Singapore 2017

Hi again!

Right on time when the cold season begins in Germany, I spent a week in Singapore. Although having expected hot weather, both temperature and humidity were beyond compare with anything I have experienced before. In fact, it was so hot and humid that walking through the streets for an hour at noon felt like a hard workout. Due to Singapore’s geographic location, temperatures don’t really change over the year. For that reason, life in Singapore mostly takes place inside the numerous dining halls, malls, hotels, residential buildings and offices. Despite the heat, I spent a lot of time outside to create a new photo collection of that impressive, modern and clean city.

Marina Bay Sands at Night

Venice 2017

Greetings!

I spent a few days in Venice, Italy.

Venice and its neighboring islands are located in the Venetian Lagoon in the northeast of Italy. The city itself is situated across 100+ islands that are separated by canals and linked by 420+ bridges. Venice is famous for the beauty of its setting, its cuisine, the gondolas, and especially for its architecture which is pretty unique across the world.

The entire city is built on closely spaced wooden piles. These piles had been driven deep into the marshy soil (a softer layer of sand and mud) until they reached a much harder layer of compressed clay. Plates of Istrian limestone was placed on top of these piles, and this layer served as the footing to construct buildings of brick and stone on it. Submerged by water and isolated from oxygen, the wooden piles did not decay as rapidly as on the surface, and therefore most of the piles are still intact after centuries of submersion. Most of these stakes were made from trunks of alder trees, a wood noted for its water resistance.

Rainwater cisterns were the only source of fresh water. The cisterns were built underneath the squares where several manholes collected rainwater. The underground cavity was filled with sand filtering the rain to prevent the valuable waterfrom being contaminated. Draw wells were used to access the water reservoir. Today, the cisterns are sealed at the top but are still decorating the numerous squares and open spaces.

The origins of Venice date back until 421 A.D. where refugees from Roman cities near Venice such as Padua, Aquileia, Treviso, Altino and Concordia and from the undefended mainland were fleeing successive waves of Germanic and Hun invasions. The Venetian Lagoon was a swamp, and therefore difficult to access, which helped the original polulation of Venice to protect themselves from the invadors.

Its beautiful palazzi, churches, bridges, restaurants, squares, art galleries, and more, make Venice a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. Of course, I brought my camera, and here are a few impressions:

Southern Germany Round Flight in a Cessna 172

Yesterday a friend took me on a flight in a Cessna 172 aircraft. It was a great opportunity to take some aerial photography of rural Bavaria and Regensburg, a beautiful city where the river Regen flows into the river Danube (German: Donau). Regensburg is also famous for its beautiful cathedral and its historic city center.

We started our trip yesterday, 26th of August 2017 at the airfield of Landshut, a small city in the southeast of Germany. After preparing the Cessna for about 90 mins, we took off at 9:27 GMT in a westerly direction and slowly turned to the north heading towards Regensburg. After about 20 minutes we approached the city and made a large right turn around it. At around 10:20 GMT we landed in Landshut again, took the aircraft back into the hangar, and enjoyed lunch at the airfield restaurant that serves croatian cuisine.

While in the air, I used my Canon EOS 7D and the Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM lens to create some shots. Find here the results:

Tilt Shift

Yes – I finally got one! It is the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4 L ultra wide angle lens. Here are some technical specifications and unboxing photos:

  • Focal Length: 17mm
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 104º
  • Lenses / Groups: 18/12
  • Shift Range: ±12mm
  • Tilt Range: ±6,5°
  • Aperture Range: f/4.0-22
  • Rounded Aperture
  • Manual Focus Only
  • Internal Focusing

After evaluating the pros and cons of investing in such a specialized piece of equipment, I decided to take the step and see how it can improve my architectural and urban photography. What kept me from acquiring the Canon TS-E 17mm for a long time was obviously the price – Amazon currently sells this lens for USD 2.100. However, a tilt shift lens offers some really unique features that I would like to mention:

  • Probably the most interesting feature is that a Tilt Shift lens can help avoid parallel lines to converge on an image
  • The lens provides an incredibly high resolution and sharpness even in the corners due to the large image circle
  • An asperical lens reduces image distortions
  • Four ultra-low dispersion lens elements reduce chromatic aberrations in the corners
  • Sub-wavelength structure coatings minimize ghosting and flare
  • Independent Tilt and Shift Sliders
  • The entire lens can rotate ±90° to switch between landscape format and upright format
  • Locking screws prevent accidental shifts and tilts
  • L-Series – the lens is extremely well made and durable due to metal structure and weather sealing
  • Includes Canon LP1219 soft lens case

With these features, the Canon TS-E 17mm is predestined for architectural and real estate photography. When holding the lens in my hands for the first time, I wasn’t expecting so much weight – but this is totally fine as it will be set up on a tripod 90% of the time. Due to the L-qualification, the build quality is top of the line. I am fascinated by the precision how every moving part slides when moving the tilt or shift units. There is even a protective rubber-like surface between the tilt and shift parts that prevents dust or spray water from entering the gaps – although I am not planning to use it in the rain. The focus ring has a convenient size and rotates very smoothly. Manual Focus is certainly something to get used to, but it still works pretty good when keeping the shutter button on the camera half-pressed while focusing and waiting for the camera to indicate an in-focus situation with a short beeping sound. Altogether, I am looking forward to taking it on my next journey!!

OnePlus 3T Review

Hi there!

About two months ago, I have upgraded my smartphone to the OnePlus 3T. OnePlus is a relatively new player in the smartphone industry. While their first launch of the OnePlus One in 2014 is not long ago, the company has quickly gained popularity through it’s simple strategy to offer high-end smartphones at mid-range prices. Therefore, the current price for the 64 GB version of the new OnePlus 3T is around USD 440. As I have already tested it quite a bit, I think it’s now time for a short review. Let’s first take a look at the specifications and some unboxing photos while sharing my preliminary impressions below.

Unboxing the OnePlus 3T

Basic Parameters

Weightrd. 160g
MaterialAnodized Aluminum
ColorGunmetal
Operating SystemOxygenOS based on Android
CPUQualcomm® Snapdragon™ 821
Quad Core, Kryo™: 2x 2.35 GHz, 2x 1.6 GHz
GPUAdreno™ 530
RAM6GB LPDDR4
Storage 64GB / 128GB UFS 2.0
SensorsFingerprint sensor, Hall sensor, Accelerometor, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor and Electronic Compass
PortsUSB 2.0, Type-C / Dual nano-SIM slot / 3.5 mm audio jack
Battery3,400 mAh (non-removable), Dash Charge (5V, 4A)
ButtonsHardware keys and on-screen navigation support
OtherAlert Slider, Custom icon packs, Gesture Control,
(Display On + Display Off), OnePlus Shelf, Vibration motor, RGB LED notification light

Connectivity

Network 4G LTE (Cat.6)
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
BluetoothBluetooth® 4.2
NFCNFC Enabled
PositioningGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou

Audio

SpeakersBottom-facing speaker
MicrophonesDual-microphone with noise cancellation
FeaturesOnePlus Music
TechnologyDirac HD Sound®

Display

Size5.5 inch
Resolution1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) / 401 ppi
Bezel0.755 mm
Cover GlassCorning® Gorilla® Glass 4
TypeOptic AMOLED
Aspect Ratio16 : 9
FeaturesNight Mode Display, Light / Dark Theme, Accent Colors

Rear Camera

SensorSony IMX 298 Sensor, 16 MP, 1.12 µm
OISYes
EISYes
AutofocusPDAF
Aperturef/2.0
Video4K resolution video at 30fps
Slow Motion720p video at 120fps
RAW Image supportYes
Lens CoverSapphire crystal lens cover
FeaturesAuto-HDR, Dynamic Denoise, Manual Control, HQ

Front Camera

SensorSamsung 3P8SP Sensor, 16 MP, 1.0 µm
EISYes
AutofocusFixed Focus
Aperturef/2.0
Video1080p video at 30fps
Auto selfieSmile Capture

If there is one thing that can describe the Oneplus 3T – it is speed! Even though I’ve got used to the phone for two months now, I am still impressed by the reactivity and performance. Until today I have not seen any other phone with faster fingerprint-detection to unlock the phone. Another noteworthy feature is the large battery in combination with the DASH speed charger system. The battery keeps the phone powered for almost two days and the DASH system recharges it within one hour.

Software-wise, the OnePlus 3T runs the latest version of Android 7, and receives frequent updates. The apps launch very rapidly and I haven’t observed any software crashes or irregularities since I got the device.

The camera app can either be launched via the home screen icon or by simply dragging the camera symbol on the lock screen. For anybody interested in all camera app features and it’s performance, there is a very comprehensive camera review on dpreview.com. For the purpose of this review, I will summarize the camera quality by showing some photos that I have recently taken with the rear camera of the OnePlus 3T:

As far as the build quality is concerned, the aluminum case feels very solid and has smoothly rounded edges. The transition between the case and the screen is precisely made with no large gap. On the side, there are push buttons and a slider, all of which appear to be pretty robust. (I need to emphasize on the button quality because on my previous smartphone it was a failure of the physical power on/off button that rendered the old device unusable. Although the outer material of the smartphone doesn’t give an indication of the actual electronic switch unit that is used on the inside, but the button feels different from the other smartphone when pressed so I hope this one won’t degrade over time). It is a rather large device, but it still feels very safe to hold it one-handed. So far, I am extremely happy with my choice and can recommend it even to demanding users in good conscience.

New York City 2016

Hi folks,

I have already planned to visit New York for a long time, and this year I finally managed to experience that lively and vibrant city for the first time. I was here for the last two weeks of September and it proved to be an ideal time for exploring – it is not the busiest of all seasons and the temperatures are not as extreme as they are during midsummer. The first week was really sunny and hot which allowed me to do walks with my camera gear almost nonstop and to add many new urban photos to my collection. During the second week the weather was a bit more unstable and gave me a bit more time to relax.

After those two weeks, I cannot emphasize enough how much New York has to offer for everyone. There are countless public places like parks and waterfronts that spend some calmness between the busy streets. At almost every corner one can discover fancy shops and small galleries. For culturally interested people, there are tons of art exhibitions, festivals, theaters and museums. There is a myriad of restaurants, food courts, diners, bakeries, rooftop bars and other places for culinary connoisseurs. Finally, for architecture enthusiasts, the city shows its full spectrum of versatility in the form of numerous disctricts with historical buildings and new structures. Here is the photo gallery I created during my visit.