More Berlin, Feb. 2012

Berlin, Feb. 2012, Mamiya 645 & Fuji pro400H & velvia 50

A selection of compact cameras

I often trash compact cameras on this blog, not because they are bad products, but mostly because I dislike the approach manufacturers are taking. Using vintage design to make you feel like you're the reporter from the 60ies and pricing it above 1000$, adding tons of useless features that sell well instead of focusing on the essential, and most of all launching systems that require tons of accessories since the margin on those is about twice than on camera bodies.

The fact is that in normal picture taking conditions - i.e. not at night with Syrian soldiers shooting at you and dust flying around - there are now compact cameras that will do just as good of a job as a DSLR.

Not everybody can afford a D700 or 5D, and not everybody want to go thru the hassle of buying, developing and scanning film. This is where compact cameras have a role to play, and thankfully there is a bunch of good ones. Also keep in mind that the best camera is the one in your and with a fresh roll / memory card and a full battery :)

Before we get to the cameras themselves, remember the rules. What matter in a camera is:
  • The lens, less zoom + wider aperture (low F numbers) is best
  • The size of the sensor, the larger the better

This being said, here are the compacts I'd pick from. Keep in mind a couple of important things: appart from the X100, all cameras mentioned here have changeable lenses. Those lenses cost a fortune. I believe they are overpriced for what they are because this is how manufacturers make most of the margin. It means that you should very much pay attention to what lens you buy in the first place.
Also if you will shoot fast moving subjects, use a lot of manual functions, you might want to look into DSLR. It is not more expensive than those cameras.

Also, I'm not doing a technical review here, they all do the same stuff. Trust me.

My personal choice: it's significantly cheaper than the others, mostly due a small sensor, but not much smaller. You will hardly see a difference on the picture and save possibly 500$.

Sensor : 4/3
Lens to go for : 20mm f/1.7

Why getting it:
  • Good choice of prime high quality & bright lenses
  • Actually compact as opposed to the other ones.

Sensor : APSC : as big as it get on a compact, same as a DX SLR such as a Canon 7D or Nikon D7000
Lens is built in camera but excellent: 35mm f2

Why getting it:
  • Great lens
  • Largest sensor you can find on a compact
  • Built quality
  • Good low light performance
  • Have to say it... looks great
  • No extra stuff to buy: one lens only

Sensor : APSC (as big as it gets on compact)
Lens : plenty to chose from, go for the 24 & 50mm

Why getting it:
  • Although very ugly, provides DSLR level performance, sensor is the same as on the Alpha Sony SLRs
  • Huge definition (24MP)

Sensor : APSC
Lens : 30mm f2

Why getting it:
  • 20MP if you need cropping a lot
  • Still good ISO performance even with the large resolution

41 Megapixels on a mobile phone...

The Nokia 808 Pure view will be on the market in May for about 450 € in Europe. Of course pixels don't mean image quality, it's just a resolution figure, but it's a fun enough fact to mention it :)

It will be equiped with a Carl Zeiss lens and a "pixel over-sampling" technology (??????). I'm guessing it means they are not actual pixels on the sensor?

Other features:

  • single core 1.3 GHz CPU
  • 4 inch 360x640 pixel screen
  • 512MB or RAM
  • 16 GB of storage (with that camera on board you take 3 pictures and you'r done ^^)
  • Symbian OS
Now your girlfriend will be able to zoom big time on those party pictures on Facebook, and confirm that it was indeed you making out with that bitch from work she really hates...

Cross Processing in Photoshop or Gimp


Today I've passed 100 000 page views since I started really taking care of that blog a few months ago. Thank you :)

Some while ago, photographers realized that by developing film in the wrong solution (for example, developing a negative in a solution for positive), you obtain a kind cool color effect, similar to what you get with a Lomo. 

Cross processing was born.

It also happens that the fashion industry, not satisfied of making women feel like shit for not being able to look like 2 hours of photoshop, also abused of cross processing, to the point that it became a standard way of treating color. 

There is a raging debate among photojournalists on whereas cross processing images is cheating : is making an image more eye catchy lying about reality? We can also argue that black and white is lying...

The result of all this is: you probably look at those nice pictures, and yours with their normal colors look boring compared to it. The fact is, our eyes have been educated to the catchiness of cross processing. 

Now I might sound like I find processing is cheap, but that's not what I mean at all. It's a technique like any other. Use it as you which. 

So how to do it in Photoshop or Gimp? 

The good news is: it's terribly simple. Open an image, let's say this one. I used an official D800 sample, pixels don't make a nicer image, but they allow a lot of quality editing.

JPEG out of the camera, not editing, Nikon D800

We'll turn it into this next picture. I'm not saying one is better, matter of taste. However I'll show you how to do it.

Cross processed as you can see in every magazine.

STEP 1: create a duplicate layer of your image

STEP 2: open the color curves windows

STEP 3: select the red channel, and do as follows

STEP 4: select the blue channel, and do as follows. Do green last because your fine tuning will be done with the green.

STEP 5: select the green channel and do as follows. Be gentle with the green. 

Ok so now the color job is nearly done. Fine tune to make sure the skin tone doesn't come up totally weird and click OK.

STEP 6: you now have 2 layers, the normal image and this one. If the color change didn't change luminosity to much, leave the layer mode to normal. If it did, select color as a layer mode, so that it only impact colors and not the light.

STEP 7 (Optional): in order to give that slightly washed away one and make it a little warmer, you can add (I did it on our example) a yellow layer. It really is a plain yellow layer, rather green yellow than orange yellow (a chick yellow would work). Just put it on top of all, and reduce opacity to around 5%. 

That's it ! You know digital cross processing. Told you was easy :) Up to you to make the little changes to adapt it to your photo. Remember: a catchy effect is not a nice picture, a nice picture is a great subject treated in a meaningful an impacting way, which you can do with your Iphone.

Last but not least, don't mix up cross processing and film: film can lead to totally normal colors if treated the right way. Having cool tones with film is a matter of film characteristics and developing. The next shot for example, it not edited at all. It's just how that film react in that light.

Fuji Pro 400H film. NO cross processing.

A selection of camera bags

Here is a selection of camera bags, for heavy duty and maximum protection, for fashion sensitive people or people who don't want to look like they carry 5Gs around, and finally, bags for backpackers and sports fanatics.


Pelican 1200 Case with Foam for Camera (Black)

A lighter & smaller version of the 1510 (see below) for the same level of protection, the cool looks but with less gear inside. Ideal if you must check it in the place but are afraid of airport personel playing football with your back. Comes with a key / locking system.

Zeikos ZE-HC18 Deluxe small photo and video hard case

This nice and compact protective case is very cheap (less than 35$) and ideal if you carry a camcorder or camera. You care about that fancy collector Leica too much to carry it in a soft back? This is the one for you. Also works to pay ransoms once filled with cash.

Pelican 1510 Case with Foam for Camera 

The real thing for travelers carrying a lot, worrying about damages and extreme transport conditions. It cost about 150$ (surprisingly cheap compared to a bag), can be filled with foam or traditional soft compartments. Ideal if you carry 3 camera bodies and 7 lenses with an assault rifle. Comes in different sizes, has a handle and wheels. Last but not least, nothing prevents you from using it as a suitcase :)


National Geographic NG A5270 Medium Rucksack

For an adventurer style, it doesn't scream "look at me I contain an expensive DSLR !". Notice that the side pocket is used to hold a tripod which is ofter a weak point on most bags.


107 Camera Bag

Yes it is pricy, but it's the fine stuff. Hand made, fine leather, waterproof exterior. It will look great with your Burberry trench or you Ralph Lauren week end bag. 

CaseCrown Vintage Parisian Style 

Very cheap, really not camera bag looking at all. It probably isn't really the most ergonomic piece of this selection, but surely the one that looks the least like a camera bag.

Kelly Moore Boy Bag, Shoulder Style Small Camera Bag - Brown  

Reasonably priced, water resistant, it also doesn't look like a camera bag. It can fit and SLR with a couple of lenses and a laptop, but you need to separate the body from the lens. 
Ona Camps Bay Camera and Laptop Backpack, Handcrafted with Waxed Canves & Leather 

Expensive, but that the price of luxury. Fits an SLR with 7 lenses, waxed, leather, also comes in camel color. Would look nice on the passenger seat of your 1980 Porsche Super Carrera.

Tank Retrospective 20-GR Tall Shoulder Bag - Pinestone Cotton Canvas

Reasonable price, nice discrete finish, this very casual looking shoulder bag is probably the most discret of my selection. Ideal not to look like a complete tourist, locals will think you're just an other guy going to work.


Lowepro Sport 200 AW Digital SLR Camera Backpack

The bag for skiers, climber and other Bear Grylls enthousiasts. I tried it, it is very good. Light, very light actually, it is a proper backpack with a camera compartment that you can access from the side. You can also remove it and use it as a normal backback. What I really liked about it: the camera compartment has a strong that goes all around it, that you can tighten up, so that no matter what you do, the gear doesn't get shaken at all !

Kata KT D-3N1-22 3 In 1 Sling /Backpack with Laptop Slot

What smart about this one is that it can be use as a backpack, or as a sling bag. It's rather compact, still has a little room for extra stuff on top. Also it can be combined with that Tripod Holder.

Wolverine BP202 Camera and Laptop Backpack

A large normal compartment on top (the bag is actually quite big) with a sand color fabric that makes it look "cheaper" than a super tech looking Lowepro. Probably a good idea for countries like India, and large enough to be your only bag.