Introducing Alila Purnama, a pirate ship turned luxury hotel →

January 20, 2015 |

Messy Nessy:

I would probably walk the plank if it meant getting myself aboard Alila Purnama. Fortunately, aboard this handcrafted ship, entertainment is less about sword fights and more about mojitos served with a view of the Indian Ocean. Puff Daddy can have his shiny show-off yacht, I want to travel the seas like Francis Drake (or at least like Francis Drake in retirement).

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Cinematic Montage II →

January 19, 2015 |

This movie montage is the precise definition of awesome. Perhaps one too many superhero movies for my taste, but still. So cool:

Via Rands.

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Jason Snell on podcast recording →

January 19, 2015 |

Excellent and very informative article by Jason Snell:

While I think it’s true that many people underestimate how much work goes into making a podcast, I also get the sense that other people overestimate the time I spend. And depending on what kind of a podcast you’re creating, the amount of time required to put it together can vary widely. The average episode of The Incomparable probably takes three or four hours to edit; the average TV Talk Machine I can turn around in 10 minutes.

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Shawn Blanc’s Core Curriculum →

January 19, 2015 |

I really enjoyed this piece by Shawn Blanc:

But what is important is remembering foundational principles for how to live life and to live it well. Our values, ideals, thoughts, emotions, and habits are bombarded every day by the media. Movies, commercials, TV shows, and so much more tell us how we ought to live and what we should believe. Which is why our Core Curriculum notebook should be comprised of things that speak truth to who we are, who we want to be, and what we want to do.

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Korea on Film: Portra, Ektar & Superia by Tyler Stalman →

January 15, 2015 |

One of my favorite things about the Internet is its seemingly infinite ability to surprise me with awesome things. Take this drop-dead gorgeous photo essay by Canadian photographer Tyler Stalman, for example. I ran into it while researching the properties of the Kodak Ektar 100 color negative film for shooting landscapes and people. Well, what better way to find out than seeing it in action in one of the most vibrant and exotic places on the planet?

Even if the Ektar film ultimate proved disappointing for shooting people, this amazing story more than made up for it — and whatever you do, don’t miss part two, which contains plenty of images shot in the trendy Gangnam. So cool.

Whenever you hear someone say “film is the medium of the masters”, this is what they’re talking about.

On a side note, Tyler’s story is definitive proof that high-quality photo gear doesn’t need to be expensive: all pictures in this story were shot using a Canon Elan 7e film camera and two prime lenses, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens — also known as the “nifty-fifty” — and the EF 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. You could pick up all three for under $500, which is less than the cost of just one good Micro Four Thirds prime lens.

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Paul Stamatiou on traveling and photography →

January 15, 2015 |

Paul Stamatiou creates some fantastic photo stories of the trips he makes. I first discovered him last year, when I saw the one he made after returning from Japan. These photo stories are gorgeous, beautifully designed, and the pictures are stunning. In this article — the first of two parts — he does a wonderful job of explaining how he approaches the issue of planning for a trip. If you appreciate travel photography, this is a must-read:

A result of moving apartments just about every year since 2004, I’ve been pretty good at keeping my posessions to a minimum (camera gear aside, obviously :D). I try to own fewer, higher quality items and often they’re only items that augment my travel experiences — portable stuff like good clothes, camera gear or simply last minute airline tickets and car rentals. I’d rather spend money on experiences than things that will tie me down to one place.

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Mark Bylok’s dad had a secret →

January 14, 2015 |

What a beautiful piece by Mark Bylok, author of The Whisky Cabinet:

Learning of my dad’s secret helped me prioritize my writing. He died with an unpublished poetry collection. I had an opportunity to change my own future. Unlike before, I was able to focus on getting published. I’ve replaced some movie watching and lazy weekends with writing. The first year after his death my writing seemed to be going nowhere, but with practice, things started to change.

I’m so happy for Mark. I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy of The Whisky Cabinet.

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Tyson Robichaud reviews the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens →

January 14, 2015 |

And speaking of great glass, Tyson Robichaud reviews one of the greatest pieces of glass available for the Micro Four Thirds system:

The lens housing is built of high quality plastics and metal and while hefty, is not overwhelmingly dense. It feels really good in the hand, and the resistance on both the zoom and focus rings are smooth and responsive, but not too tight. It is certainly large by the micro 4/3 system standards, but I’ve gotten over the “it should be small” point of view long ago and have moved into the, “it can be smaller, while providing comparable quality” camp. I no longer look to the micro 4/3 system as merely a travel system that should be as absolutely small as possible at every turn, no, I like that it CAN be that system when I need it to be, also offering fully professional level tools while being smaller and lighter than the stuff I’ve used in the past.

This is an excellent point. One of the biggest strengths of the MFT system is the reduced size and weight of its bodies and lenses. At first glance, a lens like this looks like it doesn’t belong in the MFT camp, but the system has matured so much over the years that it’s now beginning to offer truly professional-grade glass like the Olympus Pro lenses. These zoom lenses offer everything a professional could ever want: a metal splashproof construction, prime-like sharpness and speed, a retractable hood, you name it.

Mirrorless systems are all about versatility and right now, there’s nothing out there that can beat MFT in that regard.

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Ben Brooks on the great glass →

January 14, 2015 |

Continuing with the great glass theme, here’s Ben Brooks’ take:

Giving buying advice to someone new to photography is nearly impossible. Lenses are very important, but so is the body. What’s even more important is understanding that everything has limitations. Josh shows some comparison photos between the lenses, and I bet some of you won’t be able to see a noticeable difference, and that’s just as important as the difference.

There are some things that you can and cannot do with certain lenses, but more importantly than what you can’t do, is knowing those constraints. You can, and people do, take extraordinary photos with subpar camera equipment.

Exactly. The fact that we as nerds obsess over gear and lenses and what not should never discourage you from using the tools you have at your disposal. Again, there are no bad cameras or lenses out there anymore. You’d be surprised to see what you can do with a smartphone camera, and Ben’s photo is an amazing example.

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Josh Ginter on the importance of great glass in photography →

January 14, 2015 |

Josh Ginter touches on a topic related to my article on interchangeable lenses: the importance of using great glass with any given system. He makes a great point that the quality of a system is ultimately determined more by the lenses than it is by the camera bodies. He also made an interesting observation that caught my eye:

The benefits of higher quality lenses are endless. While acquiring great lenses takes time and money, it will be far cheaper to upgrade your camera body than to switch systems and acquire great lenses all over again.

Once you buy into a particular system there’s a fair amount of lock-in, and it’s always easier to just upgrade the camera body than it is to replace everything. This is the unfortunate side of having different proprietary lens mounts in the industry.

In some cases, the problem can be remedied by using adapters but alas, this is not possible between the two most popular mirrorless systems. There’s no adapter to match Fuji’s APS-C mount with Micro Four Thirds lenses because the Fuji sensor is bigger than the surface MFT lenses project their image on. It doesn’t work the other way around either, because Fuji lenses have a shorter flange distance, which means they were designed to sit closer to the sensor than MFT lenses, so there’s no space for the adapter to go in.

Not to mention that, even if it was physically possible to build an adapter, there still wouldn’t be any sort of electrical communication between the lens and the camera. That would be a serious problem, since most MFT lenses lack basic manual controls like an aperture ring, for example. Without electrical contacts it would be impossible to set the aperture using the camera body so those MFT lenses would be pretty much useless.

The primary reason some adapters exist is to give users the possibility to keep their old manual full-frame lenses and use them with newer camera bodies. Old lenses had a much larger flange distance, so there’s plenty of space to fit an adapter, and they already have all the manual controls you need, so there’s no need for electrical contacts. And since modern mirrorless cameras meter directly off the sensor, you can even use them on Aperture Priority mode by setting the camera’s mode dial to A and then using the aperture ring on the lens.

These adapters turn old SLR lenses into really great alternatives to modern mirrorless glass. In fact, you can easily pick up some old Canon FD lenses from the film era on eBay for much less than you think, and use them on your mirrorless camera without any issues. I own two such lenses — the 35mm f/2 and the 50mm f/1.8 — and their optical performance is excellent, although I am yet to try them with an adapter on my E-M10. I might do it at some point in the future though, just for fun, to see how they stack up.

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