The South East Asian Aquarium is the world largest aquarium. It house more than 800 species of marine animal. It took me a good 3 hours to finish a complete tour of the entire Aquarium. The Xpro-1 coupled with the 35mm 1.4, was my only equipment this time round. Most Aquarium shots will try to show the myriad of colors, I will still do this post in black and white. The main focus will be on contrast, forms, shapes, and the use of dynamic range to tease out all the shades of grays.
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My 14mm/2.8 lens arrived just before the start of King Norodom Sihanouk’s cremation ceremony and I was finally able to capture beyond what the 18mm lens could see.
The 14mm has superb build quality and the best feature would be the pull MF ring and seeing the DOF scale. Aperture click stops were a little too smooth and easily moved accidentally though.
This lens will prove to be a top-performer in anyone’s travel bag and I can’t wait for the 55-200mm to complete the kit later this year.
All of the photographs in this link are with the X-Pro 1 with two from the OM-D and one from the 5DM2
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Since I sold my SLR gear and started shooting exclusively with X-series cameras I have started enjoying photography once again. I spend less time playing with menus and settings and focus instead on light and composition.
The biggest drawback of the system so far has been the lack of wide-angle lenses – my favourite perspective. But my problem has been solved. This weekend I picked up the latest Fuji lens – XF 14mm F2.8. What a lens it is!
I came from the pro-level Nikon and Canon gear and after one day of shooting, this lens has impressed me. In fact, after my initial assessment this is the best wide-angle lens I have ever shot with. (To make it even more interesting, the very same day I borrowed a Nikon D800 with the AF-S 14-24mm 2.8 zoom lens and used it along with my Fuji X-Pro1 and XF 14mm F2.8. You will find the whole story of my “Camera Fever” episode in the next post. For now all I can say that the Nikon D800 and its super-heavy lens is back in a store). Having said that, I am not going to give a scientific review (I prefer to spend time photographing); instead I would like to share a few images I shot yesterday with this newest lens. Please note that these are sample images without any distortion correction applied. Processed in Capture One 7 and Lightroom 4.
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I’m rarely negative on Yomadic. Mainly, because I’ve been travelling for five months, three continents, and a big handful of countries – so far. I’ve gained a big serving of perspective on the world we all live in. Which brings me to Berlin. If there’s one thing I truly can’t be negative about – its Berlin street art. Call it graffiti if you will. I’ll continue to call it street art in this article. I have no preference. Either way, I find it difficult to think of a single example of street art or graffiti that has negatively effected any city, on any country, on Earth. When I say “destroyed”, I mean it. As in “we destroyed that breakfast buffet, that bacon was unbelievable!”. It’s street slang thang. People, it’s time for some perspective. Cities around the world spend a sizeable fortune every day, removing street art and graffiti in the name of cleanliness and beautification. As with most things I disagree with, I can only assume this is due to the wishes of a vocal minority. Most cities have far higher priorities than removing graffiti – which by it’s very nature is temporary. Indeed, in an Ironic twist, London authorities are now spending serious cash to protect some street art from decay, such is the appeal. Copenhagen Denmark, a success story when it comes to urban planning, embraces street art. As does Berlin. Berlin street art is, in a word, prolific. In areas like Friedrichshain – a hip inner city Berlin district – tags, paintings, murals, political statements, fine art, and sculpture cover everything from houses to shop fronts, to trains and historical monuments. Sometimes, cars. And unless there had been an enormous influx of artists in the last few weeks, it’s safe to say nobody is too interested in removing any of the art.
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Montreal winters aren’t just cold: they tend to throw humidity into the mix as well. And that’s a much different kind of cold, one that seeps in and freezes your bones to their very core no matter what you do. It’s like being pushed into a pool of ice water. And when the wind joins in on the party, well…
This week is like that. Biting. I’ve been in the city for the past two days waiting on some test prints for an upcoming project and ended up with some hours to kill. Needless to say I haven’t really felt like aimlessly roaming the streets with my camera, waiting for the shot; it’s been more of a sit in a café and drink coffee kinda mood. But February is a peculiar month. It brings back a different kind of sunlight behind all that cold, a teasing warmth, as though it’s trying to let us know this arctic air won’t be around forever; almost hinting at spring. If you can find a sheltered spot filled with sunshine and close your eyes, you can almost imagine it, you can almost taste those warmer days ahead. When I was a kid my parents would even build a “snow fort” in the backyard around this time of year; just two big mountains of snow pushed against the house to shield us against the wind. On weekends they’d lounge in there on lawn chairs, their faces up to the sun as though they were on a beach, chilling — literally. Filling up on vitamin D. In a lot of ways the light at this time of year reminds me of Southern France, of Nice specifically. It’s like this huge unrelenting spotlight that makes colours pop like crazy, a few hours each day. And since it stays a bit lower in the sky, it creates slightly more angular shadows than your usual awful midday sun. I didn’t spend a lot of time shooting, admittedly. Maybe 45 minutes give or take. I’m not that crazy. But I do love the colour and the crispness of these images. All shot with the X-Pro1 and 35mm f/1.4 at ISO 200, using a mix of Pro Neg Lo/Hi and Velvia simulations….
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I didn’t think I had much more to write on the Fuji X Pro 1. At this point, it has become one my main photography tools. I have grown to accept the limitations in terms of raw file conversion and auto focus, in exchange for the brilliant image quality this camera generally delivers.
Several events recently however have caused me once again to revisit the camera and its work flow.
I have been using Adobe Camera Raw as my main conversion software and a trial/ beta version of Capture 1 for my more critical images, particularly landscape images with fine detail. One Sunday morning recently, I started to process some files that were shot the day before. I opened Capture 1 (the beta Pro version) only to find that it had expired, taking with it the trial version I downloaded prior to the issuance of the beta. Well, no matter, I figured I’d go to their website thinking that I could download Capture 1 Express. This is a stripped down version of the full program including only the core features, including the raw file converter. At $99 it seemed a reasonable deal. Unfortunately, it turns out that and the Capture 1 has shrewdly withheld X trans-sensor support from the less expensive software. This may just be a matter of the “Express” product being an earlier software version, though it is easy to suspect that, given the superiority of their software in the case of the Fujis, they’d like us to spend the full $300. Momentarily frustrated by this, I retrieved the X Pro 1 box, and got out the software disk, which includes the Silkypix based-raw file converter that came free with the camera. I was aware peripherally, that there had been several software updates to this. Sean Reid of “Reid Reviews” and compared this software to Capture 1, and Adobe Lightroom, and felt it was second only to the Capture 1 results in image quality. Given the circumstances I figured I’d give it a try. Doing some research, I discovered that there had been a further update of this converter (ver.188.8.131.52), one more advanced than the one Sean Reid tested. I installed the original disc, and updated the program from the website. As I had a bunch of files converted with Capture 1, I decided to reconvert them with the Fuji software for comparison. I also compared conversions by ACR.
This is a good example. It’s from the original X Pro 1 article. It was shot with the 60 mm lens, and I marveled at the time sharp it was. If you “pixel peep” the Adobe version you can see the smearing, and “watercolor effect” people are talking about. I didn’t really notice this effect until I reviewed the Capture 1 version which has much better preservation of fine detail ( BTW I did try to sharpen the Adobe version)…..
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I haven’t gone out and photographed much personal work since returning from Europe a month ago with one less appendix. Couple the appendectomy recovery with a bit of “nesting syndrome” (my wife is about to give birth to our first child any day now), I’ve spent most of my time organizing my home and streamlining my Lightroom catalogue (guided by Gavin Gough via his great eBook w/video tutorials - A Photographers Workflow). The south end of Bogmalo Beach, Goa, India. Fuji X-Pro 1, 18mm (wishing there was a wider lens available from Fuji). Whilst keywording my library, I came across some images I took last October in Goa. To break the metadata monotony, I decided to run the images through some Lightroom presets I just acquired from Visual Supply Company called VSCO Film Emulation 01 & 02. I’ve never been a big preset user, but have always liked the way these presets have worked with photos I’ve seen from other photographers. These images were photographed in RAW with the Fuji X-Pro1. They were then imported into Lightroom to develop. When I started applying some of the VSCO Film presets to these RAW files, I didn’t like what I was seeing at all. I didn’t understand why the presets looked so terrible compared to when I used them on some of my Pushkar Camel Fair photos. I realized a few minutes later that the only difference was that I was applying the presets to the JPEG files I photographed in Pushkar (I photographed RAW+Jpeg that week), not the RAW files. The rocks on the south end of Bogmalo Beach, Goa, India. 18mm lens
To see what would happen, I decided to put the 3 month old RAW images (whose names I’ve changed by now) back on my SD card in hopes to process them into JPEG images in camera. Thankfully the images popped up on the back of the X-Pro 1 and I processed the RAW files into JPEGs with the Velvia film simulation applied in camera. I then imported the JPEG files back into Lightroom and BOOM, it made a world of a difference. I applied various VSCO Film presets and eventually settled on the look of the Kodak Protra 160 VC++. Lightroom doesn’t have camera profiles yet for the X-Pro 1 like it does for my Canon 5D Mark II. Since buying the X-Pro 1, I’ve tried to tweak the Lightroom settings to try and create a profile to match the X-Pro 1 in camera Velvia film simulation, but haven’t figured it out yet. So, long story short, these images were photographed with the X-Pro 1 in Raw and converted to Jpeg in camera with Velvia film simulation applied. They were then imported to Lightroom where I applied the VSCO Film preset Kodak Protra 160 VC++.
Please share feedback or any of your own experiences….
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For me, taking the time to watch the sunrise is a spirit-lifting experience in itself. Every day is new, untold and full of possibilities. To be out there facing that iconic view, seeing the day being born out of the darkness and lighting up the city where I’ve spent my entire life is quite an evocative thing to witness. That said, it’s not always such a calming experience because as the sun rises and its rays dance over the clouds, occasionally, and perhaps only for a few fleeting seconds, the sunlight skims the atmosphere at just the right angles and your eyes are treated to a fantastic explosion of colour. It’s at those times when my sleepy mind is suddenly very alert and I’m most likely darting between two cameras I’ve got set up on tripods making sure their shutters are firing and the exposures are looking good. And when I see those rear LCD previews glowing with same radiance, well, that’s when I don’t mind losing a bit of sleep so much. My usual kit for these sunrise shoots has been a Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70mm with an assortment of Lee filters (ND grads and a Big Stopper), a Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35mm and 18-55mm XF lens and B&W 10-stop filter. Let’s not forget the many layers of warm clothing, a flask of something hot and many hours to stand around waiting! The 4-year old D700 still has a place in my heart despite higher resolution offerings from younger siblings and rivals. It’s reliable and predictable in so much as I know I can get extremely satisfying results from it. Like a faithful old dog who knows where my favourite slippers, newspaper and pipe are. The Fuji X-Pro 1 on the other hand is still a very new camera, fashioned with classic and retro lines, but underneath its cool, dark exterior lies technology which would make the Borg salivate. The X-Trans sensor is innovative with its lack of anti-aliasing filter and funky colour array filter, but software companies have had decades to perfect their algorithms to render ‘traditional’ Bayer pattern sensor data so it’s no surprise there are still improvements to be had. It’s not all bad news, though, and the X-Pro 1 still has a legion of fans with me being one of them. Personally, I don’t find the raws that bad when processed in Lightroom. Certainly, not as bad as some might claim. The styling is great, the handling is great, the autofocus is decent for a contrast detection based system, the sensor is relatively huge for such a small body and in my opinion packs just the right number of megapixels (16). Crucially, the lenses are excellent (aherm, Sony) which makes the XF system such a great one. To me, great lenses are the foundation of any system because they’re the pieces of equipment you carry over from one body to the next. The JPG processing in-camera is good, but I’m still going to continue shooting raw because that leaves me the option of processing in-camera afterwards and because I believe raw support will improve. With all that said, what matters is the end result and whether I like it. I do. Very much so.
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It seems that there is a ton of interest in the Fuji cameras, which is a good thing. There should be. I thought I’d offer an update now that I’ve had the camera for 6 weeks. Since the earlier post, I’ve used the X-Pro1 for 2 model shoots (for portions of the shoots, anyway), Christmas snapshots, a foggy day landscape shoot, as a second body for a concert at a local club, a photowalk around the NC State University campus, and carried it with me on various family outings (“just in case”). I would have shot more, but I spent a big chunk of the last month dealing with the flu and its aftermath. But, all in all, a good cross section of the sort of shooting I like to do. One thing I noticed (when I wasn’t sick), something about having this small camera makes me want to get out and walk around and shoot. I can’t wait to take a trip to NYC with this thing. I always felt so conspicuous with a big camera. I thought it best to divide my comments up in terms of the specific type of shoot. Photos from each (except my holiday snapshots) are included in the gallery…..
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