XPro-1: Penang Chapter

Another year, another trip to Penang. This time however, things are bound for a switchover. Armed with my “new” XPro-1 and the 35/2, I went on a 2 day walk-a-thon around the island, capturing more of the streets and people in the process. This is a definite far departure from my usual sight-and-scenes of Penang posts of years past.

Deep Blue Mini
Deep Blue Mini

I started my ventures into the streets of Penang at Jalan Noordin, the street just below my hotel, and was I shocked to stumble upon an immaculate classic deep blue Mini in an alleyway. If only I had the chance to drive it around the island! Sigh, maybe next year. The XPro-1 is very much in it’s elements on the streets. I used the OVF 90% of the time and barely missed focus (more on that later). This was also the first time it dawned upon me that I should’ve brought a small cloth around, since the OVF smudges oh-so-easily. Bummer!

Ladyfingers – At one of the more famous “Nasi Kandar” stalls in Penang

One aspect of the XPro-1 that managed to surprise me was how decent the AF system is. Sure, it’s no XPro-2, but even in situations such as the above, getting AF lock is pretty snappy with the XF 35/2. The AF worked pretty well on most occasions, although bizarrely, as shown below, the AF simply missed focus. The focus was selected on the hawkers face, and the AF was confirmed, but that’s not quite the case at all! This happened less than 4 times in 2 days, very forgivable then. Granted, it’s not a really great shot anyway, but if the AF didn’t glitch out, I’m pretty sure the shot would’ve looked better.

Missed Moment
Missed Moment – AF glitch on the XPro-1 (at f/4 too).

Some of you would probably be wondering, after all this while, am I just not bored of Penang? This year isn’t even over and I’ve already been there twice and it’s most certainly not close by as its about 450 kilometres away. I can assure you, I’m not done with Penang. It has almost everything you’d need for a vacation hotspot. Great beaches? Check! Heritage and architectural marvels? Check! Amazing food? Check! Nightlife? Check! One particular favourite of mine is the vintage houses and streets, as they are such great fun to explore and photograph. Bonus: They work great with my vintage film simulation preset in LR!

Path – Kodak Portra 160 simulation
Classic Colours – my take on chrome film simulation

As i mentioned earlier on, I used OVF 90% of my time with the camera compared to the EVF, and there’s a great reason for this. Sure, the OVF has it’s own shortcomings, such as the parallax error on closer subjects, but you get used to the correction quite quickly. Currently, I could pretty much just guess where the actual AF lock is going to be placed in between the two other AF points. I know, even I’m confused as I typed that, but it’s actually pretty simple. Pick up any X100 or XPro cameras and you’ll get it; or just google “Fuji AF corrected frame”. While the EVF doesn’t actually lag in good lighting, it’s sometimes very overexposed until you half-press the shutter button. Until then, the EVF is just an unfocused white blob, and that makes it all the more easier to fail in framing your shots quickly.

Cinematic Aspect Ratio - Penang
Cinematic Aspect Ratio – Penang in B&W – grain added in p/p

For the most part of this trip, I kept the aperture at f/4 (to help increase AF accuracy) and left the shutter speed/ISO control on Auto. Whenever there’s a need for me to intervene the metering, I’ll just use the handy exposure compensation dial, right above my thumb – good stuff! Generally however, the metering system is pretty good, it only ever gets confused when there’s strong backlighting present. I do love the image above truthfully, as soon as the trishaw moved into frame, I snapped, with my fingers crossed that the AF won’t fail on me. Just felt like this image works best in a 2:1 aspect ratio – gives it a more cinematic/dramatic feeling. Added some grain and vignetting in post just to make it appear more aged – adds to the drama.

The single most funniest portrait I’ve ever captured – enough said.

The image above has quite the backstory to warrant such an expression from the hawker. As I was walking around (with my parents), I saw this stall with an overwhelming amount of food, ranging from fried shrimps, squids, fishcakes, eggs and more all very neatly arranged with a man working quietly behind it, preparing the orders for queuing customers. So i sneaked over to try and have a picture of him working behind this mountain of delicacies. That was the plan, till my dad walked over and yelled, “Hey, smile for the camera!”. Needless to say, I don’t actually know if that is his actual smile, or if he got confused mid-smile (or annoyed even), but whatever it is, it makes for a great photo. Thanks dad!

Street Cobblers
Street Cobblers
Corn on the Cob
Corn on the Cob

I think that’s about all I could rant on about this trip. Amongst my other Penang entries of the previous years, I definitely think this is the best, but it is also the most different. I even when jungle trekking this time too. Walked about 15 to 20 kilometres per day on this trip, and it’s worth it. I’m definitely starting to have an affinity for street photography. On the topic of trekking, I got this photo of a monkey seemingly deep in thought just lounging on a rock near the trekking path. I was roughly 2 to 3 feet away from it when I took this shot. As I inched closer, it got up on all fours, and was eager to attack by the way it was parading its fangs to me. But hey! At least I got a good shot outta it!

Pondering - I was roughly 2 feet away from it

Full Gallery from XPro-1: Penang Chapter


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