Bokeh Balls (not broken balls)

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.

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Revolutionary War Leftover Ruins at Sunset  16mm F7.1, 1/25th
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Bokeh from the 35mm 1.4, ISO 800
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35mm F1.4 @ 1.4, Focused on red bulbs, ISO 800
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16mm 1.4 @ f1.6, 1/90th, ISO 800  I probably could have taken the ISO down to 400 but the noise is relatively non-existent so I left it alone.
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ONE OF MY FAVORITES of the night:  16mm F1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 400! 1/20th handheld burst
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35mm 1.4 @ 1.4, 1/35th second, ISO 400
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Fuji 18-55, F4, 1/2 second, ISO 800 zoomed out from 55mm (that’s a small pond in the foreground)
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It’s been a while…

Waves wash over small stones grinding them smooth and creating p
Small waves wash around well worn stones on Martha’s Vineyard

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.

 

 

Star Trails with the Fuji X-T2

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….

Enjoy

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DJI (Phantom Maker) Is the Devil incarnate! (But they get you hooked!)

There will be more to come on this but suffice it to say that if there were ANY OTHER company, making a quality drone, I’d be all over them.

This is an image taken in the Florida Keys.  It is one of only 28 TOTAL images before the drone crashed and drowned in salt water.  At this point, I had flown it a total of three times and it crashed on me three times.  I do believe there was a problem with it — Long story coming soon!  I am now waiting on my THIRD replacement drone!!!!  Yes, third.  The second one did not work out of the box.  But man! the images/video are just too much to pass up.  More to come at a later date!  Stay tuned.

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Back from my Roadtrips

Hello everyone!

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.

More To Come…

 

Thinktank CityWalker 30 Review Part II

In my prior post here I gave a preliminary overview of the TT CW 30 after only a week of use as an office messenger bag, and a light-duty camera bag. I’ve now had the pleasure, and I mean pleasure of using it on two separate outings besides as a daily carry.  The first was four day stock/travel image trip up north, and the second was to photograph an event.  I’m going to present images here, with descriptions, as I unpack my bag after the event;  in all honesty it’s a mess as I swapped lenses – between by 16mm, 23, 35, 60mm and the 55-200.  I did not use the 18-55 nor the 12mm Zeiss even though they were in the bag as well.  In other words ALL the lenses I own were in the bag.  For this event I used the very well padded insert that came standard with the CW30, and I threw in the rain cover as we were under the threat of rain most of the day.

In the following images I try to show the contents of the bag and how much you can carry.  I will say I could still have put MORE into the bag as I had one inside end pocket, and both outside mesh pockets available!  This is an insane amount of stuff! During the event I had the bag slung across my should messenger style, I had the main cover open and flat against my hip thereby allowing me access to all my gear inside.  What I truly enjoyed was being able to swap lenses on the fly and using the outside mesh pockets to hold a lens (very easily) and the lens caps and other miscellaneous stuff.

So here goes:  And, if anyone has any questions, please let me know.

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Just for those that are interested this is an image of the bag from last weeks photo trip in which it rained for two of the four days, I took this in a downpour (you can see the rain pounding the water).  I did not break out the rain cover and the bag still remained dry.  Rain water just beaded up and rolled off.
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The Thinktank Citywalker 30 this morning when I came downstairs.  It’s fully loaded exactly where I dropped it after walking in the door after yesterday’s event.  All I did last night was pop the SD card out and upload and backup my images.
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Opening the bag you can see the gear I used.  The camera with the long lens was laid across the top of the other lenses, and I was still able to close the bag. Keep in mind this is all mirrorless gear so… smaller than dSLR, and so much lighter.  I carried this bag as is, fully loaded, all day and it was no bother.  Plus, accessibility to the gear was so easy I didn’t break step once.
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In this image I’ve removed the X-T2 with the 55-200 that was laying across the top and you can see some of the lenses.
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Here I’ve “prettied” up the lenses and stood them up.  As you’ll note, there is PLENTY of room for even more lenses, or accessories.  The Fuji gear being so compact, except the danger of the lenses banging into one another you can fit more than one as you can see on the right.  That’s my 35 1.4,and the 60mm 2.4 Macro.  Down further, I’ll show everything that went into, and came back out of the bag.
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Here I have pulled the insert out of the bag.  The insert is very large and spacious.  Much, much larger than the simple Jill-E insert I showed in the my last post which is the one I use on a daily basis to carry a camera and other office files to/from the office.  The black strap is my camera strap.
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In this image I’ve removed the top layer of camera and lenses.  The Citywalker 30 comes with two extra dividers which I’ve used here.  I also pulled a third divider, seen on the right side from my daily carry Jill-E bag as I needed it.
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In this (lousy) image as I used my iPhone, I have emptied the slot on the left and the right side.  I’ve pulled back the divider in the center – which you can see towards the bottom of the image here to expose the extra body, my X-T1 that I took with me as a spare body.
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After pulling out the insert this is all the “other” stuff that fit around the insert.  That’s the beauty of this amazing bag!  And, I still had the two very deep pockets on the inside left and right.  They are so deep and large that on my way to the event one of them held my Fuji 55-200 with the lens hood attached and it was not reversed either!  Amazing capacity!!  In here you can see my Singh-Ray filter, camera strap, the blue pouch (rain hood for the bag), ThinkThank memory card holder, external 4TB hard drive in black case, and an extra pair of glasses just in case.
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The pocket on the flap held my Giotto Blower, access card, keys, and a iPhone 10′ charging cable and adapter.  It can hold so much.  If you were traveling on public conveyance it will easily hold all necessary maps, boarding passes, iPad, whatever you want.  the pocket runs the length of the flap/bag so it’s huge.
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The Thinktank Citywalker 30 also has a velcro pouch which rests up against your hip to accommodate a 15″ laptop.  It’s not shown here as I did not take it with me, but my bag holds the 15″ MBP and a large moleskin notebook as well.  As you can see, I packed EVERY lens I own; the only one’s that didn’t get any use was the Zeiss and my Fuji 18-55.  I even threw in an extra tripod plate for the X-T1 that never saw any use, a battery charger just in case, an extra phone, flashlight, and the Thinktank four battery holder as well as the Thinktank SD card holder.  All the lenses except the 35 and the 60 were pre-packed before leaving with the appropriate step-up rings to bring them all to 77mm to take advantage of my dSLR 77mm filters, and matching 77mm lenscaps. As you can see, the lens caps, once they came off, never went back on.

I hope you guys found this review helpful.  If you take away ONE thing from reading this it’s that the TTCW30 is truly a beautifully crafted bag with room for just about all your gear if you are a mirrorless shooter.  dSLR shooters will also be very happy with the capacity, and especially the depth of this bag.  There are other pockets I didn’t even mention here – but I do believe I mentioned them in part one of the review.

Let me know what you all think.  I did discover recently this bag has been discontinued so if you want one you better hurry.  I got mine from B&H for 79.00 with free shipping which is an amazing deal!  Much less expensive than Amazon (at the time i purchased mine a couple of weeks ago).

ThinkTank Citywalker 30 Review

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.

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Front Flap of the Bag.  Very Discrete i think and it has a zippered area as well for boarding passes, passports, phones, etc.
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Back area – where just above this lable is a  back much with Velcro outlined in the colorful Blue for documents, folders, iPad, etc.

 

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Interior, contains two pockets inside at each end that velcro shut with a strap. You can see my 23 1.4 with a 77mm Step up ring and a 77mm lens cap hence the size.  the strap that keeps the pocket secure is open up to the left. You can also see a compartment of the Jill-E insert with the 16mm 1.4 and the same step-up and lens cap setup as the 23 1.4 so everything is interchangeable and quickly available

 

 

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This is looking at the bag with the main flap open.  This pocket velcro’s atypical ThinkTank with the black flap just behind the phone.  I pulled it out to show it hence the bulge.  Normally it sits tightly velcroed against the main part of the bag. The Main compartment which is huge (!) has my Jill-E insert, not the standard insert that came with the bag, and it has my X-T2 with the 35mm 1.4 attached, the 16 1.4 in a second slot, with the 60mm F2.4 in the third compartment.  In the rear compartment which also velcro shut sits my Macbook Air and a moleskin notebook.  This compartment easily accommodates a 15″ Laptop such as my MBP.
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Closer image of the Macbook Air and the notebook in it’s separate velcro’d compartment.  You can see the 11″ air has plenty of room in there. As I said this bag is large!
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This is another view looking in to the bag. at Each end, INSIDE the bag, are those HUGE pockets that easily would accommodate any lens I have up to and including my hooded 55-200 zoom if I wanted to.
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This is the zippered pocket on the front flap.  Another great place for miscellaneous stuff – papers, passports, boarding passes, iPad etc.
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The bag also has two breathable, mesh pockets on each end of the bags exterior.  These will hold a water bottle, a phone, a zoom lens such as the 55-200 or the 18-55, etc.  Large, roomy and they expand a bit.  My plan is to use both of these pockets while in the field to hole remote, lens caps, filters, etc.  while I keep the main compartment closed.  Compared to the outside compartments on the ThinkTank Retrospective series these are huge!  On the Retro series, which I owned, you can’t even put a phone in there without having to dig for it as they are so tight.
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And one of my favorite parts is this small carry strap.  Whether the bag is open or closed you can just grab and go without all your stuff falling out. I can’t say that about my other bags.  I love this feature!  On the backside that sits against your hip there is a velcro’d pocket that runs the length of the bag for papers or whatever you want to use it for.
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The bag also comes with a card holder plus the amazing Sound Silencer Velcro tabs, AND a secondary clip to keep the bag secure.  Trust me, if the sound silencers are engaged NO ONE is going to open that bag without you noticing it!
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On the inside front of the bag, just behind the outside velcro pouch that I showed in an image above (with the cell phone) is another zippered compartment.  This one has my remote, and a couple of batteries in there now.

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.

Thank you for reading.

My First Image with the new….

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The tack sharp and reasonably fast  Fujifilm 60mm 2.4 Macro.  Why’d I buy that you ask?  Well I’ll tell ya pardner.

I was considering the 50mm F2.  At 449.00 on Amazon it seemed like a good buy;  except, like it’s two other siblings – the 23F2 and the 35F2 its just freakin’ ugly.  Plain and simple.  I knew the 60 F2.4 Macro was what I needed even though I have the extension tubes for my camera.  Anyway the 60 2.4 was a tad high priced at 679 or 699.00 US – I can’t remember which.

Anyway, I’m shopping the web and came across a deal for a brand new, boxed 60mm for $479.00!  I couldn’t pass it up!  I killed two birds with one stone – actually  more as I’m getting a slightly longer focal length; better looking lens, crystal clear and tack sharp lens at that!  And I saved over $200.00 to boot — or if I look at it logically, because I would not have purchased the 60mm for the 699 price tag, I got a dual purpose lens for the same price as the 50mm!

I just received it last night and this image here was one of my first seven images with the lens on my X-T2.  I have yet to play with it at length.  Light was dwindling fast, but on everything I shot on my walk around the block focusing was reasonably fast.  Now, when I went inside and tried to take some images there, it is darn slow.  I mean creepy crawly slow.  I’m ok with that as I knew what I was getting into so no big deal here.  But man o man is it slow.  LOL.  Once it locks on it’s razor sharp.  Do I wish it were faster?  Heck yes but I did not purchase this lens for speed, but for the clarity, sharpness, and close-focusing capabilities so I am thrilled with it!

The image above is from the raw file.  No adjustments other than sharpening.  And it’ll make you bleed if you get too close.

I’m in love!  I can’t wait to take it out for a real spin.

 

The Amazing 18-55 Fuji Lens

I have written about the Fuji 18-55 in the past.  However, on New Years Day i was shooting up in Old Orchard Beach in Maine using this wonderful little lens.  It’s lightweight, solidly built, and oh so darn sharp!

As proof how sharp this this little puppy is, check out this screenshot of my lightroom image of Old Orchard Beach at 200%  — Yes.  200% !! This is the raw file, Sharpened with 100% details, 41 pts of sharpening.  Then below it is the full screen!  Now, look at that sharpness and clarity!!  I can read the Shipyard Beer sign out on the pier and that isn’t even dead center; more like top center!

Would the 16-55 2.8 be sharper?  Meh.  Maybe.  But this is pretty darn freakin’ sharp for me, and the weight/size savings alone are, to me, worth the tiny loss of sharpness. I’d rather be more light and mobile.  Your mileage may vary.

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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