Marco Secchi Blog

Photojournalist in Slovenia and Hungary

Dubblin Water Bottle

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My #Dubblin super cool bottle has finally arrived, looking forward to use in this hot weather to stay fresh and hydrated.  

Why drink from stainless steel? Such bottles don’t suffer from the weight issues associated with glass bottles or insulated metal bottles. Many people find they look fancier than plastic bottles. They aren’t see-through, so you can carry beverages other than water without others knowing. Most metal bottles these days, including our pick, come with electropolished interiors to help keep the bottles from taking on the smells or tastes of the liquids you put in them (and vice versa).

Spot-on proportions and cool designare its best trait. The diameter base is wide enough to fit into a standard-size cup holder without wobbling. Similarly, its 1¾-inch mouth is just big enough to fit almost any ice cube you throw into it, but not so wide that you’ll spill water everywhere if you try to sip on the go.

I must attest that water STAYS COLD, doesn’t leak, is easy to handle, fits our car beverage holders, and the mouthpiece performs amazingly well and is easy to clean. I can not say enough fabulous things about this water bottle

You can get yours here

 

Stainless, Steel, Water, Hydration, Bottle, Dubblin, Silver

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Written by msecchi

July 19, 2017 at 7:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Rogaska Slatina a Slovenian SPA resort

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Few resorts could ever be as healthy, green and luxurious as the Rogaska Slatina Slovenian SPA resort. The moment that I actually saw the place, I couldn’t believe how big, green and  well kept it was. I decided to stay at the Grand Hotel Rogaska and  It’s a hotel that really looks like more of a big grand building than anything else, and it manages to have the fantastic accommodations that you would expect from a hotel like this.

When I went on this vacation, I mainly just wanted to relax for few days. I wasn’t interested in sightseeing this time around. The Rogaska Slatina Slovenian SPA resort was perfect for that. I managed to get as many wellness treatments as I could, and I really recommend everything. You honestly completely feel like a different person the moment that you get back from the spa at the Rogaska Slatina. The therapists and the technicians at the spa really seemed to know what they were doing, and I immediately felt more relaxed the moment that I was in their hands. Really, I only have good things to say about the staff members of the Rogaska Slatina Slovenian SPA resort in general.

The staff members at a place like this can make or break it, which everyone knows. In this case, the Rogaska Slatina Slovenian SPA resort really had excellent staff members. I thought that all of them were really friendly and attentive. They really knew everything that was going on, and they could answer all of your questions without your having to try to Google everything every five seconds, and that makes all the difference if you’re on vacation and you’re trying not to stare at your phone the whole time. I really felt like the staff members could handle anything, and that makes a big difference if you’re abroad and you really want to make sure that you’re in good hands. Just a small example I needed to find a pet grooming service for my westie   and Andrea at the reception organised everything for me!

The view from my hotel room was fantastic, I chose to get a good size room that was called ‘Premium’ and from 22 to 40 Square meter.  The room was luxurious and I really felt like I was very comfortable there. Bed super comfy and bathroom of good size. Wifi free everywhere.People don’t necessarily need to get all of the most expensive things at the Grand Hotel Rogaska in order to really enjoy themselves there. This is just the sort of resort where people are going to have a great time anyway. 

 

This wasn’t really a sightseeing vacation for me. Of course, I did still want to go places there, and I thought that the Rogaska Slatina Slovenia SPA resort had the perfect location for that. The hotel is located near the end of the park, so you can basically walk outside and you’ll be able to get to somewhere pretty. The small town is just a gorgeous little place, and you really get a sense of the local area as a result. We took a fantastic little tour by train organised by the Tourist Board.

I went few times at the Rogaska Riviera swimming pool centre and is superb and really worth a visit, Donat Mg is a natural mineral water from the springs of Rogaška Slatina in Slovenia. It has a high content of magnesium. It helps with constipation problems, heartburn and magnesium deficiency problems.

I thought that the food at the Grand Hotel was great, with fantastic choice and great quality! The Grand Hotel Rogaska has everything: a pool, massage services, and rooms that are so comfortable you could really have fun there. I recommend this resort to anyone.

Grand Hotel Rogaska

Rogaska Slatina Tourist Office

 http://turizem-rogaska.si/default.aspx

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Grand Hotel Rogaska. . For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

June 11, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

CROATIA: The Village of Pican in Istria

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The small medieval Croatian village of Pican is perched on a 350 meters high hill in the Istrian hinterland, 10km south east of Pazin. 

View from the drone

View from the drone

 

Inhabited by the Histri tribe in early prehistoric times and later on by the Romans naming it Petina, Pican has lost its past importance and nowadays counts just 300 inhabitants. 

Pican is interesting for people searching for relaxation in its old houses  surrounded by the charming countryside that offers numerous opportunities for hiking, cycling and other outdoors activities. 

WHAT TO SEE 

The only visible evidence of the Roman presence is the inscription on the stone incorporated in the doorpost of the house facing the bell tower. Erected in 1872 this 48 meters high campanile that dominates the place is the third tallest in Istria.

 
In the Middle Ages, the town was encircled by defensive walls that are preserved partially because, over time, they were mutilated by houses built on top of them. However, the main town gate, constructed at the turn of the fourteenth into the fifteenth century and renovated in the 17th century is well conserved.
 
The fact that Pican was the administrative centre of central Istria as well as Bishopric seat confirms the significance it once had. The Diocese of Pican established in the fifth century by Byzantium was one of the oldest and smallest dioceses in the world that survived until the eighteenth century(1788). Although small, thanks to its role in the past Pican has conserved a couple of interesting sacral edifices. 

CHURCH OF ST. ROCK 

Before you enter the town on the left side of the main gate there is the small Church of St. Roch dedicated to the patron saint of people afflicted by the plague or other infectious diseases. Its foundation stone was laid in the beginning of the 17th century during one of the most severe plague epidemics. 

The park in front of the main gate to Pićan hosts the sculpture of St. John Nepomucene built in 1714. 

CHURCH of ST. MICHAEL 

The tiny Romanesque Church of St. Michael from the 13th century is situated at the top of 365 meters high Calvary Hill (Kalvarija), next to the cemetery. The interior of this single-nave building is decorated with valuable Gothic frescoes from the first half of the 15th century that were enriched by the Glagolitic engravings during the 15th and 16th centuries. Being located on a hilltop, its natural viewpoint offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area. In addition, this beautiful view was embellished by the stone sculpture The Family by Nane Zavagno, who took part in the Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium at Dubrova near Labin. 

THE CHURCH OF THE ANNOUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY 

This parish church was built on the foundations of a former cathedral of St. Nikifor from the 14th century. The main nave of the old Medieval church was expanded in 1613 but it acquired its current external form after its thorough modification between 1753 and 1771. Its interior was also redecorated in baroque style and the main altar is adorned with a painting of The Annunciation by Valentin Metzinger. Tombs of the bishops of Pićan and other meritorious citizens of Pićan, decorated with relief and coats of arms, are placed under the church floor and the plateau in front of the church. Also, the notes of the “Pican’s mess” celebrated in Old Church Slavon by the Glagolitic priests that is performed even nowadays are found there. Its bell tower stands separate from the church and offers a splendid view of the Istrian countryside. 

BIRTHPLACE of Matko Brajša Rašan 

Pican is also the birth place of Matko Brajsa Rasan (1859. – 1934.), choir master, recorder of old Istrian melodies whose birth home is located opposite the parish church. In 1912, he also composed the current official Istrian anthem Krasna zemljo after the lyrics of Ivan Cukon. 

VIEWPOINTS 

Whole Pican has beautiful views of the Istrian countryside but the most beautiful view is from the church of St. Michael.

The Franz Ferdinand’s Viewpoint situated in front of the cathedral offers an unobstructed view over the undulating landscape of central Istria. 

The viewpoint of saint Helen, named after the church which once stood in this place is also recommended. In addition, this part of the old sleepy village is piled with old abandoned houses with rustic lintels and stairs cut in rock. 

The viewpoint of Saint Helen

The viewpoint of Saint Helen

 

BICYCLING ROUTES 

Gracisce – Pican -Gracisce 

33 km long circular route Gracisce – Lovrici – Skopljak – Floricici – Sopot – Pican – Medigi – Montovani – Oric – Pazanci – Jakacici – Simuncici – Brunici – Gracisce is 50 % surfaced with asphalt that can be done in 3 hours. As the road is very demanding due to the great downward slope to Sopot and upward one to Pićan it is recommended to be ridden only in direction as described above. 

Pazin 3 or Pazin istok
 
This 100% asphalted, 64 km long circular route of medium difficulty could be done in 3 hours. Its hiking points are : Pazin – Cerovlje – Paz – Susnjevica – Vozilici – Krsan – Pican – Gracisce – Lindar – Pazin. 

HIKING TRAILS 

St. Nicefor 8 km long circular trail starting and ending in Pican for much of its length runs through fields. Its hiking points are : Pićan, Pedrovica, Vrh Kružac, Jelčići, Baldeti, Sv. Krištof and Lukeži. 

Other interesting paths are : 
Path of St. Rok
Benkovski slap
Pićan – Gračišće
Pićan – Gologorički dol 

Also, two major Istrian waterfalls, Sopot and Benkovski, are located in the vicinity of Pican. 

EVENTS 

Legendfest
 
The festival of Istrian legends, tales and myths is held at the end of July and at the beginning of August. 

Leni Martin – Lazy Martin

Exhibition of young wines from central and northern Istria as well as from Labin region is held at the end of November and attracts a lot of wine enthusiasts and experts. 

Rokova 

St. Roch festivity, Pican’s saint patron, with all day programme is held in the middle of August. 

Petivina

Wine exhibition of eastern Istrian vineyards is held at the end of may. 

HUNTING 

Public hunting area of Pićan , under the direction of the Kamenjarka Pićan hunting association is at the disposal of the hunters. 

LD «Kamenjarka Pićan » 
Sv. Katarina 35
52332 Pićan 

TOURIST INFORMATIONS

Tourist office for Pican as well as for whole central Istria is situated in Pazin.

Franine i Jurine 14
52000 Pazin 

+385 (0) 52 622 460 

 

info by croatiaview.com

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

June 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Travel

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​Losinj Island and Boutique Hotel Alhambra

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Losinj Island

Located due south of Rijeka in the Kvarner Gulf of the northern Adriatic Sea, Losinj is a hidden gem among Croatia’s renowned Mediterranean island retreats. Measuring a mere 20 miles long by 2 miles at its widest point, this compact, idyllic oasis offers travelers a true getaway in every sense of the word. It features sun-drenched seas bordered by spacious, uncrowded beaches dotted with picturesque fishing villages that are reminiscent of a time long past.

 

Traveling to Losinj takes some effort, which may account for the island’s relative obscurity and refreshing isolation from the crowds that flood other destinations during the holiday season. Visitors need to take a car ferry and drive to the island, as there is no international airport.

Once on the island, guests can begin to relax and indulge in the sights and sounds of this seductive place. The warm seaside climate delivers about 2600 hours of sunshine each year, fostering the growth of lush flora and over a thousand varieties of wild herbs that are both beautiful and practical; the herbs serve as natural mosquito repellents, making hiking and cycling the many trails a true delight.

Also commonly known as the ‘Island of Vitality’, Losinj is known for its wealth of health resorts and retreats that focus on the restorative powers of the natural environment, and the locals have a reputation for looking, and acting, far younger than their actual age. Spas, therapy centers and sports facilities are abundant here, making this a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to indulge in world-class body treatments, herbal therapies and rejuvenation.

The island is filled with unique restaurants and cafes serving fresh, local fish, pasta and area wines, providing guests with the opportunity to discover the tantalizing tastes of the region. Cikat Bay is the main tourist region, where windsurfers enjoy the warm waters of what is said to be the most beautiful bay in all of the Adriatic.

Hotel Alhambra

Located on the shore of Cikat Bay in the town of Mali Losinj, Hotel Alhambra is a five-star hotel housed in a historic, centuries-old Austro-Hungarian villa that has been painstakingly restored and refurbished, creating a one-of-a-kind luxury retreat.

Guests of the Hotel Alhambra stay in one of 51 private rooms and suites, including a limited selection of two-bedroom suites. Most rooms offer a sea view, while all come equipped with a balcony or terrace, en-suite baths with robes and slippers, air conditioning, satellite TV and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The long list of hotel amenities include a private beach for guests, complete with parasols and sun loungers; a heated indoor sea-water pool; 24-hour room service; butler service and a full fitness center. There are both Turkish and Finnish saunas, and expert masseuses are available for in-room massages and body treatments.

In the main area of the hotel, an upscale lounge serves up premium cocktails and wines, while the on-site restaurant features an eclectic menu filled with regional and international offerings prepared by expert chefs.

Hotel Alhambra is just a short half-mile walk away from the shops and cafes of Mali Losinj, providing easy access to the best the island has to offer. A marina is also close by, providing guests with access to scuba diving outfitters, charter boat tours and watercraft rentals.

For those who are seeking a relaxing, sun-filled vacation on a true island paradise that blends old-world charm with modern amenities and service, the Hotel Alhambra on Losinj Island is an ideal choice.

Travelers to Losinj are advised to reserve accommodations in advance, especially if they hope to secure space at one of the island’s most sought-after hotels, Hotel Alhambra.

What to see, what to do and where to eat

Mali Losinj

The town was first mentioned in 1398, under the name Malo selo (“small village”). In 1868, it experienced its golden year. There were as many as eleven shipyards, and it became the place with the largest and most developed merchant marine in the Adriatic Sea, even ahead of cities like Rijeka, Trieste and Venice.American author Kenneth Roberts observed that the little town, , seemed to have “produced a hundred seamen for each one produced elsewhere.” Writing in 1938, Roberts said there were currently “four hundred sea captains living on Lussinpiccolo, The place is lovely with many restaurants.

Veli Losinj

Veli Lošinj is  a superb little place has 901 inhabitants and a mild climate and caters to tourists. It is located 5 km from the town of Mali Lošinj. It was an important port and fishing centre until the late 19th century. Today it is known as a tourist and aromatherapy centre. The first mentioning of the town dates back to 1398 by the name of “Velo selo”. The oldest core of the city was built between the 13th and 14th centuries around the Romanesque church of Sv. Nikola (Saint Nicholas) from 14th century. The town grew along agricultural alignments, not along lais-out city streets. In the 15th century the still-standing defensive tower was built, erected to defend the harbour and the settlement, but also to protect the locals from pirate attacks.

Osor

Very old village with a wonderful feeling

Rovenska

A real hidden gem just off Veli Losinj it is for sure worth a visit!

Restaurants

Fortuna Restaurant and Pizza. Pizza  was really good and fish is fresh and lovely . here

Draga friendly place and good food in Mali Losinj.  here

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Alhambra Hotel. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

 

 

 

Written by msecchi

April 24, 2016 at 8:22 am

Photographing in Venice

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Venice is a beautiful place filled with natural scenery and great architecture. It is the ideal place for couples to have fun on the romantic bridges. However, photographers will find Venice a city to behold with numerous photographic opportunities waiting to be explored. If you are looking for somewhere to take pictures in Venice, here is a list of the places you should consider.

 

 

St. Mark’s Campanile, Piazza San Marco

Getting an overall view of the place is one of the most incredible things you can experience. Take a lift up to the bell tower’s peak and view the terracotta roofs. While up there, you will have a full view when taking all the photos you can of Piazza San Marco. One of the amazing things here that you will discover is that the canals found while walking disappear once you are on top of the place.

Palazzo Ducale, San Marco

The architectural features and the gothic venetian columns make an interesting addition to the Venice collection of any photographer. You can wander inside the palace and get photos of the courtyard as well as get a different view of Basilica di San Marco.

Museo Storico Navale di Venezia

One cannot leave Venice without taking a walk along Riva Degli Schiavone from Palazzo Ducale at sunset. At first, you might find the walk to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore to be a bit dull but after a while, you will get to see more photographic opportunities. It would be best to try using low light techniques when passing through the moving water.

Burano

This is probably the most beautiful village anyone has ever seen in Europe. Every home in Burano has a color code that makes the entire town look like a rainbow. It is required that if homeowners want to change the color of their houses, they have to consult with the local government. Afterward, they are given a list of colors to choose from ensuring the colors match with their neighbors. Looking at this beautiful town will remind you of visiting a candy shop where everything has a different color, but they all blend to form an artistic town.

Rialto Market

There is no shopping experience compared to visiting the Rialto Market. It happens to be the Venice central market and is extended from the foot of the Rialto Bridge to the San Polo neighborhood. You will find everything in the market ranging from produce, flowers, souvenirs and anything you might need. Rialto Market is an interesting place where you can take pictures of the activities going on in the market.

Venice is a place filled with photographic opportunities just waiting to be explored. When visiting Venice, you should make it a priority to visit all these places and experience the culture and serenity of the place. Talking photos will only ensure the memories stay with you for a long time and the people are friendly. These are the main places to visit, but since Venice is a big place, you should visit other places and find out if there are better photographic places left.

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Written by msecchi

April 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Venice

Tagged with ,

Logarska Dolina – Slovenia dream valley

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The first thing you’ll notice when you step into view of Slovenia’s Logar Valley (Logarska Dolina) is the way the clouds settle lazily between the alpine peaks in a way that seems to suggest the halt of time. I’d heard this glacial valley pass was one of Europe’s hidden marvels, and I wasn’t disappointed, for a multitude of reasons.

Spectacular Sights

My trip through the Logarska Dolina was basically an unending string of breathtaking views. The geography of the area is marked by stretching pastoral meadows surrounding by mountain ranges, all of which is constantly green and fertile.

 

The properties of the valley can be traced back to its roots, as a Ice Age glacier split what is known today as the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. What results is a lush basin, dotted with green farmsteads and stretching up into the brilliant peaks of the valley’s adjacent mountain ranges.

What immediately stood out to me about the Logar Valley was how despite being a location growing in popularity with tourists, it remained undeveloped and in many ways, seemingly untouched by human hands. The inhabitants of the valley are just a relative handful of farmers and commerce leaders, most of whom have lived in the area for generations, culminating in a respect for their place among the valley and a role to preserve its rich nature.

Cozy Accommodations

The duality between everyday lifestyle and tourism in the Logarska Dolina seems to balance in a way that doesn’t cripple either side. Hotel choices are abundant, and available for almost any price range, but staying in the valley felt like being part of the small farming community, rather than simply a tourist. Similarly, the quality and variety of the food in the Logar Valley showcases the finest offerings in this region of Europe, but restaurants were reminiscent of what you would expect within a small farm-based community: quaint and effortlessly comfortable.

What I found to be an understated upside about the Logarska Dolina, and the entire region, was the fact that the views, attractions and great accommodations were available at very fair prices. In a time when many tourist attractions come with a high rate of inflation, the Logar Valley was a great value.

 

Wander through the farmsteads and meadows, or plan excursions up into the breathtaking peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. In the Logarska Dolina, the views are plentiful, the nature is rich and the possibilities are endless.

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

March 28, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Fujifilm X70

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UPDATE MAY 2016 After two months I decided to sell the camera, it is too flimsy and too slow and in my humble view there are much better point and shoot for that amount of money. I got a Leica Q much more expensive but a real super camera!

The new Fujifilm X70 camera has a spectacular design and a magnificent look as well with the retro aesthetics just like the some of the other Fujifilm X series cameras which make it unique and special.

The camera is easily portable and fits in a jacket/coat pocket and weighs only 340g with in-fitted memory card and NP-95 battery which makes it a perfect for an adventurous trip and street photographers since it’s highly inconspicuous. The lens is 28mm f2.8 and a 16MP APS-C sensor that provides an exquisite and high-quality image. The diaphragm has nine rounded blades and a close-focusing limit of only 10cm.

I was not in need of a new camera and just wanted to try one for a review.

 

It is super small but I really mean small but at the same time it is very nice to hold it with a rubberized front and rear grips which are well-sculpted, and the camera feels comfortable in one hand.   At the beginning was not easy for me to use the LCD and was always looking for the viewfinder but I got used quite quickly and was fun the possibility to shot or focus touching directly on the LCD screen.

It has the same functionality of my XT-1 and XE-2 (with the new firmware ver. 4 ) and I tend to use my Fuji in AF-S and focusing is very fast and precise. It seemed to me very good for street photography and I did not miss any frame even with people and boats moving.

Fujifilm X70 has an admirable feature which is the 1.04 million tilting dot LCD touch panel that is 3.0 inch and which is also capable of rotating at 180-degree angle.

The touch panel has the following functionality which includes in preview mode:

  • Image enlargement capability: this is achieved by double-tapping on the touch screen which also centers on the active focus. 
  • Image moving capability: just like the phone, one can move the image by dragging it with the finger on the touch screen.
  • Image zooming capability: one can enlarge the image by widening it by the use of the two fingers just like in a touchscreen phone. 
  • Image scrolling: one can scroll the image upwards or downwards by swiping either way by the use of a finger. 

In shooting mode you will have access to:

  • Focus Area Selection: Move the focus area before taking the image: one can achieve this by tapping on the touch screen.
  • Touch Shot: Touch to focus and shoot on a specific point.

There is a small icon in the mid right side of the screen where you can switch between the two modes as well as turn the touch function off.

Adjustments in exposure compensation can easily been achieved by the dial.

Additionally, the lens control ring can also be used to adjust continuous shooting, film simulation, ISO speed, and white balance.

On the left hand side of the camera there is another function button. It sits quite well hidden. Very useful. I have decided to assign it to external ring control.

There is also a dedicated switch with an automatic mode, that I think may come handy to less photography savvy users. The camera also has a built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and an in-camera time-lapse.

The new 18.5mm f/2.8 lens in the X70 is a super performer. The quality of this pancake design lens is outstanding.
It’s an entirely new design by Fujifilm. It consists of 7 elements in 5 groups with 2 aspherical elements. It’s constructed in a  compact way,  and because there is no collapsing necessary when turning on/off the camera, this results in a much faster startup time when you switch your camera on.

The lens autofocus quickly thanks to the X70 hybrid autofocus system with both contrast detection and phase detect AF  which offers a 49-point Single Point AF mode and a Wide/Tracking mode that offers a 77-point autofocus area. Autofocus is fast, with reported autofocus acquisition said to be of as little as 0.06 seconds.

The X70 can start up in 0.5 seconds in High Performance mode, it is amazing and has a shutter lag time of just 0.05 seconds, can continuously shoot at up to 8 frames-per-second for around 12 frames and can use a completely silent electronic shutter with exposures at 1/32,000s.

Another feature that is is packed in the X70 is the digital crop feature or “digital tele converter” as Fujifilm calls it. When shooting jpeg mode you can chose to use either a 28mm, 35mm or 50mm crop mode.  The camera does some magic so you actually get a full 16mp file, obviously you can see some compression.

The  camera has additional accessories that include the LH-X70 Lens Hood, WCL-X70 wide conversion lens, VF-X21 optional viewfinder and BLC-X70 half leather case. The camera is available in two colors, silver or black. 

The X70 is in my view meant for people who needs a compact camera, and for street photographers who needs something  inconspicuous for getting candid moments of streetlife.

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

March 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm