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2 months, 2 weeks ago 9



Are you in search of the Holy Grail of Photography?  Above all else, its Image Quality!  I know when you come here you expect to see a lot about my love for the Fuji X-System, but this article is not so much about that as it is about technique.  In the days of film a camera was a light tight box with a shutter that opened long enough to let you expose the film,.  It was the film that determined how images “looked”!  In the age of digital, the sensor and it’s magical firmware replaces film as the arbiter of what you produce. It is more important that you  know how to get the most out of your camera than anything else.  Nikon, Canon, Fuji?  It does not matter as much as knowing your camera.


Digital photography really insists that you experiment!  In the days of film, to try something new meant a lot of film and processing, (money), and waiting, (time), to find out if your adjustments worked.  With the modern digital cameras, we enjoy today, tailoring your camera to give you the results you want are easier than ever before!  It doesn’t matter what brand you shoot, all cameras offer some level of adjusting color, contrast, sharpness, and other parameters.  You can choose film simulations, in the case of Fuji they are actually named like the films they produce, or did produce!


It is truly worth the time and effort to “EXPERIMENT” with the setting available on your camera!  With built in filtration you an even produce spectacular looking monochrome images that once required a separate kind of film, special filters and special processing!  Well it still does, but it can allow be done in the camera!


The other major factor to image quality is the quality of the glass you put on your camera. There is probably more great glass today than ever before, but sadly there is some pretty poor glass out there too!  One of the reasons I review lenses is to confirm for myself their quality and to share what I’ve learned with you.  I’ve found that lenses fall into several categories; Legendary, professional quality, good (??? how good depends on your standards), unacceptable.  Get a relationship with a good dealer that will let you run a quick test and return a lens if it does not meet your standard!


So adjust your camera, use good glass, keep things sharp with a good solid tripod.   …..and join the the rest of us in a search for the Holy Grail!




the pilgrim


Photo Note:  Image above with the Fuji X-T1 and Fujinon 60mm Macro lens at f 5.6  ISO 1600.

2 months, 2 weeks ago 14


Well, it’s finally a reality!  The lens that many Fuji X Shooters wanted all along.  A fast long portrait lens!  It is that for sure, but it is so, so much more.


First the Physical Attributes:


It’s approximately 4.5 inches long, excluding the hood.

It takes 62mm filters  (this is important – more on that later!).

It has the heft of a slightly heavier 56mm f 1.2.

It’s supplied with a metal bayonet hood like the 60mm Macro.

F stop range is f 2 to f 16.

Minimum focus distance is less than 4 feet (more on that later)

The focus ring is exceptionally smooth and firm.

The aperture ring has good solid 1/3 stops detests like the 50-140.

It balances well with the X-T1 with or without the battery holder.

It is one of the most solid feeling Fuji lenses yet!!!



So why am I so “personally” excited about this lens.  Don’t get me wrong,  I love all my Fuji lenses, and I have almost all they have released, and each has it’s on special charms and abilities.  This 90mm is the equivalent focal length of a 135mm lens and has a narrower angle of view than the 56mm and this gives it two advantages as a portrait lens; less background coverage and more working distance.  Not all subjects are comfortable with  you shooting from 4.5 feet away, but around 7 feet up can open their comfort space.


In the illustration below you can clearly see the visual difference in the portraits of Col Harlan Sanders bust (hey I don’t have any 22 year old super models in Corbin!! Dang you Damien Lovegrove!)  See the difference in the face shape and background coverage as focal length and working distance changes.




If you photograph head and shoulder portraits, I think you can see why a longer fast telephoto has a special place in studio photographers bag!  The 56mm does not need to have any fear, it still is the answer for some situations, but the 90mm will become my new “go to” people lens!  But, I don’t do much portraiture, of course you only need to look as far as my subject matter, a mass of brass!  No, I do nature, outdoor, travel and Americana work and for Americana this lens is one sweet tool.  It is perfectly sharp corner to corner at all f stops, but where it is truly spectacular is when you shoot tight at f 2 and throw everything but a small plane of focus into a dramatic blur….. ah, Bokeh heaven!


This image shot in an antique shop of the letter strikers on an old typewriter show just how effective it can be!






One of the things I love the most about this lens is the wonderful smooth gradation of tones.  This image of some gears on and old steam engine locomotive in Townsend,Tennessee shows that beautiful smooth tone to tone reproduction.



Now for me the big question for all lenses is how close can I get, and can it serve as a close-up lens if I need it to be?  The test below will answer that question.  Below is a small Route 66 license plate I picked up on my trip with a penny taped to it for size perspective, the first shot shows that the area shown is 5 inches across.




Okay, so this shot above is the closest you can shoot without any supplemental help.  Below is how close you an get with the addition of the Fuji MCEX 11mm auto extension tube.




So let take it a step further and try the Fuji MCEX 11mm & 16mm auto extension tubes together. By-the-way if you happen to have any 62mm diopters like Nikons 5T and 6T, they work fantastic with them too!!!!





So yes Virginia, This lens does allow you to get in very close and fill the frame with tiny subjects.  Here are few images I shot a local junk/antique shop!  * These little antique store assignments are killing me, I bought the Rock n’ Roll Diner clock and the Big Boy!






So let’s sum it up, the new 90mm f 2 lens is a beautiful example of the lens maker’s art, as has been the case recently, each new lens from Fuji surpasses the last and that is no small accomplishment, the 16-55, the 50-140, the 16, and now the 90 are all superior lenses that have a real place in any shooter’s bag!


*NOTE:  The lens I have been shooting for the last two weeks is a very late prototype, but very nearly a production lens.  Trust me if the production model is any better, I’ll be shocked, this lens is clearly, ready for prime time!



One last item to talk about!  I also got the chance in Phoenix to shoot with the New Fuji X-T10 – also announced today!


This will be a great entry point for people wanting to join the  X System family.  The price is right and it is a very capable little brother to the X-T1, about 25% smaller which is also cool.  The images will be identical as it uses the same sensor as the X-T1. The build quality is the same solid metal kind of body we have come to expect.  Though the viewfinder is smaller than the X-T1 it is very bright and very clear and shows 100% of the image . One neat note, the shutter release is again threaded for a manual release, or soft shutter release button, sweet!  The controls are simplified but all the most important stuff is there!  Oh yes, and the pop up flash is completely hidden in the pentaprism, and it’s autofocus system really kicks it!  It will be a great travel camera!


The XC kit lens is very solid and better than the typical kit lens on less expensive  cameras, I’d still spring of the marvelous 18-55 f 2.8-f 4, but you should not have any fear about the XC lens quality.




Well, hope this info helps as you consider your next additions to your Fuji system!




the pilgrim


About Harland Sanders:      When I was a newspaper photographer in the early 1970′s I went to a picnic for charity and sat down at a picnic table to eat my picnic dinner.  An older gentleman came over wearing as grey sport coat. blue shirt and tie and asked if he could sit with me, I was alone and said “sure, I’m all by my myself,”  I looked at this distinguished gentleman with a white goatee sat down.  I looked at him and said. “I know you form somewhere but I just don’t know where we’ve met?”  He said “You’ve probably seen  me around.”  I said “I’m sorry I just don’t know where we have met, but I’m sure I know you.”  At that he smiled, leaned in and said well son, I don’t always where that white suit!”  It was Col. Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.  His original restaurant is in Corbin where I live.  Col Sanders would have been around 83 or 84 at the time.  I was embarrassed, but he was a really nice man, and we had a great little talk!



P.S. the Nikon HN-23 lens hood is a perfect fit if you want a screw in hood to turn your polarizer,  Below is the alternate hood from Amazon.


Vello LHN-HN23 Dedicated Lens Hood for Select Nikon Lenses
2 months, 2 weeks ago 19



I would like to end the week with some important news for all the Fuji fans out there!
FIRST:   I’m honored to announce that a few weeks ago it was made official that Jack Graham and I were named X-Photographers by Fujifilm Japan & USA. The designation of X-Photographer is a recognition of some of the the exceptional photographers that use the Fuji X-System worldwide. (their words, not mine)  Over 200 photographers have been invited to join, Jack and I are two of the 18 photographers from the United States, so designated.  Both Jack and I consider it a real honor to be included into this fraternity of wonderful photographers an artists.  You can see our portfolios at the links below:


Jack Graham


Bill Fortney


One of the great things about being apart of the Fuji X-Photographers family is Fuji agrees that we are still independent thinkers free to express our opinions on products and we are not “official” spokesman for Fujifilm, just very happy users of the great gear they make.  Neither Jack or I would have agreed to be a part of any restrictive arrangement that did not allow us to remain unbiased and honest about our evaluaitons.  We know that you trust us, and we would not risk that by being paid spokesman for any company.  Having said that, I believe it is obvious that we are very satisfied with our Fuji systems!



SECOND:  The first test of a new Fuji product coming Monday!  If you read Fuji Rumors, (and I do everyday!),  you have no doubt been reading speculation about upcoming Fuji product releases.  You must remember that Fuji Rumors is a Rumor sight, so they can leak things they hear under the protection of it being a “rumor”.   I have been aware of some of the products since my trip to the Fuji National Sales Meeting in Phoenix, but have been under a non-disclosure agreement and could not be specific about anything I saw or tested, and I did both!!!.  ”If” the new releases happens on Monday as “rumored”  I will be releasing a first test of a new product from Fuji.  I’ve had “said” lens in my possession for a couple of weeks and have been testing it and preparing a review slated for the day it is “officially” announced.  Assuming everything goes according to plan, I will release that review in Monday’s blog.  Get excited, it is a marvelous product.



THIRD:  Jack Graham and I have a new wesbsite for Fuji users called Fuji X Photo Workshops  and this is the link:    at  our new website you will find a listing of new workshops Jack and i are teaching aimed directly at Fuji X-shooters who want get the most out of their X-System cameras and lenses.  We will feature articles on Fuji gear, Fuji News, and other informative stories.  Please book mark us for your Fuji info and workshop locations.  Our workshop in Mount Rainier this summer is already SOLD OUT, check next year’s events in Olympic National Park (May 2016) , The Great Smokies N.P. (April 2016), and Acadia N.P. (October 2016)  Please come by and check us out!!!!



FOURTH:  The joy of working with Fuji.  I had a great time attending and speaking at the Fuji National Sales Meeting.  I met a lot of great Fuji professionals and made a number of new friends.  I was really appreciative of how they listened to my ideas, and requests and seemed genuinely interested in what we, (the users), wanted and thought.  I think one of the reasons I’ve had such and easy transition to being a Fuji X System shooter is their philosophy and corporate culture. I know after my meeting with top executives that they are committed to building the best possible cameras and lenses and the firmware upgrades prove they hear us and are making significant changes to the products.  The upcoming Firmware 4.0 for the X-T1 is going to make very major improvements in it’s auto focus system, I’m excited!!!



So tune in Monday for an  exciting review, and ha e a great weekend!




the pilgrim





2 months, 2 weeks ago 8




Can you not see the forest  for the trees?  It’s and old saying that holds much truth.  We often are so focused on the details of life that we fail to see the big picture.  I had an experience yesterday that helped me refocus on the forest, the big picture.  I had four phone conversation all unrelated except in one way, they were all God directed.   It does matter who the conversations were with, but since they were private, I will not reveal that information, but in each call God revealed himself in a unique way.  One was with a friend that needed encouragement, one with a friend that was struggling though a tough patch of life, another with a friend that was filled with joy and insight into spiritual things, and one with a friend that appreciated my concern for him and his wife.  All of them directed my focus back to God.


God offers us provision, grace, acceptance, love, meaning for our lives, and most of all, forgiveness!  If we give Him our lives, if we let go and trust Him, He will provide our every need, and will allow nothing to ever happen to us that is not for our good.  Even the bad circumstances of life that drive us closer to Him are for our benefit!


God moved me to make those four calls, and I benefited greatly, and He saw to it that the four people I talked to benefited as well!  That is God’s way, the perfect way, the complete way.


If you focus on Him you will see both the trees and the forest.




the pilgrim