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
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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).

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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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.

 

 

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…….

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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!

Weekend Stock Trip to New York City

Last weekend I did a quick trip up to New York City for a couple of days. My plan was just to get a way with my better half and enjoy the weekend walking around the Big Apple. And that is exactly what we did! Since I wanted to relax more than shoot I kept the gear light so here is what I took with me:

Fuji X-T1
Zeiss 12mm F2.8 (Just in case I needed it) I could have left this at home…
Fuji 16mm 1.4 (I knew I would use this plenty at Top of The Rock)
Fuji 18-55 ( A Fantastic take anywhere Lens! I Don’t leave home without it)
Fuji 55-200 ( For rooftop images, Central Park, etc.) I wound up leaving it at the hotel before leaving for the TOTR though as it would have been too long of a focal length for the low light encountered. That was a right call on my part.
2 ea, 77mm Polarizers
77mm step-up rings for each lens
7 ea batteries ( only used 3 full and 1 partially in 2 days of shooting) but better safe than sorry
4 32gb SD cards (only used 1 full, and 1 partially)
1 small Sirui tripod and ballhead that fit in my small bag just in case (never used at all the entire weekend)

NOTE: With the above kit over my shoulder messenger style, I walked for HOURS, everywhere, and I swear I didn’t even realize I was carrying a camera bag at all!

Left at home:
35 1.4
23 1.4
All of the lens shades, hoods, ND filters, macros, other step-up rings, balance of the SD cards, Flashes, triggers, bigger tripods, base plates, hand grips for the X-T1, Remote release, etc. etc. etc. You get the picture.

The weather on Saturday was just perfect for walking around; sunny, high sixty’s, blue sky, pretty and puffy clouds. On Sunday it was rainy, but even that was ok as we were headed home anyway but even that didn’t stop us from having some last minute fun – but I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Saturday morning we had a delicious breakfast at Astro restaurant on Avenue of the Americas and 55th. I had been there many times before as I had worked on various projects in NYC and had stayed at the very same Hilton as I was staying now. The Astro Diner is about a block away and given the opportunity to eat there is not one I would pass up. Anyway we had brunch there, then continued walking north into Central Park. Being it was a Saturday morning, and a gorgeous one at that, to say the park was crowded is an understatement but it was nevertheless a fun day. We spent several fun filled hours walking the lake. We had a run-in with a raccoon which tried to rob us of our bottle of drinking water when I stopped and put it down to snap a photo; and we had to literally side-step a horde of rats, yes, rats that were gathering scraps of food and stuff oblivious to the mass of humanity walking around them on the wide, paved footpath right in the middle of central park. After spending a couple of hours walking around and not even making a small dent in the amount of acreage of this huge, diverse park we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and take a break as that evening I had 6:30pm tickets to the “Top Of The Rock” at 30 Rockefeller Center! Up there, on the 69th floor there are some amazing views in every direction of Manhattan, the surrounding boroughs, and then some!

We arrived at 30 Rock at our scheduled time, and we shot up the elevator and were at the top by 7pm after passing the various security check points, as well as the kitschy photo ops where they try to get you to by prints of course. We did not. As you can see in the image, the views are spectacular. You can stay as long as you want which is fantastic. We stayed until dark. It was almost 9:45pm when we headed down the fast elevators and hit the street to walk back to our hotel. Along the way I snapped some more images of the street vendors, and other touristy photos just, well, because I could and I was having so much fun!

IMG_4741 2 IMG_4749 IMG_4766On a side note I have to mention the photographers and cameras I saw at the TOTR. Remember: I was up there for almost four hours waiting for the light, relaxing with my wife and having fun but always keeping an eye out for the unusual. I did see the usual gaggle of Canikons. Oh so many! I did catch a woman with a Pentax film camera and a 50mm Lens. After seeing what amounted to hundreds of cameras and iPhones I saw only one other mirrorless camera besides mine – an Asian gentleman with a Sony A6000. That was it! Where were all the mirrorless fans?! Represent!!!

If you’ve ever been to TOTR, or anywhere similar you know they have 2-3” thick plexiglass for you to see through, with spacing between each pane. Well, the spacing was just wide enough for my 18-55 with my 77mm step up ring to fit through at most of the panels, but I did have to remove the step up ring from the front of the 18-55 in order to shoot through some as the space between some of the panes were just to tight. The folks using dSLR lenses were out of luck – there was no way they were fitting a 24-70 or 16-35 through there; maybe a 24, 35, or a 50? . Heck, my Zeiss 12mm, and the Fuji 16mm were a tight fit at some of the open slots between the plexiglass panes. So if you are planning on going up there, plan for that! Bring along some fixed, smaller diameter lenses unless you enjoy photographing through scratched plexiglass. I also want to throw out there to all to not use your pop-up flash for the following reasons as the light wanes:

– The flash bounces off the plexiglass and messes your metering overexposing your image.
– The image, if anything is visible, will not show you anything in the background like the empire state building as it’s too far away!

If you want a photo of your wife who is posing oh so stiffly in front of the empire state building as you fiddle with your camera for ten minutes (yes. I’m speaking to you Mr. rude Asian man with the Canon and the 16-35, who was pushing small children out of the way to pose your wife, the one in combat boots) please, jack up your ISO, and open up your aperture, or drop your shutter speed, but whatever you do, don’t fire your pop-up like you did. Maybe she’ll give you some lovin’ later.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed a delicious, relaxing, and complimentary, full buffet style breakfast at the hotel restaurant before checking out. Even though it was raining and misty I wanted to do a little bit of scouting for my next trip as we were already in the city. The next trip will be in NYC but this time I’ll be working the southern tip of Manhattan – and the Battery area. I want to explore and photograph there. We drove around in the rain for a while until I found what I wanted and noted the address in my GPS for future reference. Since I was already there I took some photos while my wife drove around, or parked somewhere and read a book for a short while.

Overall it was a very successful trip photo wise. I have yet to review, cull or edit ANY of the Central Park, or the Top Of The Rock ones, but the few images I did manage to pop off in the rain while in lower Manhattan on Sunday morning before heading home are already available for sale! I can’t wait to find some time to edit the others I took at TOTR and in Central Park! I strongly suggest if you are going to be anywhere on the east coast, to make NYC a stop along your route – you won’t regret it.