ONA Bowery Bag In Dark Truffle Leather

I've had an ONA camera bag on my wish list for a while. It was originally the Street Prince in Dark Truffle Leather that I had in mind, but I couldn't get one in the UK at that time. I asked a friend to pick me one up in the US last year, but the dealer was too far from where she was staying. I ended up buying a Tenba Cooper 13 Slim instead, which I'm still using and love, especially for travelling as it has a sleeve to fit over the handle of rolling cases and it has a pocket at the front big enough for my Bose QC25 headphones.

So when a trip to London appeared on the horizon, I found out that The Classic Camera stocked a selection of ONA bags in various styles and finishes. I still liked the Street Prince and even considered the Berlin II, but I've been on the look out for something small that would force me to carry less gear on a day to day basis. I have a backpack for shoots where I need a lot of kit, but for street photography or just a go anywhere bag, I was in need of something smaller, but with enough space to hold a few accessories as well as two or three X-Series cameras with lenses attached.

I kept coming back to the Bowery and was drawn to the leather versions especially. The Antique Cognac looks good (it looks much better in the flesh than it does on the internet actually), but I loved the look of the Dark Truffle leather version. I liked the Tan canvas version when I was looking at them at Classic Camera, but I knew I wouldn't get it out of my system unless I bought the leather one.

I paid the £219 at The Classic Camera and resisted buying a Leica M6 (for now) while I was in the shop. I ended up carrying the Bowery around in it's box for six hours that day while I shot some London Street Photography with the X70 and X-Pro2.


 The leather ONA bags are made to wear-in really quickly, so if you want one to stay looking as new as the day you bought it for many years, leather ONA bags are not for you. But if you want your bag to look as though you've been using it for years, even though it's fairly new, then look no further because ONA is definitely what you're after.

Build quality on ONA bags is fantastic, in fact I would say it's the best I have seen on any bag! The leather versions especially look as though they would last for many years, possibly out lasting me. The leather is thick and tough and the rivets and buckles are chunky and already look aged, which is in keeping with the rest of the bag.


The Bowery can hold a lot of kit for such a small bag. The leather version is a good bit heavier than the canvas one and as I said earlier, the purpose of this bag for me is to travel lighter on a day to day basis when I don't have a shoot that requires larger lenses. But I can basically get all of the following into the Bowery. I don't always need this amount of gear, but it's good to have the option.

  • Fuji X-Pro2 with the 35mm f2 attached
  • Fuji X100T (with lens hood)
  • Fuji X70 (with lens hood)
  • GoPro (under the X70)
  • Moleskine (Evernote edition) Notebook
  • Parker pen
  • Apple Earbuds (headphones)
  • A couple of spare batteries
  • Short iPhone cable
  • 2 spare SD cards (in their cases)
  • Business cards and bank/credit cards
  • Lens cloth

Here's a short video showing how I fit all this inside the Bowery.


This Bowery is a really cool bag. It feels great over my shoulder and has that rare quality of feeling lighter than it actually is. I was tempted to buy the wax version because it was a good bit lighter and felt and looked great, but I knew I would still have had gear lust over the leather version, so I'm glad I bought this one. The Dark Truffle is the one for me, even though ONA are now doing a black leather versions too.

These bags are not inexpensive by any means, but will last for years, and even though they will get scuffed and worn very quick, they will look as cool as an old Leica that's worn down to the brass. I would highly recommend paying a visit to The Classic Camera store if you happen to be in the London area, I know I'll be back there on my next visit to London. If you're on the fence about buying an ONA bag, just take the plunge. You won't be disappointed.

My Article In Professional Photo Magazine

I wrote an article for this months Professional Photo magazine about my website being hacked earlier this year. In the article I describe how the hackers trashed my site and how my host didn't handle it too well. It also resulted in me killing off my three Wordpress websites and merging them together into this one Squarespace site. The magazine is available now (in the UK) for £4.75.

Jazz With Fuji's Acros & The X-Pro2 - SOOC

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/60th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200 140mm

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/60th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200 140mm

I shot two gigs over the weekend with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra featuring Norwegian double bass player Arild Andersen. The orchestra were performing The Legacy of Charles Mingus and played a collection of Mingus tunes including the brilliantly titled 'All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother'. The SNJO were on top form as usual and are celebrating their 20th anniversary. Orchestra leader Tommy Smith and Arild Andersen are long time collaborators and play regularly with drummer Paolo Vinaccia as The Arild Andersen Trio.

Most of the jazz photography I do gets converted into black and white in Lightroom, so I decided this weekend I would soot everything using the X-Pro2 and Fuji's newest B&W film simulation Acros. Everything you see here is taken straight out of camera (SOOC) and has not been cropped, sharpened or tweaked in any way (except where mentioned). Some of my exposures tend to lean toward the dark side (I am your father! Huuhhhhh), but I always prefer to bring exposures up in post, rather than bring them down.

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 640 140mm

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 640 140mm

Acros Film Simulation

Acros in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 is not just a B&W version of one of the colour film simulations (like the other B&W modes in the X-Sereies cameras). It is a ground up custom algorithm of Fuji's Acros film. The grain is beautiful and actually gets better as you increase ISO, in the same way it would react when pushing the original B&W film. My friend Patrick La Roque did some testing on this and found a sweet spot at ISO 2000 (there's a link at the bottom of this post).

My settings for Acros are usually -1 Highlights and +3 Shadows (always -3 Noise reduction and +3 Sharpness). But the lighting conditions at a jazz gig are challenging to say the least. The lights are mostly orange and very harsh. So I adjusted the shadows to +1

The Upside Of Shooting With The X-Pro2 Over The X-T1

I typically shoot jazz gigs with two X-T1 bodies with the 50-140mm f2.8 on one and a wide prime (35mm or 16mm) on the other. But as the X-T1 doesn't have the Acros film simulation, I used the X-Pro2, which was good because I also wanted to see the difference between the X-T1's 16 megapixel sensor and the X-Pro2's 24 megapixel sensor. I've been using the X-Pro2 for a while now, but I'm so used to shooting jazz with the X-T1's, I knew I would see the difference easier.

The X-Pro2 is definitely a big step up in resolution and although I'm not a guy that always wants more in the megapixel department, the new 24 megapixel sensor is very welcome. I used to shoot jazz gigs with a Nikon D800, 70-200mm f2.8 and an X-T1 for the wide end. But when Fuji released the 50-140mm f2.8, the D800 was retired. The only downside was loosing the D800's 36mp resolution. But seeing the black and white X-Pro2 files in Lightroom and zooming in to 1:1, it looks like I have it back. It is 24mp compared to the D800's 36mp, but with the lack of a low pass filter on the Fuji sensor, I would say there's not a lot of difference. But on the plus side the grain is really nice on the Acros film simulation.

The Downside Of Shooting With The X-Pro2 Over The X-T1

I love the style of the X-Pro cameras and definitely prefer the rangefinder design to the X-T's DSLR style. But there are a couple of negatives.

1. The X-Pro2's viewfinder is smaller than the epic X-T1's. I don't mint that too much in general, but for gigs and portraits, I do like the luxury of the larger one.

2. I need that big ass 50-140mm f2.8 glass for live shows. It sits well on my X-T1's with the grips attached, but it is just too front heavy on the X-Pro2. I already had a leather camera strap attached to the camera, so didn't use the BlackRapid I normally use on the bottom of the lens. I made sure to hold the lens and not the camera as I think the weight of the 50-140mm is a bit too much strain to put on the lens mount. Shooting with the X-Pro2 was definitely not as comfortable as shooting with the X-T1's, but just as far as the 50-140mm goes. I shot the soundcheck with primes, which was ideal with the X-Pro2.

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200


The image above is a crop of the previous one and shows both the fantastic resolution of the X-Pro2's 24mp sensor and the beautiful film-like grain in Acros. You can see it clearly on the edge of the piano lid (the bright diagonal line). You don't see it as defined on the face, but it blends with the skin to produce a really rich texture. I'm looking for a timeless quality to my jazz work, pictures that would sit side by side with anything from the Blue Note era and Acros hits the mark!

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/1000th sec at f1.2, ISO 3200

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/1000th sec at f1.2, ISO 3200

Straight Out Of Camera...Really?

Moving to the Fuji X-Series cameras has brought many advantages to my photography. I started out with the original X100 when it was released and the size of the camera and the quality of the picture was great. The X-Trans sensor came a year later with the X-Pro1 and that, along with the best lenses I have ever used, gave me the sharpness of a mother-in-law's tongue and colours that I was unable to get out of Nikon.

Post processing can be enjoyable to an extent, but not when you have hundreds of pictures from a job and maybe a backlog of a few jobs. The X-Series produces JPEG's out of the camera that save me so much time due to them being most of the way there. My dream is to one day shoot in-camera JPEG's that need no work other than choosing the ones to deliver to the client. I think Acros just might have made this a reality! As long as you nail the exposure, you will have a great B&W photograph (obviously you need subject and composition to go with this).

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f3.6, ISO 3200

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f3.6, ISO 3200

A Little Tamperfering

The picture above is straight out of camera. It is a little underexposed for my liking, even though I do like my B&W's to be contrasty, dark and moody. So I made a couple of minor adjustments in Lightroom to bring it up to where I would tend to have it (see below). I moved the Exposure Slider to +0.50 and Clarity Slider to +15. I tend to add +15 clarity to all my files after importing into Lightroom so this is normal. That's about all I would do with this picture. As a rule of thumb, I tend to only do darkroom style editing to my pictures (exposure, dodge and burn etc).

+0.50 exposure and +15 Clarity in Lightroom takes this to where I like it.

+0.50 exposure and +15 Clarity in Lightroom takes this to where I like it.

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200 140mm

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f2.8, ISO 3200 140mm

Acros Plus Red, Green or Yellow Filters?

A colour filter was a useful addition to the front of your lens when shooting B&W film. They would help to emphasize parts of your photographs, like darkening the blue sky or improving skin tones. Fuji have not only given us the standard Acros film simulation, but an additional three versions that simulate a red, green or yellow filter.

Across +R (red) tends to be a good all rounder, but didn't work on this occasion due to the orange stage light, which made the faces too light with the red filter. I have the film simulations on one of the D-Pad buttons, and it's really helpful that you can scroll through each one and see the effect in the viewfinder. I settled on Acros + G (green) during the soundcheck and although I'm 80% sure I made the right choice, I would like to bracket these in a future experiment to make sure.

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/125th sec at f2, ISO 3200

X-Pro2, 56mm f1.2: 1/125th sec at f2, ISO 3200


Over all I'm happy with how the two Acros shoots went. It's strange when I put the viewfinder to my eye and see a B&W image in the EVF because I expect to see colour as I normally would. I should have tried the optical viewfinder, but I don't like the OVF with longer lenses because the picture area ends up being a tiny box in the viewfinder.

I would love the option of shooting a film simulation to each card. Acros to slot 1 and Classic Chrome to slot 2 would be great. Obviously I could shoot Acros to one card and a RAW file to another, but I would then need to spend the time processing the RAW file to look like a finished Classic Chrome JPEG with the Noise Reduction, Sharpness, Highlights and Shadows settings that I prefer to use. I could also bracket film simulations, but that only works in 3's and there is too much of a lag after each shot.

I wonder if Fuji could take the same algorithm they have developed for Acros and use it to add a similar organic grain to Classic Chrome. I don't know if this would fit with the type of film it replicates, but who knows. Maybe for higher ISO's?

Maybe I need to upgrade to the X-T2 after all.

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f3.6, ISO 3200 50mm

X-Pro2, 50-140mm f2.8: 1/125th sec at f3.6, ISO 3200 50mm

Photokina 2016 : Fujifilm GFX Mirrorless Medium Format

Better pictures will replace these soon

So the rumours were right and Fuji have announced a mirrorless medium format camera and a bunch of lenses to go with it. The GFX 50S will be the first medium format body and will be available early 2017.

We all know how great the Fuji JPEGS are from the APS-C sensor size, but can you imagine what the look and quality will be like from a huge 50.4 megapixel sensor and big glass! Plus it's mule aspect, so 5:4, 16:9, 1:1, not a problem.

There will be 6 lenses available by the end of 2017, but three will be released at the same time as the body in early 2017.

  • GF 23mm f4 R WR (mid 2017)
  • GF 45mm f2.8 R LM WR (late 2017)
  • GF 63mm f2.8 R WR (early 2017)
  • GF 110mm f2 R LM WR (mid 2017)
  • GF 120mm f4 Macro (early 2017)
  • GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR (early 2017)

Kage Collective Issue 9 & Mitchell Library

Our 9th monthly issue of Kage Collective is now up and is a little different this month. Each issue tends to have a theme picked from suggestions from the eight of us. This month we went with Patrick's (La Roque) slightly odd idea of 'The Silence'. It's odd for a couple of reasons. 1). There had to be no accompanying text with the pictures. 2). Pitrick is the biggest wordsmith in our collective.

The Quiet Room at Mitchell Library - You can hear a moth flap it's wing!

The Quiet Room at Mitchell Library - You can hear a moth flap it's wing!

I paid a visit the Michell Library in Glasgow. I sat at the back of the quiet room, a place people go to study and read in silence. I shot a few pictures there and around other parts of the library, but I wasn't getting what I wanted or needed. I spoke to a security guard to try to gain access behind the scenes and although he did open a couple of doors for me, he also said there was a chance to go behind closed doors if I came back the following day. Once a year for the past twenty seven years, Glasgow has an open door month long event, where the public can go behind the scenes of some famous buildings.

So I returned the following day and captured the pictures you see here, plus the ones found over at Kage Collective under the title of 'Books Speak Volumes'. Michel library used to be a reference only library up until ten years ago. Members of the public would search for titles and then fill out the paperwork required. A member of staff would then be dispatched to go into the many floors of books and find the one that had been requested. Only 10% of books at the Mitchell are on display to the public these days, so it was fantastic to be able to wander through the many floors and rows of bookshelves, taking in the amazing smell of extremely vintage and rare works.

Fuji In-Camera Miniatures : Montserrat, Spain

All of these pictures are straight out of camera JPEG's from the X-Pro2 using the Toy Camera feature. I don't dip into these filters much, but the Toy Camera one is definitely my favourite and I think it does a pretty good job of a tilt shift effect!

Harry Benson : Seeing America

The Harry Benson exhibition 'Seeing American' is on at The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh (Scotland) between August 12th and December 3rd (2016) and it's absolutely free. So if you're in Edinburgh during this time I highly recommend dropping in and seeing these amazing iconic photographs printed and framed, the way pictures should be seen. The print quality is stunning and the choice of shots is almost perfect. Some of them I didn't even realise were by Harry Benson.

My Jazzwise Cover Shot

I'm pleased to have one of my pictures on the front cover of Jazzwise magazine this month. It's the September issue (on sale from August 18th) and features a shot of Tommy Smith to promote his latest CD 'Modern Jacobite' which he recorded with The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

I also have another six pictures inside the magazine. Three on a full page add (above) for the CD and three that sit alongside an interview with Tommy.

Related Posts

Turin Brakes

A few pictures of Turin Brakes performing at Belladrum (Tartan Heart) Festival, near Inverness, Scotland last weekend. I didn't even know the band were on the bill until just before their set, but they were fantastic! It's hard to believe that such a powerful sound comes from just a four piece band of two guitars, bass, drums.

shot with the X100T and the X-Pro2 with the 35mm f2 or 56mm f1.2

Related Links

The 53mm Interview

Five more members of The Kage Collective have taken over the 53mm website this month with a host of interviews on how we use our Fuji 35/1.4 and 35/2 lenses (53mm in full frame terms). Kevin Mullins had already completed the interview previously, but this month Patrick La Roque, Bert Stefani, Robert Catto, Vincent Baldensperger and myself have tackled Iain Palmer's list of questions and I hope you find our answers quite diverse.

So make yourself a coffee, stick on some background music and have a Kagefest on us at www.fiftythreemm.com.