When you lead photographic workshops around the world you meet some really interesting people both as subjects and as participants. A few years back I had a very talented photographer from Portugal join our workshop in India, Fernando Carvalho da Silva. After that workshop Fernando went home to Lisbon and found some craftsmen that would hand make cases and straps for his cameras. He passed a couple of those straps to a few of us to try out and use. A company grew out of this called NUCIS leather. A little less than a year ago Fernando wanted me to try out one of his NUCIS leather straps. I had to be honest and tell him I doubted I would use them as I was pretty committed to the Peak Design system of anchors and links. You’ve seen them on my camera. I know this because every time I review a lens and photograph it on my camera I get asked the same question, “What is the little red and black tab hanging from your camera?” It is the Peak Design anchor. These small tabs allow the Peak Design straps to anchor or connect to the camera. It is an easy snap on and off solution. Brilliant! Well, because of this I doubted I would use his straps as nice as they were. I told him if he could come up with a classy leather strap that used those anchors, well then…
Recently, I was sent an Angelbird 512 GB SSD2go drive. This little guy, and little is the operative word here, is built like a tank. It is perfect for people like me who travel. The great thing about SSD drives is because they are solid state they can be pretty much abused and still function perfectly. Seriously, you could drop this off a building and it would most likely survive… and no, I am not going to try that. I like it’s shiny T.A.R.D.I.S. 1 blue case and I don’t want it scratched. By the way, the case – it is honed out of a single piece of aluminum. This adds to the solid feel of the device. Now I was a little worried when I saw the USB 3.0. cable. I had never seen a drive use a type A to type A cable. But it works like a charm. The cable fits really tight into the unit and into the computer. You can get the back engraved for free. Most people put their website or a contact number. I have never had any contact info on a drive before and frankly, I have never felt the need. I guess because I have never lost a drive before so it didn’t really occur to use it that way. So I had a bit of inspiration added to the the back. Since it is T.A.R.D.I.S. blue in color I added a quote from Dr. Who that fits my ethos. “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” Honestly if I was to do it again, I might put my email address because this drive is so small I actually might be able to loose it. Continue reading
- A reference to the blue police box in Dr. Who ↩
You know that a good camera bag is an essential. You also know that you can never seem to find the right bag, right? If I ask any given photographer how many bags they have I usually get an embarrassed eye-roll and then a number between 5 and 20. Seriously, bags are important, first and foremost for protecting your camera and lenses. But what about your other camera? You know, your phone. Continue reading
Welcome Fujirumors Readers.
It’s always fun when I get together with Piet Van den Eynde and we compare notes on the latest Fujifilm gear. This podcast was not different. This episode is about our thoughts on the latest lenses and a few interesting accessories.
So just before I left for Kenya, I got a WhatsApp message from my contact at Fujifilm Malaysia telling me they had the yet-to-be-released Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR. I have been waiting for this lens since it showed up on the Fujifilm Lens Road Map. A 16mm f/ 1.4? That’s a lot of light! But the real question was going to be, would I feel it was wide enough? Let’s face it, a 16mm lens on the X-system is effectively a 24mm in 35mm-speak and I generally like shooting wide. I like fast even better. This lens has not disappointed me.
I really wanted to write this review before leaving and post it the day the lens was officially announced, but unfortunately I got the lens only the day before I left for Kenya and I have been working on an OFMP training everyday since I arrived. I was able to carve out a few moments here and there to put this little guy through some of it’s paces.
Speaking of little, this actually isn’t all that small. It dwarfs the Fuji 14mm f/2.8. It’s bigger than the 23mm f/1.4 and the real shocker is, it is even slightly bigger than the 56mm f/1.2! I am not sure I understand why it needs to be this size. I understand the weight. It weighs right in between the 23mm and the 56mm at 375 g (0.83 lb), about where I expected. After all, it’s loaded with glass. But I don’t understand the size. It’s slightly bigger than the 56mm that is 3.5 times longer in focal length. But what this lens looses in size, it makes up in sharpness. Like many of the other Fujinon lenses, the 16mm is razor sharp. You need to be careful because you’ll cut yourself, its so sharp. It’s sharp at f/16 all the way to f/1.4. I was thoroughly surprised to see this lens was not only sharp in the center at f/1.4, it was also sharp from edge to edge.
I have yet to discover any chromatic aberrations at any f-stop. It’s here where I am suppose to tell you about the 13 lens elements in 11 groups, including 2 aspherical lens elements and the 2 ED glass lens elements to reduce lateral and axial chromatic aberration, but honestly I have no idea what that means, so as Clark Gable once said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”. All I know is it is crazy sharp!
I do know nice-looking bokeh when I see it, and this lens has it. Apparently it has to do with the 9 aperture blades. Again, I am less concerned with why it happens and more concern with “does it look nice?”, and it does.
The lens is weather sealed and becomes a great addition to the the weather sealed X-T1. Twice on this trip I was shooting in the rain and the camera got completely drenched. Not a problem.
I have read somewhere that this lens was slightly slow focusing using phase detection. Maybe, but I never experienced it. Every time I used it, it seemed to snap to focus as quick as the best Fuji lens.
I want to be fair here; I have not put this lens through a tough regiment of shooting. I just received this lens as I was leaving for an OFMP training at The Kilgoris Project in Kenya and only had a limited amount of time with it. What I can say is I am not disappointed with it. Unlike the 16-55mm, a lens that I felt was a well crafted lens but will never find it’s way into my bag, there is a chance this lens will not come off my camera! It is just wide enough to provide context in photos without creating undo distortion on the edges. It is fast, so it will be useful in low light situations, it is sharp and focuses quickly and accurately. What more can a photographer want? My guess is once I get this lens, my 23mm f/1.4 and my 14mm f/2.8 will stay in my bag a lot more.
Did you know that this is the 4th lens in Fujifilms lens lineup at the 16mm focal length? They have the 10-24mm f/4, the 16-55mm f/2.8 and the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6. None of these are primes and all of them slower, with the fastest being the 16-55mm at f/2.8. It might surprise some of you that I never bought the 10-24mm f/4. As sharp as that lens is, and it is really sharp, I found it too slow at f/4. Yes, I know it has image stabilization (OIS) but that just stabilizes the lens not the subject. When I did use the 10-24mm, it was almost always on at the wider end between the 10 to 16mm focal length. So the new 16mm lens gives me speed at f/1.4 and a nice wide focal length. Do I wish this was a wider lens? Sure. But at the moment, there is no wider lens at this speed on the Fuji Road Map. But I can live with that. This lens hits the sweet spot for me.
The 16mm seems to have plenty of contrast and shooting at f/1.4 it gives your subject a nice separation from it’s background. It focuses close, as you can see from the tea flower and the daisy image below. I think I was as close as 6 inch or more. The bokeh get more impressive the closer you get to your subject.
The lens is suppose to be selling on Amazon for $999… er $1,000. So in the end, it comes down to would I shell out $1,000 for a 16mm f/1.4 lens? The answer is a resounding, “Heck yeah!”
Recently I heard a really great quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This resonated with me so much when I heard it I even thought, “now here is a quote I could tattoo on my body.” But I didn’t. I liked it because in many ways this has been my life’s motto even without me ever saying it out loud or tattooing it on my arm. It is why in 1987 I visited India, to push myself out of my comfort zone. It is why in 1994 I moved with my new bride to Kashmir and started a small trekking company. I was not content with being comfortable. Then, when in 2007 I moved back to the USA, it took only two years to realize I was getting too comfortable and so we moved to Malaysia. Continue reading
I am excited to announce that camera bag maker MindShift Gear and I will be giving away a Mindshift Gear’s Rotation 180º camera backpack to one lucky soul. This is a fantastic backpack! I own one of these myself and I can tell you it is build like a tank but is light as a feather. Last year I did a video review on this bag and it did real well. Read that review HERE. Why are we giving this bag away you might ask? Well, we are just like that, kind, generous and giving people… Continue reading
A few weeks back I sat with two of the marketing managers for Fujifilm in our local Starbucks. One was from Malaysia and the other was the regional marketing manager from Japan. As we spoke and drank our coffee we talked about all the good things happening with Fujifilm within Malaysia and globally. As we were getting ready to leave one of these men asked, almost in passing, if I would like to shoot the new 16-55 mm. I was stunned. This is the hottest new lens from Fujifilm. As far as I knew no one had even seen it yet, let alone used it. After picking up my jaw from the floor I said, “Heck yeah!”. “Ok, we will get it to you Friday, just in time for your assignment.” (I was currently shooting for a Hong Kong based magazine on the markets of Penang).
For more than 3 years Fujifilm has been producing stunningly sharp lenses for their X-series camera. The 35 mm f/1.4 was one of their first lens and it was so sharp I was sure it was a software trick inside the camera. Then came the other lens with the 56 mm f/1.2 being the go-to for portrait photographers. But there was still an obvious gap in their lens line up. Sharp or not, there was not a 70-200 mm f/2.8 equivalent lens, that is until now. That hole is now filled with the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 and it is amazing. Continue reading