware of the state of the postal service here because their packaging are drop proof. The items arrive in a box and inside that box the item is rolled in a ton of bubble wrap. So if the box is thrown around you don’t have to worry about anything getting damaged.
Not sure why I only recently found out about DigitalRev but I guess it’s better late than never.
They’re selling the D800 for example for $150 more expensive than Amazon but with Amazon you pay tax which is $320. That means DigitalRev are selling the D800 for $170 cheaper and that includes DHL delivery to Kuwait. If that’s not a good deal I’m not sure what is!
Anyway you can check them out [Here]
Update: Ignore my last example since I can’t calculate to save my life!
Posted by Mark
This Friday (May 4th) a photographic walk will be taking place from the Scientific Center to the Kuwait Towers in which over 50 amateur and professional photographers are expected to participate. Photography lovers from all skill levels are invited to take part in this walk which will also include classes and demonstrations by experts.
The walk starts off at 5AM which is early but necessary to capture the sunrise and the magic hour. The group will be making a bunch of stops along the way to take photos including a 7AM stop at the Hard Rock Cafe to photograph a motorcycle club and a stop at around 11AM at the Green Island to photograph some models.
It sounds like a lot of fun so if you’re interested or want more details check out their Facebook page [Here]
Posted by Mark
Yesterday after dropping off my dog at the vet and heading to the airport I decided to pass by the old Ahmadi Drive-In Cinema. I’ve been wanting to pass by for ages and figured I’d quickly scout out the place to see where I could climb in from and then come back another day.
When I got there I drove up to the main entrance where cars in the old days would line up before driving in and noticed the main gate was closed. I decided I would drive around the complex to see if I could find some kind of hole or a low wall I could jump. But, as soon as I turned to the side of the building I noticed the side gate was left open. It caught me a bit by surprise and from where I was sitting in the car I could see the cinema screen inside. I had my camera with me and I still had time to get to the airport so I figured what the heck, took my camera and went inside.
The place is huge, I’ve never been to a drive-in theater before so I was a bit dumbfounded by the size. Once you’re inside you’re closed off from the rest of the world and it was around 6pm when I got there which was during sunset so the whole experience was pretty tranquil. I loved the place.
Although the place is not being taken care at least they haven’t demolished it. There are so many possibilities for this space, even though drive-in’s are long gone that doesn’t mean the place can’t be used for anything worthwhile. One thing I’d love to see take place inside there is car booth sales You’ve got a nice space that’s isolated from the surroundings as well as a place with history so events like that would fit perfectly. Even car meets and monthly flea markets could work really well in that space.
Whatever comes of the place I just hope they keep the structure standing.
Posted by Mark
Yesterday after my visit to MRC I decided to pass by the tire graveyard which was located around 5 minutes down the road from them. The road that takes you to the tire graveyard is unpaved and unmarked but with the help of Google Maps I didn’t have any trouble finding it. Once there I was awestruck with the amount of tires that were piled up on top of each other, literally millions and millions of them.
To get a better look at the tires I first had to climb a tall wall of tires but once I got to the top the sight was spectacular. I know it’s not a good thing because these tires are an environmental disaster but still you can’t deny it’s a scene like no other.
I didn’t know if I was allowed to be there of if I was allowed to take pictures so I quickly snapped a few shots and got out. I really need to go back since it’s full of photo opportunities. On the bright side I did end up with a cool desktop wallpaper (pictured above) so that was worth it. If you want to use the picture above as a wallpaper as well you can download the higher resolution version from [Here]
Posted by Mark
I’ve been carrying the D800 with me all week and I’m loving it. I really haven’t found any major kinks so my first impression has been very positive. I’m going to try and not get into too many technical details but it’s going to be a bit difficult to avoid that since what really differentiates this camera from others is the technical aspects.
Look and Feel
Even though the D800 is a lot more bulkier than regular DSLR’s I still found the size very manageable. I’ve actually been carrying the camera around with me in my small Think Tank 5 bag which I had gotten for my much smaller Panasonic GX1 camera. The camera weight isn’t bad either and feels really solid and comfortable in my hands. The viewfinder is huge compared to my older Nikon D90 but that’s no surprise since the D800 is a full frame camera. What does that mean? If you have a DSLR it’s most likely using a APS-C sensor which is around 23.6 x 15.7mm in size. That sensor is a lot bigger than sensors in point and shoot cameras which are around 7.18 x 5.32mm but it’s still a lot smaller in size compared to a full frame sensor like on the D800 which measures at 36 x 24mm. The larger the sensor the more light and detail it can capture. (more info on sensor sizes)
The camera has a lot of buttons and majority of them are customizable. I shoot in aperture priority mode so the front rotating dial controls the aperture while I’ve setup the rear sub dial to control the exposure. I have two programmable buttons in the front which I can active without looking and I’ve set one to turn on the virtual horizon inside the viewfinder (shows you if the camera is tilted) while the second button turns on spot metering. One feature I’m currently loving is the Auto-ISO. I’ve previously had cameras that had Auto-ISO but what sets the D800 apart from the others is the fact I can set a minimum shutter speed (for each lens). Once the shutter speed drops below what I’ve set then the camera will increase the ISO until it reaches my minimum shutter speed requirement. I can also set the maximum ISO which I currently have on ISO 6400 (yes it’s that usable!).
The camera has two memory card slots and I can tell the camera to record pictures onto one or video onto the other. I can even tell it to record RAW images onto one, JPG onto the other or even record the same information on both so all my images are backed up. Finally you have three different RAW formats you can save to which is great since the 36MP RAW files can reach 80MB on the highest quality but can drop down to 35MB with very little quality loss if I need.
What’s made this camera really popular is the fact that it’s 36MP. The fact that it’s 36MP was actually a turn off for me since I don’t need 36MP (16MP would be more than enough for my needs). But after shooting with the camera over the weekend I can easily see why 36MP is so great… cropping. When you’re in the moment it’s sometimes difficult to frame the shot the way you want it and that’s what happened with me over the weekend when I was shooting some workers. Because I shot at 36MP, once I got home and started processing the shots I was able to frame and crop into some shots and still have a very large image to work with. Low light shooting is also great with the D800, like I mentioned earlier I have it set on Auto-ISO right now and I’ve set the limit to 6400 because at 6400 the noise is barely noticeable. Actually if I only need the shots for my blog I could shoot with ISO 25,600 and post it here and you wouldn’t be able to see any noise at all.
I really do love this camera. It’s super responsive, there are a ton of buttons which means if I want to change any setting I don’t have to flip through menus, the viewfinder is large and it really just feels great using it. It won’t make me a better photographer but it has reignited my passion for photography. The only negative I have to say about the camera is that you need a powerful computer to process the large RAW files. If you’re paying this much for a camera anyway then you should be willing to invest in your computer. I’m using Lighroom 4 on a 27inch iMAC 3.2Ghz Core 3 with 12GB of RAM and it takes around 5 to 10 seconds to load a photo at full resolution to start developing. I’m now planning to upgrade it to 32GB of RAM to see and if it will help improve things but the best solution will most likely be patience. The camera is currently out of stock all around the world but I pre-ordered mine from Electronic Express and they had it shipped to me within a week. Because of that Electronic Express are now one of my favorite online electronic stores.
Posted by Mark
Over the weekend I had a project I needed to shoot which would require low light shots and very low angles so I decided to pass by Alghunaim Photo and pick up a tripod. There were a few tripods too choose from but only two fit my budget. The first one I checked out was the Manfrotto 290 series with the quick release ball head. The ball head is the upper part of the tripod which connects to your camera (picture near end of post). Generally you can choose I think between 3 types of heads but I like the ball head due to it’s ease of use. Anyway the 290 was pretty stable, easy and quick to operate but my issue with it was that it wouldn’t go down low enough since 38cm from the ground was the lowest it could go. It was disappointing since price wise at KD45 including the ball head I found it really affordable (for a quality tripod that is).
The second tripod I tried was the 190XPROB. This tripod didn’t go as high as the 290 series but it could go down a lot lower to around 8cm from the ground. It was also slightly smaller and lighter but not by that much. Since I was looking for a tripod that could go very low I ended up getting this one for KD35 WITHOUT the head. The cheapest ball head would set you back another KD25 on top of that price so you’re actually paying around KD60 for this tripod which isn’t cheap specially if like me you won’t be using it that much. But it’s made in Italy and really should last a lifetime so I decided to bite the bullet and just get it. After using the tripod for my project over the weekend I actually found it a bit complicated to use. Maybe finicky is the right word here. Each one of the tripod’s leg adjusts to 4 or 5 different angles and I ended up spending a lot of time trying to get all three legs to open at the same angle. If one of the angles differs then the tripod would end up being slanted. But even though I ran into that issue I had no regrets getting it since I found it very versatile specially since I was able to lower the tripod down so much that my camera was just a couple of inches off the ground. It would really be perfect for anyone wanting to shoot ants or other insects.
If you’re interested in buying a Manfrotto tripod Alghunaim Photo is the local dealer. But, you might be better off waiting until the end of the month before passing by since they’re currently out of stock on most of the items and their new shipment arrives end of the month. Their prices are similar or cheaper than Amazon’s listed price which is amazing. If you know what you want then I guess you could pass by and reserve your tripod. When I checked they had the 190XPROB in stock but only the high end ball heads (KD60 and up).
Posted by Mark
A reader posted in the forum the other day on how a point and shoot Canon camera he ordered online got impounded at customs. DHL weren’t able to release the item for him so he had to go clear it himself and after 2 and half hours of running around he was finally able to do so.
So I checked on this and it turns out right now the Canon and Sigma dealers have raised an issue with customs and are demanding that only they are allowed to import their brands. I am not sure if they’ve done this to stop shops like AAB Photo from taking away from their sales (and individuals are being caught in the crossfire) or if they’re actually trying to stop everyone and anyone from purchasing their brands online. Hopefully we’re not the targets and this is just a temporary measure but in any case if you’re planning to order Canon or Sigma products over the internet you should either put your plans on hold until the situation settles down or be prepared to clear the item yourself.
Posted by Mark
My Nikon D800 arrived to Kuwait a few days ago and I picked it up yesterday night on my way back home from the airport. I was hoping to have the camera with me when I went to Lebanon so I could take some pictures while I was there but the camera ended up arriving after I had already left. First impression… I’m in love. Going from the Nikon D90 to the D800 is a huge jump and it’s not because the D800 is larger and much better built or the fact it’s a 36MP full frame camera. The thing that has excited me the most so far is all the customizable options in the camera. EVERYTHING can be customized, there are just menus and menus of options and I’m loving it.
I’m going to be taking pictures all this weekend and should have a better first impression to post sometime next week but for now I’ll leave you with one picture to demonstrate how huge 36MP really is. Below is a photo I took today with a 24mm lens (thats why the image has some distortion) and below that is a 100% crop of the same image.
The amount of details the camera captures is ridiculous and each uncompressed RAW file is around 80MB in size. If you want to view the image above in full res click [Here]
I originally pre-ordered the camera from both BHphoto AND Amazon but they both had a long list of pre-orders (BHphoto I read have nearly 5000 pre-orders) but they both didn’t receive a large shipment of cameras (BHphoto supposedly got just 50!). So I decided to find a smaller less popular retailer and ended up pre-ordering from Electronic Express. I was the only one that had pre-ordered from them and around 5 days after placing my order they received just one D800 and shipped it to me. I was super lucky since there are thousands and thousands of people who’ve pre-ordered from early February and still have no idea when they’ll be getting the camera. The local Nikon dealer and AAB Photo both have the D800 in stock right now but due to the world wide limited availability their prices are still very high (around KD1,300). So your best bet right now if you want a D800 is to find a small online retailer and order it from them or pay a premium and pick it up locally.