While in Honduras I spent a long time in a Toyota Land Cruiser on dirt roads feeling like a bobble head doll. Dirt roads like this one, we would be on for couple hours at a time. I was in the front seat riding shotgun because I was 6’2″ and the others were much smaller in the back seat. The others had been here many times before and were astonished that I was getting any usable pictures. They had bad experiences in these situations. So how was I able to get sharp photos? ……
It all started in July 2013 when I bought a Fuji X100s. Apart from being a gorgeous camera, it has amazing image quality and portability. I’ve been babbling on about it on these pages for a while. For what I shoot, when I shoot, it does a fantastic job. I recently printed the final image from this post on fine art paper at 13″ x 19″ and it is gorgeous! So I was reviewing the pictures I’d taken through the last 6 months of the 2013, and I realized that I hardly touched the D800E. It was a rapidly depreciating asset that I almost never used. With the addition of the teleconverters for the X100s, The only thing I needed the Nikon for was long lens work or super wide angle stuff. I also came to realize that 36MP is overkill for my needs. I decided to take to leap and sell the Nikon and most of the glass. Because of my experience with the little Fuji, I wanted to replace it with a small, light CSC that could go super wide and long to cover what I needed the Nikon for, but in a smaller package. I was going to stay with Fuji because I now knew it and was comfortable with the processing workflow, which is a very important consideration. I also want a viewfinder. I will always want a viewfinder. Always. So, given the extensive range of interchangeable compact cameras they do, how do I decide…….
We took a road trip to Santa Cruz last month and I thought it would be a good opportunity to rent and try out the Fujinon XF 18-135mm lens. Even though I generally prefer prime lenses, the XF 18-135mm intrigued me because it’s the first weather resistant lens from Fuji and because it covers a very useful focal length range. Being someone that spends a lot of time shooting near the ocean, the idea of having a weather resistant lens that covers most of my shooting situations sounded quite appealing. During the week I spent with the lens, I was impressed with almost everything about it. While it’s bigger and heavier than the lenses I’m used to shooting with, it didn’t feel as unwieldy as I expected. In fact, it felt quite well balanced with the X-T1. I don’t have the battery grip for the X-T1, but I think those that do will find that they pair nicely with the XF 18-135mm lens. All the images I captured with the lens were plenty sharp for me and the image stabilization came in handy on numerous occasions……..
Living in Alberta one could say that the flat prairies are kind of boring. They can be, yet at the same time they can be quite exciting. The prairies are not that flat, and depending which direction you go from Edmonton the landscape varies. If you go east, you will encounter typical flat prairies with huge skies. Go west and the landscape becomes hills and valleys, with lakes and streams. This time my a wife and me, decided to wonder east. There were several storms passing by as the sun was setting. We needed big skies. It was a little bit urgent, since we left late, and did not have a destination in mind. At the last moment we found a spot that looked half decent from the road, and since we were running out of time, we had to do with what we got. I shoot primarily with Fuji X cameras now. After ditching my Canons a few years back, I haven’t looked back. The Fuji 10-24mm F4 lens that was used to capture these images, is one of the best lenses I have used to create landscape photos….
Having owned my X100s for just a little over a week now and more or less taken it everywhere, I thought it would be an idea to talk about my initial impressions of it against my X-Pro1 which through 12 months of ownership I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with. At times I feel the X-Pro1 is the best camera I’ve ever owned and at times I’ve felt I should sell up and start over with a completely different system. Coming from a pretty simple DSLR system of a Canon 5D Mark1 and a couple of primes to the Fuji X-Pro1 was certainly an eye opener for sure. Having always had that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the X100 was the camera I really should own, I had the option to pick one up recently. I could have added another lens, or maybe even two to my X-Pro1 but felt now was the time to finally buy into the X100. I picked up a soon to be replaced almost new X100s which is perfect for everyday carrying around and with the 23mm fixed focal length is ideal for just about, well everything…….
Sharpening is one of the most taxing aspects of the digital process and consequently many photographers prefer to stick to safe and secure ways, either using presets, plug-ins, exporting to Photoshop or ultimately using JPEGs straight from camera. The X-Trans sensor produces wonderful JPEGs, and all the usual advice about always shooting in Raw doesn’t necessarily hold true anymore. There are now many professional photographers who happily shoot JPEG using X-Series cameras all the time and have no complaints. JPEGs are very convenient, but for a landscape photographer like me, interested in the creative process and using post-processing as part of the digital alchemy, Raw files are so much more versatile. Sharpening Raw files from the X-Trans processor can be challenging for those of us who have grown familiar with more traditional Bayer array sensors; they demand a different approach and even experienced photographers will find there is a learning curve……
Three months ago, I got myself the new Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f2.0 NCS CS lens for my Fujifilm X-E2 and in the time since I’ve been using it a lot, both locally around here and in trips to Greece and Ireland. Even though I specifically selected this lens for its qualities with respect to astrophotography, I’ve been using it for all kinds of landscapes and more, including close-ups, street and even cat photos! While I don’t do real reviews and I have no test charts to shoot or any way to measure sharpness, light fall-off or distortion, I still wanted to give you my impressions of using it in the field and show some of the images I got out of it. If you just want the punch line, here it is: I like this lens, I like it a lot. If you want to know more, read on…….
Eigentlich war der Plan super. Wir fahren bis Bao Lac und steigen um in den Bus nach Meo Vac, unserem Ziel. Sieht auf der Karte aus wie ein Katzensprung. Wir kommen so spät an, dass es an diesem Tag nirgendwo mehr hingeht, denn leider gibt es keine Busverbindung zwischen diesen Orten und auch per Anhalter will uns niemand mitnehmen. Wir mieten uns ein Zimmer. Ein sehr, sehr schlechtes, denn nachts beginnt das große Krabbeln, das Fenster lässt sich nicht schließen und das Bett ist älter als wir beide zusammen. Ich schlafe trotzdem gut, aber leider niemand sonst, was nach dem Aufwachen etwas Ärger nach sich zieht. Am nächsten Tag landen wir durch Zufall im Haus einer Bauunternehmer-Familie und nach einigen Runden verhandeln, ignorieren, Schnaps und anschweigen fährt uns ein Jeep nach Meo Vac im äußersten Nordosten Vietnams……
I’ve been a loyal Canon user since I’ve started photography, and I have nothing but praise for its cameras. I shall still retain my Canon 5DII and a bunch of lenses for as long as I can. However, I realized that my style of photography has evolved during the past few years…prompting me to splurge big time on a Leica M9, and not too long ago on a Fuji X-Pro1. The evolution of my way of seeing, the lightness of these two cameras and the quality of their images laid the foundation for my being ready and very receptive for a DSLR replacement. Traveling to photograph Holi in India earlier this year, and having to hold the 5DII at shoulder-length to photograph inside temples and avoid color powder/water bequeathed me a short-lived tennis-elbow like pain, but it made me realize that DSLRs are really heavy computers with lenses attached to them……
After the official workshop ended, as often, we offered an extension on the trip. The planned extension was to Srinagar Kashmir and the surrounding valley But as you might know the Kashmir region was faced with unprecedented flooding and there was no way we would be able to lead a workshop in such surroundings. So Piet, Alou and I had to put our heads together in a hurry and come up with an alternative for Kashmir. The obvious choice became the one we went with: the amazing Nubra Valley. The Nubra Valley is located Northeast of Leh over the Khardung La (Khardung Pass). The Khardung La is touted as being the highest motorable road in the world at 5,602 m (18,379 ft). Frankly I doubt that. Our GPSs all came in closer to 5,334 m (17,500 ft). Nevertheless, it is high! So much so there is a sign posted in all caps that reads, “STAYING FOR MORE THAN 20-25 mins CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH”……