Photo Of The Day: “Evil Bugster” Canon G1X

"Evil Bugster" 2017. Canon G1X. Cape May, NJ.

“Evil Bugster” 2017. Canon G1X. Cape May, NJ. I added a photo filter to dramatize the image although the subject was strong enough that it probably didn’t need it.

I’m a big fan of the VW Beetle, especially the older ones although I think the New Beetle of 1998 and up were also superbly designed and beautiful to look at. Keep in mind, I’m just a fan of the car, I’ve never owned one!

Let’s face it, the most enduring appeal of the Volkswagen Beetle is the fact that it’s “cute.” Its iconic looks and appeal all boils down to that cute factor.

Being that I’m always looking for something a little different from the norm, I prefer Beetles which are harder edged, meaner, heck even “evil” and I found one recently while driving through Cape May, New Jersey.

Since this blog is about cameras, it may be best to turn away from the car aspect and focus on the gear. For this shot, I used a Canon G1X. Just got one shot out of the car window and prayed that it counted.

The G1X is a 14.3 megapixel point and shoot and a member of Canon’s highly regarded G series compact cameras. It was released in 2012. The G1X differentiates itself from it’s G series predecessors however due to the fact that it features a larger than normal 1.5″ CMOS sensor, which is nearly but not quite the size of the APS-C standard.

I’ve had this camera for a few months and have been shooting it regularly in the hopes of putting up a review for you. However, I have not been overwhelmingly impressed with it. Sometimes you listen to your instincts, but hope you’re wrong. The G1X is one of those cameras I was hoping to be wrong about.

The reviews have been generally positive for the G1X, and what pushed me over the edge was several postings on different web forums where the camera was praised with high enthusiasm. Also what sold me was the reduced prices these days on the G1X, since the G1X Mark II came out. I also generally prefer to weigh the opinions of real life shooters with the camera versus just a technical lab review. Power to the people! 🙂

Anyway, this isn’t my G1X review yet so I’ll keep it short. This was the first picture I truly liked out of many months of G1X shooting.

You guys know I work at a snail’s pace, but I always aim for fairness and accuracy over a highly emotive positive review. So just when I thought of chucking the G1X, I think I’m going to give her another chance!

As for the “Evil Bugster” I guess I don’t need to repeat that I love it! 🙂

Happy Hump Day good people and thanks for your visits and support as always, I do appreciate it!

GRD Love: The Original Ricoh GRD Revisted

R0015001

“Moose” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp 🙂

It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!

Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂

Here’s a link to my original review The Original Ricoh GR Digital Review.

That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.

Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!

Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂

R0014803

“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp

R0014886

“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂

R0014989

“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.

r0014933.jpg

“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!

R0014748

“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.

R0014694 2

“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

From time to time, we’ll pass along deals and news we are receiving from our partners. You hate ads? Skip this. But if you are in the market for any of this stuff, here are some great deals! Thanks for supporting Camera Legend, we do appreciate it!

If you’re in the market for a Ricoh GR of any flavor, click on the photo above and search accordingly. If you’re an Olympus shooter, now is the time to save up to $200 with Olympus Instant Rebates

Just some samples of what you’ll find and the amazing savings…

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera with ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R & ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lenses Regular price $799, now $599

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom Lens Regular price $999, get it now for $899

Need a laptop? Here’s a steal of a deal on a great laptop!

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 460 14″ FHD Ultrabook 2-in-1 Multi-Touch Notebook Computer with Stylus Pen Regular price $999, sale price $789. Save $210 on this hot notebook!

The Death Of Prince And What It Taught Me About G.A.S.

84427255.MQpD2KFZ.5DPrincePba

Prince’s Yellow Cloud Guitar (and Tito Puente’s Timbales) on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Shot in 2007 with a 5D Classic and 28-75mm Tamron lens.

Breaking News: Just as I had published this, I heard of the sudden passing of yet another music icon Chris Cornell. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. You will be missed Chris!

Update II: Chris Cornell’s death has been reported to be suicide. Damn, such a waste of talent. Whatever was troubling him, I hope he is at peace now. RIP.

Here’s a little Throwback Thursday to ponder on…

Just recently music fans paused to remember the first anniversary of the death of music icon Prince who died on April 21, 2016 of an apparently accidental overdose.

Music is my other lesser known passion and as a person whose childhood and adolescence were rooted in the 80’s, Prince was a huge musical presence in my world.

Just like folks who grew up hearing of Sinatra, or the folks who grew up on the Beatles or  Elvis, I grew up hearing the name of Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few.

PAISLEY PARK

So what does Prince have to do with cameras or G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) ? Not sure if Prince was into cameras as there are precious few photos of him actually holding a camera. The only ones I saw were of Prince holding a Nikon. As you know, Prince was almost always in front of the camera being one of the most famous people on the planet.

I actually thought about this article over a year ago, at the time of his passing. What sparked it was seeing reports on television, after his death, which showed the inside of his huge Paisley Park compound. Within these walls were a very large and incredible music studio. This studio must have been filled with everything imaginable for perfect recordings. There were stages where he would put on shows for friends or fans he invited in. Film production studios. Just to name a few things known to be in this once (and still) mysterious building.

Also in his posession were an awesome collection of unique guitars, wardrobes, and I’m sure lots more.

So once again, what does this have to do with me or cameras? Well, it really got me thinking. Just like many of you, I have ravenously bought, sold, and collected some really awesome cameras and lenses through the years.

When money was good, I went through it like there was no tomorrow, most of it spent of whatever photographic gear I was chasing at the time. I did this until I went flat broke and had to sell them off. Then when times were good again, pattern repeat. When times got bad again, pattern repeat again.

"Camera Legend's Lair" Just a sampling. It is rumored that there are many more interesting items in the vault :-)

“The Camera Legend Lair” Just a sampling of the cameras and lenses that have come through the lair! Rumor has it that there is a secret vault with even more goodies 🙂

Sure there are lots of famous (and not so famous) people with expensive houses and lots of expensive toys and possessions. But what struck me about Paisley Park and why I’m using it as an example is because Paisley Park was built for, and around a singular individual and that was individual was Prince. Once he was gone, it’s hard to imagine the feeling of emptiness that must’ve been felt in that building. The spirit of that building died with him.

WHAT THE DEATH OF PRINCE TAUGHT ME

When I heard the news that Prince had died, it seemed surreal. How could this seemingly healthy, larger than life figure, only 57, be gone in a flash? Sure, we now know the official cause of death was apparently from a self inflicted, accidental overdose of a powerful prescription drug. That does not matter now. I see life as unpredictable. Anything can happen at any time. Accidents, crime, a deadly disease, natural disasters. Anything can take us out in the blink of an eye.

When Prince died he left all those posessions behind and without a will, he left a bit of a mess for his family and lawyers to figure out.

Prince’s death reminded me that one day there will indeed be no tomorrow. I had been thinking about my own mortality a lot since my Dad’s passing in 2011 and now even more so as I continue to grow older by the day. Prince’s passing just once again proves that old adage…”You can’t take it with you when you’re gone.” Except for his musical brilliance. He took that with him and it will be a long time before we see another one who has that combination of musical genius, charisma, and showmanship again.

Sure, he may have (in my opinion) taken the look from Little Richard, the funk from James Brown, and even some showmanship from Elvis, but he put it together in one package and backed it up with musical ability. While Michael Jackson may have been the “bigger” of the two stars, Prince actually wrote, played, and produced most of his music himself while Michael mostly had songs chosen for him and top musicians playing for him, not to mention Quincy Jones producing for him.

As for G.A.S. I’m in no way saying that Prince had G.A.S. and I do feel he had the power, the means, and the right to do whatever he wanted with his money. But we can look at this in two ways…

One. You could say he lived his life to the fullest. I’ve heard it said somewhere that it’s not how many years one lived, but how he/she lived those years. If so, you can certainly say Prince lived a full life and did everything and more than most people ever will in his 57 years than most people could, even if they lived to 100 years old.

Or two, we need to think more about the fact that one day we will all die. We should do our best to make our decisions based on this fact, be conservative and save our money for our children and for their future.

For me personally, it’s a little bit of both. One, I feel that life is to live. Since as far as I can tell, we only have one life, we should live it to the fullest. Then again I do have a family, and God forbid, I could drop tomorrow and my family wouldn’t have a clue what to do with the mess I left behind.

Sadly (or maybe not, depending on) Prince did not have any living children to think about, which may have given him additional “freedom” to use his money in whichever way he wanted. But if you do have kids or close family, then you should probably take them into consideration when you ponder on your next photographic splurge. Is that $6000 Leica M or $5000 pro Nikon or Canon really worth it?

Now if you had your heart set on buying some new expensive gear, don’t let me bring you down. I’m a sinner, so I’m not one to preach. Go ahead and buy that Monochrom or Nikon D5 or whatever strikes your fancy! I’m just expressing how I feel about it now. Fellow gear hounds and hoarders, I’d love to hear how you feel about this!

 

Photo Of The Day: “Country Bumpkins”

Shot with an iPhone 6s Plus, Basa Air Base, Philippines 2016. Hello good people and good morning. Never mind me, I’m just trying the WordPress mobile upload. I usually do all my postings from my laptop but if this works better I might just use this exclusively.

I just chose a random photo to post. This one was from last year, shot in a small village inside Basa Air Base, Philippines and shot with an iPhone 6s Plus. You can now view a larger photo by double clicking on it. I hope this will work for larger files. But back to the country bumpkins, seems to me no matter where you go in this world, the country looks like the country!

On a related note, the baby has been under the weather the past week with allergies, cold and fever. My apologies for not getting to you all as I should but this is what happens in the real world. Happy Saturday and hope to see y’all (as they might say in the country) soon 😀👌🏻

The Best Camera I Never Knew: The Agfa Karat IV

IMG_4919C_44C

It’s been a while since we had one of these! I’m sure some of you may have thought, “This guy ran out of cameras to review”…Ah, no my friends! I may run out of energy, run out of patience, run out of time, but never, ever run out of cameras. That would be sacriligious!

Ok, today I have a doozy for you. Now the few of you who recognize the camera from the title, I know what you classic camera connoiseurs are saying…Sam, don’t do it. Don’t do it Sam! 🙂

Sorry I hate to drag this camera in the mud, but after three copies I must let my opinion be heard. And if it makes you feel better, it is just my opinion after all.

THE AGFA KARAT 

The Agfa Karat series of cameras were folding cameras produced by Agfa of Germany in the 1930s. There were many, many models, but this article focuses on the Agfa Karat IV which was produced around 1956, near the end of Agfa’s production of the Karat series.

The Karat IV features the mythical Agfa 50mm f/2 Solagon lens. It takes a standard 35mm cartridge, unlike earlier Karats which used a special and specific Agfa Rapid film cartridges. Over the years, the Karat, especially the models with the Solagon have achieved cult status with users and collectors alike.

KARAT TIDBITS

The Agfa Karat is not a camera that most of the masses today would know. In fact, today, many would know little about the Agfa company itself, other than folks who will remember them for their film which in its day always played second or third or fourth fiddle to Kodak, Fuji, Ilford or even Konica. Not that Agfa film was bad. No, not at all. They made good, even great film such as the APX series which I enjoyed greatly back in the day. It was just that Agfa film was not the first film that came to most people’s minds when it came time to buy. Same can be said for their cameras. I’m sure there are people who don’t even know that Agfa once made cameras.

If you know about the Agfa Karat series, then I want you to pat yourself on the back for being a true camera afficianado!

Most people will come across this camera in three ways; one, they inherited it from their Great Grandfather or their long lost uncle or maybe even their Mama. Two, they came across the Karat by accident at a pawn shop or garage sale. Three, they got bored with everything else and seeked out “vintage camera” on eBay.

Oh there’s a fourth group…Folks like me who accidently read a thread about it on one of the forums. I suspect many of our readers found out about the camera this way (fist bump) 🙂

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME?

I’m going to cut to the chase. I had three copies of the Karat. One with the highly regarded 50mm f/2 Schneider Xenon lens. And two with the even higher regarded and ever so mysterious 50mm f/2 Solagon.

The first Karat I bought was the IV with the mythical Solagon lens. The dealer stated it had a “recent CLA.” I also bought two more Karats off eBay for $25 and $35 respectively. They were both Karat 36 models. Now this is not a case of camera hoarding ( but it may be!) but just know I bought the IV first since it had a CLA and I never thought of buying another one until I found issues with the IV.

Anyway, all you need to know is that all three of them, including the one that supposedly had a CLA failed to work properly.

Ok, first issue to look for in these cameras is a stiff winding lever. The grease that Agfa used turns into gunk over the decades and becomes stiff as a rock. In my case, the $25 and $35 Karat 36’s exhbited this issue. I was able to remedy this somewhat with WD-40. The CLA’d Karat IV did not have this problem, which gave me some hope that it was indeed CLA’d.

The next issue is a stiff focusing lever. One of my two Karat 36 cameras exhibited this issue. I worked it again with tiny dashes of WD-40 and it helped, but not completely. One Karat 36 had a fogged up viewfinder. It was so bad I could not see anything. Again, the Karat IV did not exhibit these issues, again giving me hope.

But as I pressed that finely tuned shutter button on that CLA’d Karat IV, I began to see a problem. The shutter was inconsistent. It was sticking at random times. I tried to remedy this with the isopropyl alcohol/ lighter fluid route which seemed to help at first, but alas it was only temporary as the problem came back. I retried again. Same thing.

I came to the conclusion that none of these cameras were reliable enough for me to waste any film on them. I sold the two cheaper ones and got my money back and got only a partial refund on the CLA’d Karat. It was pass the refund deadline, partially due to me not using right away, having faith in the dealer. Faith no more.

Bottom Line

To the folks who have a good copy of this camera, please do not be mad at me. I’m only telling it like it is. Consider yourself lucky and enjoy a great camera.

Yes, I do understand that vintage cameras need CLA’s and all that. I’m not even going to count the two cheaper Karats I got, but they do add to my experience of the Karat.

The Karat IV that had or supposedly had a CLA, I could blame the dealer (and I do somewhat) but I suspect based on reading other accounts that these cameras do need frequent work. And if you do get one, you better use it often because leaving them idle will make things worse.

The Agfa Karat is a legendary series of cameras, made my Agfa, a Camera Legend. But in the end, three models of the Karat gave me nothing but false hope and lots of heartache. The Agfa Karat is without a doubt one of the best cameras I never knew.

If you decide to get one, catch your breath, try to get it cheap and make sure you have a dealer with a good refund policy. And probably most important of all, test it right away.

If you got a good copy of the camera, I’d love to hear from you! And listen, I’m a fair man; if I do get my copy working properly or find another one that works (not that I’m looking), then I will do right by the camera.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Agfa Karat can almost always be found on eBay. However, the ones with the famed 50mm f/2 Solagon are not as common although there is one that has been hanging on the auction site for months.

If you’re looking for one of these, and I don’t think that’s a good idea, prices are trending from $30-125. Though people may ask for higher prices, I don’t think the camera is worth that much, even with the Solagon.

My advice? Unless it’s from a reputable dealer like KEH, B&H, or Adorama, I wouldn’t bother. Save yourself the headaches 🙂

***THE SONY A9 MIRRORLESS IS HERE!!!***

Now here’s a camera that won’t let you down. Heck, for the price it better not! 🙂

When Sony puts a “9” onto one of their cameras, it indicates that this is their TOP camera. Just when you thought the A7RII was their top dog, no friends, it is the A9. This camera has such a high burst rate that you may finally leave your top EOS or Nikon bodies behind for that once in a lifetime shot. Superb image quality is a given with the Sony E mount cameras so I have no doubts about this aspect.

I hope to procure one for review, but chances are some of you readers will get one before I do. Our good friends HERE will be able to get the A9 as soon as it’s in stock as well as everything else you might want to go with the camera. It’s all in the link. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend!

Digital Manipulation Part I: Should You Use Digital Filters?

A few postings back I showed a color image from the Leica M8 and said that with some post processing and treatment, I could maybe, possibly turn the photo into something more dramatic. Well, I had some time to play with it and here’s the before and after:

L1003362

SumiZZCC

Now I know it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s certainly more “dramatic” than the first photo!

Ok the color shot on top was a straight out of camera jpeg from the M8 with a 50mm f/2 Summicron attached. The bottom b&w image is the same image processed through Google’s Analog Efex using a wet plate filter. It’s basically a digital filter attempting to emulate the look of a wet plate film print.

Seeing the image from a photographer’s perspective, I would certainly choose the “Plain Jane” straight out of camera color shot, but I do have to say that I did like the b&w conversion too. But that’s probably me being partial to the subjects 🙂

Anyway, it got me thinking this…if this image was a true wet plate photo, I’d wager that most photographers, even analog only photographers would accept it, maybe even think it was cool with all its grit and drama.

But since it’s a digital manipulation, they’d probably dismiss it. I can understand this. First of all, a true wet plate print requires a lot of work and people can respect the process. And most will give your props for that. Digital manipulation, digital filters, etc, are much easier in comparison.

Digital photography “purists” may not accept it either as using filters seem “fake” and especially now when people are on the “no filter” wave. Technology has made life easy, but people still seem to prefer hard.

So you get no respect from analog photographers and no respect from digital photography “purists.” So who would be the audience for this kind of digital manipulation? Why I’d bet my money on social media! Your friends on Facebook, Instagram, etc. I think images using these filters would be perfect for social media.

Why? You might think I’d say that the audience there don’t know any better, but I’m not saying that. Being on social media for many years, I can honestly say that while there are a lot of non photographers posting photos, there are also many, many hardcore photographers posting there as well. And many of these folks are very knowledgeable and would know that the photo has received some kind of “artificial” treatment.

The wonderful thing about social media though vs the photo forums is a general sense of acceptance for almost anything. The folks tend to view images on a broader scope, accepting the image as it is first. The process too sometimes helps to get the votes, the likes, etc, but if you didn’t mention it, they probably wouldn’t care and they’d probably accept it as is. But we photo geeks care about the process, don’t we? 🙂

On the negative side, there’s also a drive for votes and likes, so your followers will likely “like” your image anyway, whether they really like it or not.

Please understand, I am just using this image as an example, not because I think it’s a great photo or not. I love the photo because of the subjects, but I’d honestly say that to the general public it’s probably not a very interesting shot, even processed.

If it were me looking at this from an outsider’s eye, I would say there’s no way this is a real wet plate photo. Real wet plate photos are rarely ever this clean nor this sharp, though I have seen some sharp ones. They do tend to be dark, and the Analog Efex did a good job there.

In the end though, it has always been my belief that digital b&w started out of a desire to emulate film. As things evolved, it was no longer just about film but about achieving a look that is unique and different from everyone else. The incredibly high saturation of photographers in today’s world drives this desire even more.

All I can say is…

If you shoot film, continue to shoot it. You will always be a little different in today’s world and part of a wonderfully amazing and passionate brotherhood. But film can only take you so far in and of itself. Content is most important.

Content to me is subject, composition, and the overall “interesting-ness” of the photo. Technical quality is usually second. You can have a technically perfect photo that’s boring as hell and not many people will like it.

If you shoot digital, that’s awesome too but try to make your mark by content first. Again content is key. Interesting photos will always win over filters. And if you want to use filters, I have nothing against that. Just know that filters get old pretty fast so use them sparingly.

There is room for everybody and every style in the wonderful world of photography so let’s not lose any sleep over this. As long as you’re having fun, I’d say that’s good enough for me and it should be good enough for you 🙂

Future Flash: “Bright Eyes”

17499077_10211204744346793_6950826899457295714_n

Hello everybody. I’ve been away for spring break with the kiddies the past week, sorry I haven’t been able to get to you but you betcha I will!

Instead of a Flashback Friday posting, sometimes I like to do what I call “Future Flash” which I use to show a photo from a camera we are currently testing.

Today’s photo was shot with a Sigma DP2 Quattro. Yes, the funky looking thang from Sigma. Had it on loan for about a week and based on my experiences with Sigma cameras before, and based on the shots I have with it, I think it was enough to develop an opinion which I’ll share with you soon. Sorry this image does not demostrate the details and sharpness this camera and its fixed lens can do, but I do love the subjects 🙂

Anyway, want to wish you all a blessed Good Friday and a Happy Easter weekend. Even if you are not religious, even if you need more spiritual guidance like I do, we could all use a little more love, ain’t that right? 🙂

***THE SONY A9 MIRRORLESS IS HERE!!!***

When Sony puts a “9” onto one of their cameras, it indicates that this is their TOP camera. Just when you thought the A7RII was their top dog, no friends, it is the A9. This camera has such a high burst rate that you may finally leave your top EOS or Nikon bodies behind for that once in a lifetime shot.

I hope to procure one for review, but chances are some of you readers will get one before I do. Our good friends HERE will be able to get the A9 as soon as it’s in stock as well as everything else you might want to go with the camera. It’s all in the link. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend!