2015 is here! I thought we would be burning around in flying cars by now! Guess not. But what we do have are really tremendous cameras. I think the old film guys would be doing backflips in their graves if they could shoot with the stuff we have now. So many photo blogs and sites compare the features of this camera and that camera – but you know what? All the technologies in these new cameras are really fantastic. Auto Focus is awesome, even on less than stellar performing cameras. None of the old guys had it. Just try turning your AF off on your camera and shoot for a day. You’ll appreciate even slow AF after that! 😀
As I look over my husky collection of personal images (like 66,000 or something crazy), Lightroom allows me to sort them by metadata. Such as which camera took what number of images. My old & sold D300s definitely took the most as that was the camera I really learned photography with. But the most used camera I own isn’t my Nikon D800 or the Df – both of which I certainly do love. Rather, it is the FujiFilm X100s. The bulk of my professional work is still shot with DSRL. But my family/personal camera is the omnipresent X100s. It’s a camera that I naturally just pick up. The Nikon Df also has this spirit about it too. I love the manual controls and dials on these retro-styled cameras. But there is just something about the Fuji. It’s sum is somehow greater than its parts.
Ergonomically, it’s a winner. Small profile. Virtually silent. And then there’s the features: Macro capability, Killer sharp optics, stellar high ISO performance, leaf shutter flash sync speeds, AMAZINGLY ASTOUNDING COLOR. And this is the big one for me. The X-Trans sensor is a colour ninja. All the photo gurus go on and on about this but it is so true. This sensor renders a scene exactly as your eye sees it. Nuances of colour exist that even my D800 and Df just cannot replicate despite being bigger and 3 times more expensive. I snapped this shot just to see how the X-Trans would negotiate the wild mixture of light in this photo: Tungsten lamps in the living & kitchen illuminating the family, daylight balanced wall sconces and Christmas LEDs in the family room in the background. This is a JPEG image shot in auto WB mode! It’s amazing! And the skin tones are incredible. And look at the various shades of blue! I’m constantly blown away by this camera.
I used the X100s exclusively over the Christmas season for capturing family memories. I shoot it in JPEG. I wouldn’t dream of doing that with the Nikons. The pre-processing of the camera makes this possible. Using the X-Trans for professional work would be a dream, especially for weddings. Being able to produce pre-processed JPEG images – that are FANTASTIC – would save hours and hours of editing time. And the black and whites are the best in the business. Bar none. No contest. The FujiFilm Black and White is incredible. I’d love to compare them to say the Leica M Monochrom. So Leica, if you’re reading, send me a setup to try! 😎 I shot this one of my Nephew in very low light, using MF focus peaking to get it sharp. It was f/2 1/60 at ISO 6400. At 1:1, you can count his eyelashes. And the “noise” looks like film grain at 400 ASA. It’s astounding. Like my nephew who is the most striking little gaffer ever. His eyes are jet black!
Sony made and is making a big splash right now with its full frame Mirrorless A7 cameras. Rightly so. They’ve beat both Canon and Nikon to the punch in changing the history of photography for the better. DSLR technology is just analogue film tech ported over to digital. Mirrorless is true digital photography. No old analogue tech work arounds. It’s the real deal. I’ve looked seriously at switching to Sony, particularly with the release of the A7II. Awesome kit with killer in camera stabilization. Way less weight to lug around all day. What’s not to love? Not much. . . . Except that it uses the same sensors that Nikon does. (Or, rather, Nikon uses Sony’s sensors). This isn’t a draw back. The sensors rock the set. But as I look at the X-Trans images, I prefer the look and feel of them. The tonality and colour can’t be matched, not even by Sony’s incredible full frame sensors (Sorry Canon, you’re beaten like a rented mule on this one). I’m not ruling out Sony stuff, that’s for sure. It’s an exciting time for photography! Loads of awesome image making options. But let’s just say that I’m anxiously waiting for the X-Pro2 release. So Fuji, if you’re reading, send me a setup to try! 😎
My last point about Fuji that I want to touch on is their approach to their customers. No other camera manufacturer respects their customers more than Fuji. When you buy a camera, undoubtedly there will be some glitches and bugs to get worked out. Firmware releases generally fix those up. But that’s all they do. Seldom, if ever, is more functionality introduced to a camera – and especially not if an upgraded model has already been released. You have to buy said upgrade to get the new features. Not so with FujiFilm. They so respect their customers that they release firmware updates that make the existing products better. Even products that have already been replaced with updated models! That’s awesome! It instills confidence in the purchase for the customer. I know that my investment in Fuji is not a one time deal. They will bless me with greater functionality in the future. This is how a company can create a jubilant base of hardcore fans and supporters. It’s a two way relationship with Fuji. And they keep on giving. They show respect to the customer and for that, I give a very deep and long bow (not to mention further business in the future).
So here’s to a happy new year of image making in 2015! May all your pixels be bright! 😉
I got some new stuff that I’m stoked about! I’ll begin first with my new website (again). I’ve gone through a couple of different portfolio websites over the past couple years. I first had a Flash site which was great, but in our mobile device world, it sucked. It couldn’t be viewed on iPods/iPads etc. Seeing how most people consume the digital world via smart phones, compatibility was a must. So, I got an HTML5 site and it worked OK but was tedious for adding images as you had to do your own coding and generating of images and thumbnails, blah blah blah. It was cumbersome. So I bought another HTML5 theme which was far worse than the one I was using. Not being a coder in the least, I decided to give up on that theme that looked great but was a total pain the u know. So, after many gong show days of searching, I decided to go with WordPress. I’ve been using it since the beginning for this blog and I’ve loved it. But it lacked simplicity for galleries. Photocrati to the rescue! Now, I’ve got the ease of use I’ve been looking for in a very clean, minimalist style that also displays perfectly no matter which device is used to view the site. Boo ya! 😎 Check it out: http://schultzphotographic.ca
And, I got some new gear. I’ve been struggling for a long time with my old tripod that has been a real trooper. I had an old aluminum Manfrotto cheapy and it worked good but wasn’t hearty enough for my last camera, let alone the D800. Especially for macro, it really sucked. The ball head wasn’t strong enough to support the hefty 105mm macro and would slip. A real pain. So, I splurged and got a new carbon fibre 055CXPRO3 tripod and an MH055M0-RC4 head. It’s quite nice. 😀 The ball head weighs more than the tripod! At first, the carbon fibre seems like it’s cheap and flimsy, but I know from shooting carbon arrows, they are super strong and light – perfect for hauling around on landscapes. One other
gimmick feature of the tripod is that it has the Q90 quick column thing that allows the tripod to go flat to the ground by moving the centre column parallel to the ground. It’s slick, but I can also see this being used for overhead macro work too, like flowers and such. The tripod has a built in hook so you can add weight and sturdy it up too.
And I also got a Manfrotto monopod. Just a cheapo mainly to be used as a light weight, compact, go anywhere light stick for flash stuff. Slap a flash directly on it and have your assistant pretend she is Gandolf. What could be better!? “You shall not pass!”
And, I finally joined the cool kids club and bought a black rapid camera strap (RS-7). After struggling through life using Nikon’s straps, I decided enough was enough. I always have the camera strung over one shoulder, never in the around the neck tourist mode, so it was always slipping. I always have to mess with lights on a shoot and was forever putting the camera on the ground to do so. Now, I just drop it to the side. It’s great! And it came with a sticker. Bonus! Who doesn’t like stickers?! 😀
Hi Everbody! I’ve got a sweet gem of a lens for sale for you right here. It’s Nikon’s AF-S 16-85mm DX Zoom Nikkor f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. I’ve had the lens for two years and it’s been tremendous! It’s very sharp and contrasty. It’s very versatile, definitely a “do it all lens.” It’s excellent for an every day walk around lens or for vacation. I’ve taken some really fantastic shots with it but now it needs to find a new home. The reason I’m selling it is I bought another lens for an FX camera body and no longer need this one. This lens is ideal for any of Nikon’s DX cameras. It retails for $729.99 new at Don’s Photo. I’m asking $650.00. It’s still in perfect working condition & I have the original box! 😎 Take a look at these product shots of it and the three sample images I took using this awesome lens.
Email me if you’re interested or PM me on Facebook. Thanks!
Ok Photo Geeks, here’s one for ya! My long overdue video review of the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS soft box. This thing is the bomb! It’s a really well made, super sweet portrait soft box that gives awesome octagon/round catchlights in the eyes. Gotta love that! Check out the vid and the samples below where it was used on photo shoots.
PS: I also added a new page at the top of the blog for gear reviews. The page has links to all the gear reviews and recommendations I’ve done on the blog, including books, lenses, lighting gear, organizing gear and D.I.Y. gear projects. 😎
Samples of the Octodome in action!
I was spoiled rotten for Christmas this year – and I love it! 😎 I got an MB-D10 battery grip for my D300s. I’m totally stoked! First of all, it lets you bring an extra battery with you as part of the camera, meaning you’ll never run out of power ever. Not in a zillion years. Second, it gives the camera a beefier grip, making it look like a full frame camera. Making me look . . . professional even! 😉 People will look at my suped up D300s and think, “Wow! He’s a professional! Just look at that big beefy camera!” Even pros will see it and think, “Oooh! He’s got a D4!” Can’t beat that. Ergonomically, it makes the camera way more fun to use. It allows me to take portrait orientated photos without having to contort my upper body like Harry Houdini clambering out of a 2×2 box. And in landscape mode, it’s far easier to handle and makes it easier to execute Joe McNally’s “da grip” technique. Pure awesome for low light, slow shutter speeds!
The other way cool thing is that it comes with an additional carriage for 8 AA batteries. Pumping them in gives you slightly more frames per second, and versatility. Like, if you’re in pheasant rump Saskatchewan and you realized you forgot to charge your camera batteries, you can run your camera off the double AAs you keep in your glove box! Sweet sassy. Make sure you keep Ni-Mh batteries on hand vs. normal alkalines though. They might get hot & nasty.
It’s a tremendous little device, but it’s also a colossal ripoff. Cheap plastic and it doesn’t even come with a spare battery! It’ll run around $350 Canadian bones. Hundred bucks cheaper in the US . . . but you can’t get them. Massive shortages in Japan and they are back ordered. Turns out there was some kind of electrical device law changes in Japan and these don’t fit the bill. They’ll make a 2cent change and up the price another $45 I’m sure. But what you gonna do? I asked Santa for one and that
fat bastard jolly old elf came through! 😎 All in all, it’s amazing and makes me 17% happier as a photographer!