16 February 2014

Leica M6 TTL or Voigtlander Bessa R4M?

Have you been in a dilemma where you are considering a Leica or Voigtlander rangefinder? I found myself at this cross junction when I first got into rangefinder cameras. I bought my first rangefinder, a Voigtlander Bessa R4M with Color Skopar 21mm f/4 4 years ago and have been enjoying it. However, if you are into rangefinder, you would have heard of the ultimo brand called Leica. So last year, I decided to see what is so attractive about Leica rangefinder. I went online to search for a comparison for the Voigtlander and Leica systems. However, I managed to find only 1 review doing mainly technical specification comparison. For me, I wanted a more user-experience type of comparison, not the technical spec which I can find readily online.

To put everything short, I managed to score myself a black paint Leica M6 TTL 0.85 ICS version from Hong Kong to see for myself the differences. After using both cameras extensively, I decided to come up with a review to compare the experience of using both cameras. The review I did was posted on Film Shooters Collective so that my fellow film enthusiasts can share. Do help to share this review so that others like me who are deciding between the 2 systems can make an informed choice. So here is the review! You can also click on the image below to enter the site.


24 January 2014

Why I Love Film

With the popularity and convenience of digital cameras, it is no wonder why I am often asked why I am still using film. No, this is not to start a war of Film vs Digital, which is already aplenty on the Internet. I am just sharing my love for film.

#1. Film slows me down.
Using a film camera, I learn to treasure every shot because each roll of film only gives you 24 or 36 exposures. Every shot counts (and costs as well!!!), so I only take photos that I have a feel for. Learning to compose the shot, set your aperture for that depth of field, adjust the shutter speed just makes me love the process of making an image through my own work.
Standing birds

#2. Film looks different.
Film looks different. You will hear this over and over again from any film lover. To me, a film image just has this "organic", "raw" feel to it. Yes, call me old school. That is what I am. I love old stuff because they mean so much to me. I was looking through my old photos (I'm not old!) when I was searching for photos for my wedding montage, I realized I love those faded photos. Brings back memories. Tons of them. I can still remember 75% of the scene at the time when the photos were taken. Moreover, each different film has their own characteristic. For example, Portra 400 (one of my favorites!), is a very well-balanced film for portraits with extremely fine grains. The colors are very neutral and pleasing to the eyes. Agfa films tend to have higher contrast, so I love them with Lomo cameras!
Running man

#3. White balance? What's that?
Do I have to worry about white balance? I don't, with film. I just pop my film into the camera, wind it, adjust the ISO dial (sometimes I don't even have to do that, like my GR1s) and off I go shooting. No need to change white balance every time I go somewhere with a different lighting.
Tough life

#4. Film keeps me focused.
I don't have to check the back of my LCD screen for every shot I take. I simply compose, adjust my shutter speed, press the shutter release and off I go. Even if the first shot wasn't ideal, my vision is still with the scene that I took earlier. So if I see a better opportunity for a better shot, I can rewind my film advance lever and shoot again in the next second. No time or opportunity wasted looking at LCD screen.
I keep you sheltered

#5. What's that smell?
Yes, film smells. But to me, it smells good. Like coffee. I immediately know the smell of film when I smell one (no, I don't go around smelling film). The smell of film is attributed to the silver halide emulsion. The emulsion is a mixture of silver and halogen (bromide, iodine or chlorine) held together by electrical attraction. Alright, enough of the technical stuff. In short, I just love the smell of films!

#6. I love film cameras!
I cannot deny the fact that I love film cameras. These cameras are built to last. Go to any flea market and you will still be able to find a couple of film cameras that still work, albeit the poor storage/maintenance condition. But they can still shoot! For example, I managed to score a rare black Canonet QL17 GIII for AUD$80! It wasn't in the best of condition and I had to send it for repair and some makeup to get it up and running. Once it recovered, it took some of the best black and white shots! I managed to save up for a limited edition Leica M6 TTL ICS, 0.85x body for a good price from Fotopia Gallery & Camera Equipment from Hong Kong in December 2013! Having owned a Voigtlander Bessa R4M, I finally realized what people meant by the "buttery-smooth" operation of a Leica. Not that the R4M is no good. Both cameras just feel different. Nonetheless, both bodies are to stay since the R4M offers a viewfinder meant for wide angle lenses.
Marina Bay Sands

#7. I love film community!
As some of you may know, I am a member of the Film Shooters Collective, a collection of film shooters from all over the globe. We have very active interactions on our FaceBook page, with tips and tricks and also advise and questions for sharing purpose. Last year, we tinkered on the idea of a photobook and together with some awesome film lovers, our book NSEW is finally launched! Do head over to the link to my blog post on this or HERE to order your copy to show your support! I have had my fair share of being helped and also helping others in this film community which I really appreciate. I have tried my hands in the digital community but have not received such warm reception. In my opinion (you can have yours but I stand by mine), film shooters are more willing to share and care.

There you have it! My several reasons why I love films! More to come if I can think of more... 

03 January 2014

Hong Kong 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Welcome to 2014! 2013 has been a roller coaster ride for me. I hope this year will be a better year for me in terms of having more time to shoot film, which is something that I really enjoy. I will probably put up a post soon on why I love film, inspired by what Ray Toei has been putting up on his Facebook. 

I was in Hong Kong in December 2013 to attend my uncle's wedding. Had the chance to shoot this vibrant city on film and also went to a famed film store in Tsim Sha Tsui to stock up on film. There is this tiny store called Dot-Well Photo Workshop that has some interesting films as well as 2nd hand cameras. Bought some Cinestill films that are receiving very good reviews, as well as some rolled Ektarchrome slides, Maco Eagle 400 Surveillance films, Adox Color Implosion 100 films and Fujifilm Natura 1600 films. The highlight of the trip, I scored myself a Leica M6 TTL Black Paint ICS, 0.85x body! Thanks to Gilbert from Fotopia Gallery & Camera Equipment

Film stash from Dot-well

Leica M6 TTL Black Paint ICS, 0.85x

Limited edition of 200 only!

Love the metal film advance lever and black frame dial!

26 December 2013


As you all may know, I am a member of the Film Shooters Collective, a collaboration group of film lovers from all over the globe.

We all came up with a book idea and it was settled as NSEW, depicting the different directions we are located in, north, south, east and west of the world. After a year of tinkering, revision and editing by the hardworking team headed by Cameron Kline, the book is finally ready!

Do head over to the link at http://www.blurb.com/b/4960308-nsew to order your copy to show your support! I will be placing my order soon, so let me know if you are in Singapore and keen to own a copy. I can order and deliver to you. Do use the code SAVING15% for 15% savings during your checkout!

30 August 2013

Impossible Project: Instant Lab Mini Review

Finally received my Impossible Project Instant Lab last weekend while I was away in Bangkok. Really thrilled to see it after months of placing my order on Kickstarter. As it was a Kickstarter campaign, I got to have my choice of word inscribed on it and as you can guess, I chose my nick 'kaxdd'. Hopefully I can be famous one day and have this as a sought-after item! Hahaha! OK, please allow me that little bit of space for daydreaming. 

Alrighty! Here's the package with 2 packs of PX 680 Color Protection films.

After removing the plastic wrapper and the outer sleeve, a cool matte black box with raised IMPOSSIBLE lettering greets me. The box is of a very good quality cupboard and has a very good solid feel to my fingers.

Upon removing the lid, this is the view that I saw. Very sexy black Instant Lab! Can see my nick on the bottom left corner. The cradle holds a iPhone 4, 4S and 5. Underneath the cover reveals a lens that is used to focus the image from the phone onto the film.

The inner compartment contains the charger that is used to charger the Instant Lab (which means it probably  doesn't utilize the battery in the film pack). It also houses a Instant Lab photo-book that welcomes me! Below the photo-book lies a pouch that can be used to hold the Instant Lab. Thin layer of cloth. Would have prefer a thicker, velvety or suede-like matter to really protect the Instant Lab from bumps and scratches.

Really to load my film! The phone cradle must be pulled upwards. After which, push a slider on the front of the Instant Lab to open the compartment to put in the film. After putting the film in, you would need to download the Impossible Project app from iTunes for it to project the image onto the film. There is a tutorial in the app to show you how to operate it. Basically you put in the film, close the shutter slide (push in the metal slider), load the app and select the photo to transfer, flip the phone screen into the tower, wait for the LED flash to light up, pull out the shutter slide and wait for the flash light to disappear. After that, eject the film by pressing and holding the eject button for about 1 second. Then voila! Film will be in your hand!

Load the app and follow the instructions

Pull out the shutter slide when the LED flash is lit

Close the shutter slide and eject the film

Moment of truth! Here is a comparison of the iPhone image as seen on the phone and the image created on the film. You can see that it has a sepia tone to the images and also, the images are a bit blurry. My missus doesn't really like the blurry effect. But I think that it was pretty decent. But considering the cost of the Impossible films, I can see where my missus is coming from. Further down will be direct scan of the films from my Epson V600 scanner. 300 DPI scan. You judge for yourself on the quality. I am pretty pleased with it. ^__^

Conclusion: The Instant Lab is fun to play with and has a good quality feel to it. I am now looking forward to a cradle that can house other phone types as I am currently using a Samsung Note 2.