The upcoming trip to Berlin. Why I'm going. What I'll be doing.

 Blanton Museum. 

In late Spring I was asked to participate in a fun little program to help get the Samsung NX300 some increased exposure. The reviews of the camera are uniformly good but it never hurts to have some additional traction in social media and what not. 

About 25 of us in the U.S. were asked to use the cameras and post interesting images. People in different corners of the country are shooting and uploading some really fun work and it seems like the camera is doing well.  I've done quite a few shoots with the camera and shared a hundred or so images over the last two or three months. One of the benefits I get from the program is to keep the NX300, the kit zoom lens and the 30mm f2 pancake-y lens.

Then, a little while ago, I was asked by Samsung if I would like to try their newest camera, the Samsung Galaxy NX.  If you aren't familiar with the specs it's understandable, the camera hasn't launched in the U.S. yet and just launched in the U.K. this week. Here's a microsite about the product:

While I've always thought of myself as a traditionalist I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to mirror less in 2009. And how quickly I've become interested in the intersection of flexible immediate uploads and social media. The new Galaxy camera is all about two things. One is the always on nature of its wi-fi and cell capabilities. Basically, the camera can upload images from just about anywhere to just about anywhere. If you can get a signal you can probably get to your folder on the iCloud or other service. The second aspect of the camera is one I haven't explored yet. That the Android system and the potential for an open systems approach to creating apps for the camera and apps that will run on the system backbone of the camera.  Not interesting on a 3 inch screen but more interesting, by far, on a five inch screen....  

When Samsung approached me to shoot with the camera before the rest of my fellow American photographers I did one quick check to make sure the camera shot video and I accepted. I couldn't see any real downside and maybe I'd wind up with a camera and some lenses that would be fun to shoot and helpful to my business. Then they presented the "carrot."  Would I like to fly over to Berlin on their dime and shoot my test images over there? I was delighted. I am delighted.

Samsung is bringing in photographers from all over the world in conjunction with the IFA show which is a big consumer and industry products trade show. I have a suspicion that the camera will be "presented" to the world at the show and will start to ship soon afterwards. It will probably be available near the end of Sept. This would be an opportunity for me to see Berlin, shoot fun stuff with the new camera and meet with interesting photographers, bloggers and photo-bloggers from all around the world. 

The camera and some choice lenses are due to arrive in the studio next week. I'll do a training course aimed at teaching me how to operate the camera with an app as opposed to the usual dedicated buttons and dials and then I'll do a few long walks on the boiling pavement around Austin to get up to speed on the interface and the nuances and then, off to Berlin!

I'll be flying out of Austin on the 2nd of Sept. and arriving in Berlin on the 3rd, in the early morning. For the entire week I'll be prowling the streets, cameras in hand. I'll be soaking up all the new inventions and photo stuff at the trade show and wining and dining with fellow Samsung Galaxy shooters. Of course I want to see as much of Berlin as I can before I fly back out and arrive home on the 8th.

In this bold product centric experiment I'll be blogging as much as I can. While I'm sure Samsung would love for me to concentrate on the things that differentiate the camera (apps, Android, always connected) I'll be working harder to see, primarily, how it operates just as a camera. How does it feel in my hand? How conducive is it to shooting fast? In the street? How stealthy can it be? How do the files look? I'll lean on the techie features to get images up for my blog as quickly as possible but that will be in the service of finding out just how good an imaging tool the camera is.

If you've been to Berlin I'd love to hear what you found most visually captivating. I'd also like to hear where you think I should find coffee and if there are any great camera stores left. I want to know what parks are filled with interesting people and anything else you might think of to help me make the trip more efficient and fun. Feel free to clog up the comments. You know I'll read every single one.

I hope my clients have a big pile of work waiting for me when I re-open the studio on Sept. 9th....

Do I get to keep the camera?  I sure hope so!

Studio Portrait Lighting


Claire said...

I think you'll find excellent coffee anywhere in Europe ;)

Kirk Tuck said...

Even in France????!!! :-)

christian said...

Hi Kirk,

I think you absolutely have to go to the Cafe Wintergarten:


and the Kate Kollwitz Museum next door:


stefano60 said...

nice one!

Berlin is a BEAUTIFUL city and you will find tons of great photo opportunities (just try to sneak in a "proper" camera too if you can); it is a vibrant city with so much going on everywhere.
do go visit the usual tourist spots (Branderburg Gate, Reichstag, Check Point Charlie, etc.), but then try to just wander aimlessly between east and west and spot the traces of the old city (cities).

and yes, good coffee will not be hard to find at all (if you see a red sign saying "Illy", you will be just fine!).

Have fun!

Patrick Dodds said...

I'm not jealous at all. No. Not me. Uh uh. No siree.

Michael Matthews said...

It will be interesting to see how well this camera produces for you.

The early images from the NX300 posted to the blog were less than inspiring, but you adapted over time to the point where the Samsung photos were of a very high quality and consistent with everything else you do.

The company's website is probably the best and most compelling explanation for a new product I've ever encountered.

It's interesting that this camera strikes a certain chord of nostalgia despite the fact that it's yet to be released in the US. When Sharp introduced the Viewcam, maybe 20 years ago, it established the two-handed grip on a live screen as a new way to work with a camcorder.

Rather than squint into a tiny viewfinder, the user could hold it comfortably foot or more away...see the real-time image as it recorded exactly as it would play back...and do all kinds of camera moves which were impossible before. Not just panning and tilting, but doing the equivalent of the 'pedestal-up' move of a studio camera, trucking or slide shots moving left or right, crane shots holding it way overhead, low angles as well. All of it seen live on an LCD screen as rendered by a native 16:9 sensor.

When recorded on Hi8 tape it was state-of-the-art -- notwithstanding the tape stock having a tendency to flake and shed bits of its metallic oxide coating if rewound and used a few times.

I see that Samsung has incorporated an eye-level viewfinder to combat direct sunlight and other adverse lighting conditions. Here's hoping it's as good as the rest of the camera appears to be. It doesn't say whether the screen tilts. Let us pray.

We may find there's an aftermarket for a tiny, inexpensive left side handgrip to help with easy stability for video shooting.

As much as the connectivity means to the larger market, I could live without it. For the future working world as you've described it, though, this will mean a lot.

Do keep your loyal readers up-to-date with dispatches from Berlin. I'm already predisposed to like it. My only gripe is that I'll never be able to afford it.

John Krumm said...

Cool. See if you can install Skype on the camera and make a call. And I notice it has a proper viewfinder hump. Berlin should be fun for you. And perhaps you can take a Samsung photo of the new Olympus EM1 when it's released... I think that's when it's happening.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi John, The camera has built in microphones and a headphone jack. I think it will Skype. We'll test it upon arrival. Also the hump houses a 1.44 megapixel EVF. Sigh of relief.

Kirk Tuck said...

The one feature they left off, which I really wanted, was the ability to connect external microphones. Sniff, sniff. If they had done that it would have made a cool production video camera. As it is currently set up I'll have to use a Zoom Hn4 digital recorder and do double sound.

At one point I presumed I could do business without a cell phone. Now I can't do business without texting.

I will send a stream of dispatches from Berlin. Maybe not so much about the camera but a lot about the city.


Kirk Tuck said...

Stefano60, Thanks for the "illy" tip. I'll keep my eyes open for the red sign. As to a "proper" camera I think, since Samsung is paying for my trip, my hotel, my meals and my time I'll stick to a straight up Samsung-only policy for this trip. But I wouldn't have agreed in the first place if I didn't think I could do fun work with the new camera. Right?

stefano60 said...

i know, i know, was just kidding, it would not be fair to them; i personally own both one of their their phones and their tablets and love them.
camera-wise, i bought one of theirs for my wife, but it will be a long time for me to go down that road - if ever .... but one never knows, we have to keep an open mind, right? :-)

Dave Jenkins said...

Is the IFA show the same thing as Photokina?

ron said...

Visit: Mitte, Prenzlauer-Berg, Kreutzberg, and Neuköln

Janine said...

I am very often in Berlin and as fr as I can say it doesn't matter where you go. Berlin is so full of people and moments worth capturing that you just have to stand where you are and LOOK. I liked the route from Brandenburger Tor and Bundestag to the Alexanderplatz.

Have fun! :)

Andre said...

You will absolutely love Berlin. It's a very vibrant city. I visited it many times in the past, both before and after "Die Wende". Maybe there are still interesting parts of the old East Berlin and the Wall, although the latter is probably mostly gone. But there's plenty of historical places and lovely cafes and whatnot.

As for Samsung, I like what they are doing. Quite innovative. In the recent past I was dozens of times in (South) Korea. A stunningly beautiful country in many ways They are very smart, hardworking and honest people and very tech-savvy. I think Samsung has enormous potential, and their latest offerings are first class.

Can't wait to read about your trip! Have a great time and "auf Wiedersehen"!

Tom O'TheFuture said...

I'm definitely with Janine on that one. Anywhere & everywhere in Berlin is good in one way or another.
If you have the time, a Sunday morning stroll around Mauer Park for the flea market and buskers, then off to Oderberger Straße to Bonanza Coffee Heroes, for guess what.

Have a great time, and thanks for all your inspirational writing.

Anonymous said...

You already got most of the high points in other comments, but if you have time to get to Potsdam, essentially part of the greater Berlin metropolis, the Sanssouci Palace is spectacular. The "Orangerie" is inspiring for Northern gardeners. Be sure to ride the U-bahn and S-bahn, but Berlin is a great city to see on a bike. A short bikeride gets you to the Grunewald forest - a giant park within the city boundaries. Lots of trails and stuff to explore, and on sunny days the sunbathers abound. One of my best architectural pics ever is from inside the Sony center at Potsdamer Platz. Also do the Holocaust Museum.Then there is the Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park in what was East Berlin - I first visited here in the early 80's before reunification. Powerful visual image. I'm sure my Kodachromes are around here somewhere...

Martin Duerr said...

No, the IFA is always in Berlin while the Photokina will be held every two years in Cologne. Next Photokina is 2014. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk

Berlin is one of the most awesome cities you can ever visit.. It is basically the whole of European (and lets face it, a lot of world too) 20th Century history in one hit.

Consequently there is no point advising on particular places to see - you are guaranteed to find fantastic places/people to experience. But what will really enhance you trip is to read a good history book on the city - as whatever great moment you have, a bit of historical knowledge will up the ante each time. It must be a 12 hour flight at least - so a book on the plane and you are sorted

MartinP said...

There seems to be a USB socket on the camera, and Zoom mics (at least my H2) are supposedly recognised as USB microphones - so . . . maybe ??

JJ Semple said...

It's easy to shoot double system. Better sound, in fact.

Swoop57 said...

Hi Kirk,

Hackesche Höfe is a good place for creating pictures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackesche_Höfe.
And just a short walk from there you will find Kunsthaus Tacheles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunsthaus_Tacheles.

Beside Brandenburg Gate you'll find the Holocaust Memorial, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_to_the_Murdered_Jews_of_Europe, and from there you'll have nice walk to Check Point Charlie.

As suggested above the U-Bahn and S-bahn is worth a ride and they are great for getting around town.

Try to at visit on of the old tea shops where you will find really good patisseries.

Enjoy Berlin.

Brad Burnham said...

I hope you get to keep the camera.

Anton Wilhelm Stolzing said...

Do you like classic tramways, buses and so on. Then September is your month, because only on September weekends the remise of the Technics museum is open to visitors. Also, Oldtimer buses are in real action! http://sdtb.de/Kommunalverkehr-19-Tage-der-Offenen-Tuer.2079.0.html

On such occasions, photographic opportunities abound. Samsung would be happy!

jason gold said...

Enjoy the trip and experiences!
You Must sleep as much as possible on flight.
In a few hours you will be flying into tomorrow!
Ya wanna be sharp and clear.
I hate European coffee.
Served in thimbles..i order tea. Not in paper.
I know it's a short trip, but missing Amsterdam..
Now that's a city i love.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk,

just a personal selection as I stayed in Berlin for a bit. Worth to see and lots of people around, too:

Turkish Market along the Maybachufer (Neukölln/ Kreuzberg)
Tempelhofer Feld (former airfield in Kreuzberg/ Neukölln re-modeled as public park)
Park Gleisdreieck
Potsdamer Platz
The gigantic main station
Frankfurter Tor (Friedrichshain/ post-war russian influenced architecture)
Russian war cemetary in Treptower Park
TV Tower at Alexanderplatz.

Coffee and more - up and down Bergmannstrasse, Graefestrasse and around.

I wish you a splendid time.

Berliner since 2012 said...

Places to visit: You can visit all famous places which are listed in guidebooks. There is also an alternative guidebook with an uninspiring title „111 Places in Berlin that you shouldn’t miss“. Some places listed in the book are worth of considering. At least, you’ll see interesting places not crowded by tourists. I would also suggest to take the so-called Ringbahn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Ringbahn, S-Bahn „S42“ or „S43“). Doing so, you can see many areas of the city in less than one hour.
Camera stores: There is the leica store Meister Camera („Leica Spezialist seit 1925“) which I haven’t visited yet. For vintage cameras, you might enjoy Foto Schilling (Kantstraße 87, 10627 Berlin-Charlottenburg), very small and nice store. If you want to look at cameras without purchasing any of them, you should visit Deutsches Technikmusem (http://www.sdtb.de/Photo-technology.1184.0.html).

tecnoworld said...

Take some pics at the Bugatti store in Unter den Linden 21 :-)

LiamC said...

Will you type up and post to the blog from the camera itself?

Kirk Tuck said...

I'll try a short blog on it. This sounds silly but.....I'm not sure yet if there's a text program on the camera...I'm sure I can download an Android app that does that. But really, Liam, the camera has to rest some time.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, don't miss the Hauptbahnhof — inside and outside.
A great opportunity for photos.

Joe Dasbach

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention . . . be sure you experience the Konditorei's and the luscious pastries along with your coffee.

And don't miss the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), another opportunity to eat well, have a great Bud Weiser (the original), buy fresh meats and seafood, buy a meal for take-out, have great Kaffee, shop for cameras, buy new clothes (for lots of Euros), and enjoy taking photos at every level (6 or 7 floors). People photography, food photography, deli photography, restaurant photography, "pub' photography, dessert photography, portrait photography all in one building — with refreshments.

Enjoy Berlin! The transit system is superb.

Joe Dasbach

Rory OT said...

Any plans to visit galleries Kirk? The Helut Newton gallery is worth a visit - http://www.helmut-newton.com/exhibitions/. I enjoyed this one when I visited a couple of years ago. This place also looks good - http://camerawork.de/en/cwc-gallery/


H. E. said...

Hi Kirk,

I look forward to your photos from Berlin. I hardly drink coffee, but when I am in Berlin I often have a good and cheap meal at Soup Culture that I recommend strongly:

Most beautyful place is Gendarmenmarkt,
but you will find interesting architecture in any district if you simply walk around.