Streets of Chinatown in B&W


San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the most photogenic locations in San Francisco, and that’s saying quite a bit considering the amazing landscapes and architecture in and around SF.

Not only is it the oldest Chinatown in North America, but it’s the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Believe it or not it draws even more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge… insane.

Related Articles

> > How to Pre-Visualize like Ansel Adams < <

Simplicity of Approach

Sony A7R field notes with Canon EF Lenses

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter

Check out what San Francisco’s Chinatown looked like in the 1950’s:

San Francisco Chinatown Black and White 1950

The main drag

San Francisco Chinatown Black and White 1950

Can you spot the Pajama store?

So I joined in on a photography meetup with a San Francisco-based landscape photography group to shoot the classic streets in black & white. It couldn’t have happened at a more convenient time actually, as I recently bought a new camera and an adapter for my classic Canon FL, FD and Nikon Kogaku lenses.

Chinatown in B&W

Streets of Chinatown in B&W  |  1/320  –  F8  –  ISO 125  –  Canon FD 50mm 1.8 with Sony A7R

With beautifully dampened focusing rings (why don’t modern lenses have that perfect dampening?) and the Sony A7R with focus peaking, I put this setup to the test with the Canon FL 50mm 1.8, and the Canon FD 50mm 1.8.

Using ISO 400 on Aperture Priority (Aperture selected on lens) and shooting B&W in-camera, I was blown away by the accuracy of the focus peaking when set to the high setting, with white color as the “peaking color”. Once I turned the B&W setting on in-camera, one look through the electronic viewfinder made me realize that this little camera is changing things up in other areas of photography, not just insane image quality.

Chinatown in Black and White with A7R and Canon FL lens

Serve Yourself  |  1/640  –  F8  –  ISO 320  –  Canon FD 50mm 1.8 with Sony A7R

For the first time, photographers can actually see in black and white. Combine that with manually focusing with focus peaking, and street photographers have a pretty magnificent tool for capturing the decisive moment. In fact, it could be one of the biggest advancements for street photographers since fast, accurate and silent autofocus.

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter

Sure, EVF’s have existed on cameras before, but the A7R’s is the best one I’ve seen so far for a couple reasons:

  • Really high resolution, can’t detect pixels
  • Focus peaking combined with EVF is amazing. Sure, you can view it on the LCD but having your eye so close to a hi-res screen is really key when in harsh lighting
  • Image playback inside the EVF means you don’t have to pull away from your viewfinder. Your eyes adjust to the viewfinder and you don’t have to compete with environmental light
  • The exposure compensation dial changes actually reflect in real-time in the EVF. So now you can see in black and white, but you can also see the exposure changes through the viewfinder

Chinatown in Black and White with A7R and Canon FL lens

Looking East  |  1/250  –  F8  –  ISO 200  –  Canon FL 50mm 1.8 with Sony A7R

Streets of Chinatown in B&W Gallery

[justified_image_grid preset=5]

Comments are closed.