Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Tag: photography

Do it, Touit! New Zeiss Lenses for the Fujifilm X & Sony NEX Mount Part 1

Detail with tree of Orly Genger's Red, Blue and Yellow installation in Madison Sq. Park, NYC. 32 mm lens

Detail with tree of Orly Genger’s Red, Blue and Yellow installation in Madison Sq. Park, NYC. 32 mm lens

Last week I was privileged by Zeiss to test out a new line of lenses made for two Mirrorless digital camera systems; the Fujifilm X, and Sony NEX mounts. Being keen to mount Zeiss lenses on my XPro1 from my experience as both a Contax shooter in the 90’s and a Hassalblad shooter in the 2000’s is an understatement. I love Zeiss. Carl Zeiss was a German who pioneered lens manufacture in the 1840’s and is responsible for classic groupings of optics that would advance the image resolution of photography. It would be a truism to say, photography owes something Zeiss.

at the Zeiss Touit launch, Standard Hotel, NYC. Iphone.

at the Zeiss Touit launch, Standard Hotel, NYC. Iphone.

The new lenses have the silly and catchy name of Touit, named after a tropical parrot. Thus far they have released two lenses, a 32 mm f 1.8 and 12 mm f2.8. The plans to expand the system with a third lens, a 50 mm f2.8 macro are eminent. Further lenses will certainly follow. By this time, many blogs and review sites have posted info on the Zeiss Touits and I don’t want to repeat what has already been published, so I’ll just take you through my observations and work while I put the lenses to the task. As Richard Schleuning from Zeiss explained, these lenses were targeted towards “those that make photographs as opposed to those that take photographs”. I’m sure we could geek out on what that’s supposed to mean, but can agree that we most likely want to make photographs. By nature I’m a giver not a taker so that sits well with me. Thank you Richard, and Carl.

Spring afternoon in Madison Sq. Park. 32 mm

Spring afternoon in Madison Sq. Park. 32 mm

The lenses can be categorized as “luxury” lenses. They are made with a tactile consideration befitting a high end product. Beautiful matte black metal barrels and rubberized and recessed focus and aperture rings. Not bulky like the Fujifilm lenses and much more solid than the NEX system lenses, you can feel the quality build in your hands as well as in your wallet.

Matt Hill onstage at Paper Burlesque. 32 mm

Matt Hill onstage at Paper Burlesque. 32 mm

The 32 mm 1.8 Planar is the standard lens providing you with a 50 mm view on the APS-C size sensors. Counter that to the Fujifilm 35 mm 1.4. As I said before, the lens feels and looks great on the camera. I found the focus to be as fast if not slightly faster than the Fujifilm lens. The 32 mm comes with a large plastic lens hood, I prefer the slick and small Fujifilm metal hood to the Zeiss. Richard explained they chose plastic to keep weight down. When I tested the lens I went sans hood, the hood adds about 2.5 inches and I feel if your going Mirrorless, then go small.

Detail of stall on St. Marks Place NYC. 32 mm lens

Detail of stall on St. Marks Place NYC. 32 mm lens

After I made this image I really found the figure in the baseball cap off to the right annoying visually. I shot it at 1.8 and figured what if I had made that image with the Fujifilm lens that is a 2/3 stop faster. Would I have gotten more pleasing bokeh and thus have “blurred out” the unwanted figure?


So I conducted a test by putting the camera on my trusty Oben carbon fiber tripod and shooting this still life in my apartment between the two lenses. I have uploaded a very large image so feel free to pixel peep. Also please feel free to comment which of the two lenses produced the look you like the most. Me, I have to say I love more blur that is attainable with the Fujifilm 35 1.4, but the 9 blade aperture on the Zeiss certainly does have a smooth and pleasant blur. Notice the harder edges of the green plant in the back ground as well as the embroidered skull. I do like the slightly wider field of view on the 32 mm. I also notice a color shift between the two lenses. I had a Lastolite 30″ 5 in 1 silver gold reflector off to camera right acting as a warm fill. The Fujifilm 35 mm seemed to


Macro is superb with-out really being a macro lens. The 32 mm can focus down to 1.21 feet. Please consider the background of a macro shot, I think it is easy to get all caught up in the subject and then make a mistake in the background. I saw this purple flower in front of the pattern like bark of the tree and really concentrated on filling the background with the texture of the bark and being careful to not get anything but the tree in the background. The flower was easy, but man, look at that soft out of focus mottling of the bark. Yum.

Great rendition in macro range.

Great rendition in macro range.

The 1.8 rocks in low light when combined with the amazing low light capability of the Xpro1.

Paper Bulesque by Mat Hill. Dancer- Rosabelle Selavy. 32 mm f1.8 - 1/50 sec. ISO 1000 Center Meter, Tungsten

Paper Bulesque by Mat Hill. Dancer- Rosabelle Selavy. 32 mm f1.8 – 1/50 sec. ISO 1000 Center Meter, Tungsten

Thus far I’m impressed with the lenses. They do cost about 1/3 more than the all ready fairly expensive Fujifilm X lenses. Are they worth it? Stay tuned for part two, where we will see more of the 12 mm lens and some low light tests. Please don’t forget to add your comments on the 35 mm Fuji vs. the 32 mm Zeiss comparison.


Ricoh GR Digital IV: Thoughts, Trials, and Tests. But No Tribulations.

Dog is a much better skater than I.

Dog is a much better skater than I.

Ricoh and DPA (Digital Photo Academy) surprised me with a Ricoh GR Digital recently. My good buddy Gabe Biderman has always be a devotee and I knew it was a serious camera, but I never really gave it much thought. However, when UPS drops off a jewel such as the GR Digital IV at your doorstep, it merits giving it a shot or two, or three.

The original Film GR and the Digital GR D side by side. Brothers or Lovers?

The original Film GR and the Digital GR D side by side. Brothers or Lovers?

For those unfamiliar with this camera it is based on the Ricoh GR1, a high end point and shoot from 1996. The camera quickly achieved a cult like following, and pretty much was about as good as it got for its size. When the digital age arrived the high end point and shoot film cams pretty much went the way of the dodo bird and Ricoh took a big hit. In the US, they retreated from the camera market and had poor distribution. In 2005 they introduced the GR Digital, an updated yet surprisingly similar looking camera to its analog father. Once again, it attained a almost cult like following, but due to distribution issues, was still a bit of a hassle to find in the USA. A few years ago Ricoh decided that it was time to return to the US market enforce and attract more dealers thus making their cameras easier to find and purchase. This year, Ricoh attained Pentax corporation and this Japanese power horse is once again fully invested in world wide photography. The GR Digital is now in its fourth version, and a newer one is actually going to start shipping very soon. Enough history, lets get to the camera.

Ruinism in pointtilism

Ruinism in Pointillism

The Ricoh GR Digital 4 is a small compact digital point and shoot with a super sharp 28 mm f 1.9 prime lens. No zoom, and don’t even think about engaging the digital zoom feature. The Sensor is relatively small by todays standards at 1.7″ and 10 megapixel, however I wouldn’t be too concerned with that, considering the camera is actually very small. If the sensor was larger, so would the camera and you could forget about putting it in a jean or shirt pocket. After spending a day with the GR riding in my tight Levi 510 black jeans I opted to get the matching leather case and roll the cam on my belt like Batman would have it. For me, it’s either off the shoulder and I’m noticing it is there, or on the hip where I mostly don’t notice it, mostly. The GR has its own ergonomics, one designed in the mid 90’s. It’s a thin rectangle with a “bump” on the right side that acts as both grip and battery holder. The GR is housed in a magnesium shell reinforced with cushy rubber. For a cam of its size, it actually has a bit of heft, it feels well made and it is. The buttons and dials have solid clicks and are appealing in a tactile sense. When you turn the camera on the lens pops out and retracts on power off. Start up time I’d say is middling, not super fast, yet not terribly slow. From pocket to ready to shoot is about 1.2 seconds.

GR reacts swiftly and focuses fast close up.

GR reacts swiftly and focuses fast close up.

The camera has a bit of a sense of humor, where on a film camera you would have a sliding latch to open the film door, this camera uses a similar looking mechanism in the same place, but it pops the flash. The menu system is very MS DOS like, it’s not a pretty GUI, and you can’t assign specific wallpaper to it. There are three main menus, and they are fairly long. The camera does just about anything, from interval shooting, HDR bracketing, AE Bracketing, Raw Capture (but not RAW + Jpeg weird huh), passive and active AF (GR focuses fast and nice), a killer macro mode (1.7mm), a hot shoe, a nice bright 3″ LCD screen and to top it off with, a non-HD video mode (640) which says, “I’m a camera not a video camera thank you”. However, it does have HDMI out so go figure. Now this one little feature may just be completely unique, I have never seen anything like this before, when you turn the camera off it gives you a daily shot count. Yes, it tells you how many images in total you have made for that calender day. Its like having your Dad tell you to brush your teeth before you go sleep. I think this is a useful tool to understand how you photograph and to help you to shoot more or less by having a record.

Washing Windows in Contrasty Light

Washing Windows in Contrasty Light

On the negative side, don’t shoot over 400 ISO in color. This camera is not made for low light. The ISO does go to 3200 but its got noise the size of square marbles. The camera has all the modes you would expect such as Shift P, S, M and my favorite, A mode or Aperture priority. However since the sensor is so small, the camera inherently has a ton of depth of field, so no bukeh for you and a top aperture of F 9.0. I could also site as a negative, the price. The camera is not inexpensive at $550.00, but I must also recall my fathers favorite motto, “Good things are not cheap-cheap things are not good”. This is not a casual camera, it is a deliberate photographers tool. It’s not available in blue nor red, its matt black and business.

Look into those eyes... love the camera's 28 mm lens for an enviriomental portrait

Look into those eyes… love the camera’s 28 mm lens for an environmental portrait

The camera has 3 custom modes called MY1, MY2 and MY3. You can access these on the top master control. The menu system allows for control of many variables, from exposure modes, focus modes, style modes, ISO, file settings and such. The idea is to really master these three shooting preferences and toggle easily between them. I especially like the film sim modes, which include a nice submenu to customize the style. Say if you were to choose B&W, you can adjust the contrast, sharpness (remember that 28 mm 1.9 prime lens?…Oh yea its sharp), vignette strength, vividness (why not)?, and a very tightly adjusted sepia tone. If you follow my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of in camera stylistic choices, and the GR in this case not only gives them to you, it makes it easy to save them and use them when you need that particular look. I took most of my test image in Positive Film, a color saturated film similar to Fujifilm Provia. I also chose to use a heavy vignette, and I upped the saturation and contrast. This was MY3, MY1 was a contrasty sharp B&W, MY 2 P with a boost of vivid. The camera came with a letter from Pentax’s Jim Malcolm and in it, he wrote extensively describing what he had assigned his three “MY” settings. Asking your MY is akin to asking what film you have loaded. Sweet.

MY1: B&W Contrast & Sharpness Boost

MY1: B&W Contrast & Sharpness Boost

MY 2: Vivid, P Mode

MY 2: Vivid, P Mode

MY 3: Positive Film, boost Vivid, Sharpness, and light boost of Contrast.Vignetting High. P Mode

MY 3: Positive Film, boost Vivid, Sharpness, and light boost of Contrast.Vignetting High. P Mode

Which of MY settings do you prefer? Please comment.

Using these very specific style choices on Jpeg images will enhance the final result of both your photographic body of work and aid you in fine tuning  your own photographic voice.

MY 3 Tulips on acid shot

MY 3 Tulips on acid shot

The camera considering its price point is very oddly placed and if I was to be asked, would I spend $550 on this camera I would have to look deep into my cam-soul to answer that yes. It is a solid performing, prime lens shooting, well built, advanced camera. However, there are others in the market similar to the GR and dare I say better? One comes to mind, the Sony X100 which features a great 1″ 20 mp sensor for a hundred bucks more. However, there is still something very attractive to the GR. It might be the grip, or the familiar look to the design, or perhaps its just little nuances, such as when you turn the camera off, it gives you a shot count for that calendar day.  That last little tidbit has big consequences, I believe the more you shoot, the better a photographer you get. You will see compositions emerge from the tangle of complicated backgrounds. Subjects will appear more interesting if you master photography and one sure way to fast track to master is shoot a lot. How much is a lot? Well, this camera will tell you every darn time you turn it off. I like that. The GR digital is a photographers camera. A very particular photographer.

The camera makes cool images, the meter rocks, and the lens is a performer.

The camera makes cool images, the meter rocks, and the lens is a performer.

UPDATE 9/24/2013 :

this image was updated into a short post about the camera here.

Message Man in Chelsea

The Suspect Story: Part 1, A Un-Published Suspect Photography interview with Chris Gampat of the Phoblographer

Io Electro from the Seattle Suspects series Contax RX 60 2.8 Macro Planar 1/60 sec f 11 Kodak Techpan 25 iso

A couple of years ago, Chris Gampat, chief editor of the Phoblographer asked me a few questions about my Seattle Suspects project. For some reason, the questions and answers were never published, and recently while cleaning up some hard drives, I found the piece. This will be the first part in a three  part series about my most photographically productive time, the Seattle years.

Tell us about how you came up with the name, “Seattle Suspects.”

Suspect Photography was the name of my gallery/studio in Seattle. We filled a niche in the photography community of Seattle by showcasing emerging and mid-career photographers that had an edge, but couldn’t find a home in the more established galleries such as Benham and Gail Gibson gallery. We had a great location, in Pioneer Square and I coined a term, Maverick Gallery. These were artist owned galleries that were prevalent in the bohemian inhabited old industrial and manufacturing buildings that made up Pioneer Square.

Suspect Photography was named after an experience I had where I “suspected” anything could exist in an instance of chance. When you look at an uncertain future, you can “suspect” anything, because anything is possible. Suspect Photography is both pragmatic and optimistic with a dash of fanciful promise.

Since the subjects were a selection of Goths, Fetish heads, Drag Queens, Artists, Poets, Musicians, and other assorted wayward souls I had a small difficulty in coming up with a name for the project. So I looked for the common denominator, which was they all came to Suspect Photography to be photographed, and Suspect Photography was in Seattle, hence the name Seattle Suspects. On a side note, everyone I ran the name by loved the title, but Joyce Tenneson. She is the undisputed queen of photography books and she absolutely detested it! I had to go with my gut, and keep the name in spite of Joyce’s opinion.

Nearly Naked Man from the Seattle Suspects. Contax RX 60mm 2.8 1/60 sec F11 Kodak Tech Pan 25 iso

 What was working with these people like for you?

Like hanging out with friends that I wanted to become closer to. I love people who are on the edge, I love freaks. I love people who take being called a freak as a compliment.

Susan from Club F*uck Seattle Suspect Series Contax RX 60 2.8 Macro Planar 1/60 sec F 11

 How did you get your subjects to pose the way that they did?

I encourage them to take over the studio sounds system. If you didn’t bring a cd over, I’d drop in one of mine, something that local clubs would be playing. It was the mid 90’s so NIN, Skinny Puppy, Dead Can Dance would suffice fine. I’d let them dance for me and coach them to stop when they got into an interesting pose. I would look for positions that were demonstrative of the subject, ones that encouraged positive and negative space with expressive reaching of the arms or straddled legs.

Sparks from the Seattle Suspects series Contax RX 35-70 vario-sonnar 1/60 sec F 11 Kodak Techpan 25 iso

Do you feel that chemistry between a photographer and the subject is vital to creating great photos? If so, why?

Absolutely. Emotions will be caught on film, so if they don’t trust you, then your images will reflect that. They wont give you their all. I likened the underground of Seattle to a court, and I was the court photographer. I photographed the kings and queens of the scene and they trusted my eye to capture this moment in their life. This gave me access to the rest of the courtesans. I have to also say at this point that I was one of them. I wasn’t an outsider looking in, I was an insider of the scene. I partied at the after hour speakeasies where I recruited the Suspects, I promoted at the clubs (Catwalk and Chapel Periolous) and I ran a gallery that featured edgy art. I also shot Fantasy Unlimited ad campaigns that gave me street cred. The Suspect’s trusted me with themselves, and I respected them.

Dalia from the Seattle Suspects series. Contax RX 60 2.8 Macro Planar 1/60 sec f 11 Kodak Techpan 25 iso

How did you inspire yourself?

How could I not? Look closely at the suspects, they are so complicated and strangely beautiful, a blend of darkly serious and deathly whimsical that I always was honored these subjects would pose before my lenses. What we photograph will echo in eternity, I was inspired to ensure their voices and style would not fade into obscurity. The suspects of mid 1990’s Seattle are fully documented and that is inspiration incarnate.

Malinda from the Seattle Suspects series Contax RX 60 2.8 Macro Planar 1/60 sec f 11 Kodak Techpan 25 iso

Tell us about how you lit your subjects to get the look that you wanted.

I approach studio lighting like two puzzles to solve. First, you must light the background. I would hit the background with two While Lighting “oil cans” fitted with barn doors to keep the spill from hitting the subject in the foreground. I would try to even the light out so the flash would give F11 across the entire backdrop. To light the subject I would use a White Lighting Ultra 1800 in a large Photoflex soft box as a main light, pretty much hitting the subject’s torso at f 11 but the trick was to mount the light on a Bogen Super Boom. Booming the box lets me use the light like a great soft skylight to bathe the subject that I can tweak and aim just so. For fill light I would use an Ultra 600 in Photoflex Stripdome to achieve F 8 1/2 output. I recommend playing with your lights and testing them so you can find the look that matches the subjects and the process your using.

Thank you Chris for asking me those questions, and thank you to all the fabulous freaks of mid 90’s Seattle. You set me free to find myself.

Seattle Suspects book published in 2009 with Blurb and available on the Blurb market place or with a print on the Seattle Suspects site.

Please visit the Seattle Suspects main site to view the book and more suspects, and whilst your at it, give a “like” to the Suspects fan page.


Finding Photographic Style In Italy

Vespa rider in Milan

Achieving photographic style and understanding the traits that make imagery posses its own distinguishable idiom that resonates with the photographers voice is a daunting and difficult artistic undertaking. As each devotee explores photography and builds their visual vocabulary inevitably certain photographers will rise to the top. Highly crafted and odd works by Joel Peter Witkin, Perfect landscapes of Ansel Adams, snippets of time expertly caught by Bresson, they all share their own unique photographic style that differentiates and identifies the photographer to the photograph. There are many more of course, but those three come to mind as evoking strong, and yet vastly different styles. I’ll invite you later to watch a two hour lecture where I delve deeply into the anatomy of photographic style but this moment I want  to show off an exercise if you will, a self assignment that I give myself every summer for the past decade.

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo bucolic, Florence

Every year my wife Barbara and I spend our vacation in Tuscany. We have this wonderful home that was Barbara’s grandmothers and has been in her family ever since. The back room is used as a dark room, and there is even a “camera ready room” for coating cyanotypes, loading film holders, and organizing gear for shoots. This photo “mini” project starts in Milan, and then migrates to a small village below Cortona. For a decade now I have spent weeks of my summer in this bucolic medieval countryside and the narrow streets of hill top towns.  I have shot sun flowers (warning: an August trip is a bit late for sun flowers, if you are into shooting them, then I suggest a early July visit), cipressi trees, castles, farm houses, and graveyards. In many ways it’s a photographic paradise and the hordes of tourists with all manner of cameras will surely stop and shoot these unique characteristics.

Florence Duomo

Florence Duomo or The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore aka Florence Duomo

I am interested in having my vision standing out from the crowd. I seek to create images that capture the subject, yet show it in a way that is uncommon and unique. I have to look deeply into my photographic skill set, decimate the technique, subject matter, capture, post process and imagine a way to complete the project with a single voice. It’s hard work and for me, I had to really delve deeply and think about it.

vicolo in Cortona

VIcolo in Cortona

In the past, I have worked on projects such as “Italy Looking Up” where I only shot aiming the camera upwards. No straight on shooting what so ever. I have shot “Adams” style large formate with my Deardorff 8×10, Lensbaby and 35 mm film, Toy Camera with a Black Bird Fly, Nikon Rangefinder with Ilford XP2, and Hasselblad 2 1/4 color print. The project “Instant Italy” was captured using Fujifilm Instax cameras exclusively. By creating sever restrictions on gear you can emerge with a unique style, simply because your confined to something that allows less visual options.



This year I resolved to shoot with my new and trusty Fujifilm X Pro 1. I would get a chance to explore the nuances of the 35 mm 1.4 and of course, old faithful, the 18 mm 2.0. On the road to photographic style, shooting with primes or limited focal lengths add a common visual denominator, that of the angel of view. No sloppy zooming back and forth here… its either wide or normal view. If I can’t get close to a detail, then its going to be small in the frame.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan

I also decided to make a dramatic choice that would really effect the way I composed my images, I set the camera aspect ratio to 1:1. I’d be working in square format, like my beloved red Hassy. I would also assign a B &W or monochrome film simulation mode. This also means I would be capturing less information on each picture I took. The files went from being 45.7 megabytes to 15.2 megabytes under these setting parameters. I know, I could shoot Raw and have both the big fat files and also the smaller “assignment style” files, but I like to live on the photographic edge.

Either I make this work or I have nothing. I love drama, so the B&W film mode I used most often was the B&W Red filter.

Snack cart, Milan

Snack cart, Milan

It’s not easy to shoot this way, by not falling back on Raw + Jpeg capture you are showing a level of conviction on shooting using a specific technique. Square and B&W however is an interesting choice, because a perfect square is geometrically pleasing and lets face it, B&W is cool like the Fonzie.

Rock and Roll

Rock and Roll

Time was limited, and I had other projects also on the burner. I thought about how the technique could apply to more specific subject matter, like hands, or people. In Camucia, on Thursday mornings the market attracts lots of genuine local flavor. In particular is a vendor who I call Senor Porchetta. His porchetta wagon always has a long line of bustling Tuscans getting their porchetta fill. He is jovial, equally good with pig or knife and knows his fegatini like Silvio Berlusconi knows a 17 year old.

Senor Porchetta

Senor Porchetta

Hands in the Cortona Market

Hands in the Cortona Market

I can’t recall the name of the photographer who said, “if you’re not sure, get closer”, but they were was certainly on to something. Engage your macro, and come in close. I love the macro on the 18 f2.0 is 7.09″ (18 cm) as compared to the 35 f1.4 which is 11.02″ (28 cm), the 18 lets you get in a little closer, but beware, the lens takes in a lot of the scene.

Detail of locks on the Ponte Vechio, Florence. Shot with 18mm f2.0.

Moms sewing kit in the Casa Tuscana.

Mom’s sewing kit in the Casa Tuscana, 18mm f2.0

Fujifilm also has a macro 60mm 2.4. I’ve yet to test this one, but as I continue to work with the 35 1.4 I’m sure to add it to the arsenal later in the year.

35mm 1.4 with a 200% crop

If you have read this far and are liking these images and wish to develop your style or just hear more ranting from me on style, here is a link to the 2 hour program on Youtube, “Finding Photographic Style” recorded in the B&H Event Space this year.

Cortona Cops

Cortona Cops

I also brought my Speed Graphic 4×5 on this trip loaded with Fujifilm Acros to do some cyanotype work. But thats a post for another day.


~David George Brommer

Zen, Zones, and Focal Lengths are now the new drugs.

Fuji X Pro 1, 18mm, Snapseed processed

The sublime pleasure of seeing space surrounding the self as a trained photographer is our greatest gift and pleasure. Shape, lines, shadows, highlights, objects, nuances of patterns, both similar and interrupted, the delicate ballet of balanced forms, transitions of contrast defined in air and matter while viewed in whole, then fractured and selected inside a frame, bounded by our souls perspective focal length. It is sublime when in the zone, when all those take prioritization in you vision, the camera clicks, and its done.

Fuji X Pro 1, 18mm 1/200 f 8 200 iso jpg

The sometimes and not-often secret peak of the photograph making experience is felt in a tremor of the shutter release and can be drawn out for 3 seconds or more after the exposure, this is the satisfaction sensation. You did it. You got that shot amongst a special plane of non-interest.

Fuji X Pro 1, 18mm Snapseed processed

Shooting and seeing is akin to seeking. What it is you seek may not be known to you, walking about armed with your camera and having no particular agenda. Space will reveal what is interesting, time will put your body in the right temporal position and you just might make an interesting photograph. Or you can exert heavy control and manufacture the perfect storm to capture that superlative image. Shooting in a studio makes you the great creator of light, like Lucifer and Prometheus you can encase your image with brilliant photons, be the master of the subject and set. Photographers that create in a studio assume the aspect of gods.

Fitness bill boards

Fuji X Pro 1, 18mm Snapseed processed

How can you shorten the length of mediocre image making from the creating of greater images? There is one way, and that is to make lots of images on an almost daily basis. Live in the margin of seeing, be ready to take the viewfinder as a macroscope for living in this space, here, breathing these sights, and feeling those reflections. Incorporate “often” as way of answering the question, “when do you take pictures”. Raise the camera and make exposures often.

Fuji X Pro 1 18mm 1/30 f 4 iso 400 jpg

A click is a drug and the resulting image the high. Multiple clicks lead to visible euphoria and in that fog of stimulus better images lie. Do it enough and you will find a reliable friend in f8 and a fickle friend at f 1.4. Stay shooting and 1/15 second all of sudden seems like a month. ¼  second and a year shoots by a like the Silver Surfer on speed.

Sean Kernan told me Tidd Hido said, “I think I’m addicted to the feeling of having just taken what I think is a good photograph.” Feed your addiction and makes lots of images. Embrace the “studium” and don’t bogart the camera.

Fuji X-Pro 1, or “The Camera I have been waiting for my whole life”


Last week, I got my new Fujifilm X Pro 1 camera with the 18 mm f 2.0 lens. This was a big move for me, I haven’t bought a new camera for many years, as a matter of fact, I think my last cameras that I bought were an Olympus Pen F vintage camera, and before that, the Deardorff 8×10. I would like to note, that various camera companies have been sending me cameras for years to test and learn so that I may spread the word about how to work them. I have put through the ringer Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, and Leica cameras. Also I have used extensively all the Pro Fujifilm Dslr’s with the exception of the Finepix S5 (I love to shoot with the S1, S2, and S3 watching the evolution from behind the finder). So I plunked down hard earned green backs on this not so little jammer. I wanted to own the camera, because I felt strong about it. The design and quality that is something that has been long in the waiting. If I were to compare it, the best comparison would be to Leica M 8.2 but that would be unfair, and to compare it to the Sony NEX system or Panasonic G3 is also a stretch. The feel of the camera mostly reminds me of Hasselblad X-Pan with out the weight. Actually I can feel the DNA of the X-Pan in the X-Pro 1, after all, Fujifilm manufactured the Hassy X-Pan and it’s lenses. You could even find the camera under the Fuji name of TX (The Xpan got an update to a Mark II in 2003 being called the Xpan 2 and the Fuji’s model the TX 2).

Hasselblad Xpan and Fuji X Pro 1 side by side

If Fuji making the vaunted Hassy X-Pan sends shivers down your spine and you didn’t know that Fuji is actually serious about pro cameras then now you know. Fujifilm is way more than just film and a lab company. They are committed to professional image makers, always have been, and always will. The X-Pro 1 is proof of that.

So exactly why am I so pumped about this camera exactly? Remember, I dropped over $2200 for it. Form and performance seem to go hand in hand with the X Pro 1. The camera borrows much from the X100 which was released a little over a year ago. Indeed, its a interchangeable and beefed up version of the X100 with lots of enhancements. The one thing it does better and were all happy about, it does focus faster than the X100. While I never had much of an issue with X100 it is faster and faster and more responsive it better.

What really sets this X Pro 1 apart from all the other mirrorless cams, is the hybrid viewfinder. If you’re not familiar with the way you see your image as you compose, there are two ways. The OVF or optical view finder and the EVF or Electronic View Finder. OVF is analog, your looking through glass and the EVF is akin to looking at a magnified tiny tv scene of your image. The finder can either work as gorgeous optical finder with projected parallax corrected framing lines, allowing for a host of info to be shown or not shown (everything from WB to battery charge, to meter mode, film sim mode, exp. comp, frames remaining, grids, levels, focus points and more) or as a EVF. Leica users will delight in the way to change the view from OVF to EVF, a lever on the front of the camera reminiscent of the Leica lever for changing framing lines to focal lengths toggles back to enable either view mode. Its a pleasure to look through a true optical view finder, you can see outside the frame of your scene (SLRs have trouble with this, they are view finder wysiwyg) anticipating when something is about to move into the composition. The EVF however is a bit contrasty yet clear, when the camera is in macro mode, the EVF automatically turns on and you have to use it. A clever way to circumnavigate the tenant that rangefinders are poor at macro. The Sony NEX does have a better EVF system, but the bright OVF trumps them all and is one of the pleasures of using the X Pro 1.

Its not a small camera, it has a modern look and lines, its sleek and all black. It is light, but tough since the chassis is magnesium and the body is wrapped in vulcanized leather with a rubber bumper grip. The X Pro 1 feels really good in the hands and around the neck. I switched to a Domke gripper strap, the supplied strap slips off the shoulder easy. There is also a grip available which I am waiting for the shipment. The 18 mm f 2.0 lens ships with a lens cap and a special wide hood and rubber cap. I lost the hood lens cap at a  Yankee’s game last week, so now I’m running it with a B&W 52mm UV filter, the hood and good to go. I’ll be posting more sample images here on Suspect Photography as I bond and become one with this camera.


Damn, thats a nice view, it’s burning. Beautiful!

Sitting at the table overlooking Chelsea in NYC my fingers are dancing over the keyboard with a life of their own it would seem. I’m about to slug back my cup ‘o joe and ponder the words I’m about to throw into the web, in the hood of the blogosphere and wonder what I do believe every blogger who came before me thought, “is anyone going to read this? give a rats ass about the posts? what am I going to actually say?”. Perhaps I would be better off just shouting from the balcony. Considering its a cold spring morning and I’m in my underwear, it would be best to continue my current course and pour another mug of joe.

Lets get down to biz shall we? What do I have to say with this blog? Here is where I’m going to go with this. A commentary on photography. This blog will review gear, point out important photographers, host new photos, and be a sound board for what goes on in my head focusing on creation of photographic imagery. Two things have really been on my mind these days-months-years and I’m hoping that this electronic form of communication will let me unburden these thoughts and get feedback from those that just might give a crap.

All right-y Time to ROCK, do this… Lets get what’s in the head into digital distribution. Stay tuned… turn on… feeeeeedddddddd…..


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