Lucha Loco.

My new favorite Mexican joint in town – love the authentic atmosphere, and the food is absolutely excellent. The snapper was particular great – with a touch of spice to it, and plenty of crunch to the skin as well. And don’t forget the giant watermelon cocktail… Good for 4!

It also gave me a chance to test the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 on my D600. It’s an absolute keeper – one of those lenses that will forever be a defining part of my collection, I suspect. After trying hard to love both the X100 and X100S as my 35mm carry-everywhere cameras, I doubt I’d be able to compromise now. Guess I’ll have to carry the D600 most of the time!

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Arab Street – Cultural Enclave.

“Arab Street” is something of a misnomer – it’s a loose term used to describe a collection of little side streets around the Bugis / Beach Road area, also known as Kampong Glam. Some of my cameraphile buddies and I felt like taking some shots whilst we were at it. It also provided the opportunity to do a quick test between the D600 and the X100S.

Obviously, I don’t think there’s a point to doing a head to head comparison here – trying to do so would be like comparing chalk and cheese, since one has relatively small APS-C sensor and a fixed lens, and the other is a full frame semi professional DSLR. Photos from both cameras below (and you get bonus points for figuring out which was taken by which). I’ve made some preliminary observations on the X100S at the end of the post. As a disclaimer, this isn’t a review – I don’t think I have the technical capability to make any firm assessments. This is just a quick test based on my observations.

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Some preliminary observations:

– The X100S held its own in most respects, and is a great little walkaround camera. Image quality is generally excellent. The only observation I would make with regard to IQ is that dynamic range isn’t what I’m used to anymore, but perhaps it’s because I’m used to the incredible DR on the D600.

– AF is significantly improved over the X100, but still nowhere near as capable as the D600 – or indeed, the OM-D. I missed focus several times on what should have been a relatively simple AF target. Other times, it confirmed focus even though it was really focusing to infinity – a problem i also had on the X100, although far more often with that camera than with the X100S.

– Like with the X100, I found that the X100S tended to overexpose in bright sunlight pretty often, regardless of the metering mode used. It’s fixed fairly easily with the exposure dial, but still an annoyance.

– I’m not sure I like the RAW files out of the X100S. I know LR 4.4 was supposed to address some of the issues with RAW processing, but to my eye, I actually prefer the in-camera JPEG processing. Fortunately, the camera’s JPEG engine is so excellent that I reckon I might just shoot JPEG  – a real first for me!

– If these observations sound generally negative, they’re not intended to be – as I said above, the X100S is a wonderfully capable little camera. As a travel camera for most people, the X100S is more than enough. It’s light, compact, and produces excellent pictures. But it’s also a camera that requires very deliberate thought before taking a shot, and is aimed at an audience that already knows its way around a camera. Will it replace a DSLR? For some, perhaps. Personally, I definitely need the flexibility of the D600 for some purposes – but on days when I don’t feel like carrying an extra couple of kilos around, the X100S is perfect.

Note: Photos have been processed with Lightroom 4.4 RC and VSCO Film.

Masa Steak and Hamburg Grill.

Yumyum – haven’t had such good hamburg steaks since i was last in tokyo!

Shot using the X100. Amazing image quality out of the little camera, although the autofocus – even with the new update – can be infuriatingly slow. But a lack of speed I can deal with; inaccuracy I can’t, and it missed focus (despite supposed confirmation) on several occasions, choosing to focus to infinity instead.

Fortunately,  my copy’s just on loan from my camera guy, and i suspect i’ll end up not picking it up. Now, i wonder whether the X100s has fixed the AF problems…

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Europe with a phone.

The most common thought that crosses the mind of most photographers is often – what’s my next camera, lens, or piece of kit? It’s an entirely fair question – to a certain extent, we need tools to do what we do. The analogy that springs to mind is being like a painter without the right brush, or palette. You might be still be able to create art, but it makes the task significantly harder. And let’s be honest – sometimes we just want new toys.

But is being limited by your tools necessarily a bad thing? I took a trip to Europe a couple of years ago, and halfway through, my little travel camera (then an Olympus EPL-3) stopped working thanks to a critical oversight on my part – I’d left the charger behind. That meant I was left to work with the only camera I had on me, the less-than-ideal little camera on my Galaxy S2.

In some ways, it was liberating – not having to think about white balance, what aperture to pick, or what AF mode to use. Free to think only about composition, and to worry about the value of light before the tiny sensor produces unusably noisy images. Here are the results.

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Now that’s all said and done, I now plan for redundancy after redundancy – I can’t travel without at least 3 batteries and multiple SD cards. I guess I like my depth of field control and complexity after all!