Happy accident with the 100-400

With a few “long distance” jobs coming up in the next few weeks I thought it was time to purchase the XF100-400, I added the 1.4TC as the saving is reasonable and you never know when it might come in handy (as it works well with the 50-140 as my previous post proved).

As when I last used the 100-400 I did not have the converter I thought, despite the poor weather and light I would take the pair down to the beach and see what they made of the wind-farm that is sprouting off of the Sussex coast.

I took this image at the full 840mm 35mm Equivalent reach (ISO 800, 1/450th and F8 on an X-T2) because I liked the contrast between the old torn stark fisherman’s marker flags and the modern windmills softened by the atmosphere and weather. As I processed the from RAW (pushing the Velvia simulation to extreme) I noticed a dark patch in front of the windfarm.

Zooming in at 1:1 I saw this..

Im not sure how far out the Dolphin was (please don’t correct me on type / species etc, I understand I am probably wrong) but I was unable to see it by eye and although not a very technical test, given the conditions (it was blowing a gale, I was hand holding etc ) I am pretty impressed.

Ill follow up with more considered thoughts later.

X-T2 : Finally!

I sort of stopped writing this blog a while back, the X-T2 was released and I was in a “no kit investment year” (I run my kit spending cyclicly where I have a year of investment, then a year where it all has to pay for itself before I invest again). Once the X-T2 was out I kind of realised that nobody really wanted to read about my using the older cameras so I put the blog on hold. (If thats not the case, let me know!).

Now we are into a new year, an investment year, and the first of those investments has just arrived following a good deal from Calumet‘s Jamie (and the help of a friend – Mike). I have added an X-T2 plus grip and a lovely Millican bag (that I will use for wandering with a single camera).

This morning I went for a wander, adding a 16-55/2.8 and the old 55-200/4.8. This was not really a test, more a “lets get to find out a little bit about you”. I’m a sucker for monochrome as you probably know so I set it to JPG and ACROS simulation. Heres a cross-section of images – mostly straight out of the camera, just cropped (unless I specify otherwise in the caption).

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 16-55, blacks pulled down slightly. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 16-55 , shadow and hi-light pushed in camera, SOOC. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.16-55 clarity +4. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Shadows lifted and whites pulled up. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Whites pulled up. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Shadows lifted and whites pulled up. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity, curve adjustment. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. 55-200, Hi-lights and exposure recovery. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.55-200, Levels adjusted, medium clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017.55-200, Levels adjusted, slight clarity. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

X-T2 Walk around test at Worthing, UK, 01/04/2017. Picture by Julie Edwards

 

There is nothing groundbreaking in these shots but they were all testing aspects of the kit and helping me get used to the new controls layout. I used the 55-200 because I wanted to see if the new AF made this lens more useful – it does, it kept up with the birds better than my pre-coffee panning technique. I am pleased with the ACROS simulation and how it handles edits (to the hi-lights and shadows). This afternoon I will use it on a proper job but for now I can sum up my likes and dislikes:

Likes:

  • Focusing – the tracking is far better.
  • Joystick – moving the focus points is a breeze
  • Landscape / Portrait AF pattern – having different points selected in the 2 camera orientations is brilliant (Firmware 2.0)
  • Speed – A far more responsive camera
  • ISO adjustment on the front command dial
  • ACROS

Dislikes:

  • Back button focussing – my Tracking / Single shot trick (see this article) no longer works, BBF is less useful

So thats overwhelmingly positive then!

Now I have current kit, I will be writing a lot more again so make sure you head back. More thoughts to follow (and you can expect posts on the 150-400 soon also). Thank you for visiting.

Working: Gig Photography

I’m still working on the White Balance post; so much I want to cover in it, I will probably have to split it into two.

To keep the blog rolling though, here is a quick look at my work last night. I was at the Brighton Dome to cover City and Colour with Lucy Rose as the support.

Browsing around the inter-web as we do I come across lots of discussions about “Can’t use this camera for so-and-so”, “thats the wrong lens for that”, quite often with no follow up argument (yes trolls). Quite often the discussions are about using Fujis in low light or in Gig situations.

Last night I started with the 16-55/2.8 & 50-140/2.8 “Red Label” lenses getting the basic shots, for the 3rd song I switched to the 56/1.2 basically because I had not used it in a darkish gig and wanted to see what I could get…

Lucy Rose plays Brighton Dome on 18/02/2016. Picture by Julie Edwards.  X-T1, ISO800, 1/180th @ F1.2, Astia Simulation

Lucy Rose plays Brighton Dome on 18/02/2016. Picture by Julie Edwards.
X-T1, ISO800, 1/180th @ F1.2, Astia Simulation

X-T1: Firmware 4.3 Update

Amidst the fuss over the launch of the X-Pro2, the latest firmware update to the X-T1 has come and gone almost unnoticed.

Yes, this was just a re-issued of the ill-fated 4.20 release (which had a slight bug in it) but try to find a review or thoughts on release 4.20 or 4.30 and you will struggle.

There are a few tweaks to the MF/AF workings in this release (which to be honest, I have not got my head around) but there are also 2 major updates that will really help me.

  • The flash now works in the continuous drive modes. I.e. I can use my flash at 3 and 8 frames per second. That is a huge thing in press work (just picture all the news clips featuring press photographers working, you will understand). I can now remove this item from my wishlist.
  • The record/video button on the top face can now be assigned a function. Ok, I know there are lots that can be assigned already and, if I don’t have it on a button then I can put it in the Q menu. I change the white balance (WB) a lot, preferably shooting a custom white balance (yes, this is still a planned post) and the white balance option in the Q menu does not offer the option to shot a new WB; only the option to select existing. However setting the “Video Button”, now known as FN7, to WB displays a small menu and allows me to shoot a new custom WB. Not having to dig in the main menu for this is a another step forward (and to be honest, a little similar to the way my old Nikons worked).

My Fn buttons are now set as follows:

FN Button Settings

FN Button Settings: Film Simulation. Direct Focus Point Control and WB.

With small steps we can travel a great distance and this new firmware is another small step. Not updated your camera yet? Head over to the X-T1 firmware page to download the latest.

I’ll sign off with an image from last night’s job..

Cally Jane Beech arrives on the pink carpet for the European Premiere of “How To Be Single”. Shot with a custom white balance 😉

Thoughts on the XF 1.4X TC WR teleconverter

This week I have borrowed the XF 1.4X TC WR teleconverter for use with the 50-140 Zoom. (It also works with the newly announced 100-400 ).

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I needed to find out how the lens with converter would work in “not ideal conditions” so I took an X-T1 with the lens and converter mounted out early on a dark stormy morning before the sun had fully risen. There are plenty of technical reviews, in perfect conditions, with nice blue skies, I need to know how it performs in the poor light and conditions I am likely to get. If it functions in these, it will function on a nice bright summers day.

So, these test images are all straight from the camera shot at either 6400 or 3200 iso, slow shutter speeds and mostly slightly underexposed. Not a case of getting pretty images but a case of “what can I get away with”. All the images are taken at “Full Zoom” i.e. 140mm (200mm).

Starting with our local pier.

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50-140 Native at 140mm

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50-140 with Converter at 140mm

This shows the difference in the reach of the lens with the converter against the lens alone.

At 1:1 these images look like:

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Native. 3200iso, 1/300, F2.8(F4)

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With 1.4x. 3200iso, 1/170, F2.8(F4)

Firstly it’s obvious (or should be) that as with all teleconverters there is light loss, in this case approximately 1 stop (shown here by the variation in shutter speed).
Secondly in these conditions there is no real difference in image quality. Great.
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Native. 6400iso, 1/350, F2.8(F4)

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/180, F2.8(F4)

Remember – straight off of camera JPG, only cropped here.

Testing the optical image stabilisation:

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/58, F2.8(F4)

So yes! Thats 1/60th with an equivalent focal length of 300mm, The OIS seems to work fine! I was also testing the focusing at this point and the tracking did track the cyclist ok (ok, not that fast but I don’t do sport).

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/150, F2.8(F4)

I could also track this flying bird ok although acquiring the subject was a little harder/slower so I would say the focusing is defiantly affected (it would be due to the light loss) but the effect is acceptable for my work. If you shoot sports I would check for yourself.

 

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(Shop Window) With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/120, F2.8(F4)

 

But that is not everything. There are issues:

Firstly, mounting the converter: The convertor is shaped it slides up within the barrel of the 50-140. I am sure this enables the high image quality to be delivered but it did mean I felt I needed to be far more careful mounting the converter on the lens. My routine was:

  • Lens off of camera
  • Converter onto lens
  • Finally mounting the combination back on the camera body.

Far slower than a face-to-face mounting and meaning that the body is open with an exposed sensor for a longer time than I would like.

Secondly, reported focal lengths and aperture values: When using a converter on my Nikons. The camera (and EXIF data) would report the resultant aperture (i.e. F4 opposed to F2.8) and focal length (i.e. 200 opposed to 140). The X-T1 was not doing this (tested in Firmware 4.0 and 4.20), the EXIF information reported was for the lens alone. This is addressed by ensuring that not only the camera body is running the latest firmware but also the lens. It turns out that during my testing, my lens was not running the latest. I am assured the correct data is reported when all is updated.

So to sum up:

I am fairly sure the performance under conditions I would use it are fairly acceptable with slight degradation in focus performance and an imperceptible difference in image quality. I suppose one big question is “How does the performance compare with the 55-200”. My gut feeling is it out performs it but without measurable back-to-back testing thats difficult to say.

The big lesson of the day is:

Always ensure that both the lens and the body are updated to be running the very latest firmware as there may be issues that are not apparent whist using the kit that may affect the data further down the line.

X-Pro2 : A quick Hands on

Today I got my hands on an X-Pro2 for an hour. I was not really looking at it with a view to buying one now, more as a view to “where are Fuji going” and “what can I expect from the next generation X-T”.

You will not find photos of the camera here, there are plenty of them around!

It feels nice in the hand, very nice. The slight increase in weight gives it a more solid feel, the change in grip shape on the right hand side means a nicer, more solid grip particularly  when holding single handed.

The joystick  is really nice, making it much easier and quicker to switch focus point. Although I grew up with film cameras I was slightly concerned about the “lift-up” iso dial but it works fine;  its not the fastest but is still quite easy to operate with the camera up to your eye. Whilst I am on the subject of having the camera to the eye, the new EVF is noticeably smoother than that in the X-T1.

One thing you do quickly notice though is the sound. Oh it sounds so nice. No, that should not be important but it does give you this warm feeling that this camera will be nice to use.

Mounting a flash on the camera and having it fire at the full 8fps with the jpg’s streaming into my cheap SD card in slot 2 with no delay or pausing was a relief. I did get the feeling I could put this camera into service right away and if I were shooting a job on prime lenses I would probably opt for this over my current X-T1’s.

I have not posted any full size for the pixel peepers but here are a few images I shot:

To Sum up:

Will I be buying one now?

No, I do not have a business case for one. However it does give me a really good feeling about the next generation X-T. If this camera is anything to go by the future is really bright.

I have the feeling that at some point I might move my current X-Pro1 and X100 on and replace both of these with a single X-Pro2 because it just feels so nice, nice in the same way that the original X100 did.

The Long Problem: Part 2

Footnote: Just as I was publishing this the Metabones adaptor was delivered. If the packaging is anything to go by, this is going to be a very good investment. Thats how I finished off The Long Problem: Part 1.

The adaptor in its (superb) packaging next the the Nikon 300/F4

I have now had this adaptor for just over a month and have used it on a number of jobs. Cutting to the chase, it lives up to it’s supurb packaging giving a secure reliable mounting for (in my case) the Nikon 300mm/F4.

Corporate Golf Day. X-T1/Nikon 300/F4/ISO1000

In addition to providing a more secure and reliable mount, the adaptor differs from the lower cost items by its graduated and ‘geared’ aperture control. All of these adaptors ‘adjust’ the aperture using the  ‘blade’ that potrudes from the older F-Type nikon lenses (and not the newer electronic control of the newer lenses and hence unable to control the aperture on the newer G-Type lenses). The lower cost products link to this blade directly meaning real control is almost impossible with the lever having such a short throw. The metabones product seems to be ‘geared’ having the minimum to maximum about of almost 1/4 turn with a numeric scale marked, (I assume) to correspond with full F stops, meaning full control is possible (if not very precise).

Sadiq Khan at the Labour v Lobby XI Football Match on 27/09/2015 at Brighton and Hove Albion FC’s American Express Elite Football Performance Centre. X-T1/Nikon300/F4/ISO1250

This results in the lens  being far more usable (either in aperture prority or full manual modes). In either of these modes the EVF (on the X-T1) gives the correct exposure feedback (as you would expect) meaning the less precise aperture control is manageable.

Showing the aperture scale

Focusing the Nikon 300 in this setup is tricky and definatly requires the 2x zoom in the EVF offered by the F.A. Focus Assist button. I also (still) find it far more sensitive to “camera shake” than using the lens on a Full Frame DSLR, I could try and compare this with using the lens on a Nikon D200  (cropped sensor Nikon) but it’s probably not worth the effort.

Corporate Golf Day. X-T1/Nikon300/F4/ISO1000

The colours are definatly slightly different through this lens compared to the Fuji products but it is possible to get perfectly good, sharp images.

Party Leader Tim Farron MP takes questions from the delegates at the Liberal Democrat Autumn 2015 Federal Conference. X-T1/Nikon300F4/ISO4000

Overall it’s definatly a usable, although slightly slower to use, solution until the Fuji long lens is released.

300/F4 mounted on the X-T1 via the adapter with the 50-140 shown alongside for size comparison.