19 October, 2014

Peeking over the fence at Fujifilm

High-key, black and white

I see the ads and the reviews for the cameras and lenses of companies other than Sony. So, it's only natural to wonder what I would do if all my gear was lost.* Would I buy the same stuff again, or try something else?

What about Fujifilm?

I was first impressed by the Fujifilm X100, and, then later, its successors. It was a close run thing; but a fixed 35mm (equivalent) is a little wide for me, so I didn't pull the trigger.

Direct controls for shutter, aperture and exposure compensation are very attractive to me. I like being able see what's set. I think that it's unfair that this is occasionally written off as just a "retro" style exercise.

Happily, the eyepiece data in most electronic viewfinders (EVFs) provide this same feedback, albeit only when the camera is switched on. And, alternatively, I recognize the advantages for some photographers in being able to set up two or more "custom" arrangements on a PASM mode dial, as that allows for almost immediate, global reactions to changed shooting circumstances. It's an admission, I suppose, to say that doesn't often happen to me.

I like the eyepiece on the left (Leica rangefinder) arrangement in both the X100 and the X-Pro1. (Which works well for me as a "right eyed" person.) The SLR/DSLR style, with the eyepiece in the center, ensures my nose presses against the display on the back.

Then came the X-Pro1. I mostly shoot with primes, so what impressed me most was the initial trio of high-quality, fast, Fujifilm primes: the 18, 35 and 60mm.

As I'm a glasses wearer, I was less impressed by the lack of a built-in eyepiece diopter adjustment – a screw-in lens is required. (The X100 had a built-in adjustment.) And, in the minor quibble department, I think that the "pinched" lens-hood designs on the 18 and 35mm lenses are effective, but prevent the hoods from being reversed on the lens in the bag. I admit that it's probably faster using their push-on lens caps to keep those hoods on all the time; but I like saving a little space in the bag. (I didn't like that about the rectangular lens hood on an earlier favourite of mine, the M4/3, Panasonic/Leica 25mm. That didn't, however, have a push-on cap.)

I liked it that Fujifilm dropped the anti-aliasing filter, but the initial problems with Lightroom's demosaicing from the new sensor were concerning. (The X-Trans sensor design is very clever, but the potential for moiré doesn't seem a serious enough reason to flee the Bayer design.)

And now there's the X-T1. I haven't seen one of these in the flesh, but the reports suggest that Fujifilm is moving from strength to strength.

I'm very happy with what I've got, but I think that I could use the Fujifilm line without missing a beat.
*Dear insurance company: There's no need to worry. I'm an honest guy.

Going back to the old ways,
won't get you back to the old days.
—Yllib Ybnad (b.1948)

16 October, 2014

One lens

A strong tidal current in Moreton Bay — off Brisbane, Queensland

I usually carry around a camera and one lens.

When I have an hour or two, however, I take the camera, camera bag and three lenses. But when I get back I often find that most of my pictures were taken with my usual (50mm equiv) lens.

It would be nice to believe that, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, the 50mm equivalent is just natural to me. I fear, however, that it's more a case of, "When you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

08 October, 2014

The Photographer's Ephemeris

The logo for the Photographer's Ephemeris
If you're only looking for the time of the sun or moon rise then the local paper is the easiest source.

But if you want to know on what day the sunrise can be seen straight down a particular street, when the sun will set between two hills from a particular vantage point, or whether the sun will come around far enough to shine in the windows on a particular side of a house before sunset, then you need to know about the The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE).

TPE is free on your computer. They call it an app, but it works just like many other interactive pages on your browser.

Much of the relevant ephemeris information in TPE is overlaid on Google Maps. This means that it works for everywhere, except at the poles (yeah, I had to try). And that means you can use either the map or satellite views for working things out. And, of course, you can search for places in the usual Google Maps way.

If you want The Photographer's Ephemeris on your iPhone or Android phone, however, it will cost you a few bucks. For those you can go to either the App Store or Google Play.

The home page for The Photographer's Ephemeris is HERE.

The 0nline Photographer's Ephemeris (browser based) app is HERE

Their free, quick-start, 2-page guide is HERE.

And finally, the latest, 80-page, PDF version of Understanding Light with the Photographer's Ephemeris, by Bruce Perry, is available for purchase (£9.99) HERE. Understanding Light talks about more than just the use of the ephemeris. I found it very useful.

(I have no association with TPE and the links above are just their links. I get no benefit.)

03 October, 2014

In our own backyards

The backyard

Personal pictures: Family pictures, backyard pictures and pet pictures. 
Of course we want those pictures to have some grace, and we'd like to think we brought some skill to bear. But, in the end, we simply want to be reminded.

More backyard

That's fair enough.