Stepping into the darkness

Stepping into the darkness, originally uploaded by bang*.

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β€œWhen you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”
― Edward Teller

Keeping the personal work going back on the streets with the X100.
That’s right I’ve returned to the Fuji X100, pretty much a year on from first taking delivery of the little beast I’ve gone and got another. New firmware has really transformed aspects of the camera and I’m pretty happy to be using one again. I’ll pop a few thoughts together in the upcoming days to give you an insight into why I’ve gone back to this camera, for now let’s just say I’m smitten all over again.

The trouble with cameras is . . . . . . . (Never meet your heros) – My weekend with the Leica M8


The oh so required self portrait in mirror with new camera.


Right, i’ll let you get it out of your systems, go on, tell me you thought I was immune from gear acquisition syndrome.

It’s no secret I have a thing for Leicas. Always have and always will. I’ve been loving shooting my film CL of late, the 40mm f2 is beautiful on that camera (which it was designed for) and with TriX or TMax loaded I’ve got some beautiful photographs. It’s a pleasure to shoot with, makes me think and work for the images I get.


Now it’s normally about this time of year that I drop a little cash on something new. A couple of years ago a gained the 5Dmkii, a year later the EF 85L, then last year the X100.

This year I came across a used M8 for sale at a good price. I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these since they launched and finally thought “I can have the excitement and joy of using my CL but with all the benefits and easy of digital” right?

Well after a couple of days I’m sad to say wrong. 😦

The M8 is a beautiful camera and I’ve seen some lovely images from them, however despite all it’s beauty and heritage the sensor is showing it’s age. Here is the problem with modern digital cameras. Leica M cameras were always cameras for life, this is pretty much shown by the fact the M8 I used was cheaper than a used M7 film body from the same dealer. In fact I’d say my CL will be worth more than the M8 in another 10 years (maybe less). The problem is with producing the body of a camera to last forever in the modern “throw away” world. Digital technology is still in it’s teens and as such moving and changing still. Camera bodies are no longer the investment pieces in a kit.

So the M8,

It’s lovely no doubt. You know it’s a quality camera as soon as it’s in your hands. It’s straight forward and easy to use if you’re used to cameras that require you to do the thinking. Aperture, shutter speed, focus ring and shutter release. Zen like pretty much describes the user experience.

The problems start once you get shooting, firstly it isn’t as quiet as I’m used to Leicas being. No biggie but worth noting, it sounds kind of mechanical in operation. The shutter release is actually rubbish. Now I’ve never said this about a Leica but seriously it’s all crunchy, if I can really feel the half press points on my shutter release I freak out. Leicas should be smooth like butter, silky and perfect, not jarring and stabby. Again not a deal breaker but another con for me.

These things I could get over as I was finally shooting with a digital M, I enjoyed the experience, well until I started to look through the images. I’ll not go into huge detail but here’s the main issues I had;

White balance is shocking, Forget auto WB unless you like blue tinted shots. Sure I shoot RAW but still I do like my previews to be close to actual colours.

My 40mm f2 ‘cron was appalling wide open on the thing. Crazy soft corners, like lens baby soft. This was a BIG deal to me.

Really rather poor ISO performance once you get above the base of 160. At 160 it’s really great but other than that noise starts to dance everywhere.

I’ll admit I was blown away by the sharpness of the images even when unsharpened in Lightroom but as we all know, sharpness isn’t everything.

Colours, h’eh, nothing to really write home about. Apparently the Kodak sensor in the M8 was designed to replicate Kodachrome colours. I’m no expert on Kodachrome but I’m pretty sure it was better than what I got with the M8.

Here’s a few shots from the weekend to give you an idea of my cons. These we’re edited to make them acceptable to me so you won’t see my issues with colour or white balance;


Red checks out

Red wall photographed with Leica M8, 40mm f2. Colour gained by running this through Color Efex and the Kodachrome preset.

Window shot with M8

Window shot with M8. Film (ish) look? yes. Straight from camera? No.

Shadow play

This one shows the stupid soft corners I got using the 40mm f2 on the M8. Never had this on the CL

Just testing for bo-keys πŸ™‚

Blus doors & stone work

A little street detail from the city this morning. Leica M8 40mm f2

Through the looking glass

British institutions, BT phone box and a Red Royal Mail post box.

So after seeing my shots, I thought i’d be fun to compare to those I took last year with the X100 (now don’t get silly on me but I may be about to announce something)

Window details, X100

A window shot from the X100. Creamy and lovely

Shooting the shooter

Cameras a dawn. A little window detail whilst wandering with the X100.

Budapest doorway, Fuji X100

Street / doorway details from Budapest last year. X100. Oh the colours!

X100 bike

Bike in Budapest shot with the Fuji X100

I love this shot, blue hour in Budapest. The X100 excels in low light.

Busking in the rain, York. X100

Singing in the rain York style. Weather testing the X100

River walk details

Love this shot too. A little moment from down by the river last year.


Okay, now I know which series of shots I prefer.

Remeber last year when I let the X100 go, I said I loved it but it wasn’t worth what I paid for it. Well the same goes for the M8, I love the thing despite it’s short comings, I’m pretty sure that one day I will invest in some proper Leica lenses and a full frame digital M but for now, I just can’t part with that much money for a camera which doesn’t create what I want it too. So where does that leave me?

Well the CL is staying for all my B&W film work (no doubt on that one). It’s small, light and handy to have in the bag on assignments.

Now coming back to the “the X100 isn’t worth what I paid for it”. Well it wasn’t worth what I paid for it when first released brand new, however . . . . . . it is worth what I may have just found one for used and just serviced with a stack of extras.

I’ll be honest and say I’ve missed the little Fuji, every time I look back through my catalogue of shots from last years 365 the stand out images are normally from the X100, it’s colour reproduction is amazing, I really got to grips with converting my B&W’s with it, plus the thing is sexy as. Why didn’t I go for the new X-Pro 1? simple because HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF THOSE THINGS?!? I don’t care if it makes coffee for me and drives me to my commissions, I’m not wandering the back streets of eastern european cities casually swinging over two thousand pounds worth of metal and plastic from my wrist. Plus it’s going to get me into the whole lens system problem again.

So the M8 is going back, the Olympus E-P2 20mm combo is going to be leaving my company and all being well the X100 shall be returning. HA! its like a camera yoyo between the Oly E-P system and Fuji X100 around here eh? Stay tuned I’m sure they’ll be more on this subject to be said in a week or so.


So as they say sometimes is best not to meet your heros, I’ve admired the M8 from afar for a good while, now sadly I see it as a once was, a classic of old.


False Sense of Security – Bike Week 2

False Sense of Security, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 221 / 365

Lock it or lose it. Or sometimes to those unlucky ones, Lock it and still lose it.

I thought I’d go down a slightly different path for this installment of bike week, maybe less about the actual bikes and more about the issues around them.

Bike theft would seem to be one of the downsides to bike ownership. Let’s be honest they’re pretty easy to steal, you don’t even need to learn how to hot wire them. I have a number of friends who over the last year have had bikes stolen. Some from being locked on the streets, some from garden sheds and one from the back of his van. You can spend a small fortune on locks and such but to be honest they are simply a deterrent and not guarantee of security.
Having said that one good way to increase the odds of it being there when you come back is to lock it near lots of other poorly locked or unlocked bikes. Or do what I do and employ a really big scary Russian bloke to stand next to it until you return πŸ™‚

Fuji X100 & early morning light.

Designated Rider – Bike Week Returns

Designated Rider, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 220 / 365

It’s the return of bike week!

One of those little city alleyways, a pub with bikes propped up outside, cobbled street and sunshine. Ah how very quaint, somewhat removed from the current issues in south at the moment.


I promised that I’d do another bike week, so here we go, another seven days of bikey shots all being well.

Odd One Out

Odd One Out, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 218 / 365

Another shot from around the Minster. Back to my love of simplicity in composition.
Loving using the Canon again, the Fuji X100 is a great camera but I’ve come to the conclusion that I love the idea of it more than the actual camera. Oh well the best way to learn is through our mistakes.
I whole heartedly thank Fuji for bringing the X100 to market and for risking doing something different. The camera was nearly so very right but over the last few months I discovered I’m just not having so much fun while using it. As essentially a point and shoot ca,era one would imagine that you could indeed point and shoot it, however due to its quirkyness you couldn’t rely on that shot being in focus. For instance, you know when you’re out and about and you want to take one of those shots of you both together by holding the camera at arms length pointing it back at you kinda thing? well the fuji will pretend to do it, well it will do it but it won’t be focused on you as it can’t easily focus that close (fail for a “fun” point and shoot) and that’s just one of its short comings.
I’ll admit I fell for all the love and praise and PR and hype and whatever that the camera came with. Hell, it really is a thing to behold in its beauty. However to be honest looking back over the last six months since firstly getting the Oly PEN and then swapping for the Fuji my fav shots came from the PEN. Also looking at the keep numbers the PEN had 1247 from 8 weeks use, the Fuji 941 from 12 weeks. That kind of did it for me, especially seing as the Fuji came to Budapest too. Now I’m not saying the Fuji “missed” any shots, it’s just the fun factor of the little Olympus meant I’d experiment more & that 20mm f1.7 lens, oh how I missed that thing (camera geek out moment). So as a “fun” all the time companion camera the PEN wins.
See i’ll admit my mistake, or misguided faux pas, call it what you will. Three months down the line from swapping my PEN for an X100 it’s time for a reversal, taking a few steps back in order to progress if you will. I’ll put some full thoughts together in a full post once everything is sorted in a kind of X100 review if you will. Don’t get me wrong it is a camera capable of fantastic image quality, it just isn’t rocking my world as much as something costing that much should.

Canon 5D mkii / Sigma 50mm

FGY Rider Portrait Series – No. 11 Caddy

Day 194 / 365

The eleventh from this series of planned rider portraits for Fixed Gear York.

Up this week Is Mr Michael Caddy, or Caddy for those in the know. This guy has been on the FGY radar for a while but I’ve only just managed to ride with him for the first time this last couple of weeks. Why the dirty hands, well from only three rides with this guy he’s had some oily mitts from tyre related maintainance twice, I figured it was a fitting tribute.
Top bloke and we’re all going to be a little worse off when he heads overseas later in the summer to teach English for a while.

The full series of FGY rider portraits so far can be found here.

Looking for a way out.

Looking for a way out., originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 193 / 365

Trapped in the belly of the city, people scurry around trying to feel busy, trying to win the race which in the end is only with themselves.

Fuji X100

Pretty dark couple of photographs from me it would seem for the last two days. Not sure what that’s all about, maybe it’s time to break out and photograph some rainbows and puppy dogs to lighten the mood. Although it’s Wednesday tomorrow so that should mean a new rider portrait if everything works out.

Pull to alleviate the darkness

Pull to alleviate the darkness, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 192 / 365

Just having some fun shooting a little low light interiors with the X100.

Back to the busy this week as I have two full days shooting at the end of the week so I need to condense 5 days office stuff into 3.
Luckily light switches are around to chase away the darkness.

Big Trouble in Little China(town)

Big Trouble in Little China(town), originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 188 / 365

Just the things I see and the stories they tells.

Fuji X100

A picture can tell a great many stories, this kind of sums up many things to me, locally, nationally and globally.

FGY Rider Portrait – No. 10 Adam

Day187, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 187 / 365

The tenth from this series of planned rider portraits for Fixed Gear York.

This week Adam finally got his face in front of the camera. FGY’s own champion of the spin and owner of the shiniest wheels you’ve ever set eyes upon. Ladies and Gentlemen please be upstanding for Adam the Roller Race King.

Fuji X100

Full set here