My favourite stuff from 2014
Not exactly a review of the year, just some of the things that I've enjoyed. I haven't tried every new camera, tested every lens, played every game or watched every movie, so I won't even try to claim that these are the best things ever. Nor that having stuff is more important than doing and caring and being. But I freely admit that I do enjoy owning useful, fun and well-designed objects as well as seeing inspiring art. So these are a few of the things that I've enjoyed most this year.
The XE-1 has been my main camera throughout the year. There are newer Fuji models now, with the XE-2 and XT-1 offering more features and higher specs, but the X-E1 is still a great camera. Coupled to the 56mm f/1.2 lens it is great for portraits. Fuji has also just released another firmware upgrade, this time adding an AF/MF facility where the autofocus can be fine-tuned manually. It's great that Fuji still provides updates and new features to it's older models.
Hats off to Sony for recent innovation though. The A6000 looks like a great all-round camera, as does the A7S for lowlight and video capabilities.
My favourite and most used accessory has to be the beautiful leather Tap & Dye strap that I keep on the XE-1. It's great quality, long enough to go over one shoulder, and so much better than the standard straps that advertise the make and model of your camera to everyone nearby.
As you might have read, I recently switched from Android and I'm now using an iPhone 4S. The screen is small compared to my old Nexus 4 and the newer iPhones, but I'm very impressed with both the camera and the range of excellent photography apps. I feel like a very late but still enthusiastic visitor to the iPhoneology party.
Nebraska is funny and beautiful with fascinating characters. I think I'd even still love it if it wasn't shot in black and white.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty isn't the best film ever. It's occasionally ridiculous, but it is uplifting, motivating and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Those are my favourites of the year but I loved the quirky style and cinematography of The Grand Budapest Hotel too.
I've mentioned Gregory Heisler's 50 Portraits before and I'm still enjoying it, perusing his wonderful portraits and the stories behind them. Even when I don't particularly like the style of a specific portrait, it's interesting to read his thought process and techniques.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is honest, harrowing and enlightening. From his own experiences through Nazi concentration camps, he examines how people re-act and where meaning can be found even in such extreme circumstances.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield doesn't take long to read but the basic message is so valuable. We might laugh at how easy we get distracted and lost in procrastination, but to Pressfield this is a fight to be taken seriously.
I don't play console games any more, although I'm sure Gran Turismo 6 would steal hours and days of my life given the opportunity. I do still enjoy mobile gaming though, and Plants vs. Zombies 2 is the one I've played most this year, probably by a long way.
So that's it. Oh, and I'm still working through Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead so don't tell me how they end.
It's not all about the gear, but it is nice to see and use great design and to enjoy other people's art.