2016 In my Rear View Mirror

2016 was a rockin’ year!  I received the blessing of a 3rd Grandson which is the grandest of all gifts.  Stock sales, though down in the market overall, I made up for in volume!  What that means is a ot of more work, for basically a small increase in income.  Volume rules at this point; gone are the days of licensing an image for 40 – 50 bucks when anyone can go online and pick up an image for a quarter.  Oh well, such is life.

On another but related note I am now dSLR free.  It’s a double-edge sword and my feelings are torn.  I sold the last of my Nikon gear – being the D800e and a 50mm 1.8 lens.  I am now all in on Fuji with the X series cameras and lenses.  Will I miss those glorious 36 megapixel files?  At times I’m sure I would but in order to have those files, I had to shoot them, and in all honesty, as you can see by the stats I rarely used the camera!

So, here is a re-cap of my 2016 stats, cameras first, then lenses.

  • Nikon D800e:  1,371 keepers
  • Fuji X-T1:  4,117 keepers
  • Fuji X-T2: 4,503 keepers (purchased in September 2016!!)
  • 16mm F1.4: 1,514 keepers
  • 18-55 2.8-4.0 Zoom (my don’t leave home without it lens) 1,489
  • 23mm F1.4: 1,094 keepers
  • 35mm F1.4: 2,256
  • Fuji 55-200 Zoom:  2057 keepers
  • Zeiss 12mm F2.8: 135 keepers.  Most unused lens, but when you need it you need it!

That’s pretty much it for my year. Hears hoping to a profitable, successful and FUN 2017.

Happy New Year

 

 

My Very First Camera

For my birthday in 1972 I truly wanted a Minolta 101 SLR.  My dad instead brought me this camera with the stipulation that if he saw me actually using the camera, and exploring photography, on my next birthday he would buy me the Minolta SRT101.  This little camera and it’s tiny 110 film saw thousands of frames — mostly in Black and White.  I remember getting back my first roll of prints on TriX and was blown away by the quality, contrast, and shading it offered.  Remember: This was 1972.

For more information on this puppy go here

 

Bokeh Anyone?

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I’ve written about the fabulous Fuji 55-200 lens in the past but I have to say it is a truly spectacular piece of glass!  FF field of view approximately 84mm to 300mm.  Pretty sweet.

I got this lens before the 50-140 2.8 came out; and I considered my options — upgrade? sell the 55-200?  what should I do?  I’m here to say I’m glad I did nothing.  The 50-140 2.8, though a phenomenal lens, is too expensive, too big, and too heavy for me.  I switched from Nikon to Fuji to save weight, and my back so I’ll be darn if I’m lugging the 50-140 2.8 around.  Heck, I remember lugging my fabulously sharp, and oh so heavy, 70-200 2.8 in the woods.  No more.

Honestly I’ve tested both.  I cannot tell the difference in sharpness.  I read the stories and reviews about how phenomenal the lens is, and the writers are most likely correct.  But for me the 55-200 just works.  But that’s me.  It’s small, lightweight, and has a marvelous range, plus it’s reasonably fast!  Can’t ask for anything more than that.

What I will stress here is that if you are planning on purchasing one or the other, test them.  Rent them.  Use them out in the field.  That would be the best way to determine if you can live with one or the other.  I remember a year or so ago I purchased the Fuji 56mm 1.2 based on the positive reviews online.  I shot three events back to back with it the same day and, after only the first event, wound up switching to my 35 1.4, and the 18-55 to finish the job!  The 56 1.2, in a extremely well-light church and I mean well lit — sunny day, large skylights, bright light colored interior, and huge windows letting in the light down both sides, the damn thing refused to lock focus often enough that I switched it out and never looked back.  It was returned for a full refund that Monday morning.  Maybe it was a bad copy.  Maybe it was I read too much into how great the lens was.  I don’t know.  But I’m to going back to it.  Waaaaay too much money for a fixed focal length, that almost cost me some serious dough by not working as I expected it to.

Anyway, I’ll stop here singing the praises of the 55-200.  You be the judge.

 

 

A Bad Day, and a Good day

On my way to the office this morning my car was rear-ended by the guy behind me, who was hit by someone behind him.  So, my car be totaled.  that’s the bad news.  The good news is I had my car flat bedded to my mechanics shop where, while he worked on it to make it safe, and drive-able, I photographed one of his new additions.  It’s a rusting hulk (soon to be restored) 1952 Ford Firetruck!  That’s the good news.

While waiting for my car I spent over an hour photographing this thing of beauty.  It was raining, misty, and the lighting gave the faded red paint, and the rust a soft, warm patina that is hard to duplicate.

Here is the first image I looked at tonight.  It’s with the X-T2, 35mm 1.4, handheld.  Processed the raw as a Classic Chrome, then I processed it in the FANTASTIC Acros film simulation.  I am so taken back by the image quality of the camera in general, and then the Acros is like the cherry on top!!

100, 200% Satisfied

A couple of images here.  My grandson, Jonah.  First is the original image (from raw). I shot the entire day with the 35mm F1.4, The X-T2, Acros + G filter.  This is the JPEG from the raw file, processed in Classic Chrome.

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Now below is the SCREENSHOT of the same image, at 200 PERCENT as viewed on a 46″ display!  You can see me, and Jonah’s dad in his eyes!!!  Dang…….

200% on 46" Display.png

 

X-T2 Dual Card Slot (quick note)

I grabbed my X-T2 knowing I had taken out the SD card from slot 1 and I was very, very surprised when the camera fired off an exposure with only a SD card in slot 2.  Per my older blog post, if there is no card in slot 2, but only in slot 1, the camera locks up.

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Medical Helicopters. Acros + red Filter, X-T2, 35mm 1.4 lens. What an outstanding combo!

Fujifilm HQ in Edison NJ

I will say the guys and gals that work at Fuji (at least in Edison, NJ) are the very best!  I congratulate them all.

Yesterday I had some questions about my setup of the X-T2 and I contacted them.  I spoke with a gentleman there who pulled out an X-T2, and he and I went over and through settings until I was taken care of.

In one instance he did not have an answer; he took my phone number down and lo and behold, he had an answer for me by the end of the day!   Anybody get that kind of service from Nikon?  Canon?  Sony (HA!)?  I bet not.  I’ve dealt with Nikon support in NY.  Unless you are part of the pro services (which I am not) you are pretty much at the mercy of some folks who don’t really care whether you are happy or not.  Trust me.

Just so you know I’ve dealt with Fuji in Edison since way back in 2002.  I used to shoot digital with a Fujfilm S1Pro, then the S2Pro before I went all Nikon.

They truly are professionals!    Thanks guys!!

 

X-T2 Quick Review of the Good, the Bad, and the oddly Silly from my point of view

Ok the rose colored glasses are askew, and the gloves are on. I have some bones to pick with Fuji with regards to certain X-T2 functions.

Let’s get started:

I decided to head out for a full day of shooting in southern Vermont. I packed the X-T2 with the 18-55, and the X-T1 with the 55-200. In my bag, besides the extra batteries, filters, and memory cards I threw in my Zeiss 12mm, Fuji 16 and 35 1.4. I did not use any of those three. Didn’t need to as the 18-55 was phenomenal!

Here is where it gets interesting:
The GOOD: Battery life; much better on this outing than the last. 580 raw (uncompressed) + Jpegs Fine, very little chimping, using the 2nd card slot as backup of 1st card (more on this later) and I still had two bars remaining when I got home. I had the camera in standard mode, not boost btw.  The long lasting battery is very good news.

The GREAT: Image Quality. Since this trip was by car I also packed my Nikon D800e with the 50mm 18G lens. I have to compare some images more closely, but I cannot discern a huge difference, if any, between the X-T2 24mp and the 36mp of the D800e. Honest. I just can’t. The colors are gorgeous. The resolution is fantastic.

The shutter sound: It is so freakin’ sweet. It is one of the very best sounds I’ve ever heard coming from a camera. Smooth, and silky. I love it. The X-T1 sounds like tin compared to the X-T2 shutter. I really, really like that. I know it doesn’t affect picture quality, but it sure makes me feel warm all over when I press the button.

The BAD: When I arrived on location before dawn it was 31 degrees F, foggy, and damp. When I pressed the shutter release: Nothing. Hard as a rock. I literally had to mash it for it to shoot. I had to press it so hard, the camera would just fire, without first focusing. Weird. As the day wore on, this became less and less of a problem. I have to test this further, but I’m not happy about that at all.  Here I’m sitting in my office using the X-T2 after having written this and it’s working perfectly!  I wonder if weather had something to do with it?  I’ll have to further test this.

The rear command dial sucks. It is too easy to press in when trying to rotate it! If it were not for the other redeeming qualities I would RETURN the camera and stick with my X-T1.  What the hell Fuji? What were you thinking? This week I’m reaching out to Fuji North America to see if I can somehow disable the rear command dial and assign its functions to another button. I hate using the rear command dial and it really bugs me having to use the camera with it there.  UPDATE:  Spent some time with the fabulous folks at Fuji in Edison NJ, and they say that I’m not the only person complaining about the rear command dial, the way it’s operating is normal, and it’s very easy to press in as you attempt to rotate the dial. Also, there is no way to swap the operation of the rear command dial to the front command dial for use with the Q menu. Damn.

BAD: The battery charger. I just don’t want to deal with yet another cable.  Why not design the charger like the X-T1 charger?     I will be looking for a replacement charger soon. This is just another cable that needs to be packed, and could be left behind rendering the X-T2 charger useless.

The menu system. Too much stuff everywhere. Also, I’d like to be able to add ANYTHING I WANT to MY Menu. Why do I have to go so deep to format a card, or the ridiculously named “Save Data Setup” to change the 2nd memory card function??? Why? This, and especially the next items need a firmware update ASAP. Without hesitation!

This issue is just plain STUPID:

Be sure you have two cards loaded if you’ve set the camera to use both cards for backup as  did for this trip in (MENU > WRENCH > SAVE DATA SETUP > CARD SLOT SETTING (STILL IMAGE)> BACKUP. If you don’t insert a card while in this mode, the camera warns NO CARD and locks up!

What the hell Fuji? Please, please take a look at the Nikon and Canon and probably other manufacturers setup and FIX THIS!  A quick firmware fix should do this.

The MEDIOCRE – And this is probably due to my idiocy, and not knowing all the menu commands yet. If I hold the shutter button too long after focusing, the image increases to 100% and allows me to focus manually. I’m sure I can turn this off, but have yet to figure it out (or read the manual). I had that happen a few times, and I will admit the images I manually focused on when this happened did not disappoint. They were crisp and sharp whereas my other attempts at using manual focus were not very good when attempting manual focus on the X-T1.

The BATTERY: I found that the new 126S that came with the T2 does not charge when using one of my X-T1 chargers. That sucks as I have three of those chargers!  I don’t want to lug a different charger just for the X-T2  so I’ll be on the lookout for one charger that supports both the regular 126 and the new 126S batteries.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll find other nuisances, and probably a solution to some of them as I become more familiar and further use the camera.

And I’ll throw out that Rico can’t publish his X-T2 book fast enough for me.

X-T2 in the Rain

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X-T2 with the non-weather resistant 18-55
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X-T2, 18-55, ACROS and Red Filter
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A Perfect curl
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25 second exposure, X-T2 + 18-55
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X-T2, 18-55, in rain and wind.  In the 100% view, you can see the rain whizzing past the lens

 

Today was a very windy and rainy day thanks to the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew.  Since my spouse had work to do, and I didn’t want to be in the way I decided to head out to the shore and see if I can capture some of the action.

I took my X-T2 with the 18-55 mounted as I did not want to be swapping lenses in the rain on a beach, in a storm.  So I worked with what I had, even though I had all my lenses in my backpack.

The X-T2 performed flawlessly.  No complaints whatsoever.  I will mention here the X-T1, which has served me so well since early 2014 would have worked in the same, perfect way.

What I found out to be the biggest asset today was the flip-out LCD when the camera was in the vertical orientation on the tripod!  That was fantastic!  Just great.  The second amazing item was the battery life; I shot a total of 370 images, all tripod, most between 6 to 29 seconds, with long-exposure noise reduction on, AND, every single image using the rear LCD, plus, at least for me, an inordinate amount of chimping as I wanted to make sure the image was sharp due to the heavy winds.  I just checked and I still have TWO bars left!  Much, much better than my X-T1 would have done under the same circumstances.

All-in-all the X-T2 came through with flying colors, as did the 18-55 even though it spent several hours in rain from a slight drizzle, and a downpour towards the end of my day.  I was soaked, and tired, the camera could have kept going.