My brother Enrico has been working lately on this up-and-coming The Photo Journal. Check out his site, although there’s not much at the moment, there will be soon enough. I am no programmer like him, but I did get involved in the process too, along with another friend who designed the layout, fonts and other bits and pieces.
I woke up this morning with a lot of new followers here in Tumblr. A few minutes later, I found out that my mate Eric has mentioned me on his Facebook page as well as Twitter. Thanks man! And same thing happened with my Flickr page as well. Whoever you are, thanks! And I’m checking each one of you now!
Glad to know this article has reached more audiences now and seems like a lot of you enjoyed it :)
I know my blog has been quiet for some time, but I will try to keep posting something interesting. Lately I’m thinking of posting single-images from my travel / street photography.
thinhly asked: That eos 620 looks amazing.
It is a piece of work.
laxidasical asked: Hey! I saw your blog post linked from PackLight. Thought I'd drop you friendly hello as I am in Singapore as well. So, uh, hi neighbor!
Oh, hi! Thanks for that. I’m already back living in Sydney now, but had had thoroughly enjoyed my time in Asia! :)
bobanddi asked: Hi Nicholas, great advice re the 3 day escapes, btw what is the make of your back back, cheers Bob
It’s a Samsonite. It’s actually not a good backpack for this purpose, but it’s all I have at the moment.
Another camera I’ve been using recently: Canon EOS 620. Welcome to 1987: the times when Canon created the new evolutionary autofocus camera, with its huge, bright finder, bigger than any Canons today. Canon don’t anymore produce a camera as good today because they prioritise “consumer demands” for 8.5 fps, HDR, GPS, WiFi, and I don’t know what else. They seem to have forgotten that the viewfinder is 90% of the experience. This design is also the root of all EOS camera today - the shutter dial, DoF, menu button, LCD screen, etc.
Happy #filmweekend everyone!
I don’t normally write up camera reviews, but I do like making comments on how a camera system works for me. This film weekend, it’s about the difference between 35mm rangefinder (Leica in this example) versus SLR (Canon EOS in this example).
I recently took up my Canon EOS SLRs from my bags again (the 35mm film camera, that is), and I bought a 40mm f/2.8 lens for it, and I got questions from people whether it’s giving a better image than a Leica. The answer is, no, they both are probably indistinguishable when shot at f/5.6 or smaller aperture, and because this is 35mm film, it’s probably the same. I haven’t processed the films yet, but I’m sure the 40mm f/2.8 lens is darn sharp that it can match my 1974 35mm Summicron.
So discussing the image quality difference between the two is meaningless, and they’re probably the same, so set the image quality aside, there are more important issues we can compare. How does the camera feel to your hand? Canon feels more plastic and often heavier than a Leica, but has a nicer ergonomics (grip).
How I compare the two is like comparing a revolver (Leica) and a semi-automatic pistol (Canon EOS). Revolvers are mechanical, manual, there is no “burst rate”, and it weighs lighter than a semi-auto pistol. On the other hand, semi-auto pistol has a magazine to take up its ammunition, has a safety latch (off button), and weighs double of the revolver. Disclaimer: No, I haven’t hold a gun before, but that’s how Murakami described it in 1Q84, so I thought it will be a good analogy.
During my six-months trip in Asia (July 2012 to January 2013) when I only carried my Leica, I often missed using an SLR. From the grip, the finder, the buttons, even the plastic built. According to a friend of mine, it’s only natural because I’ve grown up using an SLR. But truth to be told, I do miss autofocus and auto-exposure. 90% of the time I can get away with the everything-manual Leica, but I do appreciate the automation that saves me time. Case in point, the smart matrix-metering of any Canon EOS cameras are suitable for shooting colour slides, whereas with the centre-weighted-only metering of a Leica, you’ll need to constantly took care of each exposures and do some maths in your head (scenario in my head: “yellow subjects? Maybe open up +1 or +1.5 stops. Dark blue… Err, maybe -0.5 will do. Wait, maybe -1 stop is better…” Etc).
Both types of cameras are different things and serve different purpose - just like digital and film, or boys and girls. There are times when I just want to take happy shots without thinking too much, I’d pick up a Canon SLR for that. I’d love to have something like Ricoh GR1v, but I don’t have the budget for a luxury compact camera at the moment. On the other hand, if I am walking all day in the streets of Hong Kong, then I’d surely pick my Leica.
These past few months, I have had numerous weekends around South-east Asia. As I currently resides in Singapore, I’m lucky enough to get cheap weekend getaways to some amazing cities: Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Yogyakarta (Java, Indonesia) and Cameron Highlands (Malaysia). I have created a system so that I don’t carry more than a backpack for a short (3 days, 2 nights) weekend. I’m sharing you my travelling light secret in this post, and why it will make our travel much more enjoyable.
What I wear on the first day is a pair of hiking shirt and trousers and a trekking shoe, and I have my backpack on my back. The backpack contains another pair of shirt & trousers for day 2, a t-shirt & short as my pajamas, underwears, and toiletries. I’ll discuss them below in turn.
1) Some of you may have wondered why don’t I bring another pair of shirt & trousers for day 3. The secret lies in the first days’ clothes: I’m wearing hiking shirt and trousers. Those are designed to be very lightweight, and dries very quickly. At the end of my first day, I wash them in the shower (just using the foams from body wash), and hang them to dry. It has 2 nights to dry up; in most South-East Asian countries, it takes about an hour of full sunlight to make it dry and crisp. Even when it’s raining and humid, leaving it at home the entire day will dry it up. You can also wash your undies at the same time if you want to carry even less.
What I normally wear (I’m on the right, of course!). Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, September 2012.
2) Before you pack your toiletries, make sure to remind yourself that you’re going for a weekend; you’re not relocating. I try to carry as little as possible: I bring my toothbrush, dental floss, small toothpaste, my contact lenses, the 10ml-packed solutions, ear bud, shampoo and body wash. I’m not meant to use those shampoo and body wash, they’re only for emergency. I normally get shampoo and body wash in the accommodations. For only 3 days, I don’t mind using the hotel/motel-grade shampoo and body wash. If you are concerned about it, pack yourself some shampoo or body wash from home but don’t bring the whole 300ml bottle. I also leave my electric-shaver at home; who cares if I look a bit messy anyways, you’re in a foreign country where no one knows you ;) Put your toiletries all in one small case (or sandwich ziplock bag) so you won’t scatter it all over.
3) Camera and stuff: see that pink bundled thing on top image? That’s my Leica wrapped in a face towel. I stuff them in my backpack – that towel and plenty of things above ought to give enough cushioning. I don’t have a habit of throwing around my backpack so it’s all good. Sometimes I worry and want to get a semi-hard case just for it, but so far it has been okay. I don’t use “camera bags” because I have my camera on my neck all day, and my Ricoh GRD IV is in my pocket or waist. It’s easier to shoot this way. Moreover, I found carrying a messenger-style camera bag hurts one side of my shoulder anyway, which is bad for our body posture in the long run. It actually hurts quite a lot and makes me not wanting to walk too much, which defeats the purpose of travelling.
4) Small messenger bag: This bag is really light, and if you’re not a photographer, you probably can skip this. This bag contains my filters, flash, lens cloth, spare batteries (LR44 and CR123A), films, and a water bottle.
This whole backpack weighs less than 7kg (even with my camera inside), and so if you fly, you can bring it on the cabin and you have everything with you all the time. Also, if you want to go to your destination right after leaving the airport, you don’t need to check in to your hotel and leave your bag so you can go somewhere else.
Also, I highly discourage carrying a laptop. I have a Kindle for entertainment at the airport and on flights, and an iPhone if I urgently need to check e-mail (rarely happens). At most, I would carry an iPad (take its weight as a rule of thumb). For the gadgets available in 2013, anything heavier than an iPad is not recommended; it will weigh you down. When I’m travelling this way, I’m so amazed at how few chargers I carry: one for my Ricoh GRD IV and one for my iPhone. My Kindle lasted for 2-3 weeks at one charge, so I don’t have to carry its charger.
P.S. I have been following this blog, PackLite, and if you’re addicted to travelling light as I do, I suggest you stop over their page for true minimalist packing.