Trying to keep the curiosity – Interview with Bartosz Tkacz
Hi Bartosz! Thank you for taking the time for this interview. To begin, would you kindly introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and where you currently live?
Hello, My name is Bartosz, I’m Polish and I live in Warsaw. I spend a few months per year in Japan, and while I’m there, I try to visit other Asian countries as well. Recently I was able to travel to Singapore, which was great and I loved it. In January, I’ll go to Taiwan and really can’t wait for that trip.
In Japan, I mostly live in Tokyo, but I also like to travel to other cities as usually the capital is different then the rest of the country.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 25mmF1.8 . f/1.8 . 1/60″ . ISO 1000
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 25mmF1.8 . f/2.0 . 1/4000″ . ISO 100
What is it like for a European to visit Japan?
To me, it’s always very refreshing and inspiring. Living in Poland, I got used to things looking a certain way. Streets being wide, buses being big. When I go to Japan, a lot of things are in a way the opposite. Buses are small, streets are narrow. It’s quite difficult to really comprehend how big Tokyo is, with almost 40 million people living there, and so many districts I don’t think I saw even 10% of it. That always inspires and motivates me to go out and shoot more, especially since I know I’m there for a limited time. Night photography is quite different with the amount of Neons and lights everywhere, and it feels safer to shoot at night than in Europe.
The weather feels like there are more sunny days than in central Europe, so that’s something that always makes me excited. When I go to districts with high-rise buildings, the sun reflects from all the windows and creates this high contrast between light and very long shadows and sometimes unusual colors of the reflected sun. I know that some local Japanese photographers don’t like this type of light, and I’m aware that there’s something I like to call a “tourist bias” where I get excited even by small things just because they’re different from what I know. I try to be aware of that and enjoy it, and when I come back from abroad to Poland, I try to keep up this curiosity.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/2.5 . 1/8000″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/5.6 . 1/2000″ . ISO 200
We all have the notion of mutual respect and a very evolved social culture in Japan. Are there any particular habits that you would like to see become popular in Europe?
I wish that trains were on time 🙂 Restaurant hospitality in Japan is also on another level, and I must say I enjoy their politeness, but I also understand that, at the same time, the work culture there can be toxic.
Did your interest in Photography exist prior to your time in Tokyo, or did it develop as a means of documenting your travelling experience?
I think it was always there. I was recently browsing photos I took with my old phones and I see that the interest, the intention to capture architecture, people, streets, and documenting events was already there years ago. I just never had a real camera. I started “borrowing” my girlfriend’s camera when she got herself the Olympus PEN E-PL9, and the more I “borrowed” the more fun it became so at some point I decided to buy my own camera and give back the stolen borrowed one. But definitely, my trips abroad made me reach for the camera more often, and it had a big part of me getting interested in photography more and more.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/3.5 . 1/60″ . ISO 500
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/8 . 1/60″ . ISO 400
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/2.5 . 1/1250″ . ISO 200
When deciding on a camera system, what factors influenced your decision to go with Olympus over other options available in the market?
I was already happy with the E-PL9, so for me the criteria was that I wanted a viewfinder and more than one dial that is in the E-PL model. I was considering other brands as well but felt overwhelmed by the choice, and because I already bought some lenses I decided to stick with this system for a while.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/1.8 . 1/60″ . ISO 1000
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/1.8 . 1/4000″ . ISO 125
What cameras and lenses do you currently use?
Currently, I use the E-M10 Mark IV. All of the lenses I have are M.Zuiko lenses. The ones I use the most are the 17mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8. I used the 25mm F1.8, but I felt that it was neither wide nor narrow enough for me. In Japan, most of the streets are quite narrow, so 17mm works perfectly for me, and when I’m back in Poland streets are more open, and then I use 17mm and 45mm.
Although the PEN series is relatively well accepted worldwide, we understand that it is extremely popular in Japan. Can you confirm this? What advantages and disadvantages would you highlight about the PEN compared to your E-M10 Mark IV?
I saw many women using PEN cameras in Japan, and in camera stores, they’re displayed with other popular Olympus models like E-M10 or the E-M5. I even saw a PEN model with a huge telephoto lens in a Sea Aquarium. I think PEN is popular because it’s cute and Japanese people like cute stuff and the PEN models have a lot of cute accessories for customisation.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/11 . 1/800″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/9 . 1/1000″ . ISO 200
What direction would you like OM SYSTEM to take for the PEN series? Could you identify some of the features you wanted to see in the next camera release?
Well, I’m not a gear expert, and I really don’t have that much experience with different cameras but if I can express my personal opinion, then I would say that USB-C is a must in any camera going forward as it is a standard now. I was quite surprised that the E-M10 Mark IV still uses the old Micro USB connection. A better sensor would be great, and if they added a mic input then it would become a serious vlogging camera. Although for vlogging the screen could pop upwards or sideways as currently, if we put it on a tripod, it will cover the screen. I would also be excited for a new PEN-F with a refreshed sensor and mic input.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/5.6 . 1/100″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/13 . 1/100″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/7.1 . 1/1000″ . ISO 200
I also wonder if Olympus will release a full-frame model at some point, that could be exciting. Still, keep the M43 system as they are great cameras, but if they could make a full-frame camera with all the features that OM-1 or OM-5 have then it would be an instant hit on the market in my humble opinion. Imagine a vintage-styled PEN-F or PEN-EP camera with a full-frame sensor and weather sealing, that would be a very interesting alternative to cameras like Fujifilm X100V or the new Nikon Zf.
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/4.0 . 1/500″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/9 . 1/320″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/7.1 . 1/800″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 45mmF1.8 . f/4.0 . 1/40″ . ISO 3200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 45mmF1.8 . f/5.6 . 1/200″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 45mmF1.8 . f/2.2 . 1/1250″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 . f/20 . 1/6″ . ISO 200
RIGHT: Olympus E-M10 MK IV . Olympus M.Zuiko 45mmF1.8 . f/2.2 . 1/100″ . ISO 640
“Hello, My name is Bartosz, I’m Polish and I live in Warsaw. I spend a few months per year in Japan, and while I’m there, I try to visit other Asian countries as well.”