Edgewood Karate's Annual Halloween Party & When to Shoot Black and White

This is the 3rd year in a row that we've attended our Karate school's Halloween party. Our Sensei, Tony Bennest, has really made this a community event - free to attend. Tonight there were over 200 attendees. It takes a village to put on this party, and many students spent hours at the dojo today preparing, cleaning, and putting away after the party. Nadia and I were there this afternoon for about an hour and a half doing our part.

These photos were all shot with the Olympus E-M1 using Olympus prime lenses. The outdoor shots were taken with the 45mm f/1.8, the indoor shots were mainly shot with the 17mm f/1.8, and a few were shot with the 25mm f/1.8. All of these photos are straight out of the camera, but a few were cropped in Photo Mechanic. The bulk of these were shot at 3200 ISO.

Experience has taught me that shooting in a dark room with all sorts of crazy lighting conditions can lead to some very tough photographic problems - white balance being all over the place, uneven lighting, and the terrible things it does to skin tones. However, when you shoot black and white, all you need to worry about is composing the shot, focusing, and exposure.

For this type of situation, the E-M1 is the perfect camera. I didn't use the viewfinder once, I didn't have time to carefully compose my shots, I needed fast AF, light and compact due to the cramped space (there were a lot of people), and I used the facial AF and touchscreen to shoot 100% of the time.

The outdoors photos of our family were shot by the neighbor girl. I set the camera up, explained how to push the shutter button, and let her have at it.

Fuji X30 - Initial Impressions Review

With regards to the new Fuji X30, one has to acknowledge that of course there are bigger and better cameras on the market in terms of image quality, sensor size, and optics. However, the Fuji X30 fills a niche of being a compact point and shoot with great and useable images straight out of the camera - complete with Fuji colors.


  • Compact

  • Fast AF

  • Fuji Colors

  • Integrated EVF

  • Bright lens

  • Super Macro Mode - yes, that's what they call it

  • Built in flash

  • Focus peaking

  • Fast FPS in burst mode

  • Movie mode can do 24 fps and you can control shutter and aperture during movie mode! Also continuous AF in movie mode

  • Customizable buttons

  • Lotsa buttons

  • Tilty / flippy screen


  • EVF isn’t the best

  • Higher ISOs produce visible noise and smearing

  • Variable aperture lens

  • You have to set the ISO in a menu prior to shooting a movie.

  • Not enough buttons

  • No touch screen

Basically, for the money you pay, it’s a great camera. I’ve owned a Sony RX100 before (an original one) that I bought used on Craigslist. I used it for about a week and then sold it online because I didn’t enjoy the camera at all. Granted, that’s like comparing a Fuji X10 to a Sony RX100 mark III, but still I’ve used and owned a few Sony cameras and camcorders over the years and in general, I don’t like the JPG engines, controls, layouts, etc.

I’ve owned a Fuji X100S before, and it’s a great camera, but the X30 is more convenient, faster, has facial AF, and does better macro. What’s the difference - the X100S has better image quality, costs more, and isn't nearly as responsive or convenient.

The X30 is great little camera that won’t replace your more expensive gear, but it does compliment it well.

Here are some shots straight out of the camera:

Leica Lied - Bottom Line. Goodbye X typ 113. The Leica Hype

The camera has been returned.  For the kind of money that Leica charges, I expect them to be truthful with their specifications.  

I just posted my review of this camera on Amazon.

By Noah Bershatsky on October 23, 2014
Color Name: Silver Verified Purchase

Camera itself feels kind of cheap in the hands. The shutter button is kind of wobbly, the camera is plasticy, and even though it looks metallic, it's not. The image quality is very good, but the RAW DNG files are processed with a crazy embedded tone curve in Lightroom. I had to use the Adobe Profile Editor in order to come up with a more neutral curve.

The problem that I had with this camera that caused me to return it is that the lens is not a constant f/1.7 like advertised. Instead, it's a variable aperture lens. Quite often stopping down to f/2.8!

For the same price as this camera, you can go out and buy a quality mirrorless camera with a better lens like a Fuji X-T1 and 23mm f/1.4 lens. I own that camera, it has better IQ, better build quality, f/1.4 (constant aperture), and a beautiful EVF.

This was my first and will probably be my last Leica."
I own a few prime lenses with apertures ranging from f/1.2 to f/1.4 from Olympus, Fuji, Canon, and Zeiss. In every single case, those lenses allow me to shoot at their largest f-stop. They are not variable in their aperture, they are constant. Leica is touted by many as being the "crème de la crème" of lenses and cameras - for the same price as the Leica X 113, you could get better lenses, bodies, and images from a variety of manufacturers. My recommendation - get over the Leica hype.

One thing that never ceases to astound me is the nonsense in online camera forums. There are so many brand loyalists, apologists, and fanboys that throw logic out of the window. Not only that, these trolls appear everywhere including reviews. Just a day later after I posted my review on Amazon, a troll had to post their opinion and their justified brand loyalist propaganda ("logic").

"Initial post: Oct 24, 2014 6:31:11 AM PDT

Danny L. Chatham says:

Absolute nonsense,this camera is a beautiful precision made Leica,and yes the lense does stop down to F2 it only 
does so at 4ft or less.to say this camera is less built than any Fuji is absurd.In addition Leica is so obsessed with
optical quality they designed the lense to stop down in order to maintain their optical standards."
Notice the fanboy propagandist verbiage - "beautiful precision," "obsessed with optical quality," etc. (sigh). 

Final words and "insightful analysis" - feel free to quote me:
  • Very nice JPEGs out of camera
  • Sharp lens
  • Finicky controls
  • Plasticy and cheapy feeling
  • It's really a variable aperture lens and should really be advertised as an f/2.2-2.8 camera
  • Adobe Lightroom applies a crazy curve to the initial DNG that you have to counteract in order to get a good starting place
  • Overpriced
  • Consider other brands first - ignore the Leica name.

Northwest Chocolate Festival and Lieca's Lie

This is the second year that Vanessa and I have gone to the Northwest Chocolate Festival - http://nwchocolate.com/. It's a great place to buy exquisite chocolates for less than you would pay online or in the stores. Chocolate makers from around the country come and bring lots and lots of samples.

We learned our lesson last year - stock up on enough chocolate at the festival to last you for a full year. Otherwise, you will spend even more at the store. Incidentally, the best place we have found to purchase chocolate in the Seattle area is a store called Chocolopolis - http://www.chocolopolis.com/

I shot all of the photos with the Leica X typ 113. These are all the JPGs from the camera, and they are indeed lovely. The camera is fairly easy to shoot. Once you learn the handling of the camera and it's quirks, it's quite responsive. 

My biggest complaint is that I feel Leica improperly calls the lens a f/1.7. It's more like an f/2.x lens for pretty much everything I shoot. Most of these shots were fairly close range, indoors, and fairly poor light. I attempted to shoot most of these images at f/1.7. Only two of them were because the subject was quite a distance away from the camera. Most were actually shot at f/2.5 and f/2.8 even though I had the camera set to f/1.7. It's very misleading and false advertising. Honestly, had I known about the variable aperture nature of this camera, I probably wouldn't have bought it. To me, the lens - a Lieca, 35mm equivalent, with a fast f-stop of f/1.7, for the price, was going to be a winner, but that's not really what you're buying. Shame on you Leica!

I did happen to find in the manual on page 136:

"To enhance picture quality, the aperture setting is also corrected automatically between 2.8 and 1.7 in the close-up range, i.e. at distances of 0.2 - 1.2m to the subject."

I didn't realize I had to download a manual and read the fine print before buying a camera.

Just for reference, here is a PDF from their website, advertising the f-stop of 1.7. Nowhere do they say it's variable.

Leica X typ 113 - Anya's 3rd Birthday

All of these are JPEGs straight out of the camera (resized for this blog using JPEGmini). I shot these using the vivid mode in camera. I'm quite pleased with the image quality, the autofocus isn't fast, but mostly adequate. Still, I would like more manual control with regards to f/stop, shutter speed, and aperture. Also, the lens almost always stops down to f/2.8 even though I have it set to f/1.7.

Hello Leica X Typ 113 - Goodbye Fuji X100S

Well, as you might have read, I bought a Fuji X100S last weekend. I got it for a good deal at $750 and plan on selling it on Craigslist for $850. $100 profit and a week of fun - not bad! Besides, I just got my first Leica.

I've always been interested in the Leica brand - great reputation, good looks, but big cost of entry. I read about their newest X camera with a 35mm equivalent focal length (my favorite) and a bright aperture of f/1.7. 

Initial impressions:
  • Feels and looks cheap and plasticky.
  • The manual controls are not as manual as I would like. I would like more control over the shutter speeds - not these wide jumps from 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, etc. I would also like more control over the ISO, not just 100, 200, 400, etc.
  • The live preview doesn't accurately reflect the shooting conditions. I would like it to be a more realistic representation of what I'm shooting in regards to the exposure.
  • Lens is sharp and images are cleaner than the X100S.
  • The aperture is variable and isn't constant - this is an annoying and not positive surprise.  The closer the focus is to the subject, the aperture shrinks down to 2.8. That's a big difference than the advertised f/1.7.
  • Images are clean.
  • Autofocus is reasonably fast and more accurate than the X100S
  • Battery and SD card slots are less than desirable - it's easy to put the battery in the wrong way, and the SD card removal seems to grab on the sides of the card.
  • Lightroom 5.6 seems to oversaturate the DNGs and increase the exposure - I had to dial both of them way back to get a decent starting place for editing the images.
I haven't taken any pictures worth saving or posting tonight, but I will be shooting with it this weekend - tomorrow at my daughters birthday party and at the Seattle Chocolate Festival as well.