Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Camera Review with Image samples (JPG, RAW) download link

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Image sample (JPG, RAW) download link

Recently, I got Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and I was impressed with its camera.  The image quality is good and RAW file is actually usable. So here are some examples with my thoughts on different mode.

Pro mode: You can control pretty much the same thing as you would on your big DSLR or Mirrorless camera, ISO, Aperture, Auto-Focus, White Balance, and Exposure, the usual stuffs are there.
And when you choose to take photos as RAW+JPG, it produces pretty good DNG file. 

Here are some photo comparison of JPG and RAW. You can also download the original files, so you can try to edit and compare them by yourself. 

Download the RAW and JPG files here

Those 24mp DNG files contain great detail on shadows and highlights which you can recover with editing software like Adobe Lightroom. 
The difference is night and day. It goes edited RAW files, JPG file. RAW file itself tends to be brighter than JPEG file. On last three photo, I compared, JPG HDR on, JPG HDR off, and Edited RAW file. With HDR turned on, you get more detail when it compared to normal JPG, still RAW file includes more detail.


Panorama: You've probably seen and used panorama mode on your phone. Of course, Note 9 has it. But with Note 9, fun part comes after you take the photo. It is also a video. With motion panorama mode, you can move back and forth withing the frame by tilting your phone. It can be also saved as a separate video.

Live Focus mode: Kind of like a portrait mode. 
It takes 2 photos with its dual lenses, tele and wide angle. After you take images with Live Focus mode on the camera, you can adjust background blur and the shape of blur. Applying heart shaped blur is pretty gimmicky, but nonetheless, it's fun to play around. 

Video: I am most impressed with its video functionality. OIS, optical image stabilizer, works like a charm. Without much care, I get buttery smooth footage almost like using gimbal. Those footage will be on my Instagram stories, so make sure to follow and check it out. 


Overall, I am very satisfied with the camera on Samsung Note 9. It's the first time that I can consider using this camera as an option for my professional workflow. And it's fun! I think Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 plus have similar, if not, identical cameras and software inside, so this thing will be applied to these smartphones as well.

Smartphone photography comes long way from mashed potatoes pics to now, competing with high-end DSLR cameras. 



Tokina FiRIN 20mm f/2 lens for Sony e mount review

Recently, I got Tokina’s Sony FE lens FiRIN 20mm F/2 lens. I took this lens for a test as to see if this lens will be suited for travel and interior photography.

For travel

I tested the lens one day in Split, Croatia to see how the lens handles the morning, day, and night. I used the lens with a7ii.

My day started with the gorgeous sunrise over Adriatic Sea. I didn't struggle with backlit situation. Images are sharp with details; however, I don’t think resistance to lens flare is FiRIN’s strong feature. I had to edit out green lens flare in some images. Sunstar is reasonably pleasing to my eyes as you can see on my 1st, 2nd, and 4th photos. 

For tiny, maze like structure of Diocletian's Palace, having 20mm wide angle lens as my only lens worked quite well. I had no issue getting everything I want in the frame. And since the lens produces extremely sharp images, I could crop photos a lot in post processing. Some images from this post are cropped, but I am confident you won’t notice the difference. I can only imagine it will work great with higher megapixel camera like, a7rii and a7riii.

FiRIN is sharp from wide open. This means it's great for handheld night photography without compromise. With fast f/2 aperture and help of IBIS, night photography was easy to handle. I was able to get some nice shots even in dim lit condition of Split old town. I could easily shoot close-up photos up to 1/10 second without getting blurry images. Check the detail on my last 2 images, 1/10 sec, f/2.2 handheld shot, original and cropped in post.

Overall, FiRIN was an ideal lens to carry around for traveling and walking around the city. For me personally, if I am traveling just for fun, I would love to remember and save all the good stuffs. I can do that with this wide angle lens.

For Interior

I had a chance to stay at 2 amazing hotels in Budapest, Hotel Moments and Boscolo Hotel. I tested how the lens handles for interior photography. 

For the first 3 images I took at Hotel Moments, I was shooting handheld. I usually don't shoot interior without tripod, but it was just a candid and casual stay at the hotel. IBIS helped me a lot on slower shutter speed. With the electric connection of FiRIN, the camera will know the focal length and aperture, so you don't need to manually set the focal length of image stabilization. 

Close up of 4th image shows smooth out-of-focus area with lots of detail on the book. 

The sharpness is there on focus level. The lens captures the busy detail of New York Cafe quite well from center to corner on 5th and 6th images. I was so happy to see image files keeping all crazy and tiny details. They are perfect. 

There is a little to no distortion on the lens which is a big plus. I did not apply the lens collection on Lightroom on these images. Even though I don’t have an experience on astrophotography with this lens, with its sharp f/2 fast aperture and no distortion, I imagine the lens will work perfectly for that application.

Tokina FiRIN is a solid performer for interior. I know I will get the best result when I could fit the scene well.  I think 20mm is just wide enough to avoid crazy distortion, but if I am on the paid assignment, then I will need zoom lens for flexibility, such 16-35mm f/4 Zeiss, f/2.8 GM or 12-24mm G. 


Other things to note


Since my other prime lenses are 28mm f/2 (200g) and 55mm f/1.8 (281g), FiRIN (490g) felt quite heavy compared to others, but once I get used to the weight, it is well balanced set up with a7ii. I’m sure people who dealt with heavier primes will have no issue handling this lens. And it is actually reasonable to have this weight because of its build quality, focal length, and fast & usable f/2 aperture.

Build quality

Just by looking at the lens, you can tell it’s going to be a great lens. This all-metal lens is beautifully designed and well constructed lens. Everything is easy to work with, smooth focusing ring and precise aperture ring. Aperture ring can be de-clicking, so it’s perfect for video works too. I really like the retro looking lens hood, but I wish the lens hood is made out of metal instead of plastic to match the lens. Unfortunately, FiRIN doesn’t offer weather sealing.

Manual Focus

My biggest worry when I got this lens was manual focus. I haven’t had great experiences with manual focus lenses. I have a couple of vintage MF lenses, but unless I take really long time to adjust focusing, I was always missing the focus by a little which made me irritate and slowed down my work flow. Keep in mind I have my modern assistant available, like focus peaking and magnifying. Still, I sucked with MF.

Surprisingly, I had no issue with MF on FiRIN. It's a 20mm wide lens, when stopped down everything is more or less in focus. For walk around, I just put focus on 3-4m range, and I don’t have to mess around with focus. No need for re-focus every shot. It was actually faster to shoot this way than using AF. 

On occasion, when I do want close-up shots, it has very smooth and precise focus ring. And for close-up, I need to make that small adjustment manually anyway, so there is not much difference from using Auto focus.


Dec Belgrade-3.jpg


For last 3 months, I really enjoy using Tokina FiRIN 20mm lens and I will continue to use it. Along with my 28mm and 55mm lenses, this lens will be on my camera bag regularly. 

The lens is sharp from wide open, has no distortion, and is easy focus manually. 20mm is not an all-in-one focal length, but there are many situations where this lens can be used perfectly. And I know I can always trust this lens to produce stunning images.


Having a great vacation with DIB hotel (with 20 euro Discount coupon!)

 Saved 92 euro in total!

I recently used the hotel booking website called, DIB hotel

The name DIB comes from bid, with this website, you can bid your budget to find the perfect hotel which matches your destination and preferences. 
Often times, you will get the hotel with significant discount when compared to normal website like, or expedia.
In my case, I stayed 2 nights, 5 star hotel in Zagreb. And I saved 92 euro in total.

DIB result.png

The room and service (breakfast included) were the same as it said on 
So I could use this extra 92 euro for some other things to enjoy on my weekend.

The website is very simple to navigate. 

Here is the quick demo. I used smartphone to show how easy and convenient it is to book the place with DIBhotel. 

1. Choose your destination, dates, room, and star rating. 
2. Choose services (breakfast, housekeeping), facilities (gym, pool), area
3. Set your price and place your bid!
4. Fill in your check-in and payment detail

That's it! 
Only thing you have to do now is to wait for the result! (It takes up to 48 hours for the response, but usually it's within 12 hours)


The great plus for this website is the friendly online live chat.
DIB hotel does not use the guest number, instead there is an option to choose single and double room.
I wanted to make sure what that means, so I asked Andrea who was available on the live chat. 

Not only she answered my question, but she also offered me the advice on bidding price. 
She went through the data base, and told me the past result. 

This approach makes this service personal which is very different from other booking website. 
It seems live chat is not available 24/7, but I hope they will make it as they grow.


Now, you might think getting huge discount on hotels sounds too good to be true, but the reason behind hotels accepting lower rate is simple.

It's better to have occupied rooms than to have vacant rooms.

Unless it's super popular property or high season, hotel rooms are not sold-out all the time. 
They have some empty rooms, and it's a zero, 100% loss for them.  
And with years of experience, hotels know the estimated occupacy rate on given seasons and days.

Hotels want more guests, but lowering the price is not an option. Hotels need to protect the brand.

This is where DIB Hotel comes in. 

DIB hotel does not reveal which hotels are in the system, you will only know your hotel if your bid is accepted. 
Hotels are protected and they can keep their regular price elsewhere.
The reservation is  non-refundable, so hotel can secure the guest, 
unlike on other booking websites where it's easy for people to cancel the booking even on the day of the arrival.

In these conditions, it's easy to understand hotels accepting discounted prices.


I very much liked using DIB Hotel for booking my weekend getaway. 
The website is simple and has no confusion. (Its minimal style might've came from the company being Swedish.)
It has great live chat feature. 
I saved 92 euro, and my room was the same as it stated on the regular price, 
I recommend everyone who is flexible on where to stay and want to save :)

Special gift!!

For 10 people only, I can give 20 euro coupon on your first booking. 
If you are planning on your next trip with DIB Hotel, send me a message to

Tell your story - Polaroid photo tour with Sophort

Tell your story - Polaroid photo tour with Sophort

Recently, I had an opportunity to take Polaroid photo tour by Sophort in Graz.

It's 2 and half hour photo walking tour with a small group of people, and of course with Polaroid camera loaded with 8 films. 
We were gooup of three. 
The guide said the maximum people for taking the tour is six as to keep the tour private and ensure that everyone gets the attention and support they need. 
And yes, I felt it was very relaxed and personal. 
If you want to go sidetrack or spend more time in one spot, you can! because it's a small group. 
You become friends with others, and they all want to enjoy and share this Polaroid experience.


It was a first time using Polaroid camera or any kind of analog cameras for me. 
Knowing I only got 8 photos to take, it was challenging, but in fun way. 
I don't have to care about the resolution, sharpness, or any other technical stuff that comes with digital photography. 

And there is something special about getting physical photos instantly. It makes you smile and satisfied.

I had so much fun during this tour. I could genuinely enjoyed photography.  In the end, I think that's what photography is all about, having and sharing the moment.

Sophort offers the tour in Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Warsaw, and Rome. If you are interested in the tour, please visit here.