Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's here!

Yup, it's here! I just received my prize, a Samsung GX20 DSLR, from Amateur Photographer, which I had won in the On Assignment feature. I had a good play with it and I have to say I am second time awe struck. As such I have decided to post a little review of it right here, so here it is, my initial thoughts on the Samsung GX20. I may add some more bits as I go:



I had used it when I was given the opportunity of participating in AP's On Assignment and had a chance to play a bit with it, but we didn't have time to go in depth into it. I got mine on Thursday and have taken a small number of shots with the kit lens (18-55) which have given me a good feel of what the image quality can really be like and this is pretty much the reason why I decided to do a little user review. I may come back to it to add other findings.


The Samsung GX20 is pretty much a Pentax K20D but according to Samsung the image processing is different and better.
It takes Pentax KAF mount lenses (of which I have near to none at the moment, apart from a Centon 50mm f1.7 which is more of a paperweight and a 70-210 of the same brand and serving the same function) and Samsung has their own version using Schneider-Kreuznach glass. The 18-55 lens is not brilliantly sharp but for non specialist use does it's job. The camera is very very solid indeed and I was already very impressed with it when I first used it but having spent longer time with it and comparing it with my other DSLRs (KM 7D, Fujifilm S3, Sony A700,Sigma SD10) fares very well and I am even tempted to consider it a notch above all in this department. I wish I could compare it with a more current crop of DSLRs myself, but the word out there is that it fares very well again anyway. While I feel the need to add a battery grip to my A700 (except the other ones which have a grip), I do not feel the same about the GX20. It feels well balanced and very comfortable, with the body finish adding to this feel.


This is an area where I was second time awe struck. From the usual picture styles to AF fine tuning it felt as if this was the case that this was someone's first camera, they wouldn't be asking for more. It is a feature rich camera and what particularly excited me was the fact that I could process my RAW files in camera (as I am a RAW shooter in any situation), so I could have a JPEG of only the pictures I would have to either send or share, ready to go. I wished my other cameras had this to save some space in the card.
While this was exciting, this is in my opinion the feature that at the same time hampers the camera's image quality but only slightly and I will expand on this in the Image Quality section.


Performance is on the whole good, but the AF tends to hunt or hesitate a little in lower light. I do not know if this is because of the cheaper kit lens, it is likely. In daylight I found the AF very good with this lens. Reviewing images can also be slow, but given the size of the images (and the fact that I use a S3pro too which is no speed champ either in this department) I did not find this a turn off, also because you can cancel review at any time by pressing the shutter button to go back to shooting.
If you choose to process your RAW in camera then you will have to wait for this to finish but it doesn't take long. In any case, this is a feature I would leave for when I finish my shooting.

Image Quality

This is an area where this camera unexpectedly excels with its 14.6MP even at higher sensitivities.

Initially I had my reservations when I was looking at the JPEGs from the camera. For some reason, it seems that the camera introduces some chroma noise in the JPEGs when it either shoots them or you process them in camera. While ISOs from 100-400 are very good, you start seeing chroma noise at 800 and increasingly above.

But do not despair. Putting the RAW (DNG) files through ACR really makes them shine. You see a very pleasing, more luminance, film like noise at higher ISOs and the images are also very clean, with good sharpness at these sensitivities, which for a sensor of 14.6MP is not easy (and with the kit lens that it came with). I would not hesitate to pump up the ISO if there's ever the need for it.
In this department I am very satisfied, because for me what really makes or breaks my choices for a camera is what it outputs and this camera does not disappoint even the most demanding photographer.


So this concludes my initial thoughts on the camera. If this is what Pentax and Samsung are playing with now, I personally see no reason for this duo to come out with even more technically impressive stuff and join the big two which are becoming the big three now (with Sony having played out very well and I even see some using Sony now in the midst of the sea of Nikons and Canons out there). Perhaps the challenge is financial (and also the fact that the AF lens collection is a bit limiting on both parts and 3rd party dependency is not bad but not very good either)but that's something for a different discussion.
I believe with a little AF improvement and perhaps adding another 3-4fps to the drive (making it 6fps), this dynamic duo can come up with a true alternative(s) in the market. The image quality is certainly there. Let's see what happens next.


So yes, I am thoroughly impressed :)

Some samples will be posted on my page here .

Until next time,


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Amateur Photographer Magazine's On Assignment Feature

SG201636_mono2, originally uploaded by Luis Rubim.

Well, this made my week I have to say, seeing not only my photos published in Amateur Photographer Magazine in the "On Assignment" feature, but also win the competition for Picture of the Day. It's always great to get recognition among your peers and AP provided a great day which I thoroughly enjoyed along with the opportunity to enjoy an unusual and fun event, Jousting at Hever Castle, a recreation of medieval jousting by The Knights of Royal England ( .

You can see some of the shots that are not in the magazine here , but the set does include the winning shot.

Many thanks to AP and especially Garry McNamara and Gemma Padley for their guidance and support.

Until next time,


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nikon launches world first video capable DSLR

Nikon has just launched the world's first video capable DSLR in the form of the Nikon D90. The successor to the already successful Nikon D80 has HD video output, sports Nikon's acclaimed new 12.3MP CMOS sensor and can shoot at 4.5 frames per second. The Dxx series has always been targeted at enthusiasts but the D90 seems to be targetting a slightly wider market, encompassing news reporters as the new features show. In fact it may be the answer to some news reporters prayers (i.e. Dan Chung, award-winning photojournalist with The Guardian has expressed his wish of having video capabilities in his cameras at times), as the demand for photographers to have video skills grow. The camera was launched alongside an 18-105 optic which will be sold with it as a kit for £849.99 or £699 for the camera body only.

On a personal view, I was never a friend of the all in one device, I prefer to have dedicated devices for a given task as they tend to perform better. Having said that, the higher quality of photo lenses coupled with a video capable device may turn things around.
Nevertheless I see the video capability of the D90 as a lesser benefit, a bit of a gimmick, the excitement for me is the inclusion of Nikon's acclaimed 12.3MP CMOS and a very useful 4.5 frames per second capture (for photojournalistic work).

Kudos to Nikon for including these features in an enthusiasts model at this price point.

AP news link news link

Until next time,


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

UCL building Roman Numeral blunder...

Hi all,

It's been a while since I have posted anything here, I have been a busy man, I launched my website (which I am still working on the interface but has somework on display)among other things I had the chance to take part in a user review with What Digital Camera magazine and a "On Assignment" section for Amateur Photographer Magazine.

Anyway, I was out with my camera today and I was feeling a bit uninspired so I passed by the UCL building behind Warren Street and took a shot of the wrong Roman numerals in one of the buildings as I was wondering if anyone else had noticed that (as I work in that area for a while I was always amazed nobody has said or done anything about it) and a bit shocked that an educational institution like UCL could make such a blunder.

(click to enlarge)

Roman numerals have a rule that does not allow the use of the same numeral more than three times. Frankly I don't know what date/year they were trying to inscribe but if it was 1905 the correct form would have been MCMV, if 2005 MMV. In the case that the date they wanted to inscribe is 1905, the C (100) before the M (1000) is used to denote subtraction of 100 from 1000 (making it 900).

Better change that quick as it won't do any favours to UCL to have that there for any longer.

Until next time,


Thursday, June 05, 2008


My work is now available via Alamy images. Point your browsers to my website and simply click on the link.

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Good For You!

...and for me!

And on this note, I also announce that my official website is now open, albeit at its initial stages. Consider it more of an electronic card, but here's the address:

Stay tuned!

Until next time,


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Yes you can...

Purchase prints from this blog! Some of you have asked me and here's how: Just drop me a line via . You can also browse some more photos here . You can watch a slideshow here but this way you will also be able to see complete sets on one subject including some of my press work . As my sales website is still under reconstruction this will be the only way you can browse and buy some of my work at the moment.

Until next time,


Monday, March 24, 2008

Old Man Winter is back!

Old Man Winter is back!, originally uploaded by Luis Rubim.

It seems there's no escaping it...Spring is supposed to be here as of thr 20th of March but we keep on being battered by cold,snow,hail and whatever else the sky can throw at us. I gathered my guts to brave some cold today and went out to take some photos, (as I haven't done so in a while) and found out the possible explanation for this Spring delay...Old Man Winter is out and about!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Linux and Photography - a rare combo...

After years of using Windows and subsequently being many times on the verge of losing my photos due to viruses, system crashes, overburdening the system with Windows' power hungry resources, I have been contemplating moving to Linux. I have a little experience with Linux, I was impressed, but most of the applications I needed were not (or so I thought) for Linux. But I could live with incompatibilities as long as my photographic collections were safe and intact. Linux based systems have stronger security features and fewer viruses (this may be aided by the fact that there aren't many viruses written for Linux), very rarely crash and when something goes wrong it is more likely than not, that it was due to user error. It also uses way much less memory than Windows for thee same or three other tasks at the same time. The operating system and its applications are open source and free. To the unexperienced user, the notion of free full software may seem dubious and full of compromises, but this is certainly not the case.

So, I decided for a gradual move into Linux and for that, I decided to try Linux with it's own version of Photoshop...GIMP with UFRAW plugin.
I have to say I was pleasantly impressed. GIMP may not be as polished interface wise as Photoshop, but all the tools you need are there, one just needs to get used to the interface while the UFRAW plugin for camera RAW files offers all the control a photographer will ever really need. The only minus is that it seems that it does not perform denoising on the RAWs (perhaps it is a plus as it really shows as your camera performs), I still have the feeling that UFRAW outputs somewhat noisier files. Having said that, I have converted Sigma X3F files with UFRAW with very good results. Here are some examples:

.X3F, UFRAW converted with no exposure correction

.X3F, UFRAW converted with 1.69(approx) exposure correction

Despite the second example showing some noise which resulted from the exposure correction, the results are perfectly usable at full resolution.
For me this is a big thumbs up and a step closer that transition from Windows to Linux ( which will allow me to do more with much less usage of system memory and CPU).

Until next time,