Chromasia Training: Blog

Fujifilm X-T1: Initial review
Posted by Dave in Reviews on Apr 7, 2014 comments and reactions


A little over a year ago I was out in Dubai for the Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) training event, chatting to Zack Arias over a morning coffee. I can't remember where the conversation started - pre-caffeine conversations are not ones that I can easily bring to mind - but I do remember we ended up talking about his Fujifilm X100S.

I played around with it for a few minutes, liked a couple of the features, but ended up feeling smug because I had a Sony RX1 instead: 24MP instead of 16, a full-frame sensor, and an f/2 Zeiss lens on the front. I did agree that the X100S had better autofocus, I liked the built-in hybrid viewfinder (the EVF for the RX1 is good, but it's an add-on), and it's certainly a much better looking camera than the RX1, but I couldn't see why it had generated so much hype.

To be honest, I viewed the X-Series as a great exercise in marketing: The X100S, the X-Pro 1 and so on are all competent cameras, but I kind of thought that some of their success could be put down to Fuji mystique: hipster appeal, retro styling and the fact that they're promoted by industry gurus such as Zack and David Hobby.

In short, I can't say I had anything against the X-Series cameras, but I did think there was a bit of a fanboy thing going on.

Wind forward a year and I'm back in Dubai, for another GPP event, trying to negotiate a good price with Sony MEA on an A7R: which at the time I though was pretty much the ultimate in small cameras - 36MP, full-frame sensor, no anti-aliasing filter - the ideal camera for the type of stuff I shoot. While I was waiting for Sony to get back to me I ended up chatting to the Fujifilm guys who asked me if I'd like an X-T1. "To borrow?", "No, to keep. We'd just like some feedback". I'd love to tell you that I took the time to seriously consider whether I should take them up on their offer, but I didn't.

"OK, deal".

At worst I'd have a competent little camera to play around with, and at best I'd find it genuinely useful. They gave me the XT-1, battery grip and the 18-55mm XF f2.8-4 kit lens. They also loaned me the 14mm XF f/2.8 (equivalent to a 21mm lens on a full-frame) and the 56mm XF f/1.2 (85mm equivalent), which I also got to keep.

When they gave me the camera I began to worry I might succumb to the Fuji mystique as the serial number of the one they gave me is 00008. They also told me that David Hobby has 00001; Arias, Zack Arias has (00)007; and my good friend Bobbi Lane has 00005, so I was up there with some illustrious and more or less trendy company. I'd joined the Fuji club. As I was still sceptical at this point I resisted the urge to buy a cool leather strap (pretty much de-rigour for any serious Fujifilm shooter) and didn't feel the need to invest in a small retro-satchel for the assortment of tiny lenses I'd no doubt be tempted to buy, so went off to put the XT-1 through its paces.

To summarise, I started out thinking that the XT-1 might prove to be a useful addition to my camera bag but after a few weeks of using it, as you'll see, I've ended up somewhere I really didn't expect, ... more of which below.

See Through: Photography Competition

I've been asked to judge a photography competition run by, a company specialising in the production of innovative and eye-catching business cards.

The first prize is 500 Clear Plastic Business Cards (worth $750) for the winner (see below for some examples) and 250 cards for the runner up.

The theme is 'See Through', inspired by the popularity of their transparent and semi-transparent range of cards.

Read on for all the details ...

Skin in B&W: Photography competition

I've been asked to judge a competition run by ViewBug: Skin in B&W. Up for grabs are two identical prizes: a free subscription to The Art of Black and White Photography - my online course on black and white postproduction - a limited edition photo storage hub, and 300 reward points).

The competition closes on the 7th of November and there have already been over 4000 entries, a handful of which I've included below. As I'm sure you'll agree, a lot of the entries are of a very high standard.

Read on to take a look at some of my favourite submissions ...

How to add dynamic clipping warnings to Photoshop

There are two types of clipping you probably try to avoid introducing into your images during post-production: luminosity clipping (when the brightest areas of an image become white, or when the darkest areas become black), and channel clipping (when the data within an individual channel becomes compromised). Both forms – unless you've made a deliberate decision to clip your data – are something to avoid.

As you'll probably know, Photoshop doesn't make this easy. The only tool that provides direct feedback on any clipping within an image is the histogram, but it isn't completely accurate, nor is it dynamic: it updates after you implement a change rather that providing feedback during an adjustment. And while there are quite a few ways that allow you to accurately measure clipping – more of which below – none of the methods are either especially convenient or automatic.

Fortunately, there is a solution – a way to add a set of warnings that will provide real-time feedback on any shadow, highlight, and channel highlight clipping within an image – and I'll show you how to do so in the remainder of this article.

[watch the videos after the jump]

But that's just Photoshop!

Over the years I've had quite a few protracted and often heated discussions about the role of post-production in photography, normally with people who seem to have a rooted objection to images that have been radically transformed.

"But that's not photography, that's just Photoshop!" has been a relatively common criticism of some of my work.

It's a complex debate – especially as it plays out differently within different areas of photography – and I certainly don't intend to provide a complete answer here, but an image I've been working on recently prompted the following.

Architectural Photography Competition: The Winners

Back in February I was asked to judge an architectural photography competition sponsored by Goodman Business Parks.

There were two prizes up for grabs – a Sony NEX-5R Compact System Camera for the overall winner, and a £50 Amazon UK Voucher for the runner up – and we received a great range of entries from around the world.

Read on to see the shortlisted and winning images ...

Architectural Photography Competition

As you'll know if you read my initial review of the Sony SLT-A99 I'm currently making the switch to shooting full time with Sony gear. I'm selling my Canon kit, have invested in a range on Sony/Zeiss lenses, and have recently acquired another Sony camera that I'll be blogging about soon (watch this space!).

As such I was pleased to be asked to run and judge a UK based architectural photography competition that's being sponsored by Goodman Business Parks as the main prize is a Sony Nex-5R Compact Camera System.

Read on for all the details ...

Night photography: capturing movement and light


One of my favourite workshops is 'Shoot the City', a workshop I run twice a year for Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai. We start the day photographing architecture (normally at the DIFC in the heart of the city), after which we shoot the Jumeirah Beach skyline from the Palm: from late afternoon until about 30-40 minutes after sunset. We then head up to the rooftop bar of the Four Points Sheraton hotel on Sheik Zayed road: a great vantage point, with affordably great fries and tolerably cheap beer.

During each workshop I teach pretty much the same techniques, most of which I've listed below, but during the latest workshop I decided to try something a bit different ...

Sony SLT-A99: Initial review
Posted by Dave in Reviews on Nov 14, 2012 comments and reactions


At the start of September I received an email from GPP asking me if I'd be interested in being involved with the launch of a couple of Sony's new cameras, to coincide with my upcoming visit to Dubai for their Fotoweekend event: the SLT-A99, their new full frame pro-spec camera, and the NEX-5. I wasn't especially interested in the NEX-5 – it's a good little camera, but not one that I'd use – but the SLT-A99 looked more promising.

If you're not familiar with Sony's SLT cameras the basic difference between them and a DSLR is that the mirror doesn't move, hence Single Lens Translucent rather than Single Lens Reflex. With a DSLR the mirror flips out of the way before you take the shot, with an SLT the majority of the light is fed continuously to the sensor, with a portion being routed to the main AF module via the mirror. In theory this means that you're losing around 0.3EV to 0.5EV from the outset, but in practice this loss of light seems to have little or no effect on the quality of the image.

The deal was that I'd get to keep the camera and a couple of lenses in exchange for spending some time shooting in the UK followed by two days intensive shooting in Dubai. Those images would be used to create a range of A0 prints, a photo book, and so on. I was also asked to give a 10 minute presentation at the press conference and another public talk on my experiences of shooting in Dubai as part of GPP's Fotoweekend event.

So, an intensive schedule (I was shooting on the 2nd and 3rd of November and the press conference was on the 6th), a fair amount of pressure (the images needed to be good), but I'd get to keep the camera and two lenses: the Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Vario-Sonnar® T* and the Zeiss 85mm F1.4 ZA Planar T*, both of which are great pieces of glass.

Was I delighted? Initially, no. Let me explain why ...

Millennium & Copthorne #CityView Photography Contest

Here's a competition for any of you who are based in the UK or plan on visiting at some point soon.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels have launched a new blog and are holding a photography competition to kick start proceedings. Given the company's affinity with city life they are asking photographers to submit an image that captures the essence of their favourite city.

Entry's so far can be seen here and I am pleased to have been asked to judge the 'Most Dramatic' category. Other categories include 'Most Shared', 'Most Creative' and 'Honourable Mentions'.

Read on to find out how to enter and what you can win ...