Light is Everything!

Cameras

Shooting Cameras

This is just a quick blog post showing how I was shooting some macro shots of my favourite cameras this evening.

This behind the scenes iPhone shot shows the exceedingly crude setup. Main light is an AlienBee 1600 through a gridded Photoflex soft box. I setup my home made scrim as a big reflector and did a simple blue gelled flash pointed at the back wall to give a bit of colour. Very simple setup with a decent result. 

I also shot the good ol’ Nikon Df with an old 28mm manual focus lens from 19 diggity 5. I took more of a macro approach with this shot and used that same blue flash to add that hint of glancing colour to the shadow side. The blue sets it off just that extra little bit. 

I shot the same kind of angle of the X-Pro2 but it doesn’t work as well to me. The X-Pro2 is more minimalistic in its design, lending to a more covert external appearance anyways (which I like). There’s just not as much going on for the accent light to bring attention too. Anyways, just a fun little shoot for something to do. 

Here’s a link to the Nikon photo in 4K resolution. I shot all these files with the Nikon D800 RAW so there’s resolution to burn. 😎👍

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X-PRO2

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I pulled the trigger on getting a FujiFilm X-Pro2. Sight unseen. But I had been coveting one since it was announced. But I thought “nah, I’ve got loads of Nikon gear. What do I need an X-PRO2 for? It’s not a need. It’s a want.”

YOU NEED AN X-PRO2

From the very first moment I picked the camera up, while it was still in the protective shipping plastic bag yet, I loved it. The camera is big and solid, hefty even. It feels perfect in the hand. I threw in a charged batter from my X-E2 (which are the same by the way) and slapped on the 35mm f/2 lens. What a dream. The camera is blazing fast to autofocus & accurate. I shot the normal test shots we all do of our keyboards to test focus and it was bang on.  I quickly put the camera into ACROS film simulation. Wow.

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The photos have this alive/organic/analog quality to them. The transfer from shadows to highlights is out of this world. The ACROS grain is so smooth and film like even at higher ISOs my jaw dropped when viewing the files. They seemed to jump off the screen at me.

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I just kept shooting the kids. Shot after shot through the EVF, the shots were sharp, and had the same filmic quality. I was hooked from the very first few frames!

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The shadows are so rich and the highlights are buttery perfectly. I was shooting the camera wide open at f2 and the files are sooo sweet. I always knew that the fuji JPGs were great, my X-E2 files are wonderful. But the X-PRO2 files are just that much better. I can’t wait to actually put the camera through it’s paces.

20171025-XPRO2-048These quick shots here are straight from camera, no editing other than a resize for the blog. Again, I’m totally blown away by the camera. The tonality of the files is wonderful. I’ve never ever felt this way about a camera before or the photographic results. If you’ve ever been thinking of getting an X-PRO2, do it. I can already see how this camera is going to change my photography going forward. More to come!


Nikon 24mm 1.8G

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So I just got the Nikon 24mm 1.8G lens. My overall Nikon kit was lacking a fast aperture wide angle option. So now the Nikon bag is full. I’m rounding out my 85mm & 50mm 1.8G collection with the 24mm. This compliments my 16-35mm f/4 & 70-200 f/4 with fast primes. I’m really pleased with the lens so far, though I haven’t sufficiently put the lens through it’s paces yet – it’s coming soon.

Here’s a couple of sample photos from it, focusing on bokeh & centre sharpness. This lens is phenomenal wide open. The bokeh is as good as it gets for a wide angle (which aren’t known for being cream-cheese soft).

I’ll focus on this 100% crop. This was shot wide open at ISO 800 with window light. The detail of the eye lashes is unreal! The lens stacks up really well on the D800. Shooting on anything less will be even better, as the D800 sensor is pretty tough on glass.

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So there you go. More review to come on this one in the near future, but suffice it to say, the lens is fantastic sharp, and very light and manageable. 😎


Adaptation

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I’ve always wanted a long telephoto lens for the Fuji X system because I love love love the skin tones & nuanced colour that Fuji produces. I saw the K&F Concept lens adapter for Nikon G/AI lenses to the X mount for a mind blowing $30 bones on Amazon. I didn’t have any high hopes at all about the quality or usability of the adaptor but for the cheap price, how wrong could a guy go? So I got one shipped out.

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Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens on the XE2 Astia film sim.

I opened the box and was blown away. The whole thing is metal. It has a built in aperture control for Nikon’s new G lenses that don’t have an aperture ring. And it works to keep the lens wide open, stopped all the way down and a couple of in between settings that are largely guesses. None of the settings register with the camera because there is no communication between camera and lens. It’s just a simple adaptor. So it’s manual everything. But Fuji’s focus peaking even at 1.8 is a snap. Works great!

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I slapped on the 70-200 f/4 which balances decently with the small camera body. You could shoot wildlife with it gaining the extra reach of the crop sensor but manual focus on fast moving subjects requires ninja like reflexes that I no longer possess.

But for portrait stuff………

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Nikon 70-200 f/4G on the XE2 Pro Neg. Standard film sim

I’d say it works just fine. These two sample images are straight out of camera other than my resize for web lightroom setting. Here’s a 100% crop of Phoebe’s eye:

 

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It is tack sharp! This is wide open too. You’ll see from the included info that the camera only records the shutter speed & ISO settings. Aperture is not and for some reason it defaults to a 50mm lens. But the results are awesome. The skin tones are so, so great. And it’s sharp! Did I say that already? So this image is 200mm 1/180 ISO 200 handheld JPEG shot with a Nikon SB-900 through a Lumiquest Softbox III triggered with Phottix Ares triggers! How’s that a for a FrankenSetup!? lol

I love Fuji lenses and they rock the set. But for 30 bucks, you can’t go wrong with the K&F Concept adaptor. Highly recommend picking one up!


Das Wesentliche

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Leica just officially released the M-D Typ 262 camera. You’ll quickly notice that the back of the camera takes us back to the first digital cameras . . . that didn’t have LCD screens.

?????

That’s right, sports fans, no viewing your photos on the back of the camera. No chimping. No showing others your great shots on camera. Nope. You gotta wait until you get home and get your film back from the lab hook up to a computer. Immediately the camera was met with criticism on the inter webs:

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It is true that Leica does now have the reputation of being a boutique camera for the rich and or famous. It’s always focused on the essentials (Das Wesentliche) in having very no frills operation, no AutoFocus until recent models, no video, etc. It has remained stalwartly old fashioned in the modern hi-tech era of photography. But taking away the LCD? It’s a bit odd.

However, I wonder if such an advancement development would change the photographic experience? People go on and on and on about how photography isn’t about gear, it’s about developing your eye and looking for moments and colour and  gesture and seeing etc. It’s not about the gear you use.  It’s a nice sentiment, especially for making beginners feel great about photography and not self conscious about pro-level gear they can’t afford.  But it’s also total BS.

Gear does make a difference to photography. It affords capability and quality that is not otherwise achievable. This is why pros use zillion dollar pro gear. It gives them an edge on the competition as well as ability to nab photos they otherwise couldn’t get. Like shooting at ISO 5 billion in the dark and still getting a usable photo. But not only these practical things, the gear actually changes the photos. It alters the way a photographer shoots. People who use Medium Format make different photos from the person using the iPhone camera. Likewise when people switch to mirrorless. They find that not lugging around the big heavy DSLR gear all day changes their photography. Using a fixed prime instead of a kit zoom changes the photography.

So what about removing the LCD screen?  Will that change one’s photography? Yep. I’ll bet it would. One, you’d be more careful. No spray and pray shooting. You’d have to be extra conscious and aware during the photo taking process to make sure you had the exposure and composition right – because you won’t know until your looking at it on a screen back home, long after the fact. This alone would make everyones’ photography better. The film guys were careful. They were thoughtful. There was a level of “critical” that is almost gone in the digital age. There was some finality to the roll of film in a way that there isn’t with high capacity memory cards affording metric tonnes of available shots.

Ditching the LCD, will it bring back the ‘film thrill’? I don’t know. It would scare me to be honest. I rely heavily on the LCD in my photography. I’m always chimping, always checking the light and the highlights. It’s a part of my photography now. I’m sure I’d find not having the crutch there unnerving. But it also might be a freeing thing too. What do you think? Boutique camera with a stupid gimmick or photographic genius in the making?

PS: I wrote my article here before watching the video. 😎


The History of Photography in 5 Minutes

Very cool video worth a watch! Amazing to see how photography has exploded so rapidly, largely thanks to the iPhone.


Nikon vs Fuji – Skin Tones

Ok, well, here’s my quick experiment. These comparisons are never ever 100% but it does give a good idea. I normalized the settings in camera and then adjusted the Dynamic Range in post. The D800 sensor is more sensitive to light than the Fuji is so I had to bring up the Fuji file and bring down the Nikon. These files are JPEGs that haven’t been adjusted (other than the Dynamic Range tweaks and exported to web size). Fuji was in Pro Neg Std. Nikon was in the default Portrait picture control. These are both the suggested portrait settings from the manufacturers.

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Nikon D800 – Portrait Picture Control

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FujiFilm X100s – Pro Neg Std. film simulation

To my eye, the Fuji file is much, much more pleasing in the skin tones and over all colour. I guess this is completely up to personal preference in the end. But I could easily shoot Fuji JPEG for people photos for the rest of my life and be happy.  To me the Nikon files almost always have a yellow undertone to the skin that must be overcome, which is why I always shoot Nikon in RAW. I don’t know for sure, but I’m wondering if Nikon colour was optimized for Asian skin tones. It would make sense to boost that skin colour’s tonality. But on caucasian skin it comes across almost jaundice to my eye. The Fuji files don’t seem to have that colour push. Maybe the X-Trans sensor is more precise in colour handling. Might just be a white balance tweaking question. Let me know what you think.

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2016: FujiFilm’s Year

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2016 is not only the year that Nikon got its mojo back, but it is FujiFilm’s year to shine! Since the release announcement of the X-Pro2, X-E2s, X-70 and sweet new telephoto lens, the interwebs have been a buzz with excitement. I’m no different. I’ve been with the X-System for 3 years now when I got the X100s – still a goto camera for me. It’s been an omnipresent companion on all my family trips and events because of the size/ergonomics and of course phenomenal image quality & colour rendition from a crop sensor. I still love that camera and will never sell it.

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I’m totally stoked for the X-Pro2. The first version was a fantastic camera with its own quirks and quickly rose to cult status – as did the whole X-System really. While other manufacturers continue to pump out updated models, FujiFilm takes their time. They make their current products better with firmware updates. That immediately garnered my respect. Sure, lots of manufacturers fix up bugs in their products with firmware updates, but seldom if ever do they add new features. Instead, you must buy the updated release version to get them. I love FujiFilm!

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The X-Pro2 caught my attention because it is the long awaited update to the classic first version. I knew that Fuji would take their time, gain input from photographers who know and love their products, and then produce an amazing camera that people can’t wait to purchase. They have not disappointed! There are already several amazing reviews/first impression blogs & videos up now. As I haven’t actually seen or used the camera in real life I have nothing of value to add to the discussion. However, the features I’m most interested in are as follows.

20130608-FujiFilm-003The first thing is that they’ve done a great job in making the camera weather resistant. The new Fujinon lenses will all be weather sealed too. This really puts the “Pro” in X-Pro2. I’m thinking of wedding photographers or landscape people or even travel documentary photographers. Having gear that can keep up to the elements is a must.

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Also hardware wise, I’m delighted to hear that it has dual SD card slots. This in my mind is another Pro feature. Whether for redundancy on critical wedding jobs or over flow or a JPEG/RAW workflow, this is an excellent feature to have. Glad they included a UHS-II slot too for fast data transfer. This will help immensely for buffer clearing, especially RAW files which will be bigger on the all new 24MP sensor. This is a welcome jump up from 16 in my books. FujiFilm colour and skin tones are absolutely incredible. And now with 24MP, you get more glorious pixels of both. And phenomenal high ISO performance as well. So exciting!

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Another feature I’m really excited about is the new ACROS black and white film simulation. I’m a huge fan of Fuji black and white straight out of camera. In fact, I almost never shoot my X100s in RAW. The JPEGs are so great and I love the colour so much I just go JPEG. Especially for black and white. But now to have a really punchy and contrasty black and white option in the ACROS film simulation, it’s all kicked up to notches unknown to mankind. I’m looking at you Leica Monochrom! It will be great to see how the new X-Trans sensor handles the B&W tonality.

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Another upgrade that may not seem like much is the sync speed for flash bumping up to 1/250s. This is awesome! I love using my X100s for flash stuff because of the leaf shutter and syncing capabilities it has. But to get that extra wee smidgeon of ambient killing power from 250 instead of 180 does help quite a bit. I’m dying to shoot the new X-Pro2 with some telephoto glass for portrait work. So far I’ve only ever shot the 23mm/35mm lens on the X100s. But if I could get the 90mm f/2 or the 56mm 1.2, I’d be a happy portraitist indeed.

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There’s a zillion other features about the X-Pro2 that others have already commented on and will continue to do in the weeks to come. The stuff I listed just scratches the surface of what will undoubtedly become another classic camera for Fuji.

If you want one, get on the pre-order list ASAP. If you order from The Camera Store, they have a promo discount on the new 35mm f/2 lens as well.

Congratulations FujiFilm! 2016 is your year to shine!

Top 10 X-Pro2 reviews


Cool Stuff in 2016!

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So today has been an exciting day for Nikon! Loads of new goodies for Photogs to covet. Finally, finally, FINALLY Nikon has returned to the greatness of yesteryear. The D3 and the D300 were amazing technology jumps for Nikon that brought them to a new level of awesomeness. You had your full frame monster flagship as well as the DX crop sensor mini-monster. It was a great & logical setup for photography products.

Then the D4 generation came out. It was D4 flagship . . . and a 36MP monster D800 . . . and a D7200 . . . and the D600 . . . and D610 . . . and a Df. It was a complete schmoz. And above all, no D400! Where was the DX upgrade with maximum FPS, rugged pro level build quality and all the great stuff that Wildlife and Sports photographers wanted?! It never came.  People were left in limbo land and Nikon really seemed to be walking around the desert of product releases that nobody really wanted or asked for, splitting markets in weird ways.

But it all changed today! The D5 was released alongside mini-monster D500! This is awesome news! Now semi-pros, enthusiasts, and full time working pros FINALLY get a solid DX performer that is up to snuff. Boo ya! Congratulations Nikon for making the product that everyone wanted and reclaiming the logical glory of yesteryear.

Check out the D500 mini site here.

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In other news, I updated my professional portfolio website that you can check out. It was long overdue for an update and I kept the simple minimalistic style that I like. You can check it out at www.schultzphoto.ca

And, I also went for a walk with the dog today and took along the beloved FujiFilm X100s. Here’s a few street shots from the walk. Really great clouds again today!


Nikon 1 V3 Review Video

Well, my time with the Nikon 1 V3 is over. I was a blast of a camera and a great opportunity. Thanks again to Nikon Canada for contacting me and letting me take it for a spin! My only regret was that our weather here while I had the camera was oh so uncooperative. -50 billion ºC is never fun, especially when you want to get out and shoot a camera. 😎 Check out the full video review here:

 

I put it through it’s paces in three main ways. I came at the camera as a Manual Mode DSLR shooter. Could the V3 keep up to the advanced shooter? Yep. Yep it can. It’s got enough external controls to keep me happy. I wanted to know additionally how the FT-1 Adapter would work for wildlife and for macro. It’s very capable! The incredible field of view you get from the CX sensor and full frame lenses is fantastic. Also for macro. The 105mm Micro Nikkor I used with the V3 made an excellent combo. And, I wanted to know how the image quality stacked up, especially in low light with high ISO. Shazam! It’s incredible.  Nikon really hit a home run with the V3. The extra perks of built in WiFi and the articulating screen make it so much more enjoyable than it’s predecessors. Too many people write off the Nikon 1 series because of the small sensor. That’s a shame! It’s an incredibly capable camera and system with loads of uses and appeal to consumers to prosumers! 😀

Capable