Jan 26, 2014

Poor Dog

Poor guy, me sticking a camera in his face all the time and the polar vortex keeping him inside.   Worst of both worlds for him, he goes out to do his business and then straight back in, just to cold out there.   Killing him today as the sun is shining in so he's convinced it's nice out, reality is -31c windchill this morning.   Maybe a bit warmer this afternooon?

(images are bigger if you click them - exif info intact)

He loves to sit and protect his bone on his legs :-) 

Colour (raw) vs Black and White (jpg).   This time I kinda like the colour version

Jan 22, 2014

It's in the bag - or the case :-)

No new pictures the past few days.  Between the polar votex kicking our ass (-27C here this morning without the windchill) and working taking up my time the poor camera has been sitting on my desk.

But that sitting on my desk started to concern me.   When you sit down an SLR it sits up right, no issues.  But I found when I was setting down the new X100S I have a habit of laying it on it's back as that gives more surface area.   But that means I'm, without thinking, setting it down right on the LCD.   Over time this will probably result in scratches and scuffs.   Not something I want.   At least having a leather case on will lift it up off the surface if I set it down on it's back.   I hate those stupid LCD protector films, I always end up with bubbles and glare.

So I started the search.   The grand daddy of them all - the Leicatime. 

This is the one I dream of.   Full hand made leather from Luigi in Italy.   OMG this is a beautiful case.  I can even smell the leather looking at the picture.  Check out his website - http://www.leicatime.com/a000-CasesFujiFinepixX100.htm  But, the options I want would run me about 450.00 cdn dollars.  OUCH OUCH OUCH.   Maybe for xmas some year?  Anybody with money to burn who likes to read me and whats me to be the happiest man alive?

There are a few imitation leather things out there on e-bay that are half cases from China and a few other places.   They just look bad, REJECTED!

So I ended up ordering the actual Fujifilm X100S leather case;

Definitely not as "pretty" and I can't smell the leather :-)  but it will suit the functional needs.   The upper case comes off and will only be used for travel and stuff with the bottom part giving it the protection it needs.  One think it has over Luigi's is that you can access the battery and SD card without removing the case.   It runs about 150.00 cdn before taxes but I managed to order one from Adorama for around 140.00 with taxes and duties all in.   So saved about 30 bucks or so. 

BUT, the cost of this case is still near what you would pay for a full leather jacket.   NUTS!   Drives me crazy how much we pay for camera accessories.   But I'll have a nice looking case and one that protects my investment.

Did I mention that I love the Leicatime case and if someone where to buy me one..... :-)

Here is my blog traffic log.  Can you tell which day I was picked up by http://www.scoop.it/t/fuji-x-pro1   ?

Jan 19, 2014

House Bound - Radio Room

Had hopes of a sunny day to get out and stretch the legs on the X100s this morning but woke to blowing wind, snow and -13c windchill.  Stuck in the house.

So decided to play with the macro setting to see what the depth of field was like.  Tried some shots at f2.0 and found it way to shallow for everyday objects, might be good for bugs :-) but like the looks of the f5.6 images.  Here are a few from my radio room.  All are only slight levels adjustment, no changes to the colours.  The camera continues to amaze me with how good it captures the exposure.   f5.6 with auto speed and ISO.

(Click image for larger view)

My Goldline Microphone

Tuned to the Bermuda ham radio net, was chatting with my mates on the island.  This is my TenTec Jupiter.

My Kenwood rig tuned to 6 meter calling channel - not much on that band these days.

No depth of field here, just a shot of my radio room :-)    VA3XA
Back to work tomorrow with a late day planned, probably not many images over the next few days.  Have a great week everyone.  Stay warm!

Jan 18, 2014

Snow Continues

Still snowy and not much happening but a few shots from the X100S;

Click the image for a bigger view

This is actually a jpg from the camera.  A touch of levels and a small vignette.   Loving the jpgs from this rig.

Can't help but play with the black and white on this rig.   A small creek near the house. 

The creek on the other side.

Jen and Jackson ahead.  Seems I'm a bit pokey.

Jan 17, 2014

and even more sun - day 5

What a week!   Finally made it home with over an hour of sunshine before sunset and didn't feel as rushed.   Put some new settings on the camera and went out on the daily dog walk.   Poor Jackson is going to be traumatized with all the sitting I make him do on "his" walk.   But learning lots of things about this camera.

(click the images for larger view)

I'm typically not a selfie kind of guy but I really wanted to try out the colour with my jacket, the blue skies and skin tones.   I set the camera to take a jpg in Black and White with red filter and normal RAW.  So JPG+RAW.  I also turned off the Velvia and went to the Provia.   The Velvia has just has too much saturation for this time of year, but still not rejecting it.    The colour pic (left) is raw with just a crop and some minor levels and the monochrome (right) is the jpg from the camera, also just a crop and minor levels.   I'm very impressed.

Shooting into the sun is always a challenge so had to play with a few settings.   Basically, F5.6, auto ISO, auto Shutter and dialed in -1ev.   monochrome with red filter.    Small levels adjustment and vignette put on.

Jackson decided to walk into the scene (left) which gave me the idea of trying out backlighting (right).   Put the flash to forced, but it really didn't light Jackson up as much as I would have liked.   Didn't use the raw, but was able to bring the levels up on the jpg to get some detail on him and retain the shininess of the ice and capture the sky.   The camera is very forgiving.

More backlight playing.  This time processed the raw.

This is a jpg almost straight out of the camera.   Just a touch of levels and crop.  The colours from this X100s are very very good and the auto exposure works great.

We went out for wing night and much to Jen's horror I brought the camera.   Apparently it embarrasses her :-)  If I'm going to try street work this year I need to get used to it.   Anyhow the point is that I wanted to see what the low light is like.   I put the ISO to auto 6400 so I could get a taste.   On the left, I was under exposed and had to raise the levels in LR.   I did not put on any noise reduction (on the camera or post) and you can see the noise that was introduced to raising the levels.   But still very usable.   On the right is a neon sign outside the restaurant.  I missed the focus a bit but again 6400 and almost no noise.  No levels on this, just a crop.

Jen needed a few things so decided to play.   Straight out of the camera - jpg - no processing.

Watson's Mill in Manotick.   I thought I could get closer but they don't have the paths plowed to had to go up on the bridge.   A bit limiting with the 23mm lens.   Anyhow, the point is, a handheld shot at 6400 ISO.   This is the raw image with a bit of levels as I overexposed the building a bit, and that was with -1ev dialed in.   Bumped up the levels of the ice in the river a bit but spent no more then 1 minute in post.

Taking another 6400 ISO image I zoomed in and cropped.   Lost a bit of detail and you can start to see the noise creeping in, but not bad for handshot from a considerable ways away.

So, after 5 days my thoughts and comments?

- For me, I've had a double whammy of having to learn LR5 (and make sure your LR 5.2 and up so you have the best raw converter for the X100s) and the camera.   My old flow was with Nikon NX2 and PS CS5.   Well turns out that CS5 does not support the Fuji raw format and there is no upgrade for the raw converter plugin unless you go to CS6 and that is just not in my budget.   Naturally the Nikon software won't support it so I was pretty much forced to go with LR5.   After a few nights of playing I have to say I'm much more comfortable with it and starting to enjoy it's flow now that I understand what it's doing.  Still miss a few things from PS so I need to save stuff off as a tiff or psd and then go to CS5, which is a pain but we're getting there.

- As for the camera, overall very happy now that I'm finding settings that work for me.   I'm sure I'll be tweaking them as I go along.   I'm having problems with moving the AF focus points around thanks to smaller buttons and the fact that I have a partially amputated right thumb.   The buttons on my D200 were big enough that this was not an issue but the X100s buttons I find I'm hitting multiple things all at once.  Might try mapping it to the fn button.

- Velvia is too colour saturated for me right now.   Going to learn the other settings and then go back and take another look.

- The monochrome with red filter is AMAZING!  I could put this camera in monochome and never take it out.

- I find the EVF with the ability to switch easily to optical very handy.   Knowing what the pictures is going to look like before taking the shot is new to me.   I know it's on the newer cameras but not one that I have played with.

-  Trying to get the hang of back focusing.   After getting frustrated with the AF a few times I decided to try using AFL button for autofocus and then manual with the ring.   This is going to take some getting used to but I think it's the way to go.  Again my stubby thumb has a few issues with it.   Practice practice I guess.  Love the built in MF features that zoom up and B&W to really see the focus.

- Being able to spin dials for speed, aperture and ev is SOOOOOOO much better then electronic menus.   The only downside, my close up eyesight sucks in low light I am struggling to see the values.   But a tiny complaint.

- The kicker for me is the ease of the carry.  Fits under my coat and I never feel that it's there.  When I need it, there it is.   This truly is a camera that you can carry anywhere at anytime.

One last comment, I have been picking up a few accessories along the way off e-bay and amazon.  Will review them as I get them as most are very cheap (price wise) and are coming from China (I know....) but we'll see if they are any good or not.   Ordered a replacement battery from Amazon, a 49mm - 77mm step ring from China for my ND filter, still need to order another for my polarizer, another aluminum lens cap from China (the only 1 I could find like the Fuji one and I got the last one so finding a cheap supply of replacements is in order) and two cable releases.  Ordered two of these as the price was a couple of bucks each and who knows how long they will last, so have two too destroy :-)  

I thought about it but not interested in the lens hood at all, adds too much to the front of the camera, I want to keep it slim.  But this does mean that I need to be careful to protect the lens front.   I do plan to pick up the Fuji leather case.   It is pricey but looking around I think it's the best product for the buck that's out there.

That's my thoughts and comments up until today.   Off to the tattoo shop later today for some touch-ups to my last big tattoo so hoping to get some shots of all the colours of ink and stuff in the store.   We'll see how the Fuji colour palette works with all the inks :-)

Jan 15, 2014

Finally some sun!

I managed to get 10 minutes of daylight and sun today :-)   For the past 4 days, since getting the new camera, I've been dreaming of sun and COLOUR!

I drove the truck as fast as I could with the slow drivers in Ottawa all around me to get home from work to catch the sunset.  Ran in the house, grabbed the dog and the camera and ran back out.   Couple of seconds to think about camera settings and off we went.

I wanted to try the Velvia film saturation setting, so set it fine jpg + raw format.   Fortunately I had the raw format as I found the Velvia to be a bit over saturated for my taste.   As well, looking through the view finder I felt I needed to dial out some of the exposure so I went to -1 ev, probably should have only gone .3 or .7 but fortunately the raw files saved my ass.

(click for fullsize)

Jackson posing :-)   Miss the focal point of his face and unfortunately shot in jpg only with velvia.   Lesson learned.

Sunset over the pond behind the house.   RAW image.

Sunset over the antenna farm in the backyard.  Velvia film again but this time it kinda works.

Pano.  Who says you can't do wide angle with a fixed 23mm.  6 vertical shots photomerged in PS.

Unfortunately I'm in a 2 way learning curve.   My old copy of PS CS5 nor my Nikon NX2 supports the Fuji X100S raw mode so I have to use Lightroom 5.   Not a program that I really understand or am comfortable with.   Trying to take advantage of a few minutes of sunlight each today to learn what works for me on this camera and creating a new workflow is making my old head hurt :-)

Jan 13, 2014

The Experiment - The Fujifilm X100S

Happy 2014 everyone!   Seems my habit of barely posting has continued and my lack of taking photos has become very apparent.  So 2014 is a time to do something about it! :-)

OMG, it's a 35mm!
Recently I booked my spring trip to Bermuda.   It was -35c outside and we are deep into the winter blah's.    But I sat down and started to think about what I would be shooting in Bermuda this time. I have enough Bermuda landscapes to fill a hard drive,   I want to do some kind of project.   Maybe shoot all the churches (there is around 130 of them), all blank and white, macro, etc etc.... but nothing was really jumping up at me.   But at the same time I had this uncomfortable/unhappy feeling about driving around the island with my camera bag full of lenses and my neck sore from the heavy dslr hanging from it.

It took some time but if finally hit me as to why I haven't been shooting.   I have lost my passion.   Each day I go for a walk with the dog, I used to take the SLR but I stopped after having few things to shoot.    Several times I have stopped and said "oh, that would be a nice picture - let me run and get the camera".  Did I?  Nope.   The fact of the matter is, I hate dragging the damn thing around.

I do have a pocket size camera and although it takes nice pictures it never really inspired me - http://canadianloon.blogspot.ca/2010/09/new-camera.html    but I bought it for the same reason, to have something small to carry around.  But I was never able to get the quality I crave after being spoiled with a good camera and lens combo.

My old D200 is getting a bit long in the tooth and Jen was looking at Henry's on e-bay at some Nikon bodies as she'd like to try out some of my lenses.   This got me looking around e-bay myself and I ran across an interesting camera - the Fuji Film X100S.    I remember when the X100 came out about 2 years ago and all the problems that it had.   But I thought to myself at the time that it looked like an interesting concept.    A fixed lens camera that has the functionally of a high end DSLR that is the size and look of a 35mm camera.

Then I ran across this blog.   Just read the first part, it described my feelings exactly - http://olafphotoblog.com/2013/05/03/theres-a-better-way-fuji-x100s-review/

Over the past 5 years I had noted that I usually took better photos when I only took 1 lens with me and left the tripods and bags at home.   I wondered what a fixed 35mm lens would be like?   Zoom in - move forward, zoom out - move back.   Hmmmm, would this help me think about my composition more?

(be sure to click the image for fullsize versions)

Oh wait, it's a digital
My research started to show me two other things that I absolutely love - in camera black and white with a red filter and outstanding colour rendition.    On top of that, usable images at 6400 ISO - WHAT!   My old D200 could barely do an ISO of 400 without the images looking like crap.   Ok hang on, a 35mm lens, F2.0, outstanding low light capability, 16 mpixal, great blank and white, vivid colour and weights 440 grams?   No way.  The only down side?   It's not cheap!

hmmmm, looks like a 35mm again
So I started looking around the internet - go google X100s review - and look at the pictures and read the stories.  Holy shit.   Professional wedding photographers doing weddings with it, landscapes that are bright and vivid, unbelievable street photography and amazing black and white work.   Youtube videos where pro's are sheepishly admitting that this camera is their dirty little secret.  I had to go see one of these.

On the right, my D200 w/17-50mm and on the left the X100s.   Which will be better on my neck?
I gave Henry's a call and asked if they had one in stock.  Yup, will set it aside for you.   Went in and put it in my hands.  Shocked again.   It's so small and feels just like a 35mm film camera.   Could this be what I'm looking for?   Something small and easy to carry around with great quality images?

I took a chance and purchased it.  At worst I can easily get my money back on e-bay as these things are selling for what they cost new.  Turns out it was on sale and a 32gb SD card came with it - bonus!

Got home and started reading the manual and just shooting around the house.   Was not a good day for photography, the outside lighting was terrible - fog and overcast and even inside was dull and grey.   Didn't take me long to gravitate to the black and white settings.    Take a bit to get used to using it - as would be like any new camera - but I find it more and more like my old 35mm's the more I use it.   Lots more bells and whistles but still feels the same.   I find myself much slower taking my shots and thinking them through given the fixed focal length.

Jackson being a good model - Black and White with a red filter.
Kitten modeling

Jackman agan
The next day I was off to go ice fishing for the day.   A great way to test a new camera.   Again, no sun, just overcast and hanging out on a white ice surface.   Not much contrast but got a few shots as the day went on, I'm very happy with the quality of the images and how the camera works.

Out with the boys fishing.  7 hours with the camera around my neck under the jacket - no issues.
But the kicker?   I had this thing hanging around my neck for over 7 hours and tucked into my coat and I never felt it at all.   And this was with the stock strap!    I can hold this thing all day and not hating it.  When I needed the camera is was right there.   This means I might actually have a camera with me when an opportunity presents itself!   :-)

Fish on
Good fun

This is the big experiment.   Not selling off the DSLR equipment just yet, although maybe a piece or two if someone is interested.   But can this camera inspire me after the buyers euphoria wears off?    Can I do upwards of 90% of what I could do with an SLR but be happy to carry the camera?   Could this lead to the smaller X line of Fuji cameras instead of the SLR's?   Part of me hopes that the X100S is all I need.   Could this finally make me more confident to do street photography?   The camera is completely silent and people don't give you a second look unlike when a bit telephoto raises from the bag.   Could walking around Bermuda doing close up street photography be my ticket away from the big vista landscapes that I have hundreds of in my Bermuda collection?   Will this inspire me to shoot more often and do more blogging? Time will tell :-)

Lake Trout

The pictures thus far have been taken after reading the manual once and playing with a few settings.   I have yet to have a sunny day with any colour or contrast.  Here's hoping!  I'm also dying to try out the low light capabilities with some colour.   Gonna have to take a run downtown some night it's not too cold.

Stories being told - lots of laughs
Today's modern hi-tech fisherman.
Built in Pano mode

The homestead on a grey and crappy day.