This trip is something of an important chapter in my timeline as a travel photographer, as it’ll be the first time that I leave my heavyweight DSLRs home. I’ve traveled before with just a Leica M9 and the Fuji X Pro-1 (as to Guatemala last month), but this is the first photo expedition-workshop that sees me DSLR-less. I’ve tested the Fuji X-T1, the new addition to this group of non DSLR tools, in the streets of New York City and over the past two weeks, found it reliable and responsive, and I believe it’ll perform well in replacing my aging Canon 5 Mark II. The Fuji X-T1 has its drawbacks and quirks, but from my past experience with the X Pro-1, these are mostly caused by my being unfamiliar with its minor idiosyncrasies……
If you shoot any of Fuji’s interchangeable lens, X-System bodies and are keen to shoot macros and close-ups, there is really only one option if you are looking to buy an XF macro lens; obviously, that’s the XF 60mm 2.4 R Macro lens. Personally, I know that lens pretty well and I have in the past eighteen months, shot a lot of macro images with it. It’s wonderful in rendition, clarity, size and usability (even if it does hunt, somewhat noisily, at closer focus distances). Furthermore, it’s a relatively inexpensive lens nowadays. Another option would be to purchase a set of extension tubes, adding a bit more bulk in your bag. However, what to do if you don’t want / can’t afford to – shell out £349+ for the 60mm 2.4? There is another option, besides tubes, worth considering……..
Yes, that’s the Fujifilm X30. Not a bad upgrade, and not something to make you jump around your room in excitement either. To me, it’s the X20 with an EVF. Nothing more. The few improvements, like the rotating (and clearer) LCD and the new control ring, will make a difference, and make it a nicer camera to use than the X20, but it’s still the same thing at heart. Not that this is a bad thing. The X20 is a very good camera to begin with. And having the same camera with a very high-quality EVF is a nice prospect indeed. But the market having cameras like the RX100 III, with the same kind of EVF, and a much larger sensor, and (in my opinion) a better AF system, in a significantly smaller body, Fujifilm needed to upgrade the core of the X20 to give us something new. A newer sensor – a larger one, at that – or a smaller body, or even a faster lens. Something of that sort. And not simply the same camera with an extra feature or two. For the first time since the X10 came out, I’m a bit disappointed with a new Fujifilm X-series model. Oh well……..
We left Singapore and boarded the relatively short flight to Bali. We have both wanted to visit Bali for a long time after hearing so many great things about it from friends. We were certainly not disappointed! We started our 10 days there with a 7 night stay on the south east coast in an area called Nusa Dua. This small bay is lined with luxury hotels and white sandy beaches. It was the perfect place to relax and unwind after the madness of the wedding planning. Whilst staying in Nusa Dua we took a couple of trips up to the west coast of the island visiting Kuta and Seminyak. Kuta was very lively and is a big hit with backpackers. There was plenty of bars and the big waves offer great surfing conditions. We saw an incredible sunset whilst there, which we enjoyed with many others from the beautiful sandy beach…….
I am a preset guy. With two kids and two jobs, I am a big fan of anything that can speed up my workflow. I own the VSCO suite, Replichrome 1 & 2, AlienSkin’s Exposure and Red Leaf’s film emulsions. Being a heavy preset user, I welcomed the opportunity to test drive Rebecca Lily’s New Pro Set. I am a big fan of her work and absolutely love her “look”…in particular her colors. It’s easy to spot her signature colors in her new Pro Set. I randomly chose a wedding from my archives and had a lot of fun playing with different color schemes. I quickly realized this might take a while because so many of her presets worked so well. So instead of identifying one preset for the batch which I normally would do, I used quite a few of them to show their versatility …..
I just got my hands on a Fuji X-E2 kit with the Fuji XF 18-55 F2.8-4 OIS lens. As a longtime DSLR user, I’ve been skeptical about the mirrorless systems’ capabilities. I’ve tried a fair number of top compact cameras, but the results were always lacking. Last month, I got to play with a Fuji X-E1 for some time, and the results were really surprising in the best possible way. General use, image quality, and high ISO performance were on par with any APS-C DSLR I’ve tried. The X-E2 is even better. It has a better EVF, it’s faster, and it can focus better in low light conditions with its phase detection focusing system. It also boasts a second generation sensor and some nice improvements like dedicated AE-L / AF-L buttons…..
Over the next little while, I am looking forward to comparing and contrasting the Leica M9 experience with the Fuji X-Pro1, a rangefinder style camera that in many ways is the Leica M9s contemporary, yet has shown Leica the way forward. Last year, I stepped into the Fuji X-mount waters with the X-Pro1 and its been a revelation in so many ways. So, when I recently found a Leica M9-P in my hands through a surprising transaction, the opportunity to do a reverse experiment of sorts was in place. My goal here over the next little while is to seriously give the Leica a chance now that I’ve had a little over a year with Fujis, a camera system that has absolutely rocked my world and placed a series of shots across the bow of camera companies world wide. So, what I hope to do over a few posts is assemble a prospectus of sorts that describes in the context of a year with Fuji cameras, whether or not the Leica systems make sense to invest in. Will the Leica win my heart back? We’ll see. There is much to be passionate about not only the Leica performance, but also the long heritage of finely tuned cameras and optics……
I am back in Beijing. It is funny how comforting it is to be back in this massively overcrowded city with its choking traffic, near lethal pedestrian crossings and aloof hospitality industry! It has been just about 5 weeks of traveling to very remote places, meeting the warmest people ever and living in all manner of lodgings. but coming back to Beijing is something familiar and something predictable. The past few days been spent on a train. 33 hours from Xiamen in south China on the sea. The “soft sleeper” is a small cubical about 7 feet wide, and tall enough for two bunks arranged on each side. The lower bunks cost a little more and have a tray-sized shared table between them under the window. The upper bunks have no such furnishings, but do have two folding seats out in the common hallway looking out the window on the other side of the train, also a big bonus… an electrical outlet! Small pleasures! ……
Fuji has done a great job in building a robust lineup for their X-Series mirrorless cameras, but despite releasing the weathersealed X-T1 earlier this year, they hadn’t created a weathersealed lens until now. The XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R OIS WR is a wide range super-zoom lens that features Fuji’s new Weather Resistant tag, with rubber gaskets around all points of entry and even a novel ventilation system to allow air to enter and leave the lens without sucking in moisture and dust. The lens covers a great range of focal lengths, equivalent to the field of view that a 27-205mm lens would have on a full frame camera. The one big up front question with this lens is whether it’s worth the rather high $899 price of entry. Let’s take a look…..