What camera should a beginner buy?

Stident on old collage chum George Neal had never picked up a camera till I got him shooting a Fujifilm X-20. Later he ugraded his camera to a X-T1. Here is George on the left with both camera next to Piet Van den Eynde on a recent trip to India.

Student and old college chum, George Neill, had never picked up a camera till I got him shooting a Fujifilm X-20. Later he added an X-T1 to his kit. Here is George on the left with both cameras next to Piet Van den Eynde on a recent trip to India.

One of the more frequent questions I get asked, is “What is the best camera I should buy if I am a beginner?” Honestly, these days there are so many choices, which can make it confusing and overwhelming. But the reality is it doesn’t have to be. I tell newbies to step back, take a breath and answer a quick question or two. Then I give them usually one, possibly two answers. They are almost always happy if they follow my advice. Continue reading

A Post Card From Kek Lok Si

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia, Chinese New Year, Fireworks

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia

Gong Xi Fa Chai from the Kek Lok Si Temple


As you know I have been living back in my home country, the U.S., for the past few months. To say it’s been hard is an understatement. If I hear another comment about this or that candidate or about how are Muslims are out to get, us I might just scream! As an attempt at sanity and to pick up my Malaysia My Second Home visa, Alou and I are here in Malaysia just in time for the Chinese New Year.

This is the kind of visa you physically have to pick up in-country. We’ve submitted the forms and now we hope to get approved before we leave to return to the U.S. on March 1st. In the meantime, Alou will travel to the Philippines to visit her family and I will travel to India to meet Piet Van den Eynde and a small group of friends for a photo workshop. We’ll be traveling from Delhi to Agra and then on to Varanasi. Everyone in the group are repeat workshop participants, as such, it is guaranteed to be a fun time.

I will be posting updates from both my time here in Penang, as well as my days traveling and shooting with the group in India, so watch this space.

Today I leave you with this fun shot from last night. The official start of Chinese New Year celebration began with the fireworks and the lighting of Penang’s Kek Lok Si Temple. You might recall a post I did way back in 2013 called Luck Happens: Kek Lok Si Temple. That year I was completely unprepared for the fireworks but luckily, happened to be in the right place at the right time. So this time I was ready. I might have been ready, but the fireworks were flash, bang…aaand it’s over. Truthfully, there were so little fireworks and they blew them off at such a slow rate it was underwhelming. To get this shot I had to composite two exposures into one frame. I am happy with the results and I offer it to you as my Chinese New Year’s wish for a prosperous 2016, the Year of the Monkey!

FujiFilm’s X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition

FujiFilm’s X-T1 Graphite Silver edition

Price: $1499.00



Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver edition


If we are going to make a list of gifts for a photographer then we need to start with a camera and what better camera in my book than the Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver. Their is just one word to describe this little camera: sexy. With it’s graphite silver and black look it harkens us back to the 1960s and 70’s before every SLR was black on black. It looks remarkably like my old (1986) Olympus OM-4T. T was for Titanium. This unfortunately is not titanium, but it does have that look. It is cool looking but better still it is crazy functional. This camera has features no other Fuji has (at least until a firmware update on Dec 18th). This camera is on my wish list.

X-T1 Graphite Silver edition key features:

  • 16.3 million Megapixels APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor
  • Dust and water-resistant body with more than 75 points of weather sealing. Freeze resistance to 14°F (-10°C).
  • Phase detection AF and motion predictive AF for continuous shooting up to 8 frames per second
  • Highest viewfinder magnification for digital cameras of 0.77x
  • Wide viewing angle (diagonal 38° and horizontal 31°)
  • Ultra-fast Real Time Viewfinder with a lag-time of 0.005sec (less than 1/10 of existing models) and new Natural Live View
  • Four different display modes: Full, Normal, Dual and Vertical.
  • Tempered glass 1.04 million dot high-precision 3″ tilting LCD monitor
  • Digital Split Image and Focus Highlight Peaking
  • Completely electronic shutter up to 1/32000 seconds
  • Die-cast magnesium body provides a sturdy and durable, while compact and lightweight design
  • Interval timer shooting for Time Lapse photography is available with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours and up to 999 frames
  • NEW ‘Classic Chrome’ and other film simulation modes
  • Full HD video 1080p at 60fps; bit rate of 36Mbps for clear capture of delicate movements; frame rates of 50fps, 30fps, 25fps and 24fps, supporting worldwide motion picture formats
  • Manual focus available during video recording
  • Free FUJIFILM Camera Remote application and Wireless Communication function allows users to remotely shoot images from smartphones and tablets via WiFi
  • Photos can be sent to the INSTAX Share Printer using the free INSTAX Share App (iOS and Android) SHARE Smartphone Printer

Ladakh Photo Trek Part 3


f/9, 1/280 sec, at 18.8mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

Nubra Valley is being developed with guest houses and luxury tent accommodation. It is a good idea to visit it sooner rather than later.


After the official workshop ended, as often, we offered an extension on the trip. The planned extension was to Srinagar Kashmir and the surrounding valley But as you might know the Kashmir region was faced with unprecedented flooding and there was no way we would be able to lead a workshop in such surroundings. So Piet, Alou and I had to put our heads together in a hurry and come up with an alternative for Kashmir. The obvious choice became the one we went with: the amazing Nubra Valley. Continue reading

How I modified my X-T1 with Sugru


The Sugru rubber make the 4-way selector buttons finally usable.

The Sugru rubber make the 4-way selector buttons finally usable.

This is going to be a short and to-the-point post. I have been using the Fujifilm X-T1 now for a few months and have come to appreciate this camera. I know this sounds nothing like other peoples reviews of this camera. Everyone seems to love this camera but me. For me it has been a love/hate journey. I have never been thrilled with this camera’s form. I liked the rangefinder look of the other X-series cameras. So from the very start, I was disappointed. Continue reading

Indian Summers in Penang

My gear used to shoot Indian Summers. The Fujifilm X-E2 with the 10-24 mm f/4 and the X-T1 (taped up for pertection) with the 56 mm f/1.2. Plus my new PeakDesign Straps. Both cameras and lenses are working to perfection.

I am excited to say that I have been hired as the Still Photographer for a new British drama by Channel 4 and PBS TV called Indian Summers. It takes place in 1932 in Simla, India, a English hill station. Hill stations in India like Simla and Mussoorie (where I used to live) were used as getaways from the heat of New Delhi during the summer. They were a “little Englands” in the Himalaya. Complete with quaint manor names like Annadale, Woodstock or Rokeby Manor. In fact, the whole of the British government literally moved office and people from Delhi to Simla every summer. Thus the title, Indian Summers. This series has been described as an Indian Empire version of Downton Abbey. Continue reading

A few thoughts of the Fujifilm FX56 mm F/1.2 R


Fujifilm FX56 mm F/1.2 R


This is part two of my thoughts on two lenses that Fujifilm Malaysia lent me this past week. In the last review I looked at the XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS. Today I am giving you my thoughts on the FX56 mm F/1.2 R.

Continue reading

A few thoughts of the Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS


Last week my friends at Fujifilm Malaysia loaned me two of their latest and greatest lenses to play with and asked me if I would share my thoughts. I have been waiting for these two new lenses probably more than any of the other lenses in their entire lineup. The two lenses are the XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS and the XF56mm f/1.2 R. On a cropped sensor, such as the two cameras I am shooting with – the Fujifilm X-E2 and the X-T1 – they represent a full frame focal length equivalent of 15-36 mm and 85 mm respectively. I recently bought the X-T1, but I do not plan to review the X-T1 as it may be one of the most reviewed cameras on the planet, to date. It definitely is the most reviewed Fujifilm camera till now. Continue reading

The Popup Flash: A Pro Tool?

f/7.1, 1/8 sec, at 14mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-E2

f/7.1, 1/8 sec, at 14mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-E2 rear curtain sync

I came close to titling this post as “Pro Sho – Who says?” I have read so many Facebook posts, blog posts and Twitter tweets about what a “pro-camera” should have on it that I am ready to scream. At this point I could get all esoteric and say, any camera you make money with is a pro-camera. This is true, but that is not really what we are talking about. I think I want to be a little less obtuse and more to the point. When I say “pro” I am talking with the same mind set you might have when you go into a hardware store as ask for pro tools. These are tools that can be abused and often have more “horse power” or specialized features. The same goes with cameras. In my view a pro-camera needs to have very little for this classification. Just as the pro-drill needs to be able to take hours of constant use and abuse so must a pro-camera. It would need to be able to survive a high shutter count and would need some sort of metal alloy body construction to help it buffet physical abuse. That’s about all I would say that it would have to have. After that everything else is just rhetoric or personal opinion. Continue reading