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

X-T2 with the non-weather resistant 18-55
X-T2, 18-55, ACROS and Red Filter
A Perfect curl
25 second exposure, X-T2 + 18-55
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.


A Funny Thing Happened on the way to a Lens Firmware Update

Well, maybe not funny, but interesting from my perspective.  I downloaded into separate folders on my desktop Fuji’s latest firmware updates for my lenses so I’d be ready to run the updates on Saturday morning.  So, here I sit, early morning, coffee in hand, ready to go.

Without giving it much thought how did I decide to install the updates?  Least used lens FIRST; So, here’s my order from least favorite to favorite:  23 1.4,  35 1.4 (though i LOVE this lens),  then the 16mm 1.4, and finally my all-time favorite, don’t leave home without it lens:  the 18-55.

Not a hugely massive post, but I found it interesting how I picked them without even thinking about it!

Initial Impressions of my new X-T2

I hope you have a few minutes to watch my unboxing video on youtube

New X-T2 on the left, X-T1 on the right. As you’ll note the numbers are brighter and seem thicker when compared to the X-T1
X-T2 with the 35 1.4 on the left. Note the taller, nicely knurled new knobs and locking center button (in the unlocked position)
Fresh Organic and Arabica coffee beans spill out of a small burl
One of the first 30 images with the X-T2 and my 35mm 1.4 lens for stock use.

. This is my first video of any kind, ever so it’s pretty bad with regards to quality but I was just so darn excited I had to shoot one. I even setup a youtube account just to post it. If you knew me you’d understand what a major feat that was as I don’t even like pictures – that’s why I’m a photographer, so I can be BEHIND the camera, not in front of it if at all avoidable.  If you want to see the video you can watch it here.

So, I received the X-T2 on Friday morning and since it’s been raining pretty much non-stop here it has not left the house yet. I did entertain myself and shoot some stock images, which BTW are already for sale at shutterstock.com as of Saturday night.

Here are some initial impressions in some half-cocked, rambling way. First of all the finish of the faux leather is nicer. I know that word can mean so much, but if you feel it and the X-T1 you will note the difference in the texture. Next up is the taller, nicer knurled knobs on the camera. Taller is absolutley wonderful! I can’t thank Fuji enough for listening to photographers. I myself found that when changing ISO I would accidentally change the bottom switch from single shot to pano, or ch, or cl, etc., etc. Very frustrating but I learned to deal with it over time. Now on the X-T2 that problem is G.O.N.E. Forever! Heck, even with my pudgy fingers I can change settings either ISO, and/or shutterspeed and not mess up the settings. This I truly love. Second, I’m not sure if it is the fact that my X-T1 is now two years and seven months old, but the engraved numbers on the ISO, shutter speed, and over/under comp dials are so much brighter. Could my X-T1 have faded that much? I don’t know and time will tell I suppose, but they are definitely brigher and whiter. Before I move on to the oh so joyous joystick I want to comment on the four-way controller that was the bane of my existence on my T1… I hated it. Period.  Compared to my first X camera the X-E1 this was definitely a step down! Since I was one of the very early adopters of the X-T1 in February 2014 the buttons on my 4-way controller were, and are horrible. This was before Fuji fixed it later X-T1 production. How about on the X-T2 you ask? Oh My Goodness they are fantastic!!! Let me put it this way: if the X-T2 had not come with the new joystick I could care less! That is how much I love the new 4-way; it’s tactile, and raised so it makes using them a joy to use. I’ve assigned each one of the buttons a separate function in order to get the most use out of them! Seriously: It’s THAT good now. Speaking the joystick… OH JOY! Easily reachable when looking through the viewfinder, my thumb can find it in an instant to move it around! I currently have the camera set for “only” 91 focus points as I find the max number way too many and honestly I don’t need it at this point. The joystick is an amazing addition to say the least! Next up: the viewfinder. I though the X-T1 was bright and useful – nothing like the X-T2 viewfinder. When I first looked through it my first words out of my mouth were: Wow!  It’s that huge and bright! The refresh rate is oh so fast to me it looks like a regular optical viewfinder. Perfect. Now for what I consider the absolute bestest new “improvement” on this camera: The sound of the shutter. To describe it as silky, buttery, smooth still doesn’t explain it. You “HAVE” to experience it. The X-T1 sounds clunky next to the absolutely amazing “click” the X-T2 cranks out. It is to me one of the most amazing sounds I’ve heard coming from a shutter and I’ve used all types of cameras in my 30+ years. It’s that sweet!

Next up the Acros film simulation. Hallelujiah! I may finally, after switching to full digital from film back in 2002, actually have to stop converting in post and more currently I may be able to stop using Nik’s SilverEfex Pro 2.0. I can’t believe I just said that but it’s true. Even using Nik and LR to convert to BW I just couldn’t nail the look I wanted; with the Acros, and the Green filter I can actually get 95% there. Truly exceptional.

What I hate so far: the rear command dial. For example when using the self-timer I press the Q button, go to the option to select off, 2 or 10 seconds, then using my thumb I rotate the rear command dial to make my selection but the problem is my bit fat fingers put just a tad little pressure I accidentally press in. The press option on the command dials needs to be a bit stiffer (at least for me). I’m sure there is a way to turn that off (or so I hope) so if anyone out there knows how to disable the pressing of the command dial please, please let me know. It is waaaaay too sensitive for my taste. Honestly, so far that is my only complaint.

If you’ve noticed after getting this far I have not talked about image quality. Why? Because I have not done a side-by-side comparison between the X-T1 and the X-T2. In all honesty, I’ve taken about 35 images so far! And fifteen were a lifestyle shoot for stock. Now, with that having been said and on a full charge after shooting just about 31-32 images my battery was in the red zone. I know I was fiddling around with the menu’s and getting the camera setup but that is somewhat concerning even though I have seven batteries that I can carry with me. We’ll have to see how that develops.

I have been shooting uncompressed raw files that are 50.6mb in size (same size as my Lossless compressed, D800e files) compared to 33mb in the X-T1; There is some serious data in there! The jpeg files are oh so much larger as well which is a welcome change. Now, and only now am I comfortable submitting straight up jpeg’s out to the stock agents if I have to. If I process a raw file in Photoshop and save it as a tiff the file size heads up to 144mb. A very nice size with lots of details as storage prices have come down, and size and quality have gone up.

For comparison, I took a X-T2 processed (in LR) raw file and exported it as a jpeg; I then took a processed raw file (NEF) from my Nikon D800e (36mp) camera and did the same standard export as a jpeg. Now, keep in mind they were not of the same exact subject so size wise they may be different but the Nikon NEF exported from LR as a jpeg is 11.2 megabytes, and the X-T2 RAF file exported using the same export is 18.2 megabytes! Quite an eye-opening comparison if you ask me.   Again, different subjects, and one has slightly more detail than another but still way larger, albeit more details than the X-T1 RAF files when exported as a jpeg are “only” 8 mb on average.

So, for right now this is what I have to report. Once I actually take the camera out for a walk-around I’ll have more to say.

Big Photo/Stock Trip Next Year….

Right now, my spouse and I are planning a big trip for next summer.  I am going to visit where I was born 59 years ago: Cuba.  Santa Clara to be exact, but I’ll also be traveling around the island to visit other locations.  I’ll be picking up a travel guide on Amazon shortly to begin the initial planning stages.  This photo/stock trip will probably be the biggest I undertake in 2017 so I need to make it count.  I’m beginning to consider what I’ll be taking with me and what stays behind; I also have to get more information on exactly what I’ll need to get there as far as passports, which we have, but visa’s, etc.  So, that will be a trip up to NYC to take care of that.  With the Zika virus spreading I also want to be sure both my spouse and I are vaccinated with whatever immunizations we need for our personal safety.
At this stage in the planning I only want to take the bare minimum I need for clothing — cargo shorts, sneakers, some T’s and polo shirts.  I do plan on leaving most of my clothing behind, for the locals, if you know what I mean.  They need it more than me.

I do not plan on taking a laptop on this trip.  I would be too worried about safeguarding it in the various hotels we’ll be staying at.  I have enough memory cards to bring back approximately 9000 jpeg+raw images on my Fuji X-T1.  I am almost certain the X-T1 will be the camera I will take with me — leaving the Nikon D800e at home. That is unless I opt to get the Fuji X-T2 and use the ‘1 as a backup body just in case.  Not sure what I’ll be doing about that yet.  I certainly don’t want to get caught with my pants down and take only one camera and have it somehow get damaged.  That would be disastrous for me.

Lenses:  First and foremost:  my “don’t leave home without it” lens the Fuji 18-55.  I really could glue that to the X-T1 and be happy forever that’s how much I love that lens.  My second lens will definitely be the Fuji 16mm 1.4.   After that, I think it will be either the Zeiss 12mm 2.8 though I question how much I really will use it.. . Or a toss-up between the 23 or 35mm.  I can pretty much guarantee the 55-200 will stay home though.  Throw in my seven batteries, one charger (though I have multiple chargers), plus my 77mm filter set of two polarizers, and a 4 and 10stop ND filters;  a couple of microfiber cloths and a Giotto blower plus my small travel Sirui tripod and I think I have my kit laid out.  However, being this trip is ten months out, I’m sure I’ll be revisiting my choices an excruciating number of times.

For backup of my memory cards?  Haven’t thought about that yet.  Honestly, I’m inclined not to take anything but I know my OCD won’t allow that.  As I said I’m not taking a laptop with me so whatever device I decide to use will have to be PC/Mac independent.  I have read of several devices that allow uploads from the memory cards right into the unit but I have not done much research on them but on the one I did look into the reviews were not too positive.  I am planning on taking my iPhone and my small iPad mini in order to stay in touch with family back in the states whenever possible.  My iPad has no where near enough memory to handle most of my images but if I can find a device that will allow me to plug in my cards, and channel them from the cards right into my Amazon cloud drive (as a prime member I get free unlimited storage) whenever wi-fi is available it may solve my problem of not enough space/loss of SD card problem.  I’ll need to start looking into that.

More to come as I continue to work on this upcoming photo/stock trip.

Lil Bit of Camera Porn This Morning

This is my X-T1, and my D800e.  I was cleaning out my gear after returning from a road trip and had placed them on a coffee table.  They were both begging to be photographed!

So I complied with their wishes.  Take a look at the size differential!!  Yeah, yeah I know the 800e has the battery grip but that’s how I use it 99% of the time.  The X-T1 does not as I like to keep it lightweight.

My wife wonders why I always grab the Fuji — Wonder no more.

Last Nights Amazing Sunset

I’m sitting at home glancing out the windows and notice the sky has cleared up.  I’m also noticing some amazing wispy clouds floating by.  So it’s like 7pm, sunset is at 7:40p and I grab my gear and shoot out the door.   As I’m flying downtime two-lane road I’m thinking I’m going to miss the best part of the sunset as I see the sky lighting up around me.  Well, I arrived at the Marshall Point Lighthouse with about 10 minutes to spare and quickly grab my gear;  unfortunately, my tripod was in my other car which my wife was driving.

From my backpack, as I didn’t have time to swap my gear into one of my shoulder bags I grabbed my X-T1,with the 18-55, and the 16mm 1.4.  That’s all I used during this amazing display of light and shadow.  The image stabilizer on the 18-55 lens truly helped nail a few images as some of my handheld exposures were in the 1/7th to 1/15th of a second.

As it got darker and darker I swapped to the faster 16mm 1.4 and used that — even though I had to push the ISO up to the 800 level.  I am so far very happy with my results from last night.  More images to come from St. George Island soon!



Finally Arrived!

I’m finally up in Maine!  Yay!  I left New Jersey in 115 degree temperature, and when I shot this image it was 58 degrees!  Can you believe that!  I’m standing in a fine wet mist, with heavy fog rolling in off the ocean in a polo shirt just enjoying the weather and there are people all around me huddled together in sweatshirts and hoodies.  If they only knew…

This image is one of the first two or three I took.  It is the “Bug light”  Lighthouse in South Portland Maine.  I stopped in Portland for fuel and food;  My goal was to hit the Two lights state park but I arrived so late due to traffic and such that I missed the sunset. However, I feel this blue hour image of the Bug Light is so much better (IMHO)

So, it’ll be a busy week.  I’ll try to post further.   JLM_1350

My Queue is Finally Empty

After eleven months my new photos queue in Lightroom is empty.  I’ve filed away into their appropriate folders, edited whatever was needed, prepared those images going to stock sales, and submitted at least 70% of the ones I had selected to go out.

But the best part is:  The Queue is EMPTY!  Since September 2015 I’ve had images in that folder awaiting review, editing, keywording among other things.  Now it’s all done.

However, tomorrow I leave for a few days of photography; this time it’s for myself more than work related stock and travel.  I plan on experimenting with Panoramics, HDR, and long exposure among other things.  We shall see what I return with.  If I can post from the road, I will.

Tonight I’ll be selecting the gear I plan to take.  Since this is a car trip, with the exception of when we go off into the woods for a hike, the gear should pretty much stay put in the back seat in my backpack so I think I’ll probably pack everything PLUS the kitchen sink.  As always, I’ll have a couple of smaller messenger bags that are always with me for those times when i’m off on a walking adventure.