Well I’m headed out once again. Since late April, I’ve been on the road more than at home. And, it’s no different Thanksgiving weekend. I’m headed to Charleston, South Carolina to shoot and have some fun while I’m there. For this trip I’m only packing my Fuji X-T2. For lenses I’m taking the Fuji 16-55 2.8 for the classic landscapes, the 50-140 2.8, my fabulous 18-55 2.8-4.0 to use when walking around town, and at the last minute I threw in the Zeiss 12mm 2.8/Touit. I was actually taking some photos of the Zeiss in order to put it on eBay but decided last minute to take it with me one last time — I just wanted to give it one more shot (pun intended) before I list it for sale. I’m leaving behind all the primes including my prized 16mm 1.4, plus my other 1.4 primes. I’m also packing my Mavic Pro Platinum for some aerials, some spare drone and seven camera batteries plus some filters. All of this fits in my Amazon Basic camera backpack which I have to say that for a whopping 39.95US has been used now over five years, and it’s still amazing! Out of my twelve camera bags, it’s the bag that always hits the road with me. The bag has a ton of room, plus a laptop pocket that holds my 15″ MacBook – but on this trip only my 11″ MacBook Air is traveling with me in order to keep it light(er).
In addition to the Amazon backpack I’m also packing a small, lightweight Lowepro which holds my camera body with grip (if I choose to carry it) and lens, plus an extra lens and my batteries. It literally weighs ounces and I can fold it up and stick it in the outside pocket of my backpack or store it in my luggage.
So, I’ll be off now… Take care. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday for those of you that celebrate it.
Over the weekend I came to a conclusion. And that conclusion was that I was unhappy with the images coming out of my X-T2 at higher ISO’s — I talking about 400 and above. This is something I had been noticing over the past several months, Way too noisy, and the images just didn’t look good, or right to my eyes. I have been fiddling with controls and setting in a lame attempt to fix the issue by making incremental changes and nothing worked. Finally, on Saturday, I did it. I went into the menu system and did a complete system reset. Done. No more fiddling around, it was almost as it came out of the box! Another setting I was getting tired of was my auto ISO setting whereas I had the ISO dial set to AUTO, and I used the front command dial to change the ISO on the fly. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I did to set that function, and I wanted it gone. So the reset took care of it, and all my other functions I had set up over the last two years. The results: BACK to shooting bliss. It took me quite a while to get some of my settings back and I had to go back to the manual a few times but my man oh man the change in image quality, and camera function is day and night difference! Love it! Seriously. To my eyes the jpeg and the raw files look better – cleaner, less noisy; I purposely shot at ISO 3200 and higher which I was avoiding, and I was very happy with the level of noise. Again the difference is day and night after the reset.
So if you are having issues, maybe this is something you may want to consider.
Yay Me! Based on a professional recommendation to run out and purchase either a Reikonon, or a Pentagon FF lens from a working pro, I found this lens, a 50mm 1.8 on eBay. It shipped from Stuttgart Germany and it must have been sent on a scenic tour of the world as it took weeks to arrive on the East Coast. However, for $69.00 bucks, and the quality images both in sharpness, contrast, and MICRO contrast I would have waited longer! WOW. It’s manual focus only, and I also had to purchase a M42 screw-mount adapter to Fuji for $4.99 for it but it was well worth the price. For a grand total of less than $80.00 shipped I got one heck of a lens~ If you can find one, get one! or two.
One thing I have noticed with the “fly-by-wire” or electronic Fuji (as well as others such as Nikon, Canon etc) is that an auto-focus lens, when you attempt to manually focus, just doesn’t work as well as most people say. There is too much turning of the focusing ring back and forth, and I have never been happy with the results; besides, it’s auto focus – so why would I even want to manually attempt focus? Honestly. However, this lens is a fully manual lens, using the focus peaking on the X-T2 is just amazingly easy! I can’t get over how simple, fast, and easy it is to focus. This lens is all metal and has a beautiful rubberized ring and I have to say it’s as smooth as silk.
Here are some images I took the other day while playing around with it:
I’m amazed at the clarity of the images. These are taken in Acros, Jpeg. The bokeh it produces is circular, and oh so creamy. You can’t tell the there as I had it stopped to maybe 5.6 but it’s just so darn cool!
The rendering of the background trees is Just Beautiful! The crispness and clarity of what’s actually in focus is unreal. I can’t get over not only the image quality, but how easy and how much fun it is to use. When I first purchased the Fuji X-E1 in February 2013 I mounted my old, well used Minolta 58 1.4 to use it. This was a fully manual lens and was so simple to focus and use. Today’s Fuji’s coupled with the tremendous improvements in focusing and speed via perpetual (it seems) firmware updates – especially in focus peaking, makes using TRUE manual focus lenses such a joy again!
Here are a couple of other images, photographed Indoors, Jpeg mode, just testing not only the lens, but my manual focusing capabilities:
Since i received my X-T2 about two years ago I’ve been playing with the memory card configuration. I’ve tried all the option: Sequential, Raw/Jpeg, and Backup.
Sequential: It just works. No worries. Fill up the card in slot 1, and the camera automatically rolls over and begins using slot 2. A no brainer there. Great for casual shooting, and casual shooters — of which I’m neither.
Raw/Jpeg: This is the option I’ve most often used. I always shoot raw/jpeg anyway but wind up keeping the raw files, and deleting the jpegs 90% of the time. This option makes it so much easier not having to load both jpeg/raw’s together. I just pop the card containing the raw files out of the camera, and import my images into LR. Easy enough. The only problem I find is if the card containing the raw files is for some reason corrupted or somehow damaged I’m left with only the jpegs. Now don’t get me wrong, the jpegs are nothing to sneeze at; as a matter of fact, the fuji jpegs are just amazing out of the box but as a travel, landscape and stock photographer I ‘really’ need those raw files. Granted, I’ve been shooting digital since 2002 (back then using “Smartmedia” cards in my Fuji 4900z) and in all this time I’ve only had one card go bad on me. This particular CF card actually worked and I would have never, ever know it wasn’t working – that is – until I pulled the card out of my D700 at the time, uploaded the images to my computer and discovered that a Nikon raw file was missing every four-five images! I would never had known this if I had just formatted the card, and went on my merry way. This is why I always purchase, and test, test, test. I wound up returning the card for a refund, but continued to use my other Transcend cards with full confidence. Frankly, I think it was just a bad sector on the card, that formatting both in camera and in computer did not fix.
Backup: This is it. This is nirvana! Yes. I found it. This week, after much trial and error and flip-flopping between the three methods I’ve decided to use this option going forward. Even though I have not experienced a catastrophic card failure while out in the field, I still feel much better knowing that I have a “backup” of both jpegs and raw files on card 2. The way I’ve set this up is to use a 32G card in slot 1 of the X-T2, and then use my 128G card as a backup in slot 2. Yes, the backup card is massive; I normally would never, ever use a card this large in any camera but for backup? Why not.
There are two very important reasons why using very large memory cards is not the most optimal solution:
Two cards, identical speeds, 32G and say 128G or 256G, the smaller card will ALWAYS write and read faster. Proven point.
Using smaller (32G) cards doesn’t put all your eggs in one basket. If something happens – camera is stolen, you drop it in a lake while photographing beavers (been there, done that) at least you will only lose the images on the card at the time. I recall a story from a workshop leader of a woman on a 10-day excursion into the Amazon. She had one huge CF card in her camera. On their last day there, they were at a local roadside cafe where she, for some reason, decided to pop out her memory card, and promptly dropped it in a puddle of water. Images lost. 10 days worth. So, no. DO NOT place all your eggs in one basket. Think of it this way: You’ve paid for the gear, you’ve gotten yourself to a great location, got the images you came for. Are you going to risk losing it all because it’s all on a single card? Heck no.
So for me it’s now 32G in slot 1, and my 128G in slot 2 for backup purposes. That 128G will stay in there until it’s full which means I can run through FOUR 32G cards in slot 1 before the 128G card needs to be wiped. So my images will remain on there for the duration of the trip, or until I get home, upload them, and decide I’ve got what I need.
On another note, but along similar lines: Once I have a card full, and it’s removed from the camera, that card is NEVER, EVER in the same location as any of my gear. Why? Because of the nature of my work, if my gear get’s stolen, or lost, the most important asset – the images – are safe, on my person. In practice if I’m shooting all day, get back to my room and then decide to go out to get a bite to eat, sometimes the cameras stay in the room, however, the memory cards are with me. The images I’ve taken become the most important asset to me after the cards are ejected from the camera. I can replace the gear, but not the photos… At least that’s how I see it.
Hope this post helps you out now or in the future. thanks for reading.
So yesterday my wonderful spouse convinced me to leave the office and go out for some holiday spirit with her. I did. What did we come back with? She came back with some great memories, and some gifts for the grandkids; me? Oh, exactly 1,698 raw files.
The place we went to is KNOWN for it’s holiday light displays. This is a wonderful place to visit anytime of the year, but during the holidays, it’s magical. I had been here once before, in December 2012 with my lil Panasonic LX7.
Knowing what to expect I packed my X-T2, the 16 1.4, the 35 1.4, and the 60mm Macro 2.4; and just for kicks, and because I Loooove the zoom effect on lights of any kind, I threw in my 18-55 lens.
I also threw in my small canvas carry-all bag a load of ND filters – which didn’t get used at all, my electronic shutter release, which absolutely sucks, and my travel tripod. All this fit inside my small, lightweight canvas bag with a Jill-E insert. In the outside pockets I threw in a water bottle, some ibuprofen tabs for my back (from carrying medium format film, and Nikon digital for years) and that was pretty much it.
I did not use the tripod at all. ALL my images were taken between iso 400 and 1600, handheld mostly wide-open at 1.4 whenever possible. I’ve posted below how many images per lens. Of course, I have yet to cull these for the keepers — I also have to cull through 11,911 other images that I’ve taken for travel/stock and personal use since July. I have whittled it down from 16,000 so I’m slowly making progress. I certainly won’t be at a loss as to what I’ll be doing on long winter nights! As a matter of fact I met a guy up in Maine that was out shooting with his 4 x 5 film camera. We got to talking and he told me that he would shoot all spring, summer and fall, then “relive” his memories as he developed his film in his darkroom over the cold Maine winter nights. He actually inspired me “not to worry” about getting caught up and up-to-date unless I was on deadline. And boy was he right! I am stress free with over 11,000 images to review, then edit and distribute around to the agencies.
Here are some details as promised as to the lenses I used at the village for the images:
16mm 1.4: 923 images, 35mm 1.4: 626 images, 18-55zoom (for special effects): 120 images, and the incredible 60mm 2.4 Macro: 29 images and only because it was just too dark to handhold the 2.4.
All ISO’s were from a minimum of 400, to a max of 1600. I selected the ISO instead of letting the camera do it. I just love these images, and the bokeh my lenses produced!
And to be perfectly clear: Not one lens gave me any trouble locking on to the lights. I don’t know what ju-ju Fuji has introduced but the 16, 35 and 60 locked on instantly — the 18-55 hunted a bit – especially at the 55mm F4 end but overall I could not be happier with the selection I took with me. I kinda wish I had taken the 23 1.4 so maybe if I go back next year I’ll be sure to pack that one as well, and leave the mini-tripod at home to balance out the weight.
All these images were shot as UNCOMPRESSED raw, 50.6mb each. I used a 128 Lexar fast card in slot 1, and a 32G Lexar in slot 2 for JPEG’s. I didn’t touch the JPEG’s. And, yes I shoot only uncompressed as no matter what anyone says I still don’t believe that no data is lost between compressed and uncompressed.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some fine Bokeh Balls! Look at how clean and crisp they are! I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed making them.
I can’t believe an entire year has passed us by already! It’s been amazing for sure!
Since mid-July I’ve shot in the Florida Keys, New York City, Maine, Canada/New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve taken almost 16,000 images since I started and I am still culling just over 11,000 that I have to yet go through. Once I complete the culling then I’ll edit the keepers, keyword, and start submitting to Getty Images and others that use my work.
In a few weeks I will compile the lists of lenses and how many images I made throughout the course of the year. I can without a doubt tell you my Zeiss Touit 12mm f2.8 is again, my least used lens. As a matter of fact, I’m considering selling it before the end of the year.
Last night I was supposed to head down to the beach and photograph the meteor showers that were happening.
I opted to use the X-T2, with the 16mm 1.4. In previous attempts at shooting meteors and stars I used my Zeiss 12mm F2.8 Touit but I found the chroma was too much for me.
At the end of the day I decided not to drive an hour, but to go out on my back deck and play with the X-T2. I setup the camera on a tripod with the 16 1.4. I made the focus point to the second smallest square; opened the lens wide to 1.4 and pressed my back-button focus. What surprised the heck out of me, and I mean very pleasantly surprised, was the fact the 16 1.4 actually focused on a distant star THE FIRST TIME. No hunting, nothing. I was so surprised, that I decided to re-focus again. Same thing. Perfect focus the first time! Damn!
I turned off Auto focus – moving the button on the front of the camera to M; Turned off Long Exposure Noise reduction, put the camera in .raf only. I turned the white balance to incandescent mode, I put the camera on “T” mode and made a test exposure of 50 seconds, at F2. That’s all I needed — one exposure.
With a fresh battery I set the intervalometer to 200 images at 1 second interval; started the first image and went back in the house.
I checked on the camera a few times and since all was well I left everything alone until the battery died at 196 images. I left the rear LCD image on which killed the battery a bit quicker than I wanted. I’ll need to shut that off for next time!
Once I had all the images in LR, I did some minor editing then used Photoshop to create the time-lapse. With the same images I used the free software Starstax to create one image out of the 190+ images. I caught too many aircraft flying by but they don’t bother me so I left them in.
Here is the still life as my version of wordpress won’t allow a video….
We had a Catamaran for a half day out of Key West. There were eight of us on the boat; we headed out in search of sharks and, well we found them! or, I should say they found us! We were in about six feet of water, and about 4-5 miles out. And yes, only six feet of crystal, clear water. Just gorgeous views with glassy seas. Here are some images…
I’m back from several road trips to shoot stock and travel. I’ve been to Maryland, Ohio, The Florida Keys, New York, Maine, and Prince Edward island/Canada.
This was an amazing trip. Many, many wonderful people, and even more memories and images.
I thought I would share some stats with regards to the cameras, and lenses I used.
Here wo go:
First of all, my iPhone 7 Plus! I broke down and bought the 7+, in Red, with 256G of memory. The camera is amazing with the twin lenses; and I downloaded some apps including Camera+. I shoot in raw (DNG) format and the quality is totally amazing! I took a total of 1,771 iPhone images which is unbelievable for me as in all honesty I despised iPhone images.
On to the camera: Of course I took the X-T2 with me. That go’s without saying. This is a recap from the metadata found in LightRoom.
Tout 12mm/2.8 690
Fuji 16mm 1.4 1336
Fuji 18-55 2.8-4 1671
Fuji 23mm 1.4 732
Fuji 35mm 1.4 1134
Fuji 55-200 2234
Fuji 60mm 2.4 2523
So, 10,320 images with the Fuji series, and 1,771 with the iPhone 7+
Now, I have the job of culling, then editing the images. This’ll be fun!
As I go through Images I’ll post some here… I had a few up, but decided to take them down as I didn’t feel they did these various road trips any justice.
This is part One of a very quick, down and dirty review of the ThinkTank Citywalker 30. I am at my office as I write this and preparing to leave later this afternoon for a four-day work/personal trip up north. I received the Citywalker 30 a few days ago and I have been using it for about a week now as my daily commuter messenger bag. These are just my initial impressions, and how I have it packed and ready to go on this trip.
The first thing I did upon opening the box is I took the huge insert out. I mean, it’s huge. If I were still shooting FX dSLR such as my D800e and my bevy of Nikon lenses it would be just about right to fit it all in, but man it would weigh a ton.
The bag is a ballistic nylon; very well made. I got the black with the blue piping/stripe which looks really sharp and I’ve received several compliments about it at the office. The interior is just huge– I’ll talk about that a bit more in the images which follow as to what’s in the slots but the second thing I did upon opening the box was to place my old Jill-E insert in. The bag dwarfs the insert but it works and doesn’t take up too much room. This short four day trip will give the bag a true workout. It’s the only one I’m taking with me! A normal trip for me involves taking all my gear in a backpack, then one or two smaller bags to swap gear as needed. Unfortunately I don’t always get to swap gear from the backpack into another smaller bag, especially if I’m running late getting to a location — Case in point, back at the end of March I was photographing some old pier and pilings on the North Carolina Coast and put my backpack down in the sand. An rogue wave grabbed the backpack and was dragging it back into the ocean! Thank goodness I had it closed tight; and, if it hadn’t been for my daughter that was shooting with me who snagged it with the tripod leg of her rig, the next wave that was coming in would have swamped the bag completely! Had I had my messenger bag over my shoulder as I normally do, this would not have happened. But luckily, catastrophe avoided!
Anyway for this short, four-day trip I decided to only pack a few folders I need for work with my Macbook Air, and as far as camera equipment goes I loaded the X-T2 with the 16mm, 23mm, 35mm and 60mm lenses, leaving behind my zooms. This is a first for me.. I love love love my 18-55 and my 55-200! I just hope I don’t miss them too much!
I also packed only one of my four battery chargers to go with the three batteries – instead of my usual eight. A polarizer, a ND filter, tripod and remote shutter release rounds out my rig.
Here are a few images of the bag, and what’s in the pockets. As I mentioned earlier, I pulled out the huge insert that came with the bag and am opting for the smaller Jill-E insert to see how this performs in the field and on the road. One thing about the original insert that I can say is that it keeps the bag much more rigid overall, but I wanted a more flatter, close to the body profile. In all honesty I think I made a (intentional) mistake in getting the Citywalker 30 as it has a compartment which will fit up to a 15″ laptop – instead of the CityWalker 10, or the 20 that only hold a small iPad or such. But, for the price of 79.00 brand new, and free shipping from B&H I couldn’t pass up the deal when this same bag sold from anywhere between 145.oo to 200.00 US just a few short months ago.
Overall, as a work bag to and from the office on a daily basis I think it’s absolutely fantastic! I can’t be happier. This weekend will be test of the CityWalker 30 as a camera bag first and foremost.
Not shown in these images is the rain pouch which comes standard, nor the ThinkTank strap where I can put my keys, or my ThinkTank Pocket Rocket memory card holder, etc.
Overall: An excellent value and a kick-butt utilitarian bag that will serve my purposes for many years to come. Roomy, safe, secure, large. Heck, if you are going away for a weekend you can probably pack some overnight clothing, a jacket and snacks in there and still have room for your gear!
This trip will be it’s first official outing as a dedicated camera bag instead of a to-from the office messenger bag. I’m very much looking forward to working with it and I’ll prepare an update when I return.