The not-so-hyper Hyperdrive

I don’t write a lot of negative reviews—if something doesn’t work for me then I refrain from mentioning it altogether, because I’d much rather highlight gear I use and enjoy. Positive energy and all that. Not today.

There was quite a bit of online hoopla in the past couple of months about the Hyperdrive, a USB-C hub from a company called Sanho (which already specializes in hubs of all kinds). It was hailed as the first one specifically designed for the new 2018 iPad Pro, adding multiport capabilities to the device: HDMI, USB-A, SD, MicroSD and USB-C PD. The “PD” stands for “power delivery”, meaning the port could be used to charge the iPad, essentially providing a pass through for the charger. At least that’s what the company led backers to believe. Yes, backers—because part of the hoopla came from the Kickstarter campaign Sanho launched to fund this product. I’m very leery of crowdfunding, especially when it involves established companies simply launching another similar gadget to their line. In this case however, I decided to jump in out of pure necessity: there was nothing else out there to fill my needs.

I won’t get into all the details of the process but let’s just say there were hiccups along the way: the January promise turned into a February promise, the shipping went through a much cheaper company than what was initially advertised in the brief, communications were few and far between...and although many still haven’t even received a shipping notice, the product did reach me on Monday.

***”Requires at least 30W. The included 18W charger isn’t sufficient and will not charge the device.” There, I fixed it for them. 

***”Requires at least 30W. The included 18W charger isn’t sufficient and will not charge the device.” There, I fixed it for them. 

So far, all the ports work the way they should —which is good news considering others haven’t been so lucky apparently, hinting at quality control issues. It all works, except for this bold and explicit claim: “Simultaneously connect HDMI, USB-C, microSD, SD, USB-A and 3.5mm audio . All while charging at full speed through HyperDrive.” Emphasis mine btw.

The point of this hub is to keep it plugged-in. But within 10 minutes I noticed my iPad’s power was draining. The charger was connected, the light was on, no other ports were in use and I was just writing and browsing. Nothing power intensive. And yet the battery percentage kept falling. Not only was the iPad NOT “charging at full speed”...it was losing its charge. I thought I might have a defective unit so I quickly headed to the comment section of the campaign—only to realize everyone who’d received the hub was facing the same issue.

Sanho first responded by saying they were investigating; then they simply said the included 18W charger wasn't powerful enough for the Hyperdrive and that this was “a known fact”. So much for investigating. When I personally pressed them on the issue they finally admitted that their statement was “ambiguous” and that they “should’ve pointed out that fact with the above statement”. I don’t think it was ambiguous at all...misleading seems more appropriate.

Now here’s my problem and the point of this post: for one thing, how stupid of them. They obviously knew about this but chose not to mention it AND to boast about capabilities that actually required additional gear. Had I known about it beforehand I likely would’ve accepted the fact without batting an eye. I would’ve made a much more informed purchasing decision and appreciated their honesty. But much more importantly: despite their meager mea culpa, several days later THEY HAVE NOT ADDED OR CHANGED A SINGLE WORD IN THAT STATEMENT. Obviously the argument could be made that the Kickstarter campaign is over, so there’s no point anymore. But Sanho is now running a pre-order campaign though Indiegogo and guess what? Yes indeed: same tag line, same promise, same marketing spin. I call it willful deception at this point and it’s incredibly jarring to witness first hand. I can’t even begin to understand how a supposedly established brand can act this way. Hopefully it comes back to bite them in the you-know-what. Hopefully this helps get the word out.

For what it’s worth the hub does in fact charge correctly with the 30W MacBook Pro charger I borrowed from Cynthia; some users have reported continuing problems but I haven’t seen any on my end.

As far as I’m concerned however: Sanho Corporation will never see another single dime.

Twelve days: rewinding

No Santa this year. No leaving milk and cookies by the fireplace, no carrot stick for his reindeer, hiding and pretending—Héloïse figured it out. I admit it hurts a little, to lose yet another ounce of fairy dust. But it seems the third child is simply more anxious to grow up.

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We’re teetering on the edge of 2019 and I never saw it coming. I guess there’s a motif here? Something I should understand? Of course I’m thankful for a great many things this year. I truly am. But there’s a peculiar distance to it all. As if I never gained control and it all happened in spite of myself. As if most days I was sailing to where life was aiming the boat, performing on cue but never grabbing the rudder. I miss the rudder.

This isn't me complaining btw...how could I? I traveled, met tons of amazing people along the way, visited with friends and made new ones. I was given opportunities I could once only dream of. No, I do not own the right to complain. But if these somewhat artificial markers are meant to give us pause and reflect in any way, then perhaps we should. Not through fancy, unattainable resolutions, just with simple vows to ourselves, to better shape what the future may hold. By writing down a few secret words maybe...faded glyphs to trigger our unconscious. There’s power in words, even when they remain unspoken.

Traditionally this is a time for me to step back from the blog. I’ll be doing it again this year but...I feel I need to tie up a bunch of loose ends. The consequence of drifting through the landscape has been orphaned images, way too many stories left untold. So while I’m off drinking egg nog and mulled wine (yeah...not really...I’m more of a whisky guy), this site will actually become busier than it’s been in a long while: I’ve prepared and scheduled twelve stories/essays to carry us into the New Year. That’s one story a day starting tomorrow, up until December 31st. It’ll be somewhat disjointed but I hope it makes up for lost time.

The holidays will bring baking and movies as they always do, time with the kids and family. Moments of joy and yes, moments of mayhem as well. And when all hell breaks loose we’ll wish for it to end. We’ll wish for quiet days, free of arguing and silly sibling rivalries. We’ll long for tranquility and a peaceful home.

But this year we absolutely must stop to realize...that Santa disappeared in a hush, without sadness of fanfare. Another moment passed, gone as if it never was. Our home will be quiet soon enough.

I wish you all the very best of Holidays. Thanks for the feedback and for sticking around.
I’ll see you on the other side :)

I have no voice

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This morning I woke up, looked at the news and something strange happened: I suddenly felt completely empty. If you’ve followed this blog long enough you probably know how I feel about the current situation in the US. I’ve been consumed by dismay and a deepening sense of horror ever since the very first MAGA rallies. But as terrifying as these were in 2015-2016, the case could be made at that point for Clinton fatigue, for resentment towards a broken system and a willingness to gamble on Trump almost as a form of nihilistic resistance. It made no sense to me, personally, but I could still understand the undercurrents fuelling this reaction. I don’t anymore. That is, not unless I accept a reality too hard to bear—that humanity is incurious and willing to accept demagogues if they feed their egos and dangle fake shiny baubles. That we are unkind. That we haven’t learned a single thing from history.

On the eve of a watershed election in which I have no voice, I should be up in arms, devouring polls, biting my fingernails. And yet, nothing. I’ve turned off the screens. I’m looking away—I’ve seen and heard enough, I guess.

I published a short essay entitled RUBICON on KAGE today. Images shot in Vancouver last week, words I wrote over the last couple of days, in anticipation of tomorrow’s vote.

Here’s to hope.

First moments with the X-T3

I mentioned getting an X-H1 a couple of times—how it made sense, ergonomically, with the GFX 50S, how IBIS would “improve” certain lenses...I still believe all of it. But I waited just long enough for the X-T3 to crash that equation and mess with my rationale: a new generation of sensor and CPU is hard to pass by, knowing the improvements it usually brings to the table.

So last Friday the saga ended and I now own a brand new silver X-T3. I won’t rehash all that’s already been written about the camera at this point—if you’re looking for an extensive review (that also happens to include great photography) I suggest checking out my friends Jonas and Kevin. Their work is hard to top, honestly. I will say this however: I kinda love this camera. I kinda love it way more than I thought I would.

Now If I’m being picky, I do find the exp comp dial to be a bit too stiff...which I believe is actually a response to so many people saying this dial was never stiff enough over the years; so I guess those folks will be happy with the change. I also could’ve used a bit more space for my finger when operating the metering dial that sits beneath shutter speed—but I’m already getting the hang of it. Every new body brings growing pains. Overall though, the X-T3 feels mature: the buttons, the latches, the doors and the entire body...it all feels exactly right. There’s no unwanted wiggle, there’s nothing that seems plasticky or flimsy. I’m still a huge X-Pro2 fan but honestly, this is a joy to hold. And the new tech is nothing to sneeze at either in terms of performance.

My friend Bert shot his with the classic 35mm f/1.4 when we were in Germany for Photokina and I decided to emulate him. That old lens will never be a speedster...but man does it get a boost from this new body. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s still one of the Great Magical Lenses, bar none.

The images below are my very first frames shot with this setup. All processed from pushed Acros settings (JPEG) in Capture One Pro 11.3. They were all slightly “warmed” in-camera with the new BW option (I used +1 which is the lowest red value available). I don’t necessarily intend on using this often but ...new toy and all.

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada.
Best wishes to everyone :)


Shot with the X-T3 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


A New Brush | GFX 50R 65:24

First off: what a privilege this has been over the past couple of months. When the GFX 50S was announced at Photokina in 2016, I never thought I’be one of the lucky few to test another medium format camera less than two years later. And yet, here we are.

I won’t be doing a technical review for several reasons: I was shooting a pre-production unit with beta firmware; my friends Kevin and Jonas will do a much better job than I ever could; I’m less and less interested in talking about specs. But I will say this: I’ve grown to love my GFX 50S, as I’ve previously written about. I’ve come to appreciate the insane attention to detail of its design, where every single button, port and door is exactly where it should be. Any new camera involves a period of adjustment, but my initial reaction to the GFX 50R was actually one of puzzlement; and for several days I found myself almost fighting against the camera. Some of this was due to bugs and not-yet-working features, but I eventually figured out the real problem: I was still shooting the GFX 50S. I was expecting a right-brain camera because in my mind, medium format was about work, first and foremost.

The GFX 50R isn’t about work. This is medium-format for poetry.
It’s not perfect—I probably would’ve done a few things differently, in terms of layout for instance. But we’re suddenly having a very different sort of philosophical conversation.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to finally be able to share some of these images. I’ve chosen to again share a series of visual stories/essays (as I’d done with a few other models), all shot with the pre-production camera I was provided with and various GF lenses.

I’m writing these words on the eve of leaving for Belgium, before we head to Photokina. Which means nothing has been announced yet and I have no links to share. It also means I’m about to give back the camera. All good things have to end. The shots below aren’t official product images btw: just quick, gratuitous visual gear porn for my own benefit. Figured some of you might enjoy them as well ;)

Huge thanks to everyone at Fujifilm for this incredible opportunity.


Shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f4 OIS R WR