How to choose a camera that’s right for you

In this video, I’m going to walk you through a process that will help you choose the right camera for your needs; it’s the same process I use myself as I choose new photo and video gear. Here are the decision-making steps I talk about in the video:

  1. Love what you already have
  2. Learn to use your equipment properly
  3. Don’t stress out about resolution (megapixels)
  4. Don’t get on a tech merry-go-round
  5. You don’t need UHD (4k video) just yet
  6. Be wary of “filler resolution”
  7. Separate the “nice to have” from the “must have”
  8. Get separate photo and video gear in order to obtain the best quality images and video

I hope this helps you!

Released 17-02-2018

Thanks for watching!

Summertime in our garden

I was going through old(er) photos of mine taken in 2009, and I put together a lovely collection of summertime photos from our garden (even if I do say so myself). Look, I know it’s not summer now. It’s winter (sort of). Each season has its purpose and is beautiful in its own way. Should we get some snowfall or at least some frost, I’ll probably be out there taking photos that you’ll be able to see here. So I could have scheduled this post to publish sometime in May, or I could let you see these photos now, and let you dream of this next summer, which I hope is going to be a beautiful one for all of us. (Unless you’re in the Southern hemisphere, in which case you’ve already got your summer. Isn’t it weird how that works out?) Enjoy the photos, there are 82 of them!

These photos were taken with the following cameras: Canon EOS 5D, Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ and Canon EOS Rebel XTi. For the Canon cameras, I used the following lenses: EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, EF 50mm f/1.4, and the EF 24-105mm f/4L.

Canon EOS 5D (front)

Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ

Canon EOS Rebel XTi

A 2017 Grayton Origin Automatic Smart Watch

This is a limited edition Grayton “Origin” Automatic watch made in 2017, which bought from Indiegogo. The “smart watch” part of it is the strap, which contains circuitry that tracks and logs your movements through the day (and your sleep if you wear it at night). You’ll see screen capture video of the iOS app below. The watch has a 24-jewel Japanese automatic movement and a great design. The smart strap works as promised but isn’t all that comfortable to wear (I explain why in the video), so I wear it with a normal leather strap.

Grayton Watches is a French based start-up brand founded in 2015 by Remi Chabrat, an expert with 25 years in the the watch industry, and as they say on their website, they’re “dedicated to creating affordable luxury and enduring style with automatic watches for men and women”. The name “Grayton” is (in my opinion) an inspired phonetic play on the words “great on”, as in “this watch looks great on you”. I’m curious to find out if my intuition is correct, so if someone from Grayton is reading this, please let me know.

A 1973 Doxa by Synchron Watch

A 1973 Doxa by Synchron Watch

I made a video about one of my vintage Doxa watches. There’s an interesting story behind this watch — literally behind it, as in on the back of it. There’s an inscription on the case back that speaks of things and practices that are no longer around.

This Doxa was most likely made in 1973, while Synchron S.A. owned the Doxa company, which they did from 1968 to 1978. The case serial number is a possible indicator of the year of manufacture.

Doxa S.A. was founded in 1889 by Georges Ducommun, and began as a maker of dress watches and other timepieces. Over time, they branched out into jewelry and they are now best known for their diving watches.

Like most Swiss watch companies, they were hit hard by the introduction of quartz watches. They put up a good fight but in the end they were sold and then ceased operations in 1980. The company changed hands multiple times. It was part of Synchron S.A. between 1968-1978, and were then acquired by Aubrey Freres S.A., who held them until 1997, when they sold them to the Swiss Jenny family. In August 2002, Doxa re-started its watchmaking operations and they are now producing special editions of their historical watches in limited quantities.

Winter photos from our garden

It’s been a hum-drum winter, I’ve said it before. It barely snows, and when it does, it melts right away. The temperatures hover between 0-10° Celsius, so it’s neither warm nor cold, just kind of annoying. I don’t know where the winters of my youth went, but I hope they come back at some point. I’m talking about snow that stays on the ground for weeks and months, big, thick, frequent snow that keeps the top layers fresh… Those kinds of winters are now only found in movies and fairy tales.

Fortunately, we humans are endowed with a little something called optimism. We can always call on that spirit and make the best of what we have. So the snow melts quickly. So be it. I’ll photograph the melting snow. The falling water drops make for great macro photographs.

This nifty lens I just bought, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm, has a Macro button on the side, which locks it in Macro mode and lets me get right up to the things I want to photograph, as you’ll see below. Not only is it a versatile 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, but it’s also a macro lens when I want it to be.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm Side View with Buttons
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm side view with buttons

I always shoot in RAW format, on any camera that’s capable of it, but with my E-P2, I forgot how good the JPG engine was. During my early morning outing a couple of days ago, I shot both RAW and JPG together (there’s an in-camera setting for that) and then I compared the photos in Lightroom. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the E-P2’s color reproduction is very good and the noise reduction algorithms built into the camera are actually better than Lightroom’s. Yeah, surprise! I pixel-peeped those images side by side and the JPG files were cleaner and had the colors I wanted, straight out of the camera. Guess what I did next? I switched my camera to JPG-only mode.

The photos you’ll see here are SOOC: JPG files produced by the camera, imported into Lightroom, where I added metadata and exported with no modifications to the colors, exposure, contrast, etc. Other than the metadata, I added nothing. Full disclosure: I bumped up the exposure on three snow photos that came out a little dark, but that’s it. I think you’ll agree with me when I say this little camera is pretty good!

Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2
Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2. Photographer: Thomas Hawk

Enjoy the photos!

 

Watch out for an angry cat

Here’s a short video I made that offers a bit of insight into how cats behave when they’re angry, or stressed or wound up. They need to unload that tension and they do it in ways that are predictable, whether you’re talking about small cats or big cats. I hope this helps you!

A walk through town before daybreak

To celebrate the acquisition of a new camera (well, the acquisition is new, the camera isn’t), I took a pre-dawn walk through town. It was cold and somewhat rainy. Water got on my lens a couple of times and I’d forgotten to bring a lens cloth, so you’ll see some weird light artifacts on some of the photos. That’s from the partially wiped lens… I was hoping dawn would come soon and I’d get some nice photos of the “blue hour”. As it turned out, my battery ran out of juice and I got pretty cold before that happened. But it was really nice to walk through town with few to no people around me. I am after all an introvert, so the more time I spend alone, the better I feel.

I am quite pleased with my acquisition. It’s a camera I used and reviewed in the past (eight years ago, actually): the Olympus PEN E-P2. I loved that little camera and I should have bought it back then. After quietly pining for it all this time, I found it online a few days ago at an unbeatable price, second-hand, in great condition: about 100 euros for the body, plus another 100 euros for the viewfinder (yes, I got the VF-2!) and about 200 euros for a wonderful little lens for it, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ (it’s a 2x crop factor so a 24-100mm 35mm equivalent).

Now I have the E-P2 and the E-PL1, which I bought several years ago with the two kit lenses offered at the time, the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm. Yay!

I took the photos without a tripod, relying on the camera’s optical image stabilization technology, which shifts the sensor on a 3-way axis in order to keep the shot steady. I shot at 1/10, 1/15 and 1/20, keeping the ISO at 1600 and the aperture wide open. Given that the lens goes from f/3.5 to f/6.3 when it’s at its longest focal length, that means some of the photos are darker. I squeezed every bit of light out of them in post processing, but having shot both RAW and JPG simultaneously, I can tell you the camera’s built-in noise reduction and image processing is so good (for its time), I could have just shot directly in JPG and uploaded them SOOC (straight out of the camera). Enjoy the photos!