Scott's Thoughts

Initial Impressions of the Fuji Firmware Release

The Fuji firmware update is pretty slick, but also relatively limited for the older cameras, which is too bad. Particularly too bad for the X-E2, which is still being sold, and isn’t all that old. In particular, I really wish we had the X-T1’s “direct selection AF area using the four-way controller”. I’ve never understood why this didn’t work this way before, and now it’s an option, but only on the X-T1. Also, I’d like to have tethered shooting support, especially now that I’ve got such a nice portrait lens in the 56mm. Jealous.

Still, the new AF+MF is nice, particularly with the 23mm, which used to have to use the clutch mechanism to switch from AF to MF. Now, you just leave it in MF and it will autofocus when the button is half-pressed, but still allow for manual trimming. I usually prefer to set the AF-L button to be autofocus, but that didn’t work with the 23mm’s clutch. My initial impression is that this new method works pretty well. This is certainly a nice benefit to the “fly by wire” focusing mechanism; the clutch isn’t actually a clutch, but a fancy switch that can be controlled by firmware.

New Fuji Firmware Released

Thoughts on Fuji Lenses

Zack Arias has a lengthy blog post about Fuji lenses, which you should check out if you’re interested in the Fuji X system. In my opinion, the lenses are the reason to get into this system, as they’re so obviously targeted at photographers who like the more traditional feel of metal-bodied lenses with aperture rings, not to mention a solid selection of fast primes. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy with my X-E2 body, but I think other systems are progressing faster and farther with their camera bodies (Sony, for instance). Still, the lenses are the more critical part of the kit, and I’m confident that Fuji is capable of progressing satisfactorily with their cameras.

I currently own the 23mm f/1.4, the 35mm f/1.4, and now my recently acquired 56mm f/1.2. None of these lenses disappoint, and they’ve fueled my desire to sell the Nikon gear and double down. I don’t actually have much else I’d buy, to be honest. The Fuji lens roadmap (how cool is it that they have a roadmap?) has two new lenses of interest: the 16mm f/1.4 and the 90mm f/2. I’d like a wide-angle lens, and it would come down to the 16mm or the already released 10-24mm f/4 OIS. I briefly had the 14mm f/2.8, but didn’t feel it was up to the level set by other Fuji lenses I’ve used and f/2.8 felt slow for a prime of its size. The 10-24 would be great to pack on mountain bike trips, so it may be the winner, especially since it has image stabilization. Still, the f/1.4 on the 16mm is enchanting, and would be useful in low light settings as can be encountered at some biking destinations. Decisions, decisions.

There’s not much to say against the idea of the 90mm; it just sounds lovely. I’ve used my Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 as my main lens for portraits up to now, but I don’t plan on replacing it with the recently-released Fuji equivalent; I’d rather have the 56mm and 90mm tandem, since I’m not really shooting action.

It’s a great time to be in the market–there are so many good things being released. I’m definitely looking forward to the next high-end X camera, which I’m sure to get.

“The Last Episode Of Serial from Funny Or Die”

“Japanese animation: The Tale of Studio Ghibli”

Golden Gate

Golden Gate

I’ve been cleaning up and consolidating photos on some hard drives, and came across these photos taken on a ride earlier this year. Didn’t do much else other than apply a Velvia 50 film look and merge them to a pano. That was a good day, and seeing the pic made this cloudy/rainy day just a little better.

Black EVF on Fuji with Strobes

Shooting with strobes/flashes with manual exposure settings on your Fuji camera and seeing only black in your electronic viewfinder or rear LCD? Here’s the fix.

The Fuji X cameras with only EVFs have one challenge by default when shooting in the studio: they show your current settings live in the EVF (and on the rear LCD). A lot of time, the studio is a dark place, only lit briefly by strobe lights, but your camera settings reflect that bright moment, often with the shutter at something like 1/125 and aperture at f/8.

The fix? Go into the menu, Setup Menu #1, and select “Screen Set-Up”. In there is a setting called “Preview Exp. in Manual Mode”, which is on by default. Turn it off and you’ll be able to compose in the darker light of the studio, but the camera will still capture at your manually set exposure.

Ainsley at Christmas 2014

Ainsley Christmas 2014

Warning: Nerdy photo rambling follows. Feel free to just enjoy the picture and skip it if you’re not into the technical details.

It’s been a long time since I shot with my lighting setup, and I used the arrival of my new Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens as an excuse to give it a little workout.

The setup was simple: a 5’ Elinchrom Octa camera left as key and a square softbox camera right, pointed mostly at the background, but also hitting her a bit. Both lights are Elinchrom BXRi 500s. The camera is my Fuji X-E2 with the new 56mm mounted. The Fuji makes a nice, light little package. Here it is with the Elinchrom Skyport trigger:

Studio Setup

I’m rusty! I took a long enough time fiddling around that the kid had no patience for another setup, so I left the lights up and I’ll do another round later in the week. I purchased a Kupo Junior stand awhile back, and this was the first time I used it; it’s very nice. I originally wanted it so that I’d have a stand that was strong enough to hold the octa or a beauty dish on a BXRi over the camera position, but the boom I have (a cheapie) is missing its mounting hardware. I need to order the Kupo steel boom for that much equipment anyway. Still, it’s a confidence-inspiring stand.

The lens is wonderful. The select above was shot at f/8, and I’m very happy with how it came out; I didn’t do too much in the way of post-processing. I haven’t given the lens much of a test, particularly using its awesome f/1.2 max aperture, but I’m very happy with the initial results I’ve seen. It’s particularly nice to have a lens where f/2 is stopped down two stops and most aberrations are gone!

The 23mm f/1.4 and the 56mm f/1.2 are great buddies, and make quite an awesome kit. I’m lusting after the viewfinder in the X-T1, though, I have to admit. I hope Fuji get the new model of the X-T and X-Pro out soon. Given how happy I am with the Fuji, I think I’ll probably sell off my Nikon gear at the beginning of the year and go all-in on the Fuji system.

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“Live Coverage of the Senate Torture Report”

“A Big Difference Between Fuji and Micro 4/3”

“Meet the new Bond car”

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“Spectre to be title of next James Bond film”

“No charges for NYPD officers accused in Eric Garner chokehold death case”

The Walking Dead Season 5 Mid-Season Finale

I really enjoyed the last few episodes, which is a relief. I had been ready to write the show off–and actually would have–except my wife wanted to keep watching. In any case, I’m glad we did. The story picked up the pace, in fact moving a little too quickly; I thought there was more to mine in both the cannibal storyline and the hospital one. It felt like they moved past the cannibals a little too quickly in order to get to the hospital, which then also came to a resolution quickly. I wonder: Had there been no arbitrary mid-season break, would the stories being told here have naturally spread over a couple more episodes, maybe even span to the end of the regular season? I think so. (See below for more on this.)

Regardless, the characters got back together, some quite the worse for the wear. The overarching theme since their dispersal, that the humanity of the survivors is being stretched across a terrible continuum that has many moving the line-that-can’t-be-crossed. It’s been compelling television. The cannibals at Terminus were clearly the ultimate representation of what can happen to otherwise “good” people in these extreme conditions, and we’ve seen our protagonists–particularly Rick–moving down that path to darkness.

Beth, who had been one of the better “good” people, even darkened a bit, having killed live people recently. (It’s weird to make that distinction, but when you “kill” so many “dead”, it’s hard to describe otherwise.) The only person probably more “good” than Beth has been is Tyreese, having recently recovered to that state after a dark time spent battling with inner demons himself. That she met her end in this episode will likely cause the group to skew darker upon the show’s return.

Unlike my earlier stance, I’m looking forward to seeing more from The Walking Dead.

Mid-Season Finale?

I’m going to rant a bit, even though it retreads a bit of ground. How fucking stupid is it that we have a “mid-season finale”? Regardless of the quality of the episode in question, which is high, why is the fucking series on hiatus–only six episodes into its season–until February? And why is there a pre-hiatus finale? I’ll tell you: To build up hype and give them an opportunity to pimp some other show, this time the it’s-got-to-be-doomed-to-fail Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. It sucks, and I hope that either AMC stops the practice or that it fails to generate another show I care to watch.

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“The Wire in HD”

“Gorgeous (unofficial) Star Wars Ep. VII posters by Phil Noto”

“24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed”

Scott Hill, elsewhere on the web: