Monday, July 31, 2006

Today's Random Photos (bored itchy trigger finger)

And please!!! There are no encrypted analogies as some have suggested previous to posting these pictures!!!

Random photo from file.....

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tonight only on the Viewfinder: Kiera Knightley on set of new film

Keira Knightley was filming to day at the set of "Atonement" to be launched next year. The film is a period drama set in WWII. The set was located at the site of the Old Scotland Yard. It was tottally unexpect as I was on the prowl for a different type of photography, looking for shots for some arty prints (which I did find some good ones) and I wasn't carrying my usual workhorse, but what I was carrying, worked adequately for some shots. Unfortunately Keira was being shielded from the lens of the occasional photographer that passed by and realised something was happening, at all times. Photographers were allowed to take pictures at a distance and at defined areas. But I did get some shots of Miss Knightley, even though with the camera I was using I had to use digital zoom to get near enough, as I hit the limit of the optical zoom, meaning loss of image quality and some gritty post-processing afterwards and on top of this to speed things up I was using JPEG at times at 3MP and 2MP to achieve higher digital zoom rates.But hey I got the shot!

Anyway, here is tonight's exclusive.

Of note is the wonderfull wardrobe, the vehicles and the way the set was done as some of the pictures I took are very hard to place as being of our days. Everything was intrinsically worked down the very last, minute, details.

Until next time,

Luis Rubim

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Just handled: The Sony Alpha....

After the withdrawal of Konica Minolta from the photo business, all its assets were transferred to Sony as discussed in a precious post here at The Viewfinder. Today as I was returning home from a day out shooting I came across Kamla at Tottenham Court Road in London, where they were exhibiting the Sony Alpha-100 DSLR, the result of the withdrawal of KM from the business and transfer of assets to Sony. I must say I wasn't impressed at all with the build quality. It felt very flimsy and cheap and I was in fact concerned about dropping the camera as I did not have the strap wrapped around my hand nor the camera hanging on my neck by it. The camera kind of echoed on tapping with my nails too, asserting my first impression of "flimsyness". The kit 18-70 DT lens, which is a Minolta lens rebranded Sony looked in fact cheaper than the previous Minolta lens and it had a build of similar cheapness to the camera. I am not saying that the Minolta kit lens was brilliant(kit lenses are almost always of cheaper build and they are entry-level lenses lets say), because it wasn't but it had a good level of build quality for what it was. I wasn't at all impressed with the build, but I don't let this detract from the fact that it has had rave professional reviews and it is a capable performer. It also has what seems to be the same 10MP sensor that is used on the Nikon D200. My other niggle is the depth of 6frames at 3fps in RAW (but that's me I'm RAWman :-D ), but the camera is not made for the pro even though that 10MP is attractive to every segment of the market at the price.
On the other hand JPEG shooters will be delighted that it shoots indefinately until reaching the cards capacity in JPEG at 3fps.
But as a first entry to the DSLR market, Sony as brought out a good competitor overall. In either way there will be Zeiss glass for both Sony and Minolta owners.

Until next time,


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Featured Prints:

Featured Prints. These prints are also available for sale. For more information, please contact me at
There is also a CD catalogue that includes these and more images apart from limited edition prints.
Man Machine Dreams
Monkey Hoops

Featured Limited Edition Print

Nikon's new beast has 10.2MP?Great but is it really news?

With the recent release of the fabulous Nikon D200, somehow it didn't hit me as much of a surprise when Nikon came up with another camera with 10.2MP (the surprise would have been if they went down. Eight megapixels don't sound that impressive no more and 10 is a more marked difference from 6). This focus on the megapixel count of the new beast in the hatch just doesn't sound to me that it will generate any crushing soundwaves marketing wise (they've been there, done that and we know it's all very good), as the only other details released is "more power, more control, more excitement,more versatile...." and that's it(unless it's a 10.2MP FM10 Digital :-D ....nothing wrong with that and I'll tell you more on another posting even if it sounds strange). The only thing that causes some excitment in this heating up to the big day is that it is very likely an upgrade to the Nikon D70 (also, a way to tell Sony that "Nikon rules the roost", as Sony just released their Minolta A mount based 10.2MP mid-range DSLR, Sony Alpha100, that fared well in reviews). You can't blame them for doing that,as a matter of fact the Sony may attract a big portion of the market with existing Minolta users feeling out in the cold with the demise of Minolta and with the use of Zeiss glass on the lenses for the Alpha System. Given the reviews it is a possibility.

What I would have loved to hear from Nikon, apart from 10.2 Megapixels, perhaps ISO50-6400, 4fps....just something to set a new standard on the mid-range DSLR (if this is gonna be a D70 upgrade). We know already megapixel counts are gonna keep going up and up and up, but something to set a standard, to break the mold would be nice to hear, just like when Minolta anounced their Anti-Shake built-in to the body of a DSLR( I am not suggesting that Nikon does the same as that would mean marketing suicide since they have a range of lenses with built in stabilization. It is just an example of something that broke the mold at that time, something that set a standard now being copied by others, for the greater good of all of us). But I guess that's just me. I just like to hear about something new, something different.

In any case, we can expect a piece of Nikon excellence, it's just that their timing looks blatantly like a hit out at Sony's Alpha 100. But hey, that's the business world and after all if you don't sell more cameras than everybody else, there won't be any future updates, accessories and ultimately, cameras. Just look at Sigma with their SD10. Their users have had to wait way too long, longer than everybody else. It is coming in the end, but Sigma didn't have much of a support base, even though in my opinion the Foveon sensor employed is perhaps the best damn thing out there (after a few fixes in the next camera(s) it undoutebly will be ), but since they didn't sell enough cameras there were doubts about if there was ever gonna be a next Sigma (because this also affects how much you can afford in Research&Development et al as a company).Actually, personally, if there is something I am surely looking forward to is the next Sigma SDxx, since their sensor is a real innovation,being the only sensor that captures 100% red,100% green and 100% blue at every single pixel location, unlike all other sensors. This means you get both a sharper image and more accurate colour reproduction in your photos. But it was not all pink. The camera and the sensor overall needed some work. Still in my opinion, it is a very good camera for the Fine Artist in you(basically due to slow continuous shooting and below average high ISO performance, even though I have seen some good reasonably clean shots at high ISO with this camera, but the general consensus is that it is below average at higher ISOs), but don't let it's limitations limit what you do with it. There is good action work out there done with this camera.

Back onto the Nikon, I'm counting the days to see what beast is gonna hatch from these eggs.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 20, 2006

I think the time is right for Fujifilm to launch a mid-range DSLR...

As a photographer and a big afficionado, I always dream of new photography products that will suit my every need and not only that I produce them in my head. Being not bad with a pencil either(hey what's wrong with some self-creditation?), I sometimes jot down some ideas. Some time ago I had designed a Fujifilm DSLR aimed at the mid-range market as Fuji didn't and still doesn't have a DSLR to bridge the novice to the pro (in fact they don't have a novice DSLR either, but I think a mid-range should cover both). So, being in love with their SuperCCD SR I had come up with this idea:

It would incorporate the SuperCCD SR and be sized between it's top range compact and it's pro DSLR. It would feature the Nikon F-mount already featured on their current (or discontinued due to new European Legislation Laws on lead) Fujifilm S3pro, Anti-Shake, some film simulation modes (not all present on the S3pro, costs my friends, costs!!), a high shutter speed of 1/4000th, 3 frames per second to 10 frames and among other things keep the threaded cable release, which I think it's a great idea.

It's not the first time I have dreamt up something and put it on paper, I have actually sent something over to Pentax (another of my favourite brands and the one that opened my apetite for photography), to which I got an interesting reply letter. I think as a fan, it is important to keep that symbiotic relationship going, particularly when your product provider is keen about knowing your views of what they provide to you. But that is another posting. I would also like to see what Pentax is gonna concoct for their top range DSLR as it is looking quite quiet for the time being, but they do have already two DSLRs set for launch, that look interesting and include Image Stabilisation by popular demand (knock, knock Fujifilm :-D ).

Nevertheless, the time is more than right, I think the current attempts at providing an alternative to a DSLR by Fujifilm are not that bad, but the real thing is always a real thing and then there are performance questions around it (in fact there are no questions, DSLRs simply outperform compacts, if you are willing to carry along lenses and accessories). More so, with the demise of the Fujifilm S3pro in Europe, I think Fujfilm will need to fill in that gap ASAP. The camera was an excellent one in my opinion, producing excellent images from that SuperCCD SR and will be sorely missed (I haven't had the chance to get my hands on one new). I am sure that Fujifilm will deliver a very capable DSLR in the next instalment(s). It would be nice in fact to see both a mid-range and a pro DSLR launched with the SuperCCD SR.
But let's see what happens.

Until next time,


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Panasonic's new FZ50 looks promising....

Putting the turkey stuffing of a small sensor aside (10MP in a small sensor, when will manufacturers stop?They know that hole and still go for it ), the new Panasonic FZ50 seems the biz to me. At least they offer some true innovations by introducing what Panasonic has called Intelligent ISO Control (IIC), which works alongside OIS (Image Stabilizastion). What is different about IIC is that it works not on the camera shake produced by the user but it detects subject movement and adjust ISO and exposure ACCORDING TO LIGHT. Which to me it reads like, you can get your action shot without recurring to too high an ISO, it will read the light and adjust ISO accordingly, so you won't have a grainy photo of a perfectly lit situation. Now this is a clever implementation and a true innovation (the same cannot be said of Fujifilm's Face Detection). Again, IIC seems to be so on paper. This feature seems to be meant for the section of the public that simply points and shoots but still buys a camera with which they can develop further their skills, but the camera itself seems directed to the "hobbyist to advanced amateur" section of the market. Apart from this the FZ50 features a high quality Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 35-420mm equivalent zoom lens (I would preferrably have a 28-400mm), a series of automatic modes and white balance modes, ISO100-1600 extendable to 3200, external flash hotshoe and is in general a good step up from it's predecessors. But, lets see how those 10MP cope with being crammed in that tiny sensor. I think this megapixel race is beggining to get ridiculous in what concerns compact cameras, as companies are aware that cramming so many pixels in a small space is actually phisically not allowing light going through to the tiny pixel locations, hence you bigger image (YEAAAY!!!) but more noise (OH NO!!!) than a sensor of the same size with a smaller number of pixels (if the opposite occurs then there is something seriously wrong with the camera :-D). Manufacturers have found ways around this such as employing NR (noise reduction) systems, but these most of the times result in loss of detail. Sony on the other hand took this serioulsy and came up with the Sony R1, which uses an APS-C sized sensor (the same size as in most DSLR) with 10MP and voila, noise is controlled. The downside, is that compact becomes an ambiguous term, the bigger sensor requires a bigger body.

In any case, watch this space, the Panasonic FZ50 as a package looks like a serious contender and design wise looks the part.

Panasonic FZ50 link

Until next time,


Fujifilm's new S6500 camera offers revolutionary hardware built-in Face Detection

Revolutionary? I think it's rather counter-evolutionary, at least on paper. I've got to tell you that Fujifilm's latest decisions have been amazing me in a slightly disappointing way. While at this point in the race its direct competition is offering some image stabilisation system in their cameras,Fujifilm still refuses to provide that in their cameras (not that I am a great proponent of the system but I admit it has its usefulness and in fact it proves at times very useful) and instead implements technologies that seem rather useless. Fujifilm will be launching a camera, the S6500, that in fact has a lot going for it, it's got a great sensor (coming from their own F30) with clean 6.3 Megapixels (a decision they should have taken with their S9500. They could do it now but it may mean marketing suicide, the megapixel question is more a race than a question these days), an ISO range of 100-3200 and a Fujinon 28-300 lens (good range but still not a Super EBC Fujinon lens, I am a demanding tog :-D ). The camera is actually aimed at the regular consumer, but that doesn't stop me from wanting one, after all they are 28-300mm I can fit in my pocket (more or less, I have big pockets,vestwise that is) with an ISO range that covers everything, but Face Detection????

Firstly how it works. Fujifilm decided to build into the hardware of the camera the FD system that not only focusses on the faces by detecting shapes that match a head and a mouth in short, and exposing correctly for the faces. The thing that irritates me the most about this is that it seems like a rather unnecessary implementation that will drive the cost up and looks like a simple marketing trick, since the problem it addresses is not a common complaint or it is nearly a non occurrence. On top of this an implementation, implemented over a much more necessary one, which is image stabilisation (which goes under a variety of other names, like AS, IS or OIS all shorts for the same thing). With those 300mm at the telephoto end of the lens shake will be inevitable if you can't compensate with a shutter speed. And what if I want to do a Tunnick and focus on a group of arses??? Or backs??? What will the FD system do??? Blush??? ;-D (Nevertheless a good point).

Throughout photographic history, people, both photographers and regular consumers have taken photos of groups of people successfully without the need of such a technology. But people do need at times something to stabilise their cameras and not all will want to carry a tripod around with them. Fujifilm is favouring an Anti-Blur or high ISO solution according to some, instead of implementing image stabilisation. The argument is that their SuperCCD produces such clean images throughout by using an agressive Auto ISO mode, that it is a real substitute. This is in part true, the SuperCCD (in fact my favourite sensor) produces clean images, but surely you can't say that its ISO800 is as clean and a substitute to ISO200 as some would advocate.
It is cleaner comparable to other sensors at the same sensitivity and I can say to an extent one whole stop down at times, making lets say an ISO800 photo look like an ISO400 (funny enough I have experienced something similar with a roll of Superia 1600 that some looked at and thought it was a 800 and some a 400), but never a true substitute for a cleaner ISO setting. Also to consider when using this technique/option, is at what size you will want to print your photo as at bigger sizes you will increase the grain/noise visibility. Why would anyone want a grainy photo when there is enough light for having a cleaner , higher quality image taken at a lower ISO setting with image stabilisation (which is something now very common in digital cameras). Then there is the noise reduction system which smoothens out detail which some people employ either in camera or in post production. Again, not a good substitute.

Don't get me wrong, I want to see the camera myself, I may even invest in one as I was pleased with Fujifilm's decision of reducing the megapixel count (this counteracts image noise),using their best sensor, good ISO range, continuous shooting in RAW mode and combining it with a lens with good range. I do expect it to have good if not excellent image quality for the reasons afore mentioned, but the implementation of a technology that seems of little use looks only like a marketing trick to drive the cost up, instead of implementing a truly useful feature. I personally believe that it would have been better for their own marketing to have implemented some image stabilisation system and I think they would sell plenty more cameras.

Let me state again that I am a big Fujifilm fan if that doesn't transpire through this posting, but being a fan is also about being able to see where your preferred product provider is failing as in fact they produce something for us as users and we invest our money on their products, so this should be a somewhat symbiotic relationship. In general, I can say Fujifilm listens to their users, being a user myself I know this, but their latest decisions in my opinion have not been the best. I hope Fujifilm takes a better route with the successor to the S9000/9500 as it is surely the model with the best prospects of delivering a future photographer's tool in a compact package. Currently as it is it leaves a lot to be desired.It has amassed a good amount of complaints since it's launch, from quality control issues to image quality issues (seems slightly out of touch with the regular Fujifilm "punch" and doesn't quite live up to those 9MP in my opinion). Normally, complaints fade away after a few months and people get to know their camera, but this one has been having non-stop complaints since its launch. Having tested one myself for a couple of weeks, I can say that a lot of them are well founded.

Personally for the moment I will stick with my current Fujifilm S20pro with it's lovely SuperCCD SR sensor (even though it has it's shortcomings it is still a well thought out camera with a refined feature set even if fewer compared to more updated or current cameras, which produces quality images even with it's much lower pixel count, not to mention build quality) and using Fujifilm's transparency films.

Until next time,


I wish I could go back in time to get a brand new Konica Minolta Dimage A1

As a photographer there are times when you really don't want to lug all your gear around but still want to carry something that will allow you to take some photos but that doesn't make feel somehow restricted. When I entered the digital world of photography, I bought myself a Fujifilm S20pro, which I am happy with and I still use after 2.5 years and it gives me what I call "digital transparencies", with Fuji's superb SuperCCD SR. You can really see Fuji's expertise in the field of film transferred onto their digital technologies. Still at times, I feel somehow restricted even though this camera has a good feature set.
I started looking for another compact to use alongside it (obviously not with it otherwise I would prefer to be lugging my DSLR everywhere), or to put it better, add to my kit and a scarce number of the current crop of top compacts have pleased me (I am a big Fujifilm fan but Fujifilm has to forgive me for saying this, I think that their current top compact, the S9000/9500 is a bit of a misfire and I hope for an upgrade soon). From that scarce number of compact cameras, none seemed to impress me to the point of actually making a resolution of spending some money on them. I always felt that I could spend the money on lenses for my DSLR (Minolta) system and be more satisfied.
But I would still be left with my Fujifilm S20pro for those days I don't want to lug around gear. The problem that actually mostly bothers me with it is it's lack of a continuous shooting mode in RAW mode. I am a big fan of RAW and anyone in the know will understand the reasons. For the rest of the readers, RAW basically provides you a "digital negative" and is of much higher quality than JPEG and from these files you can output higher quality JPEGs or TIFFs than if you use the plain JPEG setting on a camera, this apart from the greater manipulation/correction options you have with RAW.
Back onto my search for a compact, none of the current modern crop of compacts have totally impressed me, until I came across the Dimage A1. I knew the camera, but never really took so much notice of its feature set in comparison to current cameras. The Dimage A1 is the predecessor of the A2 and A200 and is a bit long in the tooth. Nevertheless, I was more than impressed with it. It's features for a camera would by itself save me a great deal of money in accessories, namely the tilting viewfinder (which would save me from buying expensive viewfinder accessories, which other compact uses a tilting viewfinder today?) along with a tilting LCD. I personally don't like to use LCD's as among other reasons, consume more battery power than the EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), and if you are out in the field, ever so more these days battery life is vital. Just this feature would allow me to open up more doors to my creativity and use a camera in a number of ways that I wouldn't be able to use with a conventional camera.
Of note is also its high quality Minolta GT 28-200 zoom lens. Most digital cameras of this class lack a good wide setting in favour of a bigger telephoto end, which I personally think is surely not the way to go and some manufacturers have taken notice of this (i.e. the Fujifilm S9000/9500 provides 28-300mm, but the lens is not the best in the Fujifilm range).
Along with this is a good macro setting (not that the Fujifilm S20pro one is worse, it is actually better as in super macro mode it allows you to go as close as 1cm from the subject, and if you have an external flashgun even better exposures you can get from it),a maximum shutter speed of 1/16000 (this even makes most DSLRs hide in the shadows) and most importantly Anti-Shake. Also included are a Flash Synch socket and compatibility with Minolta DSLR system accessories such as flashguns and battery grip (again, not usual of a compact). All in all, coupled with the image quality (in RAW mode) I would have the perfect companion of my DSLR system and not feel left out of the water at any time. I almost forget to mention it's nice power saving features, like Eye Start EVF that switches on and off the LCD both for power saving and eye comfort and the sensor on the grip that wakes up the camera.
It really makes you think that Minolta designers are actually photographers themselves even if they are not and this is something that has been said a number of times by different photographers and reviewers and that surely is the impression that the camera (or better yet, Minolta cameras)leaves on you.

Unfortunately, Minolta has withdrawn from photo business as of March this year, due to not being able to cope financially, but left behind a legacy and excellent quality cameras. Sony took over Minolta's assets, but I doubt that they would come up with a compact in the class of the A1.
So I have been unable to find an A1 in a trusted market, only leaving Ebay as a solution. I do see some coming and going but they are scarce, but it is surely a camera I will still want to own.
Sometimes looking at the past can be a good thing and there are surely a thing or two that manufacturers could learn from a camera like the Konica Minolta Dimage A1.

Links to camera images:

Dimage A1 allround view (image provided by

Dimage A1 tilting viewfinder (image provided by

Dimage A1 tilting LCD (image provided by

Dimage A1 with battery grip BP400 DSLR battery grip (image provided by

Until next time,


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

To kickstart "The Viewfinder"...

Three instantly recognisable faces

To kickstart "The Viewfinder"...

Three recognisable faces

The Viewfinder is now open!

Welcome all to The Viewfinder.

The Viewfinder will be primarily a photoblog for my personal work. It will also feature my personal opinion on digital cameras mainly and also on new technologies in the field of photography(I underline here personal opinion as by no means I will be giving professional reviews on equipment. I will be giving my opinion of what I found when I experienced the equipment and or what I think of it and of upcoming technologies. The individual reader is always the best judge of what is good for themselves, so no in depth reviews to influence or shift opinions, just personal opinion). I may also make occasional references to film equipment, but since the current trend in this field has shifted massively to digital technologies, that will be the main subject on which I will opinate.

Also, I invite readers to feel free and leave their own opinion on the photos and or whatever issues in regards to photography are in focus (nice game of words ;-) ).
I hope you enjoy my work and the blog.


Luis Rubim