Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Fuji 110mm f2 vs Zeiss Otus 85mm f1.4 on Fuji GFX50S... FIGHT!

A shot taken this past weekend with the Zeiss Otus on the GFX

First off i would like to note that this is not a technical review with charts and a view of lpms and mtfs and such and there are other sites for that (google 'jim kasson zeiss'). This was me having 10mins at the fuji shop and having the zeiss on my gfx and saying let's do this! :) 

For all the images below, the shot with the Fuji is on the left and the shot with the otus is on the right. I shall share the comparo images first before coming to my own conclusions based on this checking of the files. I excluded others I had taken favoring these as there wasn't any misfocus or shutter shake in these. ok onto some comparisons then. 

the shot below is a crop in of the above shot and they look very much the same

Shot from moving back a little from the above position
crop in of the above shot and again they look very much the same


My thanks to the Fujifilm staff at Suntec City who was kind enough to let me take a quick portrait shot (all in the name of speedy lens tests :) 


Do note the below is a super zoomed in crop of the above picture. and the Zeiss pic is more zoomed in than the fuji. 



The Zeiss Otus becomes a nice 67.15mm f1.11 lens on medium format (in 35mm full frame terms). There isn't a lens for the GFX in this range right now as it's not a standard focal length used by most. But it is kinda like imbetween 50mm and 85mm and you have more of the scene to play with which is good and in tighter spots will be able work it better than the 110mm. 

Cropping in a little and getting rid of the vignette makes it excellent. The sharpness and overall IQ of this lens is more than enough for GFX medium format quality. 

Another negative is that the Otus is heavy... heavier than the autofocus Fuji. I would have preferred if the rubber bits on the otus weren't rubber and made out of metal or something that will last the ages but of course that would probably have made it even heavier! 

Manual focus is the other biggie. I found some inconsistencies with the Fuji AF for nailing the focus on the 110mm lens but it means you refocus and take the same shot if you have the opportunity to. When it nailed focus though, that Fuji lens produces AMAZING image quality! The Zeiss Otus lens manual focuses quite easily but some fair bit of turning is involved to go from one end to the other. 

For manual focus, I suggest focusing zoomed out to make sure the pic is getting into focus for most of the way and then punch in to ensure you get it focused right on where you want it to focus (eg. eye for portraits) and then it's rock and roll... sharp and bokehlicious Otus pix on Fuji GFX :) 

Overall, I would say that the Zeiss Otus 85mm is a great addition to both your full frame and medium format arsenal as it straddles systems like Nikon, Sony, and I'm happy to say the Fuji GFX :) May do a similar test on a hasselblad x1d someday. 

Cheers, Raph

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Nikon D850 Review ~ Top of the line Full Frame Nikon

This is not a full review with pics as I have taken too many of those. I will be posting more pix in this review soon. So this post is developing :) 
[This is not a paid review. I get nothing from Nikon for doing this and am not told to say anything and everything written on here is up to me and that's it :) i got the loaner for 3 weeks and very much enjoyed having it for that time. Thanks to Nikon and their PR agency for the loaner! :) ]

A Herculean Camera [Shot with Nikon D850 and kit lens]
The short version: If this is within your budget (for body and lens you want to use with it) and you want to shoot with a top end full frame DSLR (and are not heavily invested in another system) then the Nikon D850 is the camera to get in my personal opinion. [The long version continues below :) ]

Product & Price (RRP in SGD)
  • D850 (Body) - $4,999
  • D850 (AF-S NIKKOR 24-120MM F/4G ED VR Kit set) - $5,949
Some notable specs 
  • 45.7-megapixel backside illumination FX-Format CMOS sensor. With a dynamic range of native ISO sensitivities, from ISO 64 to 25600
  • full-frame 4K UHD video capabilities, 4x and 5x slow-motion videos in Full HD
  • 8K time-lapse movie production using interval timer photography.
  • autofocus (AF) engine that engages the 153-point AF system and 99 cross sensor
  • high-resolution tilting 3.2 inch touch-screen with 2359k-dot LCD monitor, and button illumination that is helpful when shooting in dark situations

To note first, I did not come from use of many Canon or Nikon full frame cameras. I have used a couple (D600 and D750) for short periods of time. I have however used a fair number of different cameras including the top Sony offerings A9 and A7RII (only played a short while with A7RIII so that doesn't really count), digital medium format (MF) (my current workhorse the GFX50s and i've done some shoots with the Leica S), Leica rangfinders (M6 for film and M9, M240 for digital), my old beater Nikon D90, a number of APS-C (Sony, Fuji, Ricoh) and m4/3 (Olympus and Panasonic) cameras. 

Coming from someone who has used a number of cameras and without much Nikon full frame exposure, i can say this camera is a beast! it's big, heavy, chunky dslr and likely usable as a weapon if u need to knock them mirrorless fanboys out! ;) kidding about that yuh, I am a mirrorless lover too. What this is, I feel (and i think many others may have commented) is Nikon throwing everything it can into it's top of the line prosumer body to fight against the mirrorless assault (before it joins the fray properly in 2019?)... and that is a great thing. 

The functions list is a long one and i recommend you go check that and other specs out at other review or sales sites eg amazon, b&h etc. i am taking this on from usability and if i got the shots i had wanted from it and views on aspects that matter to me standpoint. 


1) Size weight chunkiness -  doesnt matter to me. noting my main camera is a digital medium format fuji gfx50s

2) buttons and controls are all fine. nothing to moan about and quick youtube vid on doing specific functions and you're good to go. eg I did a timelapse video with the interval mode and picked it up after a 5min vid of it. 

3) image quality and dynamic range - Excellent image quality and dynamic range. I think this sensor is a top of the line one for 35mm. In my dynamic range test with Sony A7Riii, the A7Riii loses to it (the image seemed noisier and pixelly in the shadow details i tried to recover and had some color artifacts) and it was just a bit lesser than the GFX50s. 

Details wise, it loses to the GFX. overall noise performance it loses to the GFX. 

the view, i have which is a personal one, is that the gfx is just that little better than all these mega-huge sensor 35mm cameras and if you value that little bit better for amazing IQ and willing to buy into that system than it's a great mirrorless digital medium format option. but it comes at a price. Although in the 2nd hand market you can pick it up for cheap now. makes my heart ache a little coz i paid top dollar but that's how the cookie crumbles [or that's how the 2nd hand pricing market tumbles :( ]

The Nikon D850 will be better in AF, AF lens choices and functions over the current mirrorless MF offerings and competes directly with the Sony A7RIII. This is needed to prevent more migration from Nikon to Sony.  

4) AF speed and nailing movement shots - Very good but can still miss shots of course. I shot a ballerina doing a jump to try out the AF and in the series there were blurry shots which wasn't great :( could the A9 or A7III do better? hmm 

Timelapse vid but not uploaded well as im not so good with vid uploads

Conclusion then is if you are invested in Nikon FX glass and have been using Nikon for awhile, and are thinking jumping ship to mirrorless... stop, pick this up and see if this is for you. [UPDATE 31Jul18] With the announcement of the Nikon mirrorless you might want to wait and see it's feature set and if it works for you. I believe Nikon has to come out with a very good AF adapter for most of it's legacy AF lenses so that folks invested in Nikon have a big incentive to stay with Nikon. 

For parties on the fence and considering a full frame body with loads of megapixels, I would suggest loaning or handling both the nikon D850 and the sony A7Riii and the new Nikon mirrorless (the top of the line model) and then decide which works best for you for what you shoot. End of the day, this is a great camera in the Nikon line-up and much needed imo ;) 

Hope the words work (and more pix to be uploaded soon). Cheers

Sunday, 13 May 2018

J Myers Co NATO Leather Strap Making Course At Watch Wonderland

So a couple of months back I had the opportunity to take this course at Watch Wonderland and it was a couple of hours well spent. You get to learn about different types of leather, different parts of it and processes and most anything you could actually want to know about leather, they can sort you out. very knowledgeable and cool instructors from J Myers were there to impart some strap making wisdom to us. links to their info here website Instagram facebook 

starting off with some theory
but first off let's intro the main man... former professional photographer and now watch strap making (and most leather products) guru, Jeremiah Ang!
showing us some different leathers
ooh do i get to work on this?? uhm not really
calf leather will be supplied to make your custom calf NATO leather strap... Very Nice!
the theory was interesting
and getting my hands on some of the tools was fun
And at the end of it all... Voila! Cool unique NATO strap done by meself. 
totally worth the price of admission
and final parting shot and thanks to Watch Wonderland and J Myers for this cool course offered there. There's also a strap corner in Watch Wonderland manned by Khairul from J Myers (who was also on hand to guide us during this course) who will be able to help with all strap related queries or purchases, so do drop by if you need a strap fix (literal and the itching to buy kind;)
and that's it. this course is highly recommended for watch and strap aficionados and if keen do reach out to watch wonderland to enquire on timings and reserve your slot now :) Ciao for now, raph

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Fujifilm GFX50S Dynamic Range ~ Details and Recovery for under and over shots

So this is not a technical site. For that you can check dxomark and such. But noting results the medium format sensor used in the Hasselblad X1D, Pentax 645z and the GFX is a very good sensor for recovering details in shadows and highlights. Overblown highlights being the tougher of the 2.

It is advisable therefore to shoot to the left. It is geek speak for shoot underexposed a little, to the left just means the histogram peak(s) are on the left side of the histogram graph instead of the right side which means more overexposed with possibility of blown highlights if it's very much to the right at high peaks. You can see this in the top right side of the Lightroom screen grabs below for the blown and severely underexposed picture. 

So this was shooting in a studio and the flash didn't fire so I got a shot that was almost all black in RAW. too toooo much to the left

but this is no ordinary RAW... this is a (crop) medium format sensor :) though not a full sized proper medium format sensor this sensor is significantly bigger when compared to 35mm and captures more info and produces better Image Quality (IQ)... and so it can recover the below from close to black pic. 
and with a few more tweaks...

and zooming in for detail which the gfx50s has a LOT of... not too bad i must say
so i swopped lens and was going from a slower aperture to a faster aperture and a few stops more light causes this. again look at the histogram at the right end of the graph
and recovered ot to this... not the best pic but it is definitely usable if I wanted to use it. nose may be a little too hot though

Monday, 12 March 2018

Timetapestry (Raphael Too) on Channel NewsAsia Site & Podcast: Investing in Top Timepieces

Check out this podcast u must :) it's me sharing my thoughts on the luxury watch market, investment considerations and some general remarks. again just my opinion and some stumbles but ok lah first time recording for me LINK

Pic below the podcast page pic is from L to R, Julie Yoo, Valerie Tan, myself and David Bottomley.



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