Thoughts

You have interesting images of this sort?

See Project Self-Respect. NEW Images updated.

It’s a non-profit, fun, thought-provoking, everyone-can-participate project meant to increase awareness of mutual respect needed in this society.

If you have interesting images that fits into this category, OR have interest to photograph such images, send to projectselfrespect.wordpress.com

This project has been dormant for about a year BUT it’s now back alive. I am doing my best to update it. Do give your support if you can. Have fun!

Finally, Some Updates… …

Take a break man… … have a currypuff and talk to your loved one!

I have been taking a loooonng break from blogging, and I really owe many an update of what I have been doing. To put down in words all that I have been busy with is gonna take a few pages and so I’m just gonna talk about the basic stuff I did.

Stuff I did:

1. Exploring even more cameras, beyond Olympus, beyond the common brands, beyond digital

2. Thinking hard on what I really wanna do for 2010

3. Learning from photo enthusiasts!

4. Understanding the people I shoot, namely the strangers on the streets, I try to make them friends

5. Learning from my child. He has double portion of my bad DNA. “Retribution”. But God taught me the most through him.

Stuff I really need to do now:

1. Share more knowledge online!

Photography is a lifestyle. It should progress beyond shooting pretty girls, testing lenses, shooting for money, shooting what others have achieved, shooting to impress, shooting to compete, shooting for the sake of shooting, shooting to cover up our insecurities, or shooting just because you like the camera shutter sound and it’s functionality or complexity.

I know that some enjoy photography because of the photographic equipments. Me too, I enjoy each individual mechanical or electronic built. I know that some enjoy shooting pretty girls so they can enjoy looking at the images after that. Me too, who doesn’t like pretty stuff? I know some enjoy photography when they win awards. Me not really, I’d rather not be obsessed with shooting to win the favor of judges / or shooting what others want.

I wanna shoot for a cause. A competition for an exhibition of images for a good cause, yes!

And I believe photography should develop into a lifestyle. Photography, my sketch book. I sketches my life in it. What I see, what I feel and what I want others to see, feel and know. I just hope that my images speak, and that my images last, no matter how insignificant my images may seem to be. I am insignificant, just like a tiny grain of sand on the seashore. Yet, I’ll still shoot to share. Who does not shoot to share? He should give up photography if photography remains in his closet. Fear of others “copying” your works??? Who do you think you are anyway? A Bigger Grain?

2010 Plans:

1. I am gonna get more active in sharing photography! So, you are gonna see more of my face in workshops, more of my works online, and more of my outspoken thoughts (never meant to offend, just treat my blog as my online diary, you can have yours too!).

2. I am shooting more for others, rather than just for myself selfishly, and I mean commercially, as many still love my wedding and portrait works. Now, I must say for any artist, repetitive works are never what an artist wants. That’s why I mentioned “shooting for others”. But, that does not mean I shoot mindlessly without emotion for my clients,  it’s about achieving “the pretty shots” my clients always wanted. That’s part of sharing too! And I still have my fiery passion in shooting portraits and especially actual day wedding events when so many “decisive moments” are waiting to be captured.

3. I hope that I can have an exhibition of some of my works. It’s really tedious in organizing all that I have been shooting in 2009, and it’s accumulating in 2010… and I have so much to share. I have been shooting almost everyday, and sometimes it’s just one frame per day.

My encouragement of the day: Be a Photographer! Not just a Businessman.

I always remind myself:

Good Businessman creates his own opportunities. Lousy Businessman copies what others do.

Good Photographer creates his own works. Lousy Photographer copies others’ works. (Have some pride lah! Not shy meh? When others say you copy.)

Keep me bookmarked! For those who are interested to participate in my coming workshops, please email me at dcpweddings@gmail.com or drop a comment below.

I will have more updates very soon.

The World Owe It To Pixel Peepers!

I have been pixel peeping A LOT lately… … scrutinizing my past works, works done on 120mm film, 35mm film, then the now ancient Canon D60, then the not-too-long-ago Canon 20D, then the Canon 5D, then the Nikon D700, then, the Olympus E-P1, Olympus E-3(loaned), and now, Olympus E-P2.

For those wondering whether to buy Panasonic GF1 or the Olympus PEN series… I have also tried out both. The only thing I can say is, there are 2 camps: the Panasonic Camp and the Olympus Camp. You either love or hate one or the other. For me, I hate GF1’s clanky shutter sound. For those who know me personally, I have this thing in me about Shutter Sound! LOL… probably ever since I touched a Leica Rangefinder. But there are many things good about the GF1 which many appreciates. For me, I use the Lumix 20mm F1.7 lens on my E-P2. No offence Olympus, the Lumix is really way sharper! With rumors about the next EP-xx coming very soon, for all those who haven’t yet invested in MFT(Micro-four-thirds) system, you might wanna hold your horse.

I treat photography as an ART. I used to hang out a lot with some photographers who think highly of themselves as artists. They hate pixel peepers. Who are the pixel peepers? They are those who couldn’t resist pressing the magnifying button on their computer, and those who kept emphasizing on “actual pixels”. They get their satisfaction doing test shots, scrutinizing the difference between F1.2 and F1.4 bokeh, studying chromatic aberration, looking out for “doughnut rings” in the bokehs… and so on.

Artists view them as a waste of time and energy. Artists view them as the bottom feeders, the lowest class of photographers, the proud and unproductive ones, the talk but no action/no true masterpieces ones, the gearheads, the equipment-enthusiasts and not the true photo-enthusiasts, the insecure ones who need big and expensive equipment to boost their self-confidence.

But when the “artist” comes to buying a certain piece of equipment, they seek out internet reviews. They seek out their “gearhead buddies”. They too go pixel peeping online, looking for an answer. How ironical and hypocritical can human be? (I used to be like this)

Just for example, the controversial Canon EF50mm F1.2L lens. This lens has created such a stir on the internet regarding it’s focus-shift issues that at least for me, I will not waste my money on it. So who found out about it’s focus-shift problems? (This lens constantly back focuses at close distances and front focuses at infinity) THE PIXEL PEEPERS!

Photography is not a competition! There are no real champions or real losers! There’s no “finishing line” like in a race! In sports, you can beat someone’s previous record, or score more goals than your competitors, but in photography, don’t tell me you guys out there are calculating how many awards you can win each year in order to compete with your neighbour??? I really hope not! Human is imperfect and so are the judges of each photography competition. You subject your own artistic interpretation for somone else to judge, and you should be prepared that his/her views may not be your views. Nobody’s right or wrong. Can’t you see?

To set a standard for everyone to follow is “communism”. It will be so damn boring to have everyone shoot the same way! Organizations which declare themselves as “world standards” often are doing it for commercial reasons, never ARTS. They exist for clients who want quick answers.

So what’s about my “pixel-peeping” lately? I am learning from my previous works. I am doing lotsa comparisons. (I’m still not that “FREE” ok? I pixel-peep in between clearing current workload). I am studying if I am progressing. I am studying if the photographs I made can last a lifetime without making me sick of looking at them. That’s one reason why I hate Fisheye lenses. I just don’t think Fisheye images last. They make me feel giddy. And in today’s digital world, it is also obvious that “overly-photoshopped” pictures don’t last long!

All in all, we should thank the pixel peepers around us. They help us realize the difference between full frame sensors and four-thirds sensors, the beauty of creamy bokeh vs harsh bokeh, the worthy buys and the not-so-worthy ones… … etc. so that we can settle down on which equipment to use for which purposes, and concentrate on creating masterpieces of our own!

Equipment does play a part in image-making! If you are a true hardcore artist, this post is not for you as you are most likely happy with that $20 toy camera in your hands!

Some Lame Updates before actual updates for Year 2010… …

I have been so B-Busy since Christmas that I didn’t wish many Merry Christmas, neither a Happy New Year as I have been traveling a lot, some shootings here and there, editing, babysitting, lotsa long distance driving, also shot a pre-wedding overseas, yeah.. just one pre-wedding, not like many other “destination photographers” cause I don’t intend to have “New York, Hong Kong, Australia or Timbaktu” tagged to my logo… … 🙂 I basically like to be FREE, do what I want… pretty much the Free Spirit which some of you might have seen Olympus described me in their latest Malaysia ads… (No teasing allowed if you know what I am talking about)

I have also been busy playing with my new E-P2, 20mm Lumix F1.7 lens (no brand loyalty, Olympians please don’t spit at me). I have been enjoying the BOKEH which I so often missed when I was indulging in my then E-P1 with kit lens. AF with BOKEH this time, not the slow eye-squinting process of trying to manual focus with F2 Leica lenses or worse F1.1 Nokton on it. Yes, I agree the magnifier helps a lot, but it’s still slower than my OM-1. Hey, this time I have the EVF on my E-P2 which is even better for manual-focusing, but I haven’t explored it fully yet. And I am already imagining myself shooting night street shots in Bukit Bintang area with it with no one peeping at my Live View from behind. Shall update you all further at a later stage.

As you probably already can tell now, that I indulge more in actual Real Photography – Real Shooting out there rather than staring at my computer screen blogging or posting test shots. I know of some guys who can just get off by shooting lamp posts, plastic chairs, bottles or signboards but I feel sick even thinking of doing so. I can’t live without the charming morning and evening sun, shadows and reflections, children laughter, spontaneous action in the streets and people’s smiles. I like happy things. (But sad emotions are necessary to speak important messages too!) I also am reminded lately that I can’t live without inspiring photographs made by other photographers. and I’ve just spent a bomb on photography books in Singapore again. (Why is our Ringgit so D-Weak! I should go back to Singapore more often to earn more SG Dollars).

Lastly, before I end this “lame update” that’s here to remind my readers I am still alive and kicking, here are some “lame tips” to freshen up your photography passion(hopefully):

When you feel sick of shooting, don’t shoot. Put your camera in your dry cabinet. Life is not just about Photography! Ask yourself, what you really like to do for now, this instance.

1. Watch a movie, just enjoy, don’t think of photography

2. Get some new music CDs, go for alternative music, lounge, classical, african jazz, whatever… (I like Break-Beats-Fat Boys Slim for example)… again, don’t think of photography

3. Go travel. (Cheap cheap, Cuti-cuti Malaysia). New environment freshens up your perspectives. No more familiarities.

4. Read. (This only apply to bookworms)

5. Get a LOMO! Load a roll of film in that cheap toy camera (ASA400 Color Negs recommended), shoot in broad daylight for better exposures, I often tell myself “Shoot what you feel! Not what you think you wanna show others. Since when you really shoot for your own self? Do you always have to seek approval from others?” There won’t be any apertures or shutter speeds for you to set anyway. It’s so darn advanced that’s its “Auto-Focus”, “Auto-Exposure” except that it’s manual winding. LOL! If you forget to wind, even better, you get surprises! This can be easily dropped off at any mini-labs for processing. Yes, they still exist. (For the Richer People: Buy Olympus E-P1/2, set to any ART FILTER mode and shoot anything you want. Remember you are not shooting for competition).

I’ll be updating soon again once I’m done with my EVF, E-P2, EVF, E-P2, EVF, E-P2, EVF… hahaha…. Merry Belated Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Valentine Day in advance to you ALL!

Care for Our Environment

Rest-in-Peace, 2nd Prize in "Be The Change Photo Competition"

Rest-in-Peace, 2nd Prize in "Be The Change Photo Competition"

It’s great fun and satisfaction when you go around looking for subject that matters to shoot, and not just shoot mindlessly without an aim. Winning something is a bonus.

Tons of outstanding photographers out there don’t participate in competitions. Many old school photographers still prefer very much to stay in their darkroom and enjoy great traditional printouts rather than posting them online. I was lucky enough to win something.

(Story behind the winning shot: I extended my stay in Bintulu, Sarawak after a wedding shoot with my friend Louis, to photograph Bintulu. This shot was taken when our car broke down by the side of the road and I went to look for a place to pee. While hunting for a discrete spot to do my business, I found this captivating scene).

I believe ARTS should be shared and not kept in the closet. And it should benefit others. And it should be easily understood. ARTS ARE NOT MEANT FOR ARTISTS ONLY. It’s meant for everyone. It’s lame to produce something and give yourself an excuse it’s ARTS when people don’t understand it. So my shots are often simple. (Though sometimes, my wife will exclaim at me, “What the hell is that?” … … Hahaha … … I sincerely believe God gave me a wife to keep me sane).

For the geeks, all shots are done with Olympus E-P1 and the kit lens. A camera small enough and yet produces professional results can double up your photographic opportunities!

Still, the message is “CARE FOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT PLEASE” and it’s not just about using cameras. The following are the other shots I did which was selected for the exhibition last week at The Gardens Shopping Mall, Mid Valley. The Competition was organised by Hot Potato Publishing and you can read about it HERE.

A respectable man with strong determination to contribute to preserving our environment is Mr Matthias Gelber. Please look at what he has to say HERE.

burning forest-1, Bintulu

burning forest-1, Bintulu

burning forest 2 - Bintulu

burning forest 2 - Bintulu

burnt forest, Bintulu

burnt forest, Bintulu

smoky bus, Subang

smoky bus, Subang

smoky jeep, Cameron Highlands

smoky jeep, Cameron Highlands

littered drain, Bintulu

littered drain, Bintulu

 

Some Simple Pregnancy Shots

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One of the greatest miracle in life is to have a baby!

I learn the most from my baby. I learn to love my wife even more when she was pregnant. No books on earth can teach you all these. The above are just some selected shots from the 1st roll I shot. More to come in the near future.

It’s Good To Be A Child Again!

My Baby

My Baby

I have always been viewed as a “Big Kid” among my friends and families. I have my swinging moods, my endless questions, my annoying curiosity, and I talk more than I listen, and worse, I’m always doing the opposite.

In photography, I have gone through being a truly commercialized wedding photographer, shot dozens and dozens of couples in a year till you literally forget their names, faced fierce back-biting from fellow competitors in the industry and being called names. In those days, I have also earned enough to own many expensive equipments, ran 1 gallery and 1 studio at a time, and spent massively in advertising.

But now, I am telling you, “It’s always good to be like a child once again!”

I ask myself so frequently, “Why am I doing what I am doing?”, “Why did I ever pick up photography?” and “Why did I become a wedding photographer?” As for the last question, my answer is “I like to see people happy!”

Being a child again means, we’ve gotta get back to basics. We have to return to our roots. We have to love what we do and do what we love! We must be pure in our intentions. We have to be honest to ourselves and to the ones we love. We ought to be simple. We also have to be darn curious about everything. We ought to be sensitive to everything around us, our own feelings, others’ feelings. Bottom line – We have to be sincere.

Commercialization in weddings takes away it’s original true meaning. As wedding photographers, we should feel honored that we are chosen to document someone’s once-in-a-lifetime event. We should remain faithful to it’s original intention and meaning – documenting it in it’s happiest form! NOT use it to selfishly win recognition through awards to gain personal fame and glory.

Every wedding is already different by itself. We don’t have to try to make it more different. In trying too hard to make things different, we end up showing off more of the photographer’s gimmicks than the couple’s true joy. Now, before some industry award winners start shooting me, I am not saying awards are bad. Winning awards from established wedding photography organizations can motivate us to learn and improve our skills and give us more confidence to come out with more masterpieces. But I am talking about our intentions.

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Don’t sacrifice your wedding couples. If all you are looking out for through your viewfinder on a wedding day is award-winning shots, you sure miss many simple but important and necessary document shots. Believe me, an artistically blurred movement shot of the back of a bride for example, won’t be more important than a F8 sharp smiling posed shot of the bride and her dad. Before you know it, dad won’t be around anymore. People die. We all die.

If I only live to win recognition, I’d rather die.

Event Shootout with Olympus PEN E-P1

It’s great joy and excitement to shoot with my friend Louis for a Big Nokia Event recently that I just can’t help, but to share some of the images from the Olympus E-P1 I was using.

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The following are telephoto shots taken with a Leica 90mm F2.8 lens fitted on the E-P1 via an adaptor, and due to the 2x crop factor, it achieves a fantastic whooping 180mm! Due to that, I didn’t have to fight with the professional journalists using Huge Canon and Nikon bodies and lenses (also don’t have to fight with Louis who was using a powerful Canon 70-200mm F2.8 Lens), and still reasonably achieved close-up shots of the speakers on stage! The manual focusing on the sharp E-P1 screen made things possible.

Big Nokia Boss

Nokia Boss

Chief Designer of Nokia

Chief Designer of Nokia

Close-up during a coffee table dialogue session

Close-up during a coffee table dialogue session

Chief Designer giving a talk

Chief Designer giving a talk

Oh man… I was being twittered! I should really start twitting soon!

A Large 60-in LCD Screen connected to a laptop on twitter

A Large 60-in LCD Screen connected to a laptop on twitter

Some new products… …

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Heaven

My Favorite Favourite Favourite Song of All Times!!! Click Here and view the images at the same time.

When you are in love, you are in heaven. You forget all unhappy things. There’s no way anyone or anything can take that feeling away. Oh… how deeply I still love my wife after more than 12 years of marriage. Thank You, Lord!

Clouds 4Clouds 5Clouds 1Clouds 2Clouds 3Clouds 6

Olympus E-P1, A Class of It’s Own.

Olympus PEN E-P1, image taken from dpreview.com

Olympus PEN E-P1, image taken from dpreview.com

I’ve been a professional photographer for more than 12 years, specializing mainly in portraits, weddings, people photography, whether choreographed or on-the-move. I have been a fervent Canon and Nikon user for years. But never have I encountered a small camera like the Olympus E-P1 that produces such quality in it’s size with such user-friendly features.

Talking about “Making Photography Easy”. For years, since the camera was invented, the world has been wanting to make photography easy. A view-camera needs about 11 adjustments in order to take a picture. Then came the Nikons and Canons that only require THREE adjustments: Aperture, Shutter Speed and Focus in order to take a picture. And if this wasn’t easy enough, cameras that came later began to even do all THREE adjustments for us – the Program Autofocus SLRs!

To read a detailed article on the above, click here.

Olympus E-P1, shot through car windscreen in a rain, B&W art filter

Olympus E-P1, shot through car windscreen in a rain, B&W art filter, 16:9 format.

Olympus E-P1 set to manual focus, b&w art filter.

Olympus E-P1 set to manual focus, b&w art filter, 16:9 format.

This shot shows that E-P1 is quick enough to capture action. My son did this action in a split-second. Tough not as fast as a DSLR, it is not that bad afterall.

This shot shows that E-P1 is quick enough to capture action. My son did this action in a split-second. Though not as fast as a DSLR, it is not that bad after all.

I often ask myself, “Why do camera-designers always want to make things easier for us?”

Especially as a earning professional photographer, doesn’t it seem obvious that as photography gets easier and easier, our commanding prices go lower and lower since more and more people think that they can “do-it-yourself” anyway?

But if I think as an artist, I just want to focus on my feelings, my imaginations, my visions and indulge in all my five senses when I go out and create images with my camera.

Isn’t it so much easier to have a camera that doesn’t interfere with my thoughts, by introducing questions like what aperture to use and what shutter speed to set or whether the image is in focus?

Okay, you may disagree with me on this cause deciding how blur the background we want it to be or whether to use a slower shutter speed to depict movement, or whether to set it off-focus in order to create some abstractness do play a part in our creativity process.

But my point is, sometimes it really helps if you just indulge in all your five senses without being distracted by technical functionalities, and shoot what you feel!

 

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter. I pre-focused the camera to infinity before reaching out to shoot the birds returning to their home using the grainy black and white art filter mode.

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter, 6:6 format. I pre-focused the camera to infinity before reaching out to shoot the birds returning to their home using the grainy black and white art filter mode.

Who says you can't see beautiful sunset downtown KL? Shot using "Sunset" Mode in Olympus E-P1

Who says you can't see beautiful sunset downtown KL? Shot using "Sunset" Mode in Olympus E-P1, 16:9 format.

Shot using "Pop Art" art filter, Olympus E-P1. This is a spontaneous shot, again done within seconds spotting the chef's head covered by a bunch of roast pork

Shot using "Pop Art" art filter, Olympus E-P1, 16:9 format. This is a spontaneous shot, again done within seconds spotting the chef's head covered by a bunch of roast pork

Olympus E-P1, shot using "landscape" mode. It really does make the sky much nicer.

Olympus E-P1, shot using "landscape" mode. It really does make the sky much nicer., 6:6 format

In today’s digital professional photographer’s context, things have just gone a lot worse! Our modern DSLRs contains at least 100 menu and function options! It throws you questions like “D-Lighting Off, Default, Auto, On, Normal?”, followed by trick questions like “Compression: Lossy or Lossless?”… etc. and etc.

Today, many professional digital photographers began to take pride in “setting their camera professionally” rather than concentrate on creating excellent images. Photography seems to have “developed more professionally” in recent digital days, cause to operate a DSLR is 100 times more difficult than an old film SLR!

And so we started thinking, maybe we can charge our clients more, since photography has gone so “difficult”! We started to tell our clients how high-end our equipments are, how difficult to use them, how expensive they cost, in order to justify and convince our clients to buy our services. I always thought as a proficient photographer, shouldn’t we be confident that our clients engage us because our works are good, not because of what equipment we own?

 

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter 6:6 format

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter, 4:3 format

The Olympus E-P1 is a camera so small that it fits into your bag easily. I have been carrying it and using it almost everyday since I bought it about 2 months ago. I use it for shooting “nonsense” in my daily life, use it for casual street shooting, and even use it for my professionally-paid wedding jobs!

I was caught previewing on the E-P1. DON'T SPEND TIME ON PREVIEWS! CONCENTRATE ON GETTING YOUR SHOTS!

I was caught previewing on the E-P1. DON'T SPEND TIME ON PREVIEWS! CONCENTRATE ON GETTING YOUR SHOTS!

FOR THE GEEKS:

The ISO is absolutely usable up to 3200. The default setting already produces fantastic images. It’s Auto ISO is also pretty reliable (I hardly have to switch it about). It’s IS (image stabilization) is most impressive! I ever use it down to 1/2 sec and still get a reasonably sharp picture.

You can choose to set “Graduation” to “Normal” instead of “Auto” to get deeper blacks but personally I prefer “Auto” as I prefer to increase contrast in Adobe Lightroom when necessary. I find that images can get too contrasty sometimes if I set it to “Normal”.

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter, 4:3 format

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter, 6:6 format

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter, 6:6 format

Olympus is amazing in it’s in-camera processing! It produces such good Jpegs that you almost have no necessity to shoot in RAW for easy post-processing. It’s absolutely a camera for people who just want to concentrate on ARTS and have minimal worries on camera settings or post-processing.

Also, you can choose to shoot in 4:3 format (default), 16:9 format, 3:2 format or 6:6 format for your creativity.

I fell in love with E-P1 files once I laid my eyes on it in a camera store downtown and immediately ordered one for myself. I find that Olympus’s digital files are processed in such a way, closest to what film achieves comparing to other brands. Being a fervent film shooter, I can easily appreciate Olympus’s efforts in processing their digital files closest to what film achieves. (But if you really like film, shoot film! Digital still has it’s digital characteristics in it.)

I have used the Canon 5D, the Nikon D700 (owned 2 of each at my craziest times). I have gone through post-processing my images since “Adobe Photoshop 5” days. I would say this digital route for me since the Canon D60 (if anyone still remembers what it is) has been crazy! (I plan to write about my crazy path of switching from film to digital in a later post, so keep me bookmarked if you are interested).

What I can say is that after comparing the Canon files, the Nikon files and the Olympus files, I love the Olympus files the most! (Olympus is not paying me to say this)

I love the noise (It’s different from the Canon or Nikon’s noise), I love the skin tones, I love the contrast, I love the blacks (Nikon and Canon somehow captures blacks as grays), I love the colors and I love it’s Grainy Black and White and Pin-hole Art Filters!

Shot by my wife using "sunset mode". She's not a photographer, if you know what I mean.

Shot by my wife using "sunset mode". She's not a photographer, if you know what I mean.

Then, I love it’s handsome looks and it’s size too.

The best camera is the camera you can easily grab and use when opportunity arises. If you are looking for a camera that can boost your creativity, and it’s light and easy to carry around, with quiet and unobtrusive shutter sound, achieves jpeg files that require minimum post-processing, plus an added convenience of HD video recording (get an adaptor for leica m-mount lenses and you can easily achieve cinematic effects with F1.4 blur)… … … …

THIS CAMERA IS FOR YOU!