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2 years ago 10



A very common question I get is, should I get camera A or camera B?  My most common answer is what do you plan to do with the camera?  What kinds of subjects do you shoot, do you shoot action, and sports, do you shoot close-ups, do want a lighter camera and lenses for travel and convienence or do you prefer a heavier camera and lenses?  Answering those questions will lead you to the kind of camera and the major specifications it will need to meet.


After we narrow down the type of camera and what it’s capabilities are,  I ask the most important question of all!!!  How does it feel in your hands, how comfortable are you operating the major controls?  I am a big believer that the more natural a camera feels to you, the better you will use it.  The point is to get so used to the camera that it is second nature to you and you stop thinking about the camera and start thinking about the light and the subject.


I have been using both the Fujifilm X PRO2 and the new X-T2.  They are both incredible cameras and can make almost identical images.  They share the same X-Trans CMOS III, 24.3 mega pixel sensor and X Processor Pro CPU.  The both take the incredible Fujifilm XF Lens System.  In spite of how much heritage they share they are very different cameras, for very different users.  For that reason I have been struggling with which model I will make my main camera, I say main because I will own both, but one will be the most used, and thus will be the one that requires that I have two bodies in my travel system.  When working in the field I want to have two identical bodies that operate the same so my movement from one to the other is fluid and comfortable.


The images above and below show where the major controls, the ones you will use almost all the time, are located on each camera.  The ISO dial is integrated into the shutter speed knob on the X PRO2 and is on the opposite side on the X-T2.





In the illustration below you can see how much different the placement is of the, all important, focusing joy stick between the X-PRO2 and the X-T2.  I used the X-PRO2  for some time before I had an X-T2 to use. I got used to the location of the joystick on the X PRO2 first, and now that my thumb goes to that spot and it goes there every time, my muscle memory says the one on the X-T2 is in the wrong place.  If I had started with the X-T2 I might think the X PRO2  joystick is out of place.  Muscle memory is funny thing!  I like the feel of the X PRO2 best for my hands.



Another thing I like about the X PRO2 is that the preview arrow, for reviewing images, is on the right side with all the other major controls, on the X-T2 it is on the top left of the camera back, which for me is a less convenient location.  Not a big deal, but a deal none-the-less.  One other thing I like much better about the X PRO2 is the Exposure Compensation dial is easier to turn with just my thumb.  This is a really big deal for me, as my method of calculating exposure is to shoot in Aperture Priority mode and use the exposure compensation dial to make the scene lighter or darker until I see exactly how I want the final image to appear.  Having to use two fingers with the X-T2 knob breaks my normal way of working with the camera.  Is it a big deal? No, but I would have “much” preferred it be easier to turn on the X-T2.  Speaking of easier, I was one of the people that said the door covering the memory card slots needed a lock, well, I was wrong.  The friction operating system on the X PRO2 door works fine, it is a heavier, better made door than on the previous X-T1 and is much more convienent than the lock on the X-T2.  I find my self fumbling too much to get the X-T2 door open, but then again,  that could be my lack of dexterity!!  (once again, for me, this all personal opinion)!  One last thing, the option of the optical viewfinder on the X PRO2 is magical, it is truly wonderful when shooting primes in the 24mm to 85mm range!  I don’t use it as much as the electronic viewfinder, but it is a real joy when I do!


Is there anything about the X-T2 that I like better?  You bet, it has more capable auto focus, more frame rate, the electronic viewfinder has more magnification and is brighter.  The LCD folds out both horizontally and vertically, and I miss that on the X PRO2!!!!  Without the battery compartment the X-T2 is slightly smaller, which is either good or bad depending on the size of your hands, I prefer the slightly larger frame of the X PRO 2, personally.  The X-T2 benefits greatly from adding the battery grip, and I will very likely use mine with the grip to take advantage of the extra speed and longer battery life.  Adding the battery grip improves performance and makes the rig larger, which may, or may not, be your cup of tea….


I loved the X-T1 and said many times I did’t need anything better, but that was before I experienced the focusing joystick, the wonderful new sensor and the Acros monochrome settings!  Since I shoot film simulation in Velvia, Provia and Acros with a red filter all the time, I can’t go back!!!!


I still have not experienced the full production X-T2 so my final decision may be a few weeks away, but as of today I’m leaning towards a working system that will include two X PRO2 bodies and one X-T2 body with the battery grip, my faithful and much loved Graphite X-T1, a gift from a dear Fuji friend,  will bring up the rear!


Ergonomics is vital to me for a user camera and the X PRO2 is  sheer joy to hold and shoot!




the pilgrim

2 years ago 6




I had a question few days ago about how I pack the gear in the last blog post. The purpose for a two small bag system is portability, and always having the essential gear in the lowest possible weight. The bags provide excellent protection and yet are easy to carry.  The main bag, above weighs in at 7.5 lbs, the lens bag below at  7.4 lbs.  Each lens is held in a Tamrac Goblin lens back and the body wrapped in micro fiber Tiger clothes for Kinetronic.  The main bag is the “speed” bag with fast lenses.  The Lens bag is the zoom bag and the close-up bag, the XF10-24 cover the wide end (15-36), the XF18-135 for the 28-200 range.  The Fujifilm XF90 is a fast 135mm equivalent and with diopters and an extension tube, serves as a macro lens with good working distance.  Of course a spare body and longer glass will reside in a separate backpack.



In addition to those items I have Zeiss photo wipes and some micro fiber cloths.  So there you have it!  Hope that helps answer that question!




the pilgrim

2 years ago 7



Through the years I have, always, really enjoyed doing close-up work.  During the Great American Photography Weekend days I had the wonderful opportunity work with and learn from some of the greats in close-up work; John Shaw, Larry West and Cliff Zenor.  Later I learned more from Mike Moats, Jack Graham, Charles Needles, the late, great, Nancy Rotenberg and many others.  I have always owned a number of Macro/Micro lenses and when I switched to the Fuji X-System that was one of my disappointments, they only had one, the 60mm Macro.  It is a tack sharp lens of the 90mm equiv. focal length so it has been enough to get by with some other tricks of the trade, to be discussed soon!


My favorite Macro lens of all time was the legendary Nikkor 200mm f 4 AF lens.  When Fuji announced they were going to make a 120mm f 2.8 Macro my prayers were answered!  I’ve learned that Fuji will not put out a so so lens, so I knew this new lens was going be the long Macro I needed and wanted desperately.  Then the announcement came that the Macro would be an 80mm not a 120mm! I was seriously bummed!!!  I will wait and see how the 80mm f 2.8 pans out in 2017, but in the meantime I have to find a work around.  Let me explain.


Macro lenses (or as Nikon calls them Micro lenses) generally have been made in three focal length ranges;  50mm -60mm, 100mm – 105mm, and the longer versions 150mm – 200mm.  They all do the same thing but the longer the focal length the more working distance you have from the front of the lens to the subject.  For many subject this is not a big deal, for insects, amphibians and reptiles (especially poisonous ones!!!), it is a big deal!


Since, for the moment, Fuji is not addressing the long version of a macro lens, I have gone to work finding an alternative. I had a Nikon 200mm Micro, but sadly sold it on the news that the 120mm was coming form Fuji.  I’m looking for a used 200mm IF-ED the AI-S  manual focus version, that might work for the Fuji.  I also have played around with the Canon 500D Diopter (and exceptional diopter) on both the 50-140 and 100-200.  That along with the Fuji automatic extension tubes, work very well with them!



The image below was made with the 100-400 and the Canon 500D Diopter!  The working distance was 19 inches, quite good!



I wanted another option and I think I may have it!  I love the 90mm f 2 lens, it is arguably the sharpest lens Fuji makes.  It already focuses very close, but with the Nikon  (long discontinued) 5T and 6 T diopters it can get you very close indeed!  Below are some of my experiments with combinations of the 90mm and various other close-up devices, this is by no means exhaustive, as you can combine, extension tubes, diopters and teleconverters to get much closer.  Starting with the razor sharp 90mm the combinations and effects are almost endless!



….and if you want to really get close…..



So the bottom line is I’m still every so slightly upset with Fuji for not making the 120mm, but I can’t stay mad too long since they did give us the 90mm, 50-140 and the 100-400, and the X PRO 2 and X-T2, o.k. all is forgiven!  …. but please think about a long Macro……. someday!  Anybody got a mint condition Nikkor 200mm Micro f 4 IF-ED mnaual focus, give me a call!!!!




the pilgrim

2 years ago 8



It’s a never ending battle to figure out how to have just what you need, when you need it, without having have a 400 pound motorized rolling cart!!!!  The trick is to decide what you think you will need to do the work you need to do, and keep it in bite size portions.  I’ve tried backpacks, but I never wear them in the field, but pull what I need out and leave the rest in the vehicle.    When you get a mile away, sure enough, what you needed was back in the SUV!


Above is my “current experiment”.  I love the very small Think Tank Retrospective  5 bags, I have two, one with the leather cover and trim and one plain.  Makes it easier to tell which has what inside!!


Here is my plan, I find I most often shoot in one of two modes, (personals styles), I either prefer fast single focal length lenses, or I find myself doing work that is easier with zooms.  Since Fuji has superb examples of both in the X System I have a small two bag system to cover both approaches.


Bag One:  The leather trimmed Retrospective 5 contains a 16mm f 1.4 (24mm equiv.), a 56mm f 1.2 (85mm equiv.), and a Fuji X PRO 2 body with the 35mm f 2  (50mm equiv.)  That cover the all important 24mm to 85mm range all with fast lenses.  *These also happen to be three of the very best Fuji XF lenses!


Bag Two:  The other regular Retrospective 5 contains a full set of zooms and one specialty lens.  the 10-24 f 4 OIS lens (15-36 mm equiv.),  a 18-135 f 3.5-5.6 (27-200 equiv.) and lastly my favorite Fuji lens,  the 90mm f 2 (135mm equip.)  This lens doubles as a macro lens with Nikon 5T and 6T diopters and automatic extension tubes, and it is arguably Fuji’s sharpest lens!!!!!


So when I arrive on site,  I can decide which route to go and grab one small bag and have ell the focal lengths I might need!  The super long 100-400 is always in the backpack, when I really need to reach out optically!  I almost never walk any real distance carrying it!   It is a trunk lens!


I am anxious to get a production X-T2, but until then, I love the X Pro 2 and it is giving me wonderful results!


I will try this system for a while and let you know how it’s going!




the pilgrim