Friday, August 21, 2015

Felix Gets a New Camera and it's NOT a Sony!

Scroll down for product and sample images.

I have what some might call, an addiction. And while it might cost as much money as a coke habit, my addiction is certainly not as harmful, at least I don't think it is. My addiction is photography and/or cameras. Do I need more cameras than I already have in my vast inventory? Most definitely not. But cameras are cool, and I get a lot of joy from owning, collecting and shooting with my various cameras. That being said, I remain frugal, and almost always buy my cameras used, whenever possible and whenever those used cameras are in "like new" condition.

I have been looking at a few different cameras as of late, the Sony RX100 IV for example, for it's ability to shoot high definition, super slow motion video and it shoos in 4K video. But I have also been looking at the Fuji X20.

The Fuji X20 came out a couple years ago, so there are plenty of nice, used models available on eBay. Needless to say, I have been doing some browsing.

It's a little known fact, that when I made the switch from Nikon, my first camera was not a Sony but a Fuji! I don't remember the exact model number I had but it was something like a Fuji Finepix S1000 that came in around 10mp. Anyway, it shot outstanding photos and I really liked that camera. As a result of my pleasant first go around with a Fuji, I have great confidence in the brand.

I had already been tossing the idea around of picking up a used Fuji X20 for a couple weeks because I wanted a decent grab-n-go pocket camera. The Sony A6000 should have filled that requirement but unless I use the 16-50mm kit lens that comes with the A6000, it's not really a camera that will fit in your pocket. Usually, I throw on my Zeiss 16-70mm lens which is a really high quality bad ass lens, but then the camera won't fit in my pocket because the Zeiss lens is quite a big longer than the Sony kit lens. But I digress.

The Fuji design is retro-styled, which I really like and features a fixed, zoom lens. I've been watching a number of review videos and have been reading up on the various reviews on the web, all of which are quite positive. But what really closed the deal on my decision to buy one is the fact that my good shooting partner, Turner, spontaneously bought the higher-end Fujifilm X100T the other day when we were down in Seoul. So I was able to get some trigger time on his Fuji which is really similar to the X20.

What I like best about the Fujifilm X20 is the "film simulation" feature. Which, as the name implies, produce images with the look at feel of a variety of types of 35mm film including: Provia, Velvia, Astia, Pro Negative, Monochrome and Sepia. I really love the look of film pictures, but I don't always want to wait to for my film photos to be developed. I think the film simulation feature of the Fujifilm X20 will be a fun tool but in the back of my mind I'm wondering if it will cause me to use my actual film cameras less? It remains to be seen.

The Fujifilm X20 is 12mp on a 2/3 inch sensor and can shoot at 12fps, that's even faster than my A6000! The lens is a Fujinon 28-112 power zoom and also has 2x digital zoom. I'm excited to shoot with it.Turner and I will be producing a video comparing this Fujifilm X100T and my X20, so stay tuned.

The average price for a new Fujifilm X20 is around $475 USD. I paid $302 for my used model which includes a case, 2 extra batteries and lens filter. The buyer listed it in "mint condition".

For more information read this awesome review at the Photography Blog -

Here is the official Fuji page -

Here are some photos of the actual camera that I purchased on eBay...

Here are some stock product images of the Fujifilm X20...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When Your Rangefinder is Out of Whack - Konica IIIa

My vintage Konica IIIa is in really good condition. It's well-built with a nice 40mm lens. I was really excited to put my first roll of film through it, however, I noticed that there was something amiss with the rangefinder. It would not align correctly at shorter distances and was therefore in need of a calibration. I have since had the rangefinder calibrated and it is in good working order, however, I already had a roll in it when I noticed the rangefinder was out of whack, so I went ahead and had the roll developed knowing full well that most of the photos would be out of focus.

I also noticed that in low light, I will need to overexpose the picture a little as the Konica does not
appear to like low light.

Below are a few images form my test roll.

Here you can see that the rangefinder is out of calibration.

Underexposed even with correct settings from a light meter.

The Konica IIIa took nice shots when the focus was set to infinity, obviously because it did not need
to focus at exact, closer range distances.

Looking good at longer distances when the rangefinder was not needed.

I can't wait to put a second roll though it now that I have my Konica IIIa back from the repair shop.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sample Images - Konica Minolta 17-35mm f/2.8

I took my newly acquired Konica Minolta 17-35mm f/2.8 wide angle lens with me to Seoul today and took it out of the bag long enough to snap a few sample photos with it.

Sample images shot with a Sony A99.

Please refer to my previous blog entry for more information -

Konica Minolta 17-35mm f/2.8

Sony Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8

I haven't shot with it nearly enough, and the only reason I can think of why is that I have been shooting photos for my job in the army more than anything else, and there is NO WAY I am ever taking my Sony A7M2 out of the bag to shoot army stuff. There's far too much dirt and dust and it just wouldn't be smart to expose a camera like this to possible damage in a military shooting environment.

That being said, by far, it's the best digital camera in my inventory. I'm not really that keen on spending close to $3000 for the new A7RII and I don't have a practical need for a 42mp camera at this time. My A7II does everything I need and produces extremely high quality images BUT (here's the rub) I don't have a lot of native lenses for this full-frame e-mount camera. I do have the Sony LA-EA4 adapter, and that's great that I can mount all my a-mount glass, but as far as native e-mount glass, I'm limited. 

I have the 28-70mm kit lens, and it's pretty good, but not spectacular. I also have the outstanding Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 but it's manual focus only. So I wanted a high-quality, versatile, auto focus lens that wouldn't break the bank. The Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 fit that bill. 

I bought this one used from my number one camera dealer in Korea for $540. I always buy from this particular supplier whenever possible because when I buy a used item, it is always in like new condition and he always throws in a few free goodies like a filter and lens cloth.

The Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 lens is small, light weight and compact and is fitted with a unique, sort of funny looking lens hood that kind of grows on you after a while. I've only had it for a day and just shot a couple quick images with it. Please note: the sample images below were taken with a Sony A6000.

Please note: the sample images below were taken with a Sony A6000 with Zeiss 35mm f/2.8

Friday, August 14, 2015

Konica Minolta 17-35mm f/2.8 - A Good Alternative to Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8

I have been searching high and low for a solution to my wide angle woes. I started out with a Sigma 16-35 something or other and that sucked donkey balls. Then I picked up a Tokina 11-16mm which is ok but it's not full frame. So then I tried a few Minolta's including the 28mm and the 20mm, the 20mm being the better of the two but not a stellar performer.

I've been trying to avoid spending $1500 on the Sony Zeiss 16-35mm, I just can't continue to buy thousand dollar lenses. Which is why I was truly relieved to find the Konica Minolta 17-35mm f/2.8 full frame lens.

I bought this one used for around $300 and it is in excellent condition. I just got it today and only had the chance to shoot a quick photo of my little office area in my army barracks room. More to come...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/16 (Post War)

Today the mailman delivered unto me the newest member of my vintage camera collection, a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/16 medium format film camera. The Zeiss Ikon Nettar was originally released in 1937, however, the model I have is a post-war model. probably manufactured around 1947.

It shoots 6x6cm exposures on 120 medium format film (8 exposures per roll) and features a 75mm f/4.5 lens.

It is a strut folding camera, the lens pops out of the camera with the push of a button and can be folded back in. It features a rudimentary view finder and the camera can only be focused by judging your distance from your subject and adjusting the focus ring accordingly. There is no way to visually confirm the focus.

It's in amazingly good shape given it's age. In fact, it looks like it's never been used!

Cool beans! Can't wait to try it out. Stay tuned for the images.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Photo Gallery - "The Hospital"

I always bring a camera bag every where I go, and so should you, because you never know when photographic opportunities or inspiration will hit you. Today I had to make the 2 hour drive from Dongducheon to Irwon-gu, home of the Samsung Medical Center, my army unit had a soldier admitted there and I was ferrying visitors to check in on him. My only job was to drive, while they spent time at his bed side, I wandered the hallways of the hospital with my trusty, compact Sony A6000 fitted with the simple yet impressive 16-50mm kit lens.

There's so much that goes on in a hospital, human emotion, life and death, but on top of all that, this particular hospital is not only monumental in outer appearance, the interior is equally mesmerizing and awe-inspiring. I hope you enjoy my photo set.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mr. Ant, Mr. Dragonfly, Mr. Frog and Ms. Flower

I knew spending time out in the field this week, North of Seoul, way North of Seoul, near the DMZ, would provide some opportunities for macro photography.There's never a shortage of bugs, gnats and assorted other creatures just waiting to crawl in your sleeping bag out there. I went well-prepared by including a nice macro lens in my camera bag; the Minolta 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. By all accounts a very fine macro lens, and you can see just why in the results below. Keep in mind, these are all hand held shots by an inexperienced macro photographer! Not too shaby.

I had gone out yesterday without a macro lens and managed to get a decent close up shot of a dragonfly, but today I wanted to see if I could top that. Fortunately for me, the wildlife seems to like me taking their photos. Hats off to Mr. Ant, Mr. Dragonfly (I wonder if he is the same one from yesterday?), Mr. Frog and Ms. Flower for posing so eloquently for my photos.

As captured by the Sony A77 with Minolta 100mm f/1.8 macro lens.