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1 week, 3 days ago 8

Every time I do an equipment blog I get emails with questions and a recent one made me realize I may have not explained some things as well as I thought I had.  So let me take another shot at it!  If you are young or youngish, and you don’t mind carrying a heavy photo back pack or shoulder bag, go out and enjoy your weekend, this isn’t for you!!!!  If your that other guy or gal, please read on!

If you are a photo generalist, (nature, travel, landscape, Americana, and family pictures), then you need several things;


(1)   The right set of lens focal lengths to cover all the “reasonable” possibilities.  For me that is a wide angle or wide angle zoom, a medium  lens or medium zoom, and a telephoto lens or zoom). Since we all still speak of focal lengths if they were film camera focal length (we did do that for a long time, so it seems to stick), So my system is either a 21mm or 15mm to 36mm, a 50mm or 27mm to 80mm, and a 85mm or 80mm to 300mm zoom. One last thing, I love close-up work so I carry the 90mm Micro and a few diopters.


(2)   A way to carry the gear that makes it readily available, but not a burden to carry.  (once again just for me around 15 pounds is my limit!)  My “current”, and I say current because this is life, and things do change.  For now it’s the Think Tank belt system or the Think Tank Retrospective 5 bag!


(3)  The Will Power to resist breaking the plan and adding more things!!!!  Trust me this is a big one!  I do have and use other things, but they are relegated to bags in the SUV.  It is imperative that you have a “Carry system”!  The rest are just extras you won’t carry!


(4)  Remember the quote from Rod Planck, “Technique beats equipment, every time!”  Live by it, and improve your technique, that will do the most good if  you want to to move to the skill level you desire!


Now, why is any of this important?  Because if you are confident in the gear you are using, you will forget about it, except when bloggers like me, bring it up, again!  You need to know that you can use what you are carrying to make the images you want to make.  After that, simple, just go out and make images!


Hope that clears it up, or feel free to email or post your questions!  Just keep one thing in mind, use what you like, and what you can afford and stop worrying!




the pilgrim


1 week, 5 days ago 20


Our main TV went our a few months ago and I’ve been searching for a new one.  We don’t watch very much TV but football season is coming,  and it is the only sport that I really love, so I had to be ready, right?  So I got it installed and was enjoying flipping through the channels last night and came on a bunch of different things that I want to comment on.


Let me preface this with a statement;  ”There is evil, true evil in the world, and there is true kindness and compassion.  We are in a spiritual battle, and pretending that the enemy is not there, will not make him go away!  As a nation and as a people there are things we must face!


1.  On the ESPYS last night there were several stories about athletes t hat have taken a special interest in children with serious, life threatening diseases.  It reminded me that there are still people in the world that think of others first and share Christ’s love, it made up for much of the rest of what I saw.

2.  There was a story on Fox news about a TV news broadcaster who did a editorial piece on his frustrations with all the violence and killings and street crime.  He listed as one of the factors that so many inter-city young men were growing up without a fathers.  He was fired from his job for making;   “racially insensitive remarks!”  Really?  When  are we going to face the truth?


3.  A democratic senator,  (I won’t even capitalize the position), stated that the suit being brought  against the president, (I won’t capitalize that either), was politically based and he had done nothing wrong!  Let me propose an idea, If I could play 10 questions with the current president and he had to give a truthful answer to the questions, my guess is he would be impeached shortly after answering the questions, it would only take 5.  (1) Did you know it was a lie when you said, “If you like your plan or your doctor, you can keep your plan and your doctor!  (2) Did you have any knowledge or participate in the activities of the IRS, currently under investigation?  (3) How were you and your adminsitration involved in what really happened in Benghazi?  (4) Are you deliberately trying to weaken America and America’s ability to defend itself against it’s enemies? (5)  Mr president, you took the oath of office twice and in both you pledged to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States, have you done so sir, do you still believe in the constitution of the United States?  That would about do it.


4.  Do you believe the media (Hollywood,  and national television and radio broadcasters) are trying to promote a life style predicted on moral and ethical behavior?  Are your elected representatives pledged to uphold the principle on which our nation was founded?  As a Christian, do you believe the system respects your beliefs or at least your right to hold those beliefs?


It’s time to face some tough questions as a people, and as a nation.  The future of our children and grandchildren hangs in the balance, and the scale is tipping away from us!  


What can we do?


First get on your knees, an stay on your knees in prayer for our nation and our society.


Ask God to renew your heart and make you an example of what He desires you to be!


Go out in the world and love others with His love, forgive those that have hurt you, and love them to Christ.





Place your faith completely in His hands.


Remember that God scarified everything to be with you, so sacrifice everything.


Blessings, in Him,


the pilgrim







2 weeks ago 6

Today’s message is short and sweet!  Everything you are looking for, every question you have about life, every problem you face, every fear that chases you.  The answers are in the Word of God.  I’m sure you spend time in the Word, but if you don’t, please take a simple challenge, try to read a few chapters a day and let the Holy Spirit reveal the rich truth you will find!  I am amazed at how personally God speaks to me about whatever is on my mind!  The simple truth is He loves you more than you could ever know, and He knows you better than you know yourself!


Give Him a chance to speak to you, you will never be the same!




the pilgrim

2 weeks, 2 days ago 17


The 5 reasons I wouldn’t go back!!!!


1.  My back doesn’t hurt anymore!


Almost everything in my bag, is at least half the weight of my former full frame DSLR system.  Generally almost every body and lens takes up half the space!  So far, I see no reason to believe that my Fuji bodies and lenses are not just as well made, and rugged as the bigger DSLR system.  Frankly my Fujinon lenses “feel” more rugged than many of the plastic lenses of this modern day!  My old (3 to 4 decades old), Nikkors have that same old world sweet smoothness!  I still use them on the X-T1 with an adapter and get fantastic results!  The wide angles are not of much use because of the APS-C sensors 1.5 factor, but the long glass and midrange zooms get a lot more interesting!  The Nikkor manual focus Micro lenses are insane!



2.  I simply love the operational design of the Fuji X System cameras!  


I grew up with a “real shutter speed knob” and a “real aperture ring”!  Mechanical controls,  (Now I know these mechanical controls make electronic changes, but they operate “mechanically!!!”)  I like the ISO knob on the XT-1 (also a “mechanical” knob), and actually like that it locks!  Some have complained that it could be faster without a lock, and while that is certainly true, I like getting and keeping the ISO I set in the first place!  I fired my D700 the other day and was shocked at how loud and vibration prone it was, I then picked up the XT-1 and fired them side by side.  The difference was remarkable, the XT-I was quieter than a Leica, and with no mirror slap vibration (no mirror!).


3.  Cameras are for making images, and I’m taking the best in my 45 year career!


This one is purely subjective, but I can tell you with a completely straight face that my work has immeasurably improved, both in technical and aesthetic terms!!!!  I think the biggest reason is that I’m like a kid again in respect to my excitement and desire to go out and make images!!!  A big part of that is covered in point # 4!!!  It probably helps that I’m retired!!!!!


4.  Features I didn’t have in a DSLR!


Working with the Fuji X System and in particular, the XT-1, several features have made me a big time believer in mirror-less;


A.  While the EVF of the XT-1 is not quiet like looking through a D4, in some ways it’s better!  It’s brighter in low light, ( it’s a video image and it can brighten up so you can see better!), and it shows all your menu items settings actual affects when you half press the shutter release, yes you read that right, you see what the resulting image will look like!  If that were not enough, immediately after you make the image, it appears in the viewfinder exactly as it will appear later on your computer screen!  You can turn it off if you like, but I love it!  One more thing for manual shooters you can select a histogram to be live in the viewfinder as you make exposure adjustments!


And this is the “BIG” one!  Focus peaking has made manual focusing easier and more accurate than any other system I’ve ever used!  Now you can enjoy using many of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of older LEGACY manual focus lenses!!!!  It has breathed new life into Nikkor Micro lenses, moderate zooms, and especially, long glass!!  Imagine having a 600mm, f 3.5, that focuses close!!!  I’ve got it, and it didn’t cost $12,000.  (the old 400mm f 3.5 IF-ED manual focus Nikkor lens)


B.  You can set a menu item that allows you to see “real time” the depth of field as you stop down the aperture ring!!!!  No more depth-of-field preview buttons and impossibly dark viewfinders!  You would be surprised what a big deal this is after you use it!


C.  When you dial in compensation, ( yes Virginia, it’s a metal knob with click stops!!! (conveniently right next to your shooting thumb!!), you can see the affect it has on exposure, just how the image will look.  I shoot Aperture Priority and tailor exposure with the compensation dial, it works great.  By-the-way, the Fuji’s are like every other camera I’ve used in years, for my taste .3 or .7 minus compensation is needed to get to what I think is “affective exposure”, who knows what correct is!!!!????  The exposure comp dial is = or – 3 stops!


D.  My favorite feature is film type bracketing.  The Fuji’s allow you to pick three film simulations and then every time you make a shot, it processes three separate files in those film types!!!  Choices are;  PROVIA (standard color), ASTIA (soft, great skin tones, and rich color), VELVIA (high contrast palette of richly saturated colors), PRO NEG HIGH (great for outdoor portraits, slightly higher contrast), PRO NEG STANDARD ( great subtle skin tones, perfect for studio portraits under controlled lighting), MONOCHROME, (standard, full range, beautiful Black & Whites),  MONOCHROME YELLOW FILTER, (slightly higher contrast), MONOCHROME RED FILTER (higher contrast-great for spectacular landscape with blue skies and clouds), MONOCHROME GREEN FILTER ( good for outdoor portraits), SEPIA (sepia toned monochrome images.)   Most of the time I have mine set to PROVIA, VELVIA, AND MONOCHROME.  I do also use, ASTIA and MONOCHOME RED FILTER, pretty often!  90% of the time the Monochromes need almost no post!  They look spectacular!



5.  Even cutting my camera bag weight in half, I haven’t give up the image quality I crave!


I’ve selected some images, some of my favorites from this past year, all with various Fuji X cameras and Fuji XF lenses and a few with Nikkor manual focus adapted glass: ( I will give the technical data!)


Fuji X100s   ISO 1600  1/12th of a second handheld   In camera Monochroime!



Old Service Station Canonsburg Village   Fuji X-E1  180-55  ISO 200



Colored Pencils   –  Fuji X-E1  60mm Micro lens ISO 800



Licence plates on wood wall   –  Fuji X-E1   18-55    ISO 1600



Model T in Sprague, WA  Fuji X-T1    55-200  ISO 400



Fold in the earth Palouse WA  Fuji X-T1  Nikon 300mm f 4.5 IF-ED     ISO 800




Any downside??  Yes, if Fuji is reading this, (and I’m told they do!!!), here is my wish list:


1.  Firmware update to give 9, 7, & 5 stops of exposure bracketing. (for us HDR guys) You can add in improved focusing speed with the 60mm Macro!


2.  A 100mm Macro lens that goes 1:1 !!!!????  I know I’m pushing my luck, but a 150mm would be even better!  The current 60mm is spectacularly sharp, but won’t go 1:1 and focuses painfully slow compared to all other FX lenses.  It does play nice with Diopters though!

I sure hope rumors of a fast 90mm are true!


3.  Almost as good as a longer Macro lens would be a set of three Automatic Extension tubes, this is very doable!!!!  Those and the 56 f 1.2 would be a dream come true!!!  Some third party ones exist but they are very poorly finished out!


4.  Make sure the soon to come 120-400 is a constant aperture f 4 or no slower than f 4.5,  PLEASE no variable aperture!!!!  This is the lens that will really complete the Fuji XF line, don’t release it until it is drop dead spectacular!!!!!!  Lots of folks think this is a lens you can’t make as fantastic as your others, I’m betting they’re wrong!!!  By-the-way, I would be happy to test the prototype for you in Yellowstone this fall!!!!  Hint, hint!!!


5.  Ask the battery guys what can be done to beef up the battery life!!??  While on that subject, thank you so much for not making third party batteries incompatible, others have done this, and it’s not playing nice!  At least good reserves are purchasable reasonably, and they have given me good service!  Since they are small, it’s easy to carry a half dozen extras!


6.  While I’m bragging on you, thanks for handling the few complaints you’ve gotten the right way!  You stepped up to the plate, admitted mistakes, and made repairs or adjustments, quickly. Three cheers for treating the customer like you really care, which I believe you actually do!!!!!!


7.  Re-release the 55-200 in a slightly heavier build quality with a tripod collar, don’t touch the optics, they’re great right now!!!!  Not holding my breath on this one, but Canon did that with their hot selling 75-300 and it has been very well received!  People are willing to pay a premium for more structural strength, I would be too!


8.  Please don’t feel the need to go full frame, the size and extraordinary quality of the X Trans Sensor brought you to the dance, my advice is keep dancing with her!!!  She is, after all, beautiful!!




the pilgrim