5 TV shows I’m into…

Here’s a list of TV shows I have been recording or catching up on lately. I have a few more shows I love that aren’t on this list, but that’s because the new seasons haven’t started, or they are those shows I haven’t gotten around to watching on my DVR. 

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

The Flash

Attack on Titan

American Greed

Fear the Walking Dead

Also…. Game of Thrones is coming back in July and I’ll watch every episode of that of course….

Exit. 

10 Things I love About the Fuji X100F

Here is a list of 10 random things I like  ❤️ love about my Fujifilm X100F…

🔘 The X100F autofocus is accurate and fast. I was worried it might be a bit sluggish when compared to the Panasonic/Leica Q. No worry needed though. It’s zippy fast!

🔘 The X100F is quite useful to me for sideline shots when I shoot sports. So useful in fact that I prefer using it over having a standard two DSLR setup.  No need for a 35mm lens on my 5D mark III when my X100F has a great 35mm equivalent lens and a filler flash to boot!

🔘 I love having analog style dials for my ISO, exposure compensation, aperture, and shutter speed. It beats having to dig through menus in my humble opinion.

🔘 The 35mm 2.0 lens itself is pretty sharp to my eyes, even wide open. RAW files are particularly awesome.

🔘 The ACROS film simulation mode (jpeg only) is maybe the best thing about the camera to me. You can shoot almost anything in ACROS and it looks surreal and historic.

ACROS….

🔘 The flash is useful in a pinch. I use it a lot for sideline shots as I mentioned earlier.

🔘 I almost exclusively use the EVF. It’s so good that my original reason for buying this camera, it having an optional OVF, is a non-issue.

🔘 The camera fits in my pocket and is extremely portable. It’s also so light that I can scarcely feel it dangling around my neckbone.

🔘 The Fuji X100F is 100% silent when the shutter volume is turned off. Dead ass quiet.

🔘 Lastly the little focus knob is swell. It works about as good as the ones on the pro DSLR’s I’ve had the fortune of using.

Thinking of purchasing this camera? Don’t do it! Lol. I want to keep all this bananas awesomeness for myself.

Please support me by buying my classic street-fiction novel available here.

Exit.

Why I want the Canon 1DX Mark II…

Somehow. Some way. I am getting the Canon 1DX Mark II.

This isn’t GAS. I need it.

My Canon 5D Mark III is awesome and everything, especially with a 70-200 2.8 IS II on the front of it, but for fucks sake it’s so slow at 6 fps. It feels like 1 fps really.

I shot a massive soccer tournament last weekend, a total of 57 games. Um, I really could have used the 14 fps that the 1DX II offers. This is really about speed people. The image quality from my 5d3 will probably prove to be a hair better in daylight shooting. For my upcoming night football this fall, and volleyball as well, the 1dx 2 should fare better when I push up the ISO.

The 1dx 2 is expensive as fuck. It’s $5999, which is basically a billion dollars….

Still, it’s for business purposes only. I have my Fuji X100F for street stuff and even casual portraiture. I’ll likely keep the 5d3 for any major portrait work that pops up, or god forbid a goddamn wedding or something…

Quick 1dx 2 specs: 20.5 megapixels. 61 focus points with 41 cross type (same as my 5d3 basically). Faster focus acquisition and better and more reliable focusing in low light. Built like a weapon. That’s it really besides the burst rate. Well, there’s the “my camera is better than yours” factor I’ll feel when facing every person I meet along the sidelines, regardless of what they have if it’s not my camera.

I’d love to get it by the start of football/soccer/volleyball/cross country season in the fall but most likely it will be around Christmas if that soon. Once again this isn’t GAS. This isn’t me wanting the 2 year old mirrorless Leica Q for $4300 or the slow focusing medium format Hassleblad X1D for $9000. This is strictly business, as I’ll likely not even touch the 1dx 2 when not shooting sports. I’ll keep you posted as I get closer to my purchase date.

Oh….before I exit. That Sony A9? Lol. The sonofabitch has overheating issues in STILLS mode! Wow. If that proves to be a permanent feature of the camera then it’s dead to me. Well, deader than it already is, being a Sony….

Exit.

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: Go Small or Go Home

I’m going to be a bit of a toolbox here, but bear with me….

I cringe these days when I see guys shooting street photography with a fat DSLR. Full disclosure: I used to be that guy myself just 3 short months ago. Since then I’ve gotten my tiny little Fuji X100F, which might be the worlds best street photography camera, and now I feel embarrassed that I ever pointed my big ass Canon 5D Mark III at an unsuspecting street denizen with artistic intentions. It’s like what Obi Wan Kenobi said when he tossed that blaster aside after shooting General Grevious to death: SO UNCIVILIZED…..

Of course my Fuji, and perhaps every Leica outside of the Leica S (and the Leica Sofort), is an elegant photographic weapon harkening back to ages past. Sure, you can blast away 15 shots per second with your crude DSLR but it’s much more fun to manual focus or shoot in single shot mode with a compact or a rangefinder. Also, I’ve never been braver than I am now with my small camera. Sure, we get braver as we mature as street photographers regardless, but my ninja shit is on fleek these days. (Do the kids still say that?) I can literally stand in people’s faces and my silent leaf shutter compact camera makes absolutely no noise as I snap away photos like a maniac…..

Are Leica’s and little midget Fuji cameras better than say, a Nikon D500? Probably not, UNLESS you’re shooting street. So you need to be committed to specificity if you are contemplating adding a compact camera to your arsenal or switching altogether. In my case I still have my Canon system for sports and my Fuji camera for street and candids, well, until I can afford a Leica….

May the force be with you motherfuckers….

Exit.

CONFESSION: I Still Want The Leica Q

This isn’t GAS I swear to God.

It’s just….um…. that I have mixed feeling about the jpegs I am getting from my Fujifilm X100F.

On one hand, I love the black and white photos I get shooting jpeg with my Fuji. On the other hand I do NOT like the color jpegs from Fuji X-Trans sensor bodies, at least when I’m shooting people.

Ergonomically the X100F is perfect, but I’m finding that I have to shoot RAW if I want professionally useable photos for say, my sports photography. See, I typically will use my Fuji for sideline shots and my trusty Canon for the 🦁 lion share of my sports photos. Still, those sideline and crowd shots can make and break a sports portfolio. The Fuji does well enough, but I find the RAW files to be just “okay” as opposed to great, like the RAW files are from the Leica Q. Also, for some stupid fucking reason Lightroom hates Fuji RAW files and drags and bitches rendering 1:1 previews. Also, the waxy skin effect is apparent in Fuji RAW files too when shooting people, although it isn’t NEARLY as bad as it is in jpeg, where it is basically unusable. On the plus side, I must say however, that the Fuji has very useful dynamic range and the RAW files have a lot of play in the sliders….

I’m not going to kill my lovely little Fuji. It produces stunning monochrome images and when NOT shooting people the color jpegs are really good. It’s just that I shoot a ton of stuff in jpeg and I’d really like it if the color jpegs were, you know, decent when shooting people….

Exit.

Apple: My Journey to the Dark Side…

Search your feelings. You know this to be true….

The Apple Store in Columbia Mall, Maryland
I am team apple. I was a Microsoft/PC guy until 2009, mainly because I was broke, then I lost a book I was writing and an album I was working on (including the backup drive) due to a blue screen of death boot sector virus. This was perhaps my 4th Windows device to go belly up and it would be my last. It was an Acer laptop, for the record…..

Around December of 2009 I had windfall of sorts so I ordered my first MacBook, the white shiny one. I still have it. After that I bought the Apple Airport Express router and maybe a year later, after a frustrating time using my Blackberry for the internet, I stormed into Best Buy and purchased my first iPhone. I switched to AT&T that afternoon as well, leaving T-Mobile. 

Following that I bought an iMac to process my photos (the MacBook is old now) and most recently I bought an iPad mini, which I’m using to compose this elegant, well written blog entry. When I bought my iPad mini I needed to migrate all of my iPhone stuff over so I took a class right there in the Apple Store after I made the purchase. The pretty blonde across from me was buying an Apple Watch. It was pink, the watch and band, matching her skull cap and other winter accessories. 

“So do you have all the other apple stuff too? Laptops etc?” I asked. 

She wrinkled her nose and smirked. “Yep.” 

Her journey to the dark side was complete. 

I don’t think I’ll get the Apple Watch. Of course, I said I’d never get the iPad mini either. Goddamn micro-struggle is real yo…..

Exit. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Black Camera Ambassador 

I’m going to keep this short because, well, I know my audience is basically a bunch of beer drinking white guys. I’m fine with that. Underneath my black skin and aside from sobriety, I’m basically a beer chugging white dude myself. I find something troubling however: 

There is an alarming paucity of black/African-American camera brand ambassadors…. 

I know bruh, it’s not your fault, but hear me out. 

I don’t know why the fuck this is. A number of black shooters are accomplished professionals right? It’s not like black photographers don’t spend a small fortune on camera gear like any other subculture does, but I have an impossibly hard time finding a black brand ambassador for ANY camera brand I can think of. 

Canon? Nah. Fuji? Nope. Leica? Lol! Really?

Late 80’s shooting Ricky Ray style….
I’m sure folks can point me in the direction of a few black guys who get to try out new cameras before they are released and shit like that. I’d appreciate info about them. I suspect they are coons and ass-kissers but I can surely be wrong. I’m keeping an open mind….

Maybe black folks are seen as criminals. Fuji probably thinks I’ll run off with an unreleased camera and disappear or some fuckery like that. Funny how I see so many white and Asian brand ambassadors on YouTube though…. and hardly any women either, regardless of race.

 

This is perhaps a micro-struggle, but it speaks to a larger problem in society. I don’t want to infuriate my loyal readers but I guess I’ll have to wait for you to preview new gear on the web before I buy it because it will never be me. I was born on the wrong side of the color palate. 

Exit. 

The Gears of Change

My friend told me he was contemplating a switch to Sony. 

This is a big fucking deal to me. No, seriously. 

You see, for years my friend and I defended our mother brand, Canon, against all other brands when it comes to still photography. Not to say Canon is better than say, Nikon, when it comes to image quality and dynamic range (for starters) but Canon has historically been a well rounded brand with few recalls and boasts dependable bodies. When it comes to video Canon obliterates Nikon of course, and my friend is big on video stuff. I don’t give a half of a fuck about video, as many of you know. My friend is excited about the expected release of the Panasonic GH5. 

So why Sony? Well Canon has been sucking ass lately. The 5d Mark IV is a disappointment to many folks. Nobody besides soccer moms cares about the upcoming 6d Mark II. The 5dSR is a nice camera, and is tempting for stills. The 1dX II is expensive as fuck and more than decent for video. All of the above cameras sport Canon’s sharpness murdering anti-aliasing filters, even though the 5dSR cancells the filter effect. 

As far as a camera I’d want to shoot with there is nothing. Canon has not taken producing a viable mirrorless camera seriously to this point. A full frame mirrorless that takes all of Canons famous EF lenses would be game changing, especially if it was compact and elegant. It would have to have 4K video for you guys who care about that shit, and hopefully it wouldn’t overheat like the Sony cameras do….

So again: why Sony? Well what else is there? Nikon is reporting epic losses and is cutting back on the cameras and lenses it produces moving forward. That’s not scary right? We’re talking full frame here of course. What else is there that is worth migrating to that shoots good stills and 4K video besides Sony? Each day more and more shooters are leaving the DSLR empires and migrating to mirrorless systems, myself included. I still have a Canon 5d3 and use it to shoot sports ONLY. If my sports gig ever dries up I will march up to Service Photo the next day and sell all my Canon shit. 

I hate Sony personally unless it’s time to play Uncharted or God of War. I get it though. These big ass DSLR’s just don’t seem worth replacing with another big dumb ass DSLR. Don’t get me wrong, DSLR’s are still the most professional units available for most applications, but with money drying up in photography gigs in general, it’s worth investigating how long that will remain the case….

Exit. 

Calm Down!!!! (Too Much Enthusiasm)

Street photography is fast. You must be quick out there. Your camera has to be properly set to shoot in advance. Your eyes have to frame and snap off a scene that has key elements in motion. You have to be nearly perfect. There is little room for error. Those who have shot fast moving sports can relate. Your brain has perhaps 7 things to account for in the space of three breaths, and this accounting has to be seamlessly incorporated into your shooting process.

With that being said, I offer a quote:

“Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him.” ~Lord Chesterfield

I need to calm down. I often fuck myself over by rushing. This applies to all things, the least of which is street photography…..

Enthusiasm can easily work against you. No doubt enthusiasm is one of life’s pleasures. We are hard-wired, seemingly, to go bat-shit giddy over something in our lives at some point, no matter how cool we are naturally or are trained to be. However, one must choose carefully the things one shows enthusiasm towards. Many oversights happen at the intersection of enthusiasm and impatience, and sometimes enthusiasm creates impatience. Unbridled optimism can obscure ones natural abilitiy to wield healthy skepticism as a shield…

For me, the penalty of enthusiasm is neglected preparation. In the midst of shooting street photography in manual mode, my camera settings are all over the place depending on available light and time of day. In my eagerness to look for the next and penultimate “decisive moment” I at times forget to check the exposure compensation dial on my Fuji X100F (when I’m in auto ISO mode) which can easily be bumped to an unwanted value, or I forget to take off the lens cap, or some other stupid shit. In my rush to take that shot I may miss it because in my enthusiasm I have neglected key parts of the process. It is simply unacceptable to sidestep preperation. When shooting in the streets the “process” is happening the entire time. It’s like a military training maneuver or a meditation. Enthusiasm cuts into that meditation. It upsets the inner peace one must have to maximize ones effectiveness….

You can be overly enthusiastic about many things. I was excited to get to work and write this blog entry today, and I stupidly left my phone in the bathroom at home. You can get overly enthusiastic about a love interest and scare him or her off, becoming the classic: “overly attached girlfriend/boyfriend” and losing that person. You can be too excited about a monetary negotiation and betray that to the other party, with unwanted financial ramifications for yourself as a result. There is probably a far shorter list of things that are not hurt by over-enthusiasm as opposed to the opposite. Not much beats having a balanced mind and workflow…

Let’s end this….

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”Zig Ziglar

Stay balanced out there in these streets….

Exit.


CAMERA REVIEW: The FujiFilm X100F

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Introduction:

The fujifilm X100F is nearly flawless for its intended uses. This camera is the real fucking deal here folks. It may not be the “all time greatest” compact mirrorless camera, but it is the second best of all time, behind a certain Leica camera I will not mention by name…

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The Fujifilm X100F…

Many of us have been shooting with DSLR’s, and though they perform very well and are ubiquitous, a lot of times we wish we had something equally as powerful but a hell of a lot smaller. I’m a street photographer. I shot with a Canon 70D and then a 5d Mark III in the streets. This was great as far as autofocus speed and lens choices are concerned, but those are some big bitches, those cameras. Coupled with a 135L and then the 50 1.2L…it was a chore to carry those kits around. It got to a point where I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was like: fuck it, I need something smaller.

Smaller historically has mostly meant “image quality compromise” when it comes to camera selection. For example, the image quality available from a huge $50k Hasselblad will be better (in theory) than the image quality I can get from a Nikon D750 (nothing against the D750). This is due to the sensor size (medium format vs full frame) of course. When looking at camera choices, I immediately realized that even though I wanted something powerful, I needed to go as small as possible if I was going to actually use this new camera every day and not just when I felt like it. That was my first consideration: I wanted to buy a camera (or camera system, more on that later) that I would actually carry with me everywhere I travel daily. A secondary thought when making that consideration was whether or not I wanted a “point and shoot” style unibody, or did I want a small camera system with small lenses, such as those expensive cameras and lenses the Germans make. This consideration took a few months to sort through.

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My Harley in ACROS…

The next consideration was price. A camera too cheap will be so inferior to my Canon system that I will feel buyers remorse, and a camera that is too expensive will be like carrying a huge diamond with me in public. I’d be paranoid about losing it and would dread having to replace it. Don’t let people bullshit you: price is definitely a factor in these decisions and not just the “can you afford it?” calculation. The proper way to express that calculation is: can you easily afford to replace it? 

So I decided to get the Fuji X100F here, and made a big fucking deal of it, as if my decisions matter in the scheme of the planet. With no further bullshit…here is my review!

Image Quality:

Let me cut to the chase. The image quality from this cameras is very very good. I totally prefer the X100F jpegs over the jpegs coming out of my Canon 5d Mark III. These Fuji jpegs are superb. As of this blog entry Adobe hasn’t updated camera RAW so I can’t process RAW files in Lightroom without doing a bunch of bullshit workarounds. Fuck that. I’ll wait.

Are there some issues that suck about the images I get from this camera? Maybe. Really it’s an issue with Fuji X-Tran sensor cameras in general, and is summed up in three words: waxy skin jpegs. That’s it. Other than the fact that at higher ISO’s (above 800), white people look like they are made of plastic when you shoot color jpegs, there are no issues to speak of.

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Waxy Skin Jpegs…

Notice I’m leaving out specs here. Fuck specs. The camera has an APS-C sensor and around 24 megapixels of resolution. If you want more specs then google them.

The high ISO performance of this camera is pretty good to my eyes, with fine grain appearing prevalent around 6400 or so. The grain (which can be included or excluded artificially) from this camera is decisively unlike the color crazy “noise” you get from your run of the mill DSLR at higher ISO.

You can hand-hold this little fucker to about 1/60 with no problems and get images that are crazy sharp. The camera doesn’t have image stabilization, like that unmentioned Leica does, but mirrorless cameras don’t have a slapping mirror to complicate the process and work against the hand-hold-ability of the camera using slower shutter speeds.

The camera has a noise reduction engine which is weirdly cranked up by default. I suggest turning it down (to between -1 to -4) before you take your first jpeg photo.

One of the coolest features in the history of digital cameras is the film simulations offered by Fuji cameras (including their new GFX medium format camera). These simulations are sublime. I use ACROS, which is a contrasty black-and-white sim. Most people use ACROS and the faded color look called Classic Chrome (and by most people I mean everybody)….

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Classic Chrome

Bottom line is: if you have a big ass DSLR and are afraid switching to Fuji will hurt your Instagram follower count… it wont. Buy the camera. You’ll be fine…..

Build and Handling:

When the pretty counter-girl at Service Photo in Baltimore handed me the Fuji X100F box on February 23rd 2017, I stood there stunned at how miniature the camera was once I unboxed it. The camera is TINY. My iPhone 6S+ is both wider and longer than the X100F. My iPhone doesn’t weigh more though. The X100F is meaty, and holding it betrays the fact that the intended use for this camera is heavy street and travel work. There is a lot of tech packed into this little weapon, and you can feel it when you hold it. I opted for the all black version, but it also comes in hipster-grey, or whatever it’s called. Regardless of color scheme choice, the camera itself is an analog throwback celebration of dials and switches, but is as well the peak of modernity with its glass LCD screen and high-tech hybrid viewfinder (more on that in the autofocus portion).

The lens, which I have not mentioned until now, is the same lens that has been on this model of camera since its inception with the original X100 (or at least the X100S). In my opinion the lens is fine. Pinned against the body is a 1/3 of a stop clicking sliver of an aperture ring that is thrilling to turn. Next, and I have to say this: that “control ring” is some bullshit. It spins too freely and is wasted in jpeg-only mode, where it controls stuff like the built in teleconverter (35, 50, and 70mm options–all at 24mp) and lets you choose between the film simulation modes, in addition to two other options I cant remember. Enabling Fine (jpeg) + RAW disables these annoying choices and returns the control ring to its intuitive function of being a focus ring. In Fine + Jpeg the control ring is also a parallax correction ring, when you are shooting stuff that is very close.

The camera comes with a strap which I will never use. I got one of those trendy rope straps instead. If anybody wants a free Fuji strap then hit me up (I’m lying).

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ISO 1600. ACROS

I am a bit confused as to how to affix a 49mm clear filter on the front of this puppy. Thats the filter size. The X100F comes with a lens cap that pops on and off and looks terribly awesome.

This may be the best looking camera on the market today. There are simply no bad angles about this camera.

Handling is fine unless your phallus beaters are particularly large. The button layout on the back of the camera is a bit tight on the right side, and some users have complained about the placement of the Q button. It’s also easy as fuck to bump the exposure compensation dial off the zero setting, so be mindful of that as you toss the little camera about.

Autofocus:

That Leica camera I promised not to mention is fast as shit to attain focus and fire. I tested it and was blown away. Amazingly, this little Fuji is almost as fast if not equally so. It’s quick. I can use one hand to attain focus, fire with professional precision, and keep it moving all in less than a second and a half. The camera does take a nervous second or two to wake up, but I have a feeling this has more to do with the time it takes the “eye detection” function of the viewfinder to kick in than actual wake-up time. I probably just need more practice with this particular camera. My number one personal focus is speed.

There are the standard modes of autofocus. Continuous, Single shot, and Manual. Choose whichever one you prefer. I refrain from the continuous shot mode because, honestly, I shoot Canon and these little mirrorless jobs are not on that level yet as far as tracking swiftly moving subjects are concerned. This isn’t a sports camera by any means, but it can nail a shot here or there of something in fast motion that will surprise you.

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Shot out to the ambassador of Street Photography Eric Kim. That guy. The more I get into this street photography thing, and become a God at it, the more I realize that kid knows exactly what the fuck he’s talking about. In this case I’m speaking about using the LCD to shoot. With a Canon 5d Mark III, it isn’t practical to use the LCD to shoot. It’s possible but not practical. With this Fuji X100F I use the LCD by default. It’s fast and brilliant. I’m in my car and I see something and BAM. I can shoot it without having to guess or manually switch shooting/viewing modes. I see the final exposure right there on the screen. Now I see why many shooters go for the Ricoh GR.

As for the viewfinder, here is where novelty meets practicality. The EVF I would rate as average. It doesn’t seem as fast or nice as the one in that Leica camera, but it does the job well. There is a bit of a lag though, but it is a practical and useful EVF. The OVF function is very nice, but it seems sort of novel and unreliable as far as your certainty of nailing focus. It’s addictive though, and is great to use for we Canon/Nikon monkeys who already know how a photo will turn out exposure-wise because of our settings. I’d say the OVF is more for advanced photographers and the EVF is the easier viewfinder mode to use, just slower. I use the OVF and the LCD, for the record….

The AEL/AFL button is maybe an 8th of an inch too far to the left. It works fine if back button focus is your thing. I said I would start using a half-shutter press once I got this camera and that’s what I have been doing. I use 100% back button focus on my Canon. You can set the AFL to any of maybe 8 buttons on the X100F, so no need to fret if your hands are poorly sized for this camera. If you got those Donald Trump sized hands though you’ll be fine…

Video:

What is that?

Battery and Storage:

The X100F has one SD slot. The card slot is sketchy to me (it gave me an error the FIRST time I tried to reinsert my SD card after dumping images with my card reader) so now I tend to upload images using the USB cable. It comes with a charger, the camera does. You can also charge the battery using the USB cable by plugging the camera up to a computer or any USB charger, which is super fucking dope awesome. This camera takes the same battery as the X-Pro2 and the X-T2. You get maybe 300-400 shots on one charge. Not bad really. I have 2 batteries but have yet to need the second one. If I were using this camera for a wedding (as a 2nd body) I’d likely have maybe 3 batteries and one in the clip, totaling 4.

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Price:

The Fujifilm X100F costs $1299 new. You get a lens already anchored to the body. That’s important. You see, guys like me with GAS would buy 6 lenses if the X100F didn’t have a lens already rooted onto the front of it. This is important as it takes much of your temptation away. To this day I randomly log into Amazon to look at cameras before realizing I don’t really need anything……

Alternatives: 

In this price range? The Ricoh GR reportedly has better image quality and is cheaper to boot. No viewfinder though. More expensive? That Leica camera and the Sony RX cameras are luxury greatness. Other than that you have to get a whole new camera system and scout for lenses and troll over DXO lens sharpness tests and all that bullshit. With a compact camera all you have to do is shoot.

Conclusion:

Buy the goddamn camera.

Exit.