When the light fades in Havana and the mercury drops a notch, Havana takes on a distinctly different character. The streets, normally so full of people and scorching hot, are now largely empty. The flicker from the television sets in the houses cast a bluish glow on the threadbare curtains on the windows, like a strange deep sea jellyfish. Some streets remain brightly lit, whilst yet many others are now cast into shadow, with dim streetlights spaced well apart. The potholes and puddles in the streets have now disappeared into the darkness, until you inadvertently step into one. The chatter from houses either side of the streets tell of families gathered round dinner tables, television sets and domino games. Brief bouts of laughter punctuate the otherwise still night. The fragrant smell of cigar smoke can also be smelt coming from the windows and balconies of the houses. In the darkness, I still hear bicitaxi (bicycle taxis) riders touting their services, always promising a ‘special price’. Although dark and run down, the streets do not have a threatening air about them, more like someone turned off the lights on Daytime Havana and the volume down to a whisper. Like an unruly child asleep. I love the shadows cast by the disparate light sources at night in the streets of Havana. The already heavily textured walls and buildings of the city take on a new layer of mystery and suspense. Characters casting long shadows on the uneven ground dart and disappear around corners into the pools of darkness, adding to the drama of the scene. In each city that I visit, I make it a point to experience both the daytime atmosphere as well as the ‘night life’ and Havana has certainly not disappointed with her offerings…..
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We photographers love fast apertures. We are like kids at Christmas, yearning to see just how blurry and ‘bokehlicious’ the background can get. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, as a famous comedian once said. A fast aperture lens is always nice to use. And if it is a wide fast aperture lens, even better. I find these lenses way more fascinating than telephoto or portrait lenses because of the focal length factor. With a wide lens, the mix of vastitude and shallow depth of field gives more punch to your photographs and brings them closer to the much-desired full-frame look. Now that I’ve gone mirrorless, the only lens I really miss from my full-frame gear is the 24mm f/1.4 by Nikon, the best lens I’ve ever used. Though my time with it was brief (I sold much of my Nikon gear six months later), it was love at first sight. The Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 reminds me of it, even though it doesn’t have the same equivalent focal length. Another case of love at first sight, perhaps? The very words ‘fast aperture lens’ generally imply a high quality build and premium glass. The new XF 23mm f/1.4 (35mm equivalent on full frame format) is no exception. From the first pictures I took with the X-Pro1, I suddenly recognised the same look I’d seen with the XF 35mm 1.4 which I used on several occasions when I reviewed the camera. Wonderful bokeh, great sharpness and overall excellent lens performance. Let’s have a further look then, shall we? …..
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I love Fuji X-series cameras – they have exceptionally good image quality, superb handling and they are just a lot of fun to shoot with. I have completed reviewing all Fuji X cameras that I have had during the last few months, including the X-Pro1, X-E1, X-M1 and the X100S. In short, an amazing array of cameras from Fuji. One issue that I overlooked while reviewing the cameras though, was the spotted ghosting issue caused by the X-Trans sensor in rare situations, as demonstrated below (shot with the Fuji 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens). Since I am currently working on reviewing all Fuji X lenses, I had to go through each lens to test things like optical performance, chromatic aberrations, vignetting, distortion and flare / ghosting. During my flare / ghosting test, which involves photographing a scene with the sun in the frame at different apertures, I noticed a very interesting phenomenon – each lens that I used would produce spotted ghosts that looked very defined in a straight square pattern, in addition to the lens ghosts that we normally see from lenses. At first, I thought it was a lens issue. But then as I tested one lens after another, whether it was a native Fuji or a Zeiss lens, every single one of them showed the same pattern. After a couple of lenses, I realized that these patterns are not from optical characteristics of the X lenses or the types of coatings used in them, but rather internal reflections involving the X-Trans sensor……
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Long exposure… The more I do it the more I like it. This week I walked into Dublin city centre to take more photos of my current hometown. I did a few shots then a mini storm broke out, I had to take shelter and the closest thing was a pub, why not. I had a pint of the good stuff and a bit of a time to think of where to go next. I photographed some of the bridges and buildings along the River Liffey, then it started to rain again and it was time to call it a night. All images were taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the 18mm lens…..
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Since 2005 I have used a Canon EF 16-35 2.8L USM as my only wide angle lens. I have been very happy with this lens, using it on a 20D, 5D, 5D Mark II and now on the 5D Mark III. The 16-35 is a good performer and very versatile. So why even consider other options. Well first of all; Who wouldn’t want a new lens if it performs better and fits into a kit and budget. The lens makers have released plenty of options since 2005 with a list too long to mention here. I have rented the EF 35 1.4L and EF 24 1.4L II a few times and have been happy with these as well but not found enough reason to permanently add them to my kit. Adding to the mix I started shooting the APS-C format Fujifilm X-Pro1 about 18 months ago and have been very pleased having the option to travel lighter and still maintain great image quality. The question now, as I am sure many other photographers are asking them selves, do I build on the Fuji system or should I mainly stick with my full frame SLR option when it comes to wide angle lenses? The Fuji XF 14mm 2.8 R came out in the beginning of the year and many positive reviews have rolled in since. About a week ago I had a chance to try it out and I also took the Zeiss Distagon 12mm 2.8 T* out for a quick spin. Please note this is not a pixel peeping analyses but just a quick take……
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I’m using a Fuji X-pro 1 mirrorless camera for almost a year and I LOVE it. And I HATE it. But then again… I LOVE it!!! When this camera was released back in 2012, I must admit, I fell for looks of it. That was my firs impression not knowing how it performs. Loved that rangefinder style, compact size and OVF/EVF combo. So… these were my thoughts before I even read some reviews or seen some image samples. I’ve done my research and Zack, David and Bert (among many others) were convincing enough to decide to purchase one for myself. First of all, I bought mine at B&H photo (great service, very satisfied with them since I’m living in Bosnia – I’ve got a package just a four days after purchase). After first ten minutes of looking at the camera and touching it, playing with OVF… (that was the thing I was eagerly awaited for the most – that OVF… but I’ll get there), I realized that lens hood that was provided with a lens I bought (35mm f1.4 Fujinon lens), even if it doesn’t look so bad on a lens has a terrible hood cap (with that kind of lens hood it was impossible to use a lens cap since shape of lens hood attached is square). That lens hood cap was falling off without any force engaged to it. It was falling off while carrying camera around, putting it in a bag, or if you succeeded to put it in a bag while cap still on a hood it will fall off for sure when you grab your camera out of the bag. Next day – I bought a metal lens hood with a cap on ebay for a few bucks. I think, having a small lens hood on every lens will provide you some extra protection against accidental direct hit in a crowd or in narrow spaces. Next thing I did was to order that great looking (and even better feeling) Lance strap……..
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It’s 6:30 am in Pocahontas, AR. The sun isn’t scheduled to rise for another 45 minutes. My cousin, Keith Futrell, pulls up in his truck. We load my gear and we’re off, headed north toward Warm Springs. Twenty minutes later we arrive at Buck Hollow Ranch. It’s still too dark to really see anything, but I already know it’s going to be a good day. Keith takes me down to the lake house where we meet Tom Baker, the owner of the ranch. His usual unlit cigar already in his mouth, we have our coffee and wait for the sun to barely crack over the horizon. The three of us pile into his truck to begin driving through the 60 miles of road within Buck Hollow Ranch. Like previous features, my goal is to shed light on an interesting person, place, thing or idea. In this instance, I get to talk about all four. Keith is the ranch manager for BHR. The ranch consists of 2,600 acres of wooded and grassy landscape, nestled in the hills of Northeast Arkansas…….
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Yesterday, I had the XF23mm lens to use and I made the first group of photos. Today, I had to return it to Fujifilm Canada, so I switched to my X100s to make the images in the second group. Although, I doubt that there is any difference in image quality, I did notice a big difference in working with the XP1, with the XF23mm lens, and the X100s. First of all, I love having the distance scale on the lens barrel of the XF23mm. Yesterday, I adjusted distance and aperture frequently without looking in the viewfinder, just by looking at the lens markings. Nice. Also, I missed the faster shutter speed available with the first camera/lens combo over the X100s. As I was working by shooting my first shot at f/8.0 and in focus and the second shot as wide open as I could, I frequently was shooting at f/4.0 today, when yesterday I was shooting at f/2.0 or 2.8. This resulted in a very big difference in depth of field. To be honest, I don’t know if one set of images is better than the other, but it was surprising how different the shooting experience was from the XF23mm to the X100s. OK. Back to making photos……..
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