Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘epl2

Review: Think Tank Retrospective 5 Camera Bag

with 33 comments


Fuji X100 | 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 2000

The Think Tank Retrospective 5 bag: Photographer tested, Shiba approved.  Ever since I started regularly heading out with smaller, lighter gear like my EPL2, X100, and even Nikon FM, I’ve been yearning for an appropriate bag. I have a “carry everything bag” already,  so what I need here is a bag that will carry just what I need for a particular outing. The requirements were pretty simple: durable, comfortable, portable yet efficient, and most importantly, inconspicuous.

I realized something about the design of this bag while eating dinner at a restaurant over the weekend. A family with baby in tow sat down at the table next to us, and I noticed that the father had a bag that looked just like mine, only a bit bigger and with cartoon designs all over it…and it was filled with diapers. But hey, that’s nothing to be ashamed about! Like a good diaper bag, the Retrospective 5 has a very minimalist but efficient design.

Made of highly durable cotton canvas and available in Pinestone (mine) or Black, you certainly wouldn’t confuse it for a diaper bag, but you wouldn’t necessarily think it was a camera bag either, and that’s what I love most about the Retrospective 5. I carry it around with me everywhere, so the last thing I want is for it to scream “I have thousands of dollars of camera gear in me!” According to Think Tank, the minimalist design was intentional in order to help photographers inconspicuously blend into different environments.


Fuji X100 | 1/480 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Under the main flap there’s a clear pocket for your business card along with a really cool hook-and-loop strip system equipped with what Think Tank calls “sound silencers.” Again, the design of the bag is purposefully minimal and inconspicuous, so how inconspicuous is opening a hook-and-loop strip sealed bag in a quiet environment? Not very.

The image on the left shows one of the hook-and-loop strips in “silent mode.” In this configuration, the flap just falls over the bag instead of attaching at the strip, and hence makes no noise. This is how I leave the bag most of the time. On the far right the strip is active, and noisy. =)


Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | 1/50 sec, f/1.7, ISO 400

The strap is awesome. The strips of highly grippy rubber (feels like silicone) along the strap’s padding are extremely effective at keeping the  strap from sliding, allowing me to  hang the bag on the edge of my shoulder and move around with confidence while the bag stays put. Thoughtful little details like this add up to make this bag great.

On the left is an included, seam-sealed rain cover. It covers the entire bag with the exception of the straps to protect your gear in the rain. You can see it deployed here.


Fuji X100 | 1/40 sec, f/2, ISO 1000

Even though the Retrospective 5 was designed with rangefinder or micro 4/3 systems in mind, it will still happily carry a big DSLR (though your shoulder may not be quite as happy).  In the bag above is a D700 with Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G mounted (that’s a big chunk of glass), and in the side pocket a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, stacked on top of a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. There’s still plenty of room to the left of the 50mm, so a bigger lens could definitely take its place. I could mount my 24-120mm f/4 VRII and put it in the bag with my 70-300 VR and have a really wide range in a very small bag.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35mm f1.4G | 1/30 sec, f/2, ISO 400

This is my most common setup when I head out onto the street, walk the dog, or for travel. In one compartment is my Fuji X100, and in the other, my Olympus EPL2 with Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 mounted, effectively giving me a wide and a telephoto in two cameras. This setup is extremely light. The bag also comes with plenty of removable compartments that allow you to customize the interior any way you like. Think Tank says it can easily take a Micro 4/3 system with 3-6 lenses plus accessories. I believe it!


Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 |  1/20 sec, f/1.7, ISO 400

See that front pocket in the image above? It’s expandable, so much so in fact that it can swallow my D700 body with ease:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35mm f1.4G | 1/30 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400

Of course, it has no problem carrying my X100 all by itself. If I want to travel as light as possible, I just slip the one camera in the bag, and the rest of the bag easily holds chargers, batteries, and other accessories.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35mm f1.4G | 1/50 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400

Finally, a removable carry handle. Sounds simple, but it’s extremely convenient in practice.

This post doesn’t even cover every single feature, just my favorite ones. There are many little purpose-made pockets and compartments in the bag that I didn’t mention here, but the bottom line is that if you’re a micro 4/3 or rangefinder system user, or even a DSLR user who wants a more compact and inconspicuous solution for carrying a camera and one or two lenses, the Retrospective 5 is a great choice.

Life in Color, Life in Black and White

with 10 comments

Browsing through my image catalogs last night, I discovered lots of random frames I’ve taken lately that I never posted anywhere. Just for the fun of it, I slapped them all together and made a couple spreads. These are all taken with my Oly E-PL2, which I still feel great about even though an X100 found its way into my bag this week. I think the two can actually work well together, but I’ll save that concept for another post.

I tend to just let loose and have fun with the Olympus. You can get some pretty insane results with the built-in filters, like pop art and pinhole:

That larger image of Suki in the car above was actually taken by the wife.  I myself take the blame for the badly framed shot of Suki at the bottom left of the spread, taken from the hip. Gotta give credit where it’s due!

I love how black and whites look straight from the camera, using either the grainy film art filter or just standard monochrome. The E-PL2 definitely has better black and white output than the x100 in my opinion:

That’s it! An image-dominant post. It is a photo blog after all. Happy shooting this weekend!
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Olympus PEN  E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Written by Jonathan

June 10, 2011 at 7:35 am

A Day in Glen Park

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Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Seems like there are more and more farmers markets popping up around San Francisco lately. I found out a few days ago that for the first time this past Sunday, a market would be set up in the small neighborhood I grew up in, Glen Park. Such a big place in my heart for this little neighborhood.

To my fellow San Franciscans: weren’t the clouds crazy beautiful yesterday? My goodness. We never get clouds like this! While the wife perused the market, sampling the local produce, I snapped away:

The Glen Park market was relatively small, so it didn’t take long for us to be done checking it out. All that gazing at food made us pretty hungry….

More clicks on the way to La Corneta, the local neighborhood taqueria. Not the best in the city, but hey, they made a killer quesadilla for us today:

Stomachs full, a little more shooting. Even though I spent so many years of my life in Glen Park, I never get tired of just walking around town in this area. Come to think of it, I’ve never really done a photowalk here o_O

That ugly building on the left is the Glen Park Bart station…why is it so ugly??? Oh well.

Took a coffee break at Bello. This cafe is relatively new for the neighborhood, and I actually hadn’t tried it yet until today. Seems like they’ve jumped on the “individually-hand-brewed-drip” bandwagon that’s become very popular among the city’s elite coffee houses. It was a decent cup, but it still had nothing on a cup of Blue Bottle, Ritual, or Philz.

We left the area for a couple hours, and came back for dinner at Gialina, Glen Park’s gourmet pizzeria. As with many SF neighborhoods, Glen Park didn’t used to be this…hip. Before this place was Gialina, it was one of those greasy, ghetto pizzerias. Times have definitely changed for the better around here =)

Gialina is always packed during dinner rush. I’m surprised we got the best seats in the house, at one of two tables by the window. Yes!

Potato and Pancetta pizza. “Potato!?!?” Was my first thought when I ordered this pie for the first time a few years ago. Crispy carbs covered with thin slices of more carbs? Extremely…delicious…. We also ordered a roast pork chop, perfect with a glass of the house red:

Three scoops of Bi-Rite Creamery snickerdoodle ice cream for the lady, and an afogatto for me. Perfect finish. My Nikon FM came along for the day as well. Still trying to get through a roll of Ilford HP5 that I’ve had loaded in the camera for about a week. Strange that I can completely drain my digital camera’s battery in a single day, but it takes me forever to work through a roll of 36 exposure film.

Good night, Glen Park!

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All Images: Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 (all JPEGs)

Written by Jonathan

May 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

The Saturday Morning “Ritual”

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Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/4000sec  ISO200

Before I get started with today’s entry, I just want to say thank you to everyone that took the time to read my previous blog post and leave a comment. My post entitled Revisiting Film Photography was featured on Freshly Pressed, the front page of WordPress.com. I was so excited to see all the comments start pouring in, not simply because I relished the extra attention to my site, but because of the content of the comments themselves. You shared your personal experiences with me, and it’s been fascinating to see the discussion that I started continue to grow through your stories.

Some of you reminisced about the shooting film back in the day, expressing a newfound interest in that dusty old SLR in your basements that you haven’t used in years. Others of you haven’t given film a try yet and expressed curiosity about using the medium. Some of you admitted to knowing little of photography and yet expressed interest and appreciation through your comments, while others you are active film shooters who shared your own great experiences with the format. Thank you all! It has truly been a pleasure reading your personal experiences!

So, Film vs Digital, what’s my final word on the subject? If you look at all my recent work, it’s pretty obvious that I do a lot of work with digital cameras. Is my recent experience with film going to change all that? Probably not. But the truth is, I just love photography. I’ll take pictures with anything that, well, takes pictures. I see the Film and Digital formats simply as two different ways of making art. So, film or digital? Answer: Yes.

Ok, back to this post:


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/1000sec  ISO200

As much of a Philz and Blue Bottle addict that I am, I’ve been trying to visit some different cafes here in San Francisco to see where else I can get a stellar cup of coffee. We started the weekend this morning at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia street.

With large, east-facing windows gracing the storefront, tons of beautiful light flooded the cafe. How could I possibly resist taking my camera out?


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/250sec  ISO200

Here’s where Ritual’s drip coffee is individually brewed to order. Wait a minute now…maybe I should head to the hardware store, pick up some copper pipe and just make my own filter-holding contraption!


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/800sec  ISO200


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/500sec  ISO200

If I’m visiting a coffee-house for the very first time, I always try their drip first. If you can make me a killer drip, I’ll keep coming back for sure. The roast I chose was La Esperanza, described as “sweet and creamy, with flavors of butterscotch, Danish pastry, dried stonefruits and a lavender finish.” A one pound bag of whole bean Esperanza will set you back a whopping $22.50.


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/4000sec  ISO200

My friends had lattes, complete with the obligatory frothing art on top =)


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/4000sec  ISO200


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/2500sec  ISO200

Verdict? The drip was awesome, among the best I’ve had in fact. But I paid handsomely for it, so regular visits here will not be a wise “Ritual” for my bank account.


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/60sec  ISO200

We didn’t stay long at Ritual, because we needed to get breakfast elsewhere. The coffee perfectly complimented the famous morning buns at Tartine Bakery. Sorry Tartine, but your drip coffee leaves a lot to be desired. Every time we go, we see a bunch of other people in there, standing in line with their cups of coffee from other cafes. Hilarious =)

Written by Jonathan

April 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm

More Dog Park Antics

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Packing up and getting ready to head out alone on a photo walk, I turn around as I open the front door to see Suki giving me the “I’m going too, right?” look. Agh, she gets me every time! Ok Suki, let’s go… People often ask me how I get Suki to cooperate when I take pictures of her, or to cooperate with anything for that matter. Here’s the simple answer: get her tired first! There’s no better place for her to run some energy down than at the dog park:

If I need Suki to chillax while I take pictures out on the street, the day has to start here, where she engages other dogs in GLORIOUS BATTLE!

Ok. Not really =)

We’ve never met a Corgi that Suki didn’t absolutely love. Maybe she finds it endearing that they look like stubby, disproportionate Shibas.

Besides the sparring, the dog park is a great place to play fetch. Fetch on Suki’s terms, that is. I love how she starts playing “soccer” with some random lady at around 00:35 in the video clip above. Towards the end, she’s like “eh, I’m done.”

I actually did do a photo walk with Suki after this visit to the park, but I’ll make that a separate post. =)

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Images: Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4G
Video: Olympus PEN EPL-2 + M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC

Written by Jonathan

March 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

Cindy @ Photoworks

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When I found that that Cindy and Seth were hosting a small photo show this evening in San Francisco, I knew I had to check it out. Cindy maintains one of my all time favorite Flickr photostreams, and I’ve been following her work for a long time.

The show was open for a couple hours tonight at PhotoWorks, a small, professional photo lab that’s been around since I was a kid. Cindy shoots anything and everything, from iphone camera to medium format film, and man is she good at what she does. This lab is where she gets all those gorgeous prints developed.



The lab also sells Holga cameras, accessories, and film, which were all on display. I was tempted to buy some actually, but the store was closed. Oh well.





Not only is Cindy an amazing artist, but she’s super cool. We chatted with her for a while, talking photography, cameras, film vs digital, flash, coffee, and followed each other on Instagram. Though she’s by no means a film elitest, she did successfully convince me to dust off my old SLR and pick up a few rolls of film.

I had Seth take a picture of us, though I apparently handed him my EPL-2 with its auto-focus set incorrectly, and I turned out as an out of focus blob in the frame…hence, the nice picture of Bridge and Cindy and about two inches of my head. Hah.

Check out Cindy’s beautiful collection of images on her Flickr Page!

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Images: Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f’1.7

Written by Jonathan

March 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm

The Blue Bottle Kiosk

with 13 comments


Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Time off work for a visit to the doctor’s on a Friday. Gotta love it. After my appointment, I had some time to kill before picking up the wife from work, so I decided to coffee up.

Tucked away along a small city street in the heart of Hayes Valley lies a Blue Bottle Kiosk. No big signs proclaiming its whereabouts. It’s Blue Bottle for crying out loud! All the locals know exactly where it is.






After I ordered a cup, I turned around and saw….a Shiba Puppy! Though Shibas are increasing in popularity here in SF, it’s still pretty rare that you see one on the street. This is Ichigo, a 7 month old, male Shiba:



I wish I had my Shiba with me, but this little guy would have probably tried to run from her =P
Unlike Suki, Ichigo is very shy, so I couldn’t go right up to him. I took a few snaps and–

“Sir, your latte is up!”

Yummmm….and served in a 100% biodegradable, custom-logo-printed, natural-colored hot cup. When you’re done, you can toss it right in the green compost bin along with its corn-based, polylactic acid lid. How very green…and expensive,which probably filters down into the price we pay for this brew!

Oops, cash only, and of course I didn’t have any. The super-cool barista apparently thought I had a pretty trusting face, so she let me take my coffee and go grab cash at the nearest ATM. Oops again. Card wasn’t working…so I had to huff it to my nearest bank. Oh well, photo walk!






Haha, how can you not take a picture of this guy? (right)

All images in this post were taken with my new Olympus PEN E-PL2. Apparently Adobe just made available a release candidate of the latest Camera Raw that supports the E-PL2′s raw files, but I haven’t downloaded it yet, so these are all out of camera JPEGs.

One of the things I noticed about shooting with a smaller camera is that people usually don’t notice you using it. The extra stealth over my DSLR is pretty refreshing out on the street.


….and oops, I took too long getting cash, so Bridget just took the bus to meet me back at the kiosk, where I had more coffee…oh yes. There she is in the background, waiting for me to stop dancing around my double shot with my camera and just drink it already. Mmmm…love coffee.

I wouldn’t typically do a blog post about a trip to the coffee shop, but I’ve been trying lately to focus a little more on the every-day, seemingly mundane things that I do when it comes to my photography. There are a few blogs that have inspired me quite a bit in this regard. Check’em out:

Pink Peony Photography, Karleen Su

A Happy Day, Jacqueline Jaszka

Saaediaries, Kelven Ng

These fellow blogger/photogs are just fantastic when it comes to still life…and putting diptychs together, which I’m totally lame at doing myself. At least giving it a try is forcing me to do more vertical shots =P

Seriously though, all three have a talent I envy for turning the ordinary into something extraordinary, which I think should be the goal of every photographer.

Have a great weekend!