Saturday, December 6, 2014

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Preview: Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8R LM OIS WR Zoom

(click on above image to open a high-res version in a new window)

I recently had an opportunity to briefly test Fujifilm's new professional level zoom, equivalent to a 75-210mm in full-frame terms. I tested it on my X-E2 body but above, you can see it mounted to an X-T1. While the lens is indeed quite large and has substantial mass, it is actually not as heavy as it looks, in other words, its density doesn't seem all that high, a welcome fact thankfully. I have Fujifilm's extra hand-grip on my X-E2 and with it, I found the lens fairly well balanced and easy to handhold.

This is constant aperture f/2.8 zoom with a properly marked aperture ring on the lens, a first for Fujifilm zooms and hopefully the beginning of a future trend! It has a linear-motor (LM) for fast and quiet focusing, it boasts weather-resistant (WR) construction and has an optical image stabilizer (OIS) that is rated for 5-stops of extra stability. The tripod mount is detachable with two thumbscrews but it is also a nice way to carry the lens with attached body, to avoid stress on the body's lens mount from the relatively heavy lens.

The lens is beautifully constructed with a fully internal zoom mechanism and a silky smooth zoom ring with absolutely consistent tension that doesn't get tight anywhere within its range or towards either end of the zoom. In addition, it has a perfect feeling aperture ring with nice, crisp detents and excellent tension. In terms of its mechanical operation, it may just be the nicest feeling lens so far for Fujifilm's X-system. Personally, I take great pleasure in the mechanical and tactile feel of a camera's controls, one of the attractions of Fujifilm's X-system for me, and this lens absolutely does not disappoint. Finally, even the lens hood is thoughtfully designed, with a small slide-out portal that allows one to adjust a polarizing filter when the hood is mounted.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

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Close Encounter...

I was up on Grouse Mountain yesterday with some friends and came the closest I have ever been to a grizzly bear. Yes, a close encounter... but fortunately not a dangerous one! The above is a photo of Grinder, a rescued grizzly bear at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. We were given a private tour by Devin Manky and besides seeing the two resident grizzlies, we also spent some time with Cleo, a barn owl.

Gallery: Grouse Mountain - Nov 1st

Friday, October 31, 2014

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Desert Southwest - Oct. 2014 - 100 Selected Images...

Tower Arch - Klondike Bluffs, Arches National Park, Utah

In mid October I was off once again to the US desert southwest, this time in hopes of finding some fall colours and I am pleased to say that I did! Stormy skies at the start, amazingly warm with sunny blue skies during the latter half of the trip, and some stunningly clear days in between with distant vistas virtually unobstructed by haze… lots of great photo opportunities were had. The image gallery contains 100 selected images, a quick initial rough edit through all the shots so I have something to show friends, family and colleagues. Either click the image above or the link below and enjoy...

Gallery: October 2014 / US Southwest - 100 Selected

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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Fusion 2014 and PHOTO Graphie

If you haven't checked out the great list of speakers that will be at Beau Photo's Fusion 2014 show, you should! While the focus is still of DSLR video, this year there are other more photographically oriented talks as well. In addition, the trade show will feature exciting new products from Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Sony plus others like Sennheiser, Steadicam, Profoto, K5600 and many more.

Yes, you read that right... SONY is listed too. Beau Photo Supplies is now a Sony dealer and soon they will have stock to sell and also be well-equipped with Sony rental gear, including the amazing new A7S full-frame mirrorless camera, the king of low-light filming that can shoot up to a nearly unimaginable ISO 409,600 - yes, over four hundred thousand! The compact A7S is capable of 4K video and with lens adapters, can use most lenses from Canon and Nikon as well. Beau Photo will also have numerous high quality Carl Zeiss and Sony primes and zooms available to rent, as well as the 36MP A7R, the SLT-A77 Mark II DSLR, the NEX A6000 and also the compact RX10 with a 1" sensor, capable of very high quality video and equipped with a fixed Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-200mm equivalent, constant aperture f/2.8 stabilized zoom.

For more info on Fusion 2014 click here: Fusion 2014 Info

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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Gallery: Fraser Canyon in Late June...

At the end of June, I went on a four day camping trip with a friend and enjoyed the gorgeous weather and beautiful scenery along the Thompson River north of Lytton, BC. I shot with my Fujifilm X-E2 kit but also had a Sony A7R system along for testing. Those photos will come in a future blog entry but there are a couple at the end of the gallery, taken on the last day. Driving back to Vancouver was the main goal that day, but I did stop near Lytton to take a few shots and only used the A7R at that stop.

In case anyone is wondering, the second shot in the gallery was light painted with a couple of green lasers and a flashlight, frantically lighting stuff up during the 30 second exposure. There was a dim flashlight switched on inside the tent as well. It took quite a few attempts before I was happy with how the tops of the grass looked with the laser illumination! For the gallery, click on the above image or...

Gallery link: Fraser Canyon in Late June

Monday, June 2, 2014

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Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4R OIS Zoom Review

Fujifilm X-E2 w/ XF 10-24mm f/4R OIS zoom @ 12mm, ISO 800, 1 second at f/5.6

For a gallery with a variety of samples, click the image or… Fujifilm XF 10-24mm Samples

[NOTE: This article is a reposting of one I wrote for the Beau Photo Supplies blog back on March 30th, just before my trip to the US Southwest. Since there are likely some people interested in Fujifilm gear that read this blog but not the Beau Photo one, I thought I would republish it here...]

We finally received a small shipment of the new ultra-wide-angle Fujifilm 10-24mm zoom lenses and I have also received my own personal one. By and large, I am very impressed with this new zoom which is equivalent to a 15-36mm zoom on a full-frame camera. It stays at a fixed f/4 throughout its zoom range and also has an amazingly effective OIS unit - the Optical Image Stabilizer. I did a series of shots at 10mm in near darkness with a 0.8 second exposure, so nearly a full second. Of the ten photos, two were unusably blurred, three were a bit blurry but would still make decent 8x12 inch prints I'd say, but five were actually tack sharp, looking almost like they were shot on a tripod. That is the advantage of having an effective stabilizer on an ultra-wide lens! I have also done a handful of shots at 1 second at around 17mm focal length and while the hit rate is a little worse, even that is doable if you try hard. Examples of both are in the above linked gallery. However there can be a disadvantage to OIS…

Saturday, May 3, 2014

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Decaying House in Northern Oregon...

I decided to post some images of a decaying house in northern Oregon. The dynamic range and colour reproduction of the Fujifilm system helped here. Almost all the images in this post were taken handheld with the new XF 10-24mm f/4R OIS zoom, all but the very last one, showing a different exterior view of the house with the XF 23mm f/1.4R lens.

This house is on Highway 206, northwest of Condon, Oregon. I had taken a few photos there, many years ago on film still (I believe) and every subsequent time I had driven by, it was either almost dark, overcast with a dreary sky or I was simply in too much of a rush to stop. This time I finally decided to pull over and take some photos inside and out. The first time I had stopped there those many years ago, I recall the house still being in much better shape inside. Now the floors, walls and ceilings have many gaping holes everywhere, there are piles of dirt inside the former living room and while there isn't all that much graffiti, there are generous swaths of coloured paint splatter on the floor and walls. Click on each image to open a larger version in a new window...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

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Southwest 2014 - Third Week...

I am now back from my 3 week trip to the US desert Southwest and am starting to work through all of my images now. However, I thought I would post some highlights from my third week of photography as well, to complete my trio of brief trip overview galleries. The last week of shooting has photos from Death Valley National Park in California and several locations in Oregon, as mentioned in the image gallery notes. The above image was taken on Highway 207, north of Mitchell, Oregon. I have a few short, somewhat interesting videos and time-lapse sequences I may post here in the near future as well.

Gallery: Southwest 2014 - Third Week

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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Southwest 2014 - Second Week...

Well, my second week of travel has gone by, with generally fabulous weather for photography. Finally some clouds and interesting light! There were a few challenging days where the sky was grey, raining and generally hopeless for taking photos, but by and large it was nice. The above photo was taken at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I had a great sunset there but sadly, the next morning it was totally grey and overcast.

The following gallery contains images from White Sands, Bandelier National Monument and Los Alamos in New Mexico, then Petrified Forest National Park (lots of huge fossilized tree trunks and great Painted Desert scenery) and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Gallery: Southwest 2014 - Second Week

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Greetings from Alamogordo, New Mexico...

I've been on the road for a little over a week now, and have covered a fair bit of ground. Some of the interesting spots I've visited so far are Snow Canyon State Park, just outside of St. George, Utah (the above image is from there), then in Arizona I've been to Meteor Crater, Oak Creek Canyon, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saguaro National Monument, Tombstone and Chiricahua National Monument.

Next up is White Sands, New Mexico. I am blogging from a nice little cafe in Alamogordo right now, waiting for evening to approach, when I'll be hiking out into White Sands for sunset.

I've been shooting exclusively with my Fujifilm X-E2 system and am loving the lighter weight, especially when hiking in the heat, the incredible lens quality and the gorgeous colour rendition. On my first real day of hiking, in Snow Canyon State Park, the temperature soared to 38º C, quite a shock from the cooler weather we were having back in Vancouver. Now I've acclimatized quite well and yesterday while hiking around Chiricahua National Monument, up at 7,000 feet with the temperature at a mere 18º C, I was actually wearing a jacket most of the day!

For a gallery of forty selected images: Southwest 2014 - First Week

Saturday, January 25, 2014

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Testing Fujifilm's telephoto zooms...

I recently had the opportunity to borrow both of Fujifilm's current telephoto zooms for their X-system, the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8R OIS zoom ($699) and the XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS zoom ($399). While sharing a similar zoom range, these lenses are distinctly different when it comes to features, build quality and price. Amazingly enough though, when it comes to optical performance, much to my surprise they are both very nearly tied. In fact, if I had to pick one over the other purely from a resulting image quality standpoint, I would actually choose the less expensive 50-230mm zoom… and in fact, I did. I recently bought the 50-230mm for myself and while it certainly does not best the 55-200mm by a very substantial margin, there were a few other factors that led to my decision.

For 25 sample images from these lenses, click on the gallery link above. Note that while I had both lenses with me on numerous occasions, I ended up using the 50-230mm more, both for its slightly greater zoom range and for its lighter weight and lighter zoom action. As a bonus, I discovered the cheaper and lighter zoom was actually a little sharper too! Therefore, the gallery is heavily biased towards the 50-230mm, which is the one I bought after all...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

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Thrunite TN32 comparison...

The trees lit by the TN32 are 400 meters away!

So I just received my new Thrunite TN32 flashlight, a sort of belated Christmas present. It is physically the largest light I own now and it also has, by far, the tightest focus and greatest throw potential of all of my flashlights. In fact, it has been reviewed and tested by others and measurements indicate it should throw a visible beam up to 950 meters. The above photo was taken in Minnekhada Park the other night, and from that same spot, I could also clearly light up trees right by the High Knoll lookout, and that is about 800 meters away, so I would say that the 950 meter estimate is pretty close... although one would need ideal conditions to achieve that - really dark, no dust or haze etc.