Marius Masalar

Photographer, Technology Writer, Podcaster

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Kenya & Tanzania: A Travelogue →

From the Masai Mara to the Serengeti: stories from my two weeks camping across East Africa’s most amazing natural wonders

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TP-Link Whole Home WiFi

Simple, secure mesh networking

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It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Network setup and maintenance used to be something that required a tech savvy person. Port forwarding, QOS, bridge mode—oh my! Modern networking has different priorities: reliable throughput, stability, and security.

In the last year, we’ve seen quite a few mesh systems emerge from major consumer electronics brands, and TP-Link’s take on the system is called Deco. Described as a “Whole Home WiFi” system, Deco is a focused, attractive proposition. They want to empower everyone to set up and manage their own network without hassle, while keeping homes secure in an era of smart devices.

Simple and secure…let’s see how they did.

 Mesh Networking

In the past, you’d likely have a modem connected to a single router that distributed the internet service throughout your home. This works perfectly fine in apartments and small

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Travelling With the Fujifilm GFX System

Medium format mirrorless on the move

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Here’s how to fall in love with Fujifilm’s G50S: slap the 110mm f/2 prime on, find a model, go outside or in a well-lit studio, and shoot away.

Here’s how to fall out of love: carry the body and 3 lenses with you on a 5 hour hike up a mountain or otherwise try to use it the way you would use a typical mirrorless camera system.

I’ve done both of these things, which leaves me somewhere in the middle as far as my impressions are concerned. This was my first encounter with medium format, so I went into it without any preconceived notions of what this sort of tool can and cannot do, and unburdened by a need to justify an extravagant purchase.

I was free to simply experience it—a good thing and a bad thing, as I discovered.

Quite frankly, I’m not qualified to review this camera in terms of how it fares in the medium format realm. What I can do is

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Panasonic GX8 & 15mm ƒ/1.7

Exploring the other side of the Micro Four-Thirds coin

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I’ve been shooting Micro Four-Thirds cameras almost from the beginning of my mirrorless switch. My first was an Olympus E-M10, and as a result I stuck pretty close to the Olympus side of things for photography.

Video is a different story.

Today, almost all of the agency’s video output comes from a pair of Panasonic GH4s. They’re robust, compact, and extremely capable cameras that I look forward to upgrading to GH5s as soon as we can.

Still, I’ve neglected to put them through their paces for photography, and most of the reason for that comes down to the lack of IBIS. Without it, one of the central attractors to the Micro Four-Thirds ecosystem was missing, so I kept using the best tool for the task at hand: Olympus for photos, Panasonic for video.

Recently, after a great conversation on Candid with the folks at Panasonic, I had

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Fujifilm XF 50mm ƒ/2

Tiny telephoto in your pocket

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It’s not that I doubted its appeal, but like the X70 before it, the XF 50mm ƒ/2 lens was one of those products that I wasn’t excited about until I got it in my hands and started shooting with it.

It’s an unusual field of view, one that sits somewhere in between the two classic telephoto focal lengths of 50mm and 85mm (FF equivalent field of view). I had never shot anything in this range before, and it took some getting used to.

By the time my second week with it rolled around, I found myself just leaving it on my X-Pro 2 all the time. Its unexpected versatility and exceptional optical characteristics won me over.

 Build

Short and stocky like the rest of its ƒ/2 brethren, the Fujifilm XF 50mm ƒ/2 is a comparatively tiny telephoto lens.

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MariusMasalar-20170616-DMC-GX8-015-squashed.jpgThe XF 35mm and 50mm ƒ/2 pair, shown with and without their hoods attached.

Physically, it feels just as sturdy as

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A Weekend With the Canon 5D Mark IV

My brief encounter with Canon’s most versatile flagship

“I’d like the 50mm f/1.2L and the 35mm f/1.4L Mark II, please.”

“I’m afraid those are already out.”

“That’s okay, I’ll take the Sigma ART equivalents instead!”

“Also out—sorry!”

“Oh.”

I’m on the phone with the rental place and feeling the consequences of my impulsive decision. I’m renting a Canon 5D Mark IV for the weekend, but almost all their lenses are already rented out. It’s Friday afternoon and demand is high.

“So all your 35s are out, all your 50s are out, all your 85s are out, and you have no zooms left either?”

“We do have the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART! And actually we just had someone return the 85mm f/1.8.”

“I’ll take them!”

“The 85 won’t be anywhere near as sharp as the 24…”

“I know.”

And so it was that I began my weekend with Canon’s most versatile flagship camera and a very strange pairing of lenses covering the

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Fujifilm X100F

The one that got away

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Like so many other Fujifilm shooters, I have a bit of a history with the X100 cameras. I missed the original, but the X100S was a turning point in my photography. By the time the X100T arrived, I was already shooting differently, had already ditched my DSLR, and was making more photos I was proud of.

Then the X-Pro 2 came along.

Suddenly, I had a camera that fit my usage like a glove, carried over the unassuming look of the X100 series, and pushed its image quality into an entirely different realm. Somewhere along the line, I also experienced how green the grass was on the Olympus side of things with the PEN-F.

When the X100F appeared on the scene this year, it had much more serious competition to contend with. And even though it’s the ideal camera for many photographers, it didn’t measure up for me.

 Sibling Rivalry

Fundamentally, the X100F’s appeal was

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Things 3: First Impressions

Slow and steady wins the race

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My first ever digital task management system was Things. It’s been around for a decade, and I was an early adopter when it hit iOS (as one of the first 600 apps available for the platform).

I look back on my time with Things fondly. It was always the best looking, most elegantly designed app in the space, but I eventually lost confidence because of its glacial pace of development.

While other apps exploded onto the scene and raced forward with new features, new ideas, and more robust functionality, Things trundled along patiently. In an era of new frontiers, I wanted to be on the cutting edge with the cool kids. As long-time readers know, I’ve been through a lot of task management tools since then…

Was Things really slow to progress though?

Looking back, Things was among the first apps available when the iPad launched. It was among the first apps to

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Three Unpopular Opinions About The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

(One of the best games I’ve ever played)

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 1. The Voice Acting is Bad

The only thing in the game that I think is bad is the voice acting.
It’s not so much that it’s unconvincing (which it is), but that its presence changes a fundamental part of the Zelda “feel” in a way that doesn’t appeal to me.

Something has been lost by adding it in, and I can’t think of anything that’s been gained. Link is still the strong silent type, so why does everyone else suddenly need a voice? The more emotive character models would be just fine expressing their dialogue the way the series has always done it.

1*ioaNPuBSa3lc7nMJL9bLug.jpegThis is the way Zelda dialogue should be. It just feels right.

I know this because the vast majority of the game’s interactions still unfold the old-fashioned way, which makes the transition to and from voice acted parts all the more unpleasant. It highlights the sub-par quality of the voice acting

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Where Do You Tell Your Story?

No, I mean literally: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook…?

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From video filters to Stories, wherever Snapchat goes, its peers are sure to follow. But being first isn’t always an advantage, and Instagram’s take on the Stories concept has proven that sometimes it pays to be second.

I’m drawn to the genuine, real-time, ephemeral nature of Snapchat, and specifically the easy-going nature of Stories. Snapchat has become the de-facto means of communicating among my friends, and while it took me a while to warm up to it, I understand the appeal now.

Stories bridge the gap between the intimacy of individual messaging and the performance aspect of public feeds. The trouble is that you can’t be spontaneous and immediate on multiple platforms simultaneously. Unlike standard feed-based social networking where you can cross-post, a story is unique.

As more apps adopt the format, it leaves us having to

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