Review of the Harry Benz “B” Strap

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So I met Harry Benz when I was in Toronto. My buddy Adam Marelli (probably the most knowledgeable guy about composition and photography) introduced me to him.

I shot Harry an email, and we met at a bar in Toronto in the evening, when I was teaching a workshop there. He came in, cool clear glasses, tall guy, with tons of enthusiasm.

I have never met anybody in my life so enthusiastic about camera straps and leather making. The man was a true artisan. He makes all of his straps by himself, and doesn’t skimp on quality. He put in all these tiny touches that I would have never noticed or appreciated; like how he uses water buffalo for leather (the toughest yet softest leather), while others use simple cow leather. Not only that, but he’s made the straps thicker around the “O” rings to prevent scratching of the camera, whereas other people just put in cheap pieces of leather.

He was also generous enough to make me an “a la carte” strap by measuring my neck and camera, and getting it to fit me. I got a nice brown leather tint, and two simple lines drawn through it. Classic, simple, and minimalist, my favorite style.

I’ve been through so many straps over the years. Honestly it’s the nicest leather strap I’ve ever used. As I’ve used it more, it has gotten even softer and more molded to my body, and it is even easy to switch from having it dangle around my neck (to wrapping it around my wrist).

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Ultimately I’ve discovered I prefer neck straps over wrist straps. Why? It’s easier to drink a coffee and text on my phone when I have a neck strap, whereas a wrist strap can get in the way. Also when taking a piss, it’s annoying to always put away your camera in your bag (instead of just slinging it diagonally across your body, and facing the camera from your back). Don’t worry, I never get any “splatter” on the camera ;).

Anyways, my heart goes out to Harry. He is a hustling one man team, not making a huge profit on these straps. He barely has any time to market his straps, so I wanted to help a brother out. After all, what is more inspirational than seeing someone dedicate their entire soul, time, energy, and effort into creating a one of a kind artisinal product?

At the end of the day, a strap is just a strap to hold your camera. But it comes down to having something that suits you the best.

Luigi makes great straps too, but Harry’s straps are much more affordable, and feel more sturdy in my opinion.

Harry also has given me a wrist strap which is beautiful and minimalist to try out. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to test it out yet, as I’ve been loving the neck strap so much.

At the end of the day, I would recommend his strap if you shoot with a Fuji, a Leica, or some other micro 4/3rd camera, and if you like leather (and want to look like a trendy hipster with all these other leather goods). Don’t get it if you have a big ass DSLR or any other heavy camera.

So support Harry and continue to let him live his dream of making the best possible camera strap, especially for us street photographers who are suckers for new accessories for our cameras. No but seriously, it’s a damn sexy strap. It’s comfortable, fashionable, and functional.

You can pick up a vintage brown “B” strap for $140. It’s not cheap, but trust me; it will probably be the last strap you ever will need to buy.

But if you’re strapped for cash, don’t buy it. Save your money and remember to buy books, not gear.

Review of the Leica Q for Street Photography

leica q

Leica has just released one of their most ambitious cameras yet, the new Leica Q. Long story short: full-frame sensor, 28mm f/1.7 uninterchangeable lens, macro functionality, compact body (slightly smaller than Leica M), electronic viewfinder, and 35mm and 50mm crop modes, and $4,250.

Personally I think the camera is an engineering marvel. Solid, well-built, thoughtfully constructed (from a photographer’s standpoint). Also it would be ideal for street photography, as it has a focusing tab (ideal for zone-focusing), and blazing-fast autofocus (as fast if not faster than the Fujifilm x100T). Furthermore if you’ve ever wanted a digital Leica, it is more affordable than a Leica M (as the Leica Q comes with a lens as well).

The size is actually not as “compact” as you think it is. I only found it slightly smaller than the size of my Leica MP. The weight is also pretty solid– I liked how it isn’t as heavy as a Leica M, but it still feels solid and substantial in the hand.

In terms of handling, there is a new indentation (similar to a “thumbs-up”) which makes it very easy to handle. I think the camera is awesome in all regards– the only thing that will deter buyers is the price.

In short, the Leica Q is almost like the “rich man’s” Fujifilm x100T. I think if you have disposable income and really find the features of the Leica Q to be helpful, I’d say go for it. Otherwise, I would personally pick up a Ricoh GR and save the rest of the money to travel, buy photography books, and invest in education.

If you’re interested in the camera, check out the two videos I’ve done with the Leica Q:

First impressions of the Leica Q

Review of the Leica Q with bigheadtaco

So what are your thoughts about the Leica Q for street photography? Worth the money, or overpriced? Would you get one? Leave a comment below! 

Video Review of the Fujifilm X100T for Street Photography

I recently put together a “real-world” review of the Fujifilm X100T for street photography (which you can read here). I also wanted to record a video of some of my thoughts of the X100T (I really like it), and some of the settings, functions, aesthetic differences of the camera. In my opinion it is the best “bang-for-the-buck” camera for street photography on the market right now, and a great companion if you want to upgrade to a smaller body.

If you have any other questions about the camera, leave a comment below and I will try to reply to as many as I can! For those of you who have the new X100T, how do you like the camera?

Review of the Fujifilm X100T for Street Photography

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Dubai hotel lobby selfie with the Fujifilm X100T

Disclaimer: I was given a free Fujifilm X100T for this review.

It is a beautiful Sunday here in Dubai, and it is my day off “work”. I arrived last Wednesday from London after 2 weeks of teaching workshops, and I ended up doing a few workshops for Gulf Photo Plus (a photo organization in Dubai). I had a great time teaching the workshops here in Dubai, and also ended up shooting a lot of personal photos for myself (around 5–6 rolls of medium-format Kodak Portra 400 on my Hasselblad and a Mamiya 7 I borrowed from my friends Imraan and Mo.

Review of Rollei Digibase CN200 Color Film for Street Photography

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Hong Kong, 2014

Recently I hooked up with my buddy Vishal from Hong Kong (he runs Camera Film Photo) and he hooked it up with some Rollei Digibase CN200 film. I was quite excited about the film (as it is new) — and decided to have a go. I shot around 2 rolls of film, and wanted to share some images and share some thoughts about the film.

Review of the Fujifilm x100s for Street Photography

Manila, 2014

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Disclosure: Fujifilm gave me a Fuji x100s for this review. I haven’t been paid to write this review, and will try to make it as non-biased as possible. Also there are Amazon affiliate links included– so if you order the camera or any other product from my link, it will give me a small percentage.

Fujifilm recently hooked it up with a x100s— and I took it on a test run throughout Manila and have been using it the last few weeks. Below is my review of the x100s for street photography and some of my thoughts on the camera.

Fashionable and Functional: Review of the Kawa Pro Strap for Street Photography

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Eric’s Note: We were given a Kawa Pro Strap for free to review for the blog. A.G. DeMesa, a talented photographer and writer based in Manila writes his thoughts about the strap in the review below. Expect more stuff coming from him soon ;)

On Straps

A.G. DeMesa: A strap is what physically attaches a photographer to his camera when not using his hands. It lets the photographer carry the camera and take it to places where he needs to. Therefore it is important for a strap to strike the perfect balance of comfort, robustness, and durability. In addition, speed is also a factor in street photography wherein we clock long hours in the blistering sun anticipating that photo. There are many makes and models that are available in the market that fulfill the criteria but I’m pretty sure none of them is as beautiful as a Kawa pro gear strap.

Video Review of the Fujifilm X-T1 for Street Photography

When I was here in Dubai for Gulf Photo Plus, the guys from Fujifilm were generous enough to give me a new Fujifilm X-T1, the Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4 (35mm full-frame equivalent), as well as the Fujifilm 27mm f/2.8 Lens (~40mm full-frame equivalent). I shot with it everyday for around a week.

Overall I like the camera a lot and would highly recommend it (superb image quality, great form factor, and responsive). Some downsides are that the AF isn’t as accurate and quick as other cameras (like the Olympus OMD)– although it is a huge improvement from the X-Pro 1 and x100s. Hope this improves with future firmware updates.

I have a in-depth text-based review coming, but in the meanwhile– check out my video review above. I talk a bit more in-detail the near features of the cameras as well as more in-depth thoughts on how I like it in street photography!

Book Review: “Gypsies” by Josef Koudelka

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All photographs in this article are copyrighted by Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

To continue my street photography book reviews, I wanted to write about “Gypsies” — one of my favorite street photography books of all-time, shot by Josef Koudelka, Magnum photographer.

To give you a bit of background, Josef Koudelka is one of the greatest living black and white photographers of the century– both revered for his phenomenal photography and his obsessive passion for photography.

Street Photography Book Review: “The Last Resort” by Martin Parr

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All photographs in this article are copyrighted by Martin Parr / Magnum Photos. Warning: Some of the shots in the book are NSFW as they show child nudity.

One of my favorite color photography books is “The Last Resort” by Martin Parr. For 2014, I want to start doing more book reviews– sharing some of my favorite books, sharing why I love them, and trying my best to analyze and share my observations about them.

Review of the Leica D-Lux 6 for Street Photography

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About two months ago (before I was going to embark on my Michigan to LA road trip), Chris Moore and Shirley DeSilva from the marketing division of Leica lent me a Leica D-Lux 6 to test out on the streets (thanks guys!).

I have always been a huge fan of compact cameras– for their weight, size, and easily portability. I think at the end of the day, I prefer having smaller cameras for street photography– as I generally end up carrying them with me everywhere I go (whereas my bigger cameras of the past tended to stay home and collect dust).

So how is the Leica D-Lux 6 for street photography? Read on to see my thoughts.

Review of the Ricoh GR for Street Photography

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Self-portrait with the Ricoh GRD V in Detroit

Disclaimer: I have been provided a Ricoh GRD V (no strings attached) from Pentax-Ricoh. However I will try to keep this review as un-biased as possible.

Update: The new Ricoh GRD V (Version Number 2) is out, which is essentially the same camera with Wifi and some other minor changes. If you’re interested in the Ricoh GR, I’d just pick up the older one (unless you need the wifi setting).

Disclaimer aside, I think this is currently hands-down the best bang-for-the-buck digital camera for street photography currently out there right now. I love the compact size, the superb image quality and high-ISO performance, as well as the ergonomics and handling. It has been traveling with me alongside my Leica MP as a second shooter — and the camera seriously kicks ass.

While I still prefer shooting with film at the end of the day, it is an amazing camera and I highly recommend it to all street photographers who want a smaller alternative. Keep reading for more of my thoughts on the camera.

Also note I don’t really care for spec sheets and technical aspects, so I will keep this review as practical as possible for actual usage on the streets.

For Street Photographers On-The-Go: Review of the Chrome Niko Camera Sling and Camera Pack

If you are a street photographer on-the-go looking for some new camera bags for street photography (small or large) check out my above video reviews on the new Chrome Niko Camera Sling and Chrome Niko Camera Pack.

The Chrome Niko Camera Sling is a small bag designed for street photographers with small DSLR’s, Micro 4/3rds cameras, or rangefinders. I love how it is small, waterproof, and forces you to carry only the bare minimum when you are out on the streets. The Chrome Niko Camera Pack is much larger, for traveling street photographers who may also do professional gigs on the side.

For more images of the bags, read more. Special thanks to Chrome for providing these bags for review.

3 Reasons Why You Should Use the iPhone 5 For Street Photography by Mike Avina

(Above photograph shot on the iPhone 5 by Mike Avina)

Eric’s Note: I’m sure many of you are curious about the performance of the iPhone 5’s camera for street photography. Fellow street photographer Mike Avina has spent around a week or two with the iPhone 5, and here are some of his impressions. You can see his past feature on my blog here and follow him on Flickr.  

Mike: This is a review of the iPhone 5 as a street photography tool. I am picky about my gear and I am a bit of a minimalist—so I use one old film rangefinder body with a 35mm lens and one digital camera with a prime lens equivalent to 35mm. That said, I have been following the work of several mobile phone street photographers and have been impressed. When Eric asked me to do a review of the iPhone 5 I jumped at the opportunity.

Review of the Leica M-Monochrom for Street Photography

Leica M Monochrom with Film

Eric’s Note: This review of the pre-production model of the Leica M Monochrom isn’t going to be a technical review, but rather a practical one for street photographers who may be interested in the camera. 

I’ll start off my preview of the Leica M-Monochrom with a story. I was ecstatic when I got in my inbox an invitation from Leica to attend their product launch in Berlin. I heard rumors about a new Leica M10, a black/white only camera, and some other stuff about the X2, etc. I always love being able to go to these events, meet other passionate photographers, as well as the good people at Leica.

Streettogs Gallery: An Analysis and a personal note of Jun Abe’s “Manila”

Jun Abe's Manila

Eric’s Note: Streettogs Gallery is an on-going feature and intiative by Manila-based street photographer A.G. De Mesa. Check out more info here.

A.G.: Coming back from a small hiatus, I’m bringing you my analysis and some personal thoughts of Manila photographed by Jun Abe and published by Vaccum Press. I would like to apologize if the images of the book is bad, the actual book is absolutely brilliant. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled features next week!

Manila, Philippines. August, 1983. Then President Ferdinand Marcos just lifted Martial Law a few years prior but still hold absolute power over the Philippines. The country was in a state of constant flux due to President’s’ aggressive development plans under his dictatorship. This dictatorship was met with heavy opposition from his political rivals. Most notable is Benigno “Ninoy”  Aquino Jr. It is in this month that Ninoy was shot dead in the then called Manila International Airport. With political turmoil and social instability plaguing the country, it was in this period when Jun Abe, armed with his camera, photographed the city of Manila.

30 years later, Vaccum Press comes out with the photographs coming from that trip.

Review of the CSLR Glide Strap for Street Photography

Custom SLR Glide Strap

(Above image: my Leica MP and CSLR Glide Strap)

In my 6 years of shooting street photography, I have experimented with lots of different straps. I tried neck straps, wrist straps, hand straps, and even no straps.

Finding an ideal camera strap for street photography is very difficult. You need a strap that is discrete, comfortable, yet looks good.

I was really excited when I first came upon the CSLR Glide Strap on the internet (I first heard about it through Kickstarter for their C-Loop). Their revolutionary idea at the time was why not take your camera strap off your neck (where it gets itchy and sticky) and put it over your shoulder instead? This way it could disperse more weight more evenly around your body.

Not only that, they advertised a “gliding” mechanism that would allow you to quickly draw your camera (just like a gun-slinger out of a cowboy movie).

Review of the Leica MP vs Leica M6: What’s the Difference?

Just got a mint (used) Leica MP from Bellamy in the mail and have been using it the last 3 weeks. I was using my Leica M6 for the last several months, but the M6 I had gave me some funky issues (my shutter would get stuck at around 22 shots – and it broke on 3 different occasions while traveling). Now I’m using the MP as my main camera, and the M6 as my backup camera while traveling.

The video above is my review of both cameras. In performance they are identical, although the MP has superior interior mechanics and is more reliable. There are also some cosmetic differences.

Interested in buying a film Leica rangefinder? If you haven’t tried it out yet, I’d recommend getting a Leica M6 and a 35mm Voightlander f/1.4 lens. It is a solid combination, and the best “bang for the buck” out there. I have tons of friends who have the combination and love it. Have the cash and want a more reliable and durable camera film rangefinder that will last you a lifetime? Then get the Leica MP and a Leica lens.

In the end, remember that it is always a better investment to buy books, not gear when trying to become a better photographer. But if you shoot with a DSLR and might want to try shooting film, want something more compact and discrete, getting a film Leica may be a good idea to try something new

If you are interested in purchasing a second-hand Leica or Lens, hit up my boy Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) or email him at hunts.of.tokyo@gmail.com

Any more questions about the Leica M6 vs Leica MP? Leave a comment below! 

My First Impression Review of the New Leica M-Monochrom Camera for Street Photography

Leica M Monochrom

I recently had the chance to shoot with the new Leica M-Monochrom camera at the Leica May 10th event in Berlin, and was quite impressed. The High-ISO is amazing but the camera is quite expensive.

Curious if the camera is worth the hype? Keep reading to find out more – and see the amazing b/w images taken of the trans-siberian railroad by Magnum Photographer Jacob Au Sobol.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 First Impression Hands-on Review

Just had a chance to play around with the new Fujifilm X-Pro1 here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Looks like a very solid camera, with a few quirks (like every other camera out there). It might be a great option for those of you who have DSLR’s and want something more compact and discrete when shooting on the streets. Check out the video of a unit (without lens or battery) with some of my impressions above!

Bag Review: The Stylish ONA Union Street Camera Bag for Street Photography

For those who are looking for a stylish, sleek, and functional messenger bag for street photography – check out the new ONA Union Street Bag. ONA sent me a bag to review, and after thorough testing (took it all over India) here is my review/overall impressions of this bag. Keep reading more if you are interested in making an investment into a fashionable and durable bag that will last you a long time!

The Leica M9: The Ultimate Street Photography Camera or Just Hype? My Practical Review

My old M9 Blacked our.

Leica M9

My Leica M9P* (gaffer tape upgrade) and 35mm Summilux 1.4. 

Background

About a few months ago, I finally achieved one of my lifetime goals: purchasing a digital Leica (the Leica M9 to be specific). Although I was enthralled by the camera the first month I tested it (when Leica loaned me one for my Paris trip as well as a 35mm Summilux) the initial glitz and glamor faded away. However after shooting with one, I knew I wanted to get one nonetheless for a variety of reasons (explained in this article).

For this review I am going to give you my honest review of the camera, not focusing much on the technical aspects (other sites have already done this to death) but how it actually performs when it comes to shooting street photography. Considering that I have only been shooting with the camera around 3 months—I am not an expert with the Leica M9. However having shot with it enough when it comes to street photography, I am very confortable discussing how it performs when shooting on the streets.

Leica X1 First Impressions Review

Although I am very sad to say goodbye to my Leica M9, I just received a Leica X1 in the mail to test and review for about a week. Check out my first impressions in the video above, and please leave me any questions you may have about the camera by leaving a comment below!

*Edit: The body is made out of magnesium, although the outside casing appears to be made out of plastic (thanks to tribalknowledge for the clarification).

The Poor Man’s Leica: Fujifilm FinePix X100 Sample Photos, Unboxing, and Review

Fujifilm Finepix X100
Fujifilm FinePix X100 by Pieter Franken

Over at Steve Huff’s blog, street photographer Pieter Franken gave his first impressions about the Fujifilm FinePix X100. He is originally from Holland and currently lives in Tokyo (where he was able to get the camera). Although he already has the Leica M8 and the Leica M9, he comments that it is a great companion camera (not nearly a replacement for either). All-in-all, Pieter gives the X100 a glowing review and mentions it is great for High ISO, the silent shutter,  as well as the compact size. Read the review for more in-depth details.

Pieter Franken also has a plethora of sample street photographs on his Flickr as well (which look great in my opinion). Click more to view the sample street photographs, as well as the unboxing and review.

Todd White “Paparazzi” Painting

Todd White's interpretation of the Papparazzi

So at the online advertising agency that I work (AKMG), the CEO there has a real great taste in art. He owns several Todd White pieces, who according to his website claims himself as the “critically acclaimed modern master and
portrait painter for the 21st century.”

This piece actually hangs in the bathroom, which is quite funny as some of my female co-workers have complained to him that is creepy that it looks like a bunch of photographers are taking photos of them while they use the bathroom. I, however, found it a quite fascinating piece (being a photographer and all). This image says a great deal about society and celebrity-worship, as the piece puts you in the shoes of a celebrity and shows you how it feels like to have all those cameras pointing at you. It definitely does make you feel a bit unnerved and uncomfortable, as the images of the photographers are abstract enough to actually portray face-less photographers. However as a photographer, I feel completely comfortable in front of a camera (as I am the one usually wielding it).

Paparazzi