Scott's Thoughts

“Vaccines Work. Here Are the Facts.”

“Exclusive: Jay, Key Witness from ‘Serial’ Tells His Story for First Time, Part 1”

“Living With The Fuji X-T1”

“Christmas Serial”

“Investigators Said to Seek No Penalty for C.I.A.’s Computer Search”

“Astrophotographer Captures The Milky Way…Over The Devils Tower”

“Why Sony Pictures should release The Interview online”

“As more viewers cut cable, what will happen to sports?”

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.

“One Good-Lookin’ Camera”

“Night Time Shred – Tom & Ruby”

“The $6.5m canyon: it’s the most expensive photograph ever…”

“Serial: the key locations…in pictures”

“Serial: The Syed family on their pain…”

“Live Coverage of the Senate Torture Report”

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

“Meet the new Bond car”

“James Bond will return in ‘Spectre’”

Scott Hill, elsewhere on the web: