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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Shark Hunting, Key West

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…

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Feeding Frenzy – 4 sharks, shallow water. 55-200
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Glassy Smooth Seas. 18-55 @ 18mm

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

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.

 

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!!

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!