About - Photos from a Small Planet

About Me

Well, what to say?  That's me on the right, in typical travel / photo mode.  

You'll notice the small sling bag containing a few lenses, umbrella, plenty of water, and a small camera in my hand... and that's about it.  In previous years I carried a large FF dSLR, but after one hot day in Cambodia in 2012 - I decided to downsize the equipment I carried. This has been great.

I love photography and travel, and this site is simply here to share some of the places I've seen.  I don't get money from my hobby, and I don't ever intend to go down that route as it may take away some of the fun for me.

I also enjoy sharing my limited knowledge, so help to run a small photography club here in Singapore.  So if you're ever in my neck of the woods, please do look me up.

What I like shooting with...

My main camera currently is a NEX 6, usually with a prime lens attached (as pictured below with a Voigtlaender 35mm 1.2).  I also carry a NEX 5N (not shown) with a zoom lens attached, for the added flexibility and also as a back-up.  For non-serious photo days, I take along an RX100 - an excellent IQ compact.

Sony NEX 6

Sony RX100

There's no particular reason I happen to shoot with all Sony cameras, they just happened to be right fit when I was switching to mirrorless at the time.  There are also great Micro Four Thirds (MFT, or m43) cameras and Fujifilm have a great range of APS-C mirrorless. Nikon also have a range of mirrorless cameras (the 1 system), although the small sensors (2.7x crop factor) for those cameras reduces DoF control more than I like.  

Manual prime lenses are great fun.  Here are three of my favourites:

Nikkor 85mm 1.4 AIS / Voigtlaender Nokton 35mm 1.2 / Nikon 50mm 1.4

Sometimes it's useful to have some AutoFocus lenses handy as well, especially for one handed shooting, or when you need wide angle:

Sony 55-210mm 4.5-6.3 / Sony 10-18mm 4.0 / Sony 35mm 1.8 / Sony 16mm 2.8 + UWA

Why I Use Mirrorless Cameras... ?

1 - Size / Weight

Travelling light has greatly increased my joy of photography.  Gone are the days when I'd return to the hotel room with a sore arm/shoulder/back from lugging around heavy gear.  Also gone, are the days when I would struggle to get my equipment into the allocated airline hand luggage weight allowance and have to use check in baggage.

Carrying 2x mirrorless ILC, 4x lenses, and 1x compact camera, with batteries comes in at around 1.5kg.  For reference, my old dSLR (Nikon D700) + lens (Sigma 24-70/2.8) used to weigh approximately 2kg alone.

2 - Electronic View Finder (EVF)

It's great to be able to look through the viewfinder and know what you are seeing is what you will get.  The main benefit to me is seeing the actual Depth of Field (DoF) straight away as oppose to having to review on an LCD screen afterwards when using an Optical View Finder (OVF) typically found on dSLRs.  Also, you already know roughly what the exposure will look like if you're shooting in manual mode.  Lastly, if you're shooting jpg, you can make sure you get the White Balance correct before taking the shot - this doesn't matter so much when shooting RAW as you can always fix that later. 

3 - More engagement with your subject

There's nothing worse than disturbing your natural surroundings by pulling out a large dSLR with it's usual clunk-click-clunk shutter sound (that's the sound of the mirror moving up, the shutter firing and the mirror coming back in place - in case you're curious).  Mirrorless cameras are generally much quieter.  Also, if you like, you can 'shoot from the hip' using the back LCD screen tilted upwards, allowing you to maintain face to face contact with your subject, rather than pushing a dSLR up against your nose and creating an artificial barrier.

4 - Precise focus

In normal use dSLR's use Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), which is faster but not as accurate as Contrast Detection Auto Focus (CDAF).  CDAF is the default for most mirrorless cameras, which is typically why they are slightly slower to focus.  However on a dSLR the Phase Detection pixels are not on the sensor, which can lead to focus misalignment if the mirror is even a tiny bit out of place. This can't happen on mirrorless, so when you see something in focus on the LCD / EVF - it will be in focus on the final picture.

5 - Manual Focus aids

For good DoF control, shoot with a large aperture and turn on focus-peak.  It's a feature found on all Sony mirrorless cameras, as well as a number of the newer model MFT and Fujifilm cameras.  If you've never used it before, it's basically a graphical aid that puts a shimmering colour overlay for anything the sensor picks up as having sharp contract - i.e. in focus.  In means with a little practise you can focus and frame fast enough to not miss the moment.

6 - A whole bunch of other stuff...

No mirror blackout when taking photos, no shutter shake from mirrors moving around, instant movie record when needed... etc.