Tag Archive for photography

Going Mirrorless – From Sony A99 to Canon M6

Yep, that’s right. I’m transitioning to Canon, and mirrorless. What does that mean? I’m moving from the Minolta/Sony system that I’d been with since the 1990’s, to Canon; and I’m starting with the Canon EOS M6, the Canon 15-45mm, and an adapter for Minolta/Sony Alpha mount to EOS M-mount. Here’s the start of that story.

The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera

The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera

Why?

I started with Minolta (the MD-mount system) in the 1990’s. My first real camera was actually a Seagull, but the camera and mount system was a licensed remake of the Minolta MD system. Then, when I found myself in Korea in 2000 and 2001, I found that I had missed some great street photos because I was simply too slow setting the camera, prompting me to switch to auto-focus, and I stuck with Minolta.

Portraits of a young Japanese lady modelling with an antique film camera.

Portraits of a young Japanese lady modelling with an antique film camera.

In 2005 or 2006, I decided it was time to switch to digital, and by that time Konica and Minolta had merged, and so I got the Konica-Minolta Alpha Sweet (aka Dynax/Maxxum 5D in other parts of the world). Then in 2006 KM went into partnership with Sony. Sony had collaborated successfully with Carl Zeiss for video lenses, Ericsson for phones, and such. Perhaps they expected to develop a Konica-Minolta Sony camera. It was murky what actually ensued, but it looks like KM dumped their camera division on Sony and ran. Minolta, in inventing the worlds first autofocus system, had infringed the copyrights and patents of Texas Instruments, and spent most of the 1990’s in courts. It seems they wanted to offload that liability and save the company at the cost of their camera making pride. From the 1930’s to 1990’s, Minolta lenses were considered second only to Leica (and some instances better). Minolta had a fantastic reputation. Up until the late 1980’s, the top brands were clearly Nikon, Minolta, Leica, and Hasselblad; not Canon. The advent of the digital era and Minolta’s legal problems changed all that.

Sony A77 left, Minolta A7 right. My cameras with ribbons that take evil spirits away given during the Konomiya Naked Man Festival.

Sony A77 left, Minolta A7 right. My cameras with ribbons that take evil spirits away given during the Konomiya Naked Man Festival.

The Minolta/Sony to Canon M-mount adapter

First of all, all the glass (lenses) I’ve invested in over the years are not wasted. I can still use them with the K&F Concept adapter. At the moment, the Canon M-mount system is far from mature, and so there is a distinct lack of quality glass at the moment. Sony has taken nearly ten years to finally release some zoom lenses with f2.8 capability, and I hope Canon won’t take so long to get to this stage of maturity. In the mean time, what can I do for both quality glass and wide open apertures? I have some wonderful glass from Minolta, the original and first batch of auto-focus lenses in the world of any brand, including the 50mm f1.4 and 100mm f2 macro; both still are stunning even by today’s standards. I also have a Sony 70-300mm zoom lens, and a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens. Most exciting of all, I have a Lens Baby Composer 50mm. These will work, but only in the manual mode. The K&F Concept adapter is not electronic, it’s mechanical. So you will only have manual focus (so only for lenses with a manual focus ring) and it has an aperture ring so you can manually adjust the aperture in the lens. However, in the Canon M6, you need to set the camera to allow for the shutter to work in the “No lens attached” mode. Instructions are provided here: http://support-hk.canon-asia.com/contents/HK/EN/8202418700.html. Once, you’ve got this set, then you can shoot without a problem.

The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with K&F Concept adapter, and Minolta 50mm f1.4 lens.

The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with K&F Concept adapter, and Minolta 50mm f1.4 lens.

Of course, you can also get a Canon native adapter to fit L-mount to M-mount lenses. These will have electronic communication, so you can have auto-focus and electronically controlled aperture. Eventually, I will get some high quality L lenses, mostly for the auto-focus and wide open apertures, and so I can use them on the 5D or 6D that I plan to get one day.

A photo taken with the Canon EOS M6, K&F Concept adapter, and Minolta 50mm f1.4

A photo taken with the Canon EOS M6, K&F Concept adapter, and Minolta 50mm f1.4

This photo above shows that a shallow depth of field is possible on the M-mount, despite there being no native lenses capable of f1.4. Note, the crop factor of the APS-C sized sensor makes this 50mm lens and equivalent of about 70mm focal length, adding intensity to the depth of field.

The following photo is of the Sony 70-300mm G lens, with the adapter on the Canon M6. As you can see, the size differential is so big that the camera does not even touch the table! The size difference is simply hilarious.

The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera looks tiny compared to the Sony 70-300mm G lens mounted via an adapter.

The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera looks tiny compared to the Sony 70-300mm G lens mounted via an adapter.

Currently, there are no native telephoto lenses for the m-mount that go beyond 200mm in length. Additionally, there are currently no high quality lenses for this mount, except for perhaps the Canon 22mm f2. It is expected that two things will happen later this year or next; Canon will release a full-frame m-mount mirror less camera, and high quality glass (hopefully zoom lenses with at least f2.8 capability). The following photo was taken with the Canon M6, K&F Concept adapter, and Sony 70-300mm G lens. The main issue with this set up is that the adapter is mechanical only, which means manual focus, and manual aperture control. I found myself constantly fiddling with the focus ring. Also film cameras had a split-plane system for focus confirmation, digital cameras have a green-square confirmation, in the “no lens attached” mode the Canon M6 shows nothing; so all focusing is a combination of guessing and hoping.

A photo taken with the Canon EOS M6 with K&F Concept adapter, and Sony 70-300mm G lens

A photo taken with the Canon EOS M6 with K&F Concept adapter, and Sony 70-300mm G lens

The following photo is the first one from the Canon M6 with its own native lens, the Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3. Soon after the photo was taken, it was transferred to iPad via the camera’s own Bluetooth connection, where the photo was lightly processed and uploaded to Instagram; mere minutes after that train had passed.

At a Kintetsu train station in rural Japan. Photo taken with Canon EOS M6, with Canon 15-45mm lens.

At a Kintetsu train station in rural Japan. Photo taken with Canon EOS M6, with Canon 15-45mm lens.

The Canon EOS M6 is a brilliant little camera. If I had have known how great it was, I would have got it a long time ago. The images are not perfect, but are really, really good. The images are bright, clear, with great colour reproduction, and good-enough sharpness. It is very small and very light weight, so as a travel camera, it’s a no-brainer.

The big questions I have is, if Canon does bring out a full-frame m-mount camera, what does that mean for the Canon m-mount lenses that I have? Are they for APS-C format m-mount, or will they work fine on both full-frame and APS-C? Will the full-frame m-mount camera be in my price range, and worth the upgrade? Will there be a 24-70mm f2.8 lens for m-mount? Should I still consider getting the Canon 5D MkIII or MIV, or 6D, or just commit to m-mount exclusively?

In other news, BIG news. In private communication with Lens Baby, they suggested the Lens Baby 35mm Burnside may be available for m-mount for special order. However, I’d still like to wait and see what happens with the full-frame m-mount issue, and if I would still prefer to get an L-mount camera.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

Sample photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera with m-mount Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

More photos, videos, and stories to come. Subscribe, bookmark, whatever so you don’t miss a thing. Also check follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

All set up, but delayed because of yesterday’s typhoon

All set up, but delayed our start time because of yesterday’s typhoon. I thought the first thing I would do on arriving last night was to dump my bags at the front door, get my camera out and photograph everything. However, dragging my gear up the hill for about 20 minutes in the dank heat and humidity. Phew… I was spent! I have fairly strong legs and leg muscles, but I could barely walk back down to the station to find food. Anyway, the first time I got my gear out was this morning to check all the equipment, and do some light tests. Now, just waiting for everyone to come.
Update to the JapanesePhotos Instagram at: http://bit.ly/2vy6P3I.

A model does 19 poses in 30secs

Here is a model who does 19 poses in 30 seconds. I bet she has a repoirtoire of only 19 poses that she’s learnt, and she does them in the exact same order every time. Hmm… thinking about it now. I bet the MUA has a handful of styles, and they choose one for the day, and from each clothing shoot, they choose three photos, splice them together, and so from start to finish, it may be possible to have a product prepared, shot, processed, and delivered in under 30 minutes… maybe?

For this to work, you need a team where each person has a routine that they strictly follow, and no variation (no creativity) is allowed. The camera needs to be set on a tripod on manual focus, and a fast charge flash(es) on low power is needed.

Could I do this? I don’t have such a team, and my main flash could do it, but with may be an extra second between shots.

What do I do? I don’t want carbon-copies or cookie-cutter photos, but something different each time. I want variety and a little of something different. This looks fun. Here Coco Rocha does her own 19 poses. I bet she’s taken the time to develop them, try them, rehearse them, and then perform them. And over time, she’s got some better, dropped some, and picked up new ones.

I’ve given up on the #Gnarbox

The Gnarbox is now 14 months overdue. That is, one year and two months late. I’m in awe and wonder at how they can pay their employees for a year, and not be making money for over a year either. I don’t know their financial situation, but I bet it’s dicey.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

There were many promises of delivery, and many missed delivery deadlines. I have to go back through my previous blog posts to count them (seven or eight, depends on how you count the most recent promises). The last communication from the Gnarbox company was the 8th of April, and they promised imminent delivery, and since then they’ve ignored their backer community. There have been backers saying that they’d just received their delivery notification. Weeks later, the same people are saying they’ve got their delivery notification, but nothing has arrived as yet. One backer, Gabriel Legault said in the comments section that he had phoned Gnarbox, and was told the problem is with USPS (an American delivery company). This begs the question, why doesn’t a delivery company deliver? I can order from iHerb, an American company, and within seven days of pushing the “Order Now” button, the box had arrived, and I’m already eating my goodies. Why are Gnarbox backers waiting for over a month? I can only assume that one of several possibilities. Please note that this is pure speculation, and is done so in the absence of communication from the Gnarbox company.

  1. The delivery notice is a delay tactic. The Gnarbox company may not be able to pay for delivery. Perhaps they need to sell Gnarboxes to new customers until they can get money to pay for delivery. This fits the story that USPS would be waiting for payment before delivery can commence. Or else the imminent delivery notice is a rouse to bide time until money is available to pay for postage.
  2. The delivery notice is a delay tactic. Perhaps there’s some other technical issue they cannot fix yet, and the delivery notices are a rouse to bide time until they really can deliver. That is to say, there are no boxes/parcels as USPS yet.
  3. They have started deliveries, but so far, only people in the US have received theirs. They are only delivering to backers in legal jurisdictions that can harangue the Gnarbox company into court, and hoping that they can get away with not delivering to others. This fits the story that someone in Germany has theirs held up in customs, but Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, and others are yet to be told anything. That is, they are aware that they have legal obligations, and accept the fact that these cannot be met, but are doing what they can to reduce the hurt to themselves.
  4. Some other reason that I haven’t thought of and unaware of.

Since July 2015, when I first backed this project three things have happened. Firstly, the size of the Gnarbox device (128Gb) is no longer a realistic size for me as a travel photographer. Honestly, it was just under the size I expected for such a device when I first ordered, and now with my new Sony a99 (purchased in Jan 2016), it became that less capable. Secondly, security of internet capable devices has come to the fore. With webcams being used to spy on people (including children’s toys, and Samsung TVs); Gnarbox has said nothing about device security. Journalists have been demanding encryption and password access to recording equipment on their new devices. Thirdly, and significantly, my next camera is probably going to have wifi built in. That means, I can connect to the camera directly (without needing the Gnarbox as a middle man), and edit and share photos and videos direct from my iPhone or iPad. I’m currently seriously ditching my Sony/Minolta system to go to the Canon M6. The Canon M6 is small, light, and has all the features I need, without the weight and the bulk my current system suffers. There are many other advantages to going to the M6, but that’s for another blog post.

Canon M6 with wifi and other connectivity options.

Canon M6 with wifi and other connectivity options.

Therefore, I had to reconsider my investment. The main issues are the lack of security, my next camera this year will have wifi built in, and the Gnarbox has a limited storage capacity, which makes it already mostly obsolete even before I get it. Furthermore, because I do not believe they can deliver from their lack of communication and possible capital issues. Consequently, on 29th April 2017 I sent them a personal message through Kickstarter requesting a refund. Below is the polite request I had made.

Request to cancel and refund.

Request to cancel and refund.

Gnarbox update: The saga continues

This article follows on from the previous article about my experience with Gnarbox, which so far has been terrible and dismal. However, this is the first proper glimmer of hope. The Gnarbox Kickstarter project started in July 2015, and was due to be delivered in March 2016 (twelve months ago). They had made five promises of deliveries, and has failed to fulfill any. They have also blocked me on Instagram, their only channel of communication outside of Kickstarter. They blocked me because I was one of many who complained about the non-delivery in Instagram comments. It should be noted that the blocking occurred days before CES in January, and before Lok Cheung saw them. The community of Kickstarter backers have complained loudly at the consistent failure of Gnarbox to deliver. Then this morning, there was a break in the weather.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

I received an email marked 7.38am this morning (my time) with the first update, first of any kind of communication from Gnarbox that I’m aware of in four weeks. In fact, the last communication from them was on the 16th of February, when in the comments section on Kickstarter they confirmed someone’s address had been received. Otherwise they’ve been ghost, and completely ignoring their Kickstarter backers. It appeared really bad, and it truly seemed like anything could have happened and we were in the dark.

This update is significant. But first I have to remind of you of their previous update on the 6th of Feb. They said that they had started production and quality control testing, and were aiming to get failure rate down, then the next week they’d go into full production and shipping, so we should expect our Gnarboxes by the end of February. Today’s update (16th March) said that they’d completed production, quality control testing, boxing, and shipping of the first 150 units. That is, it has taken them six weeks to achieve this with just the first 150 units, and that they had not completed the remaining 2000 or so units. These first 150 were sent to their friends, family, and “investors”. They didn’t define what an investor is, but backers are investors in Kickstarter language. They also said that assembly of the next 820 units has started and deliveries will begin from the 20th March. Following that, the rest are due to ship on the 3rd of April, which mine will probably be included in that last batch.

Again, what is interesting is what they did not say. They have not explained the four weeks of complete radio silence, they did not explain why they failed to do their production in that time, but could only achieve 150. However, these issues are small and insignificant to the fact that they are still committed to ensuring that from end-to-end they are still rigorously testing all aspects of what they are doing. That is to say, they are still testing their boxing, shipping, and tracking procedures on friends and family, and so this process should happen smoothly for the rest of us. I think it would have been easy for a very demoralised group that has failed multiple times to deliver on their promise just to give up and get it out without much more effort. In contrast, they are still committed to the learning experience and getting the production flow right. This point has to be acknowledged and respected.

Three things cannot be overlooked. Firstly, this is the sixth delivery promise they’ve made. The first being March 2016, 19th September, November, January 2017, February, and 20th March & 3rd April. Secondly, their planning needs improvement, but they certainly should have learnt a lot about this from this experience. Finally, communication, and therefore respect for their backers is in desperate need of improvement. A lot of excitement, enthusiasm, and publicity they garnered in July and August 2015 has been more than spent. Their product is already partially obsolete, especially as the built in wifi in new cameras means the Gnarbox no longer fills a gap in the market (Dan Cook on PetaPixel). Will I use mine? I don’t have a wifi enabled camera yet, but it could happen this year, and my new iPhone does a pretty damn good job for social media use.

Google offers photo editing software Nik for free now

PetaPixel just reported that Google is now offering photo editing software Nik for free (PetaPixel). Is it just me, or does this seem like a game changer, at least for amateurs? For me, it was a terrible idea for Adobe to move to a subscription charging service. I don’t need a constantly updated LightRoom or PhotoShop, and so monthly and annual subscriptions are bad for me; it would be money lost for no reason. Consequently, I’m using the last versions of Lr & PS that were available with licenses for perpetuity. However, at some point, I’m going to buy a camera that isn’t supported by these versions, and so I need to be on the look out for Adobe replacements.

Adobe PhotoShop LightRoom 3 does not support my new camera.

Adobe PhotoShop LightRoom 3 does not support my new camera.

Now Google does this? Admittedly, I’ve never heard of Nik. Is it any good? I’ve tried other photo and batch editing software before, and always LightRoom has been head and shoulders better than others. Nik? I have no idea. Is it a batch or single photo editing or processing software?

@500px cutting their payments to photographers is selfish

This is a unilateral decision. A couple of years ago, 500px.com launched their “Market Place”, where photographers could earn money from selling their photos. However, there were two immediate problems. First, they let Pinterest members get and use the photos for free anyway. Subsequently, I have almost stopped uploading photos to 500px, and restarted using Flickr. Secondly, they offered a measly 30% of the sale price. The cost of employing a model, makeup artist, maintenance of photographic equipment, and photographic software cannot be covered by such a payment scheme. Understandably, photographers complained and boycotted. So, 500px bumped up the pay to 70% commission, which is better, but their prices were still kind of low. So, I never joined their market place.

Screen shot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia 500px portfolio.

Screen shot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia 500px portfolio.

 

Now, PetaPixel reports that 500px is again unilaterally readjusting the price. All non-exclusive market place members will have their commissions cut to 30% (again). 500px claims that in order to be competitive, they need to ‘restructure’. For photographers to be competitive, and to create photographs, we need money, and cutting the amount paid is is utterly ridiculous. The quality of product will suffer, and so will 500px’s sales. In any case, it doesn’t affect me, as I don’t take 500px seriously, as they don’t seem to take the whole thing and photographers seriously.

Gnarbox: Backup and share photos in the field

I’ve never supported a Kickstarter project before. I’ve known about Kickstarter for a few years, and had been tempted by a few projects, but this one hooked me instantly. I have been dreaming of creating a device just like this, but just for storage on the go.

Gnarbox lets you store and back up your memory cards in the field, and a smartphone app lets you edit, process, and then share them right away. It’s simply perfect for travel and adventure photographers and videographers. See Gnarbox on Kickstarter for more details, and for making your own pledge.

Another #CameraPixo issue published

Thanks again to CameraPixo for accepting and publishing another of my photos in their Exploring Landscapes issue. No Editor’s Award this time (see Poem of a Cacophonous City, & other blogposts), but there’ll be another time. This time is Railway Lines Silhouetted on page 53. This photo is available for licensing via my PhotoShelter Portfolio, Railway Lines Silhouetted.

Railway Lines Silhouetted, in Camera Pixo, 23 Feb 2015

Railway Lines Silhouetted, in Camera Pixo, 23 Feb 2015

Buy this photo 2015 (long) for JapanesePhotos.Asia

« Older Entries