Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Category: Gear Reviews

I Can’t Breath- But I Can Photograph

My favorite image of the day, to look up and see this display of people coming together with a flag flying was dramatic.

My favorite image of the day, to look up and see this display of people coming together with a flag flying was dramatic.

I want to establish right off the bat that this post is about photography, not the politics. My choosing to take my camera and record the protest does not indicate my personal feelings nor alignment. What I do feel is that as photographers we have a duty to record the world around us. We don’t have to make a living at it, but we are the observers whose observations can outlive us. Future generations will be able to look at your images and share an experience based on what you photographed. That is a scary thought in of itself, and photojournalism is extremely subjective and barely objective. I certainly seek objectivity in the matter, and feel I pretty much got it. I barely spoke to anyone; actually the only person I had a full conversation with was a NYC Parks Dept officer. Our conversation consisted of the fact that it was peaceful.

I don't usually shoot in panarama mode, but when I do it's for really really really big crowds.

I don’t usually shoot in panarama mode, but when I do it’s for really really really big crowds.

However this is the internet and people throw opinions around like police hand out tickets so at the end of this post, I’m going to speak my mind about the recent issues surrounding this protest. It’s my soap box, you can choose to not read or make your comments. Now, back to the photographic portion of this post…

Pissing off the Police Union is where he is.

Pissing off the Police Union is where he is.

As I stated earlier, I believe it is both your civic and artistic duty to participate as a viewer/observer/recorder of the important social issues that occur in your lifetime. I’m not saying you should go well out of your way, but if these occur locally, be there and f8. They are societal milestones, events, and gain the interest of the masses. They can often define the ascendant generation. Going to and placing oneself in the epicenter is a solemn privilege that you as a creative should encourage.

“The world is going to pieces, and people like Biderman and Hill are photographing stars.”

– David George Brommer, December 2014.

I have shot a few demonstrations in my day. The first was a NORML rally at William Patterson College in NJ in the latish 80’s. The next would have been great anti-Iraq war protest that took place in 2003 in NYC. I rolled through the Occupy movement when it was in full force. I heard about the #MillionsMarchNYC from local channels, and put aside the time to go shoot it. Having watched the other protests, mainly the Ferguson and the SF/Oakland ones, I was a bit wary of getting caught up in a mele. I would be simply a citizen armed with a camera, and my opposing force would have truncheons, shields and tear gas. In the back of my mind a spot fear appeared. We all know what fear is right? It’s the mind killer! Mostly I feared getting gassed. I had seen the nasty canisters bouncing up to a CNN crew and the journalists all getting a good hit of it in Ferguson. I dug out my Israeli issue adult gas mask size three and stuffed it into a WW2 vintage ammo sling bag. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and if worse happened, I could keep my vision intact and the cameras clicking.

When protesting, protest in Patagonia. Oy.

When protesting, protest in Patagonia. Oy.

Noon: Inspect the camera arsenal for today’s shoot. I go for the Sony RX10 because I want a telephoto lens to pick out faces and signs a distance away (24 to 200mm f2.8). It’s also weather proof and resilient, so it can take it if the environment gets crazy. I also grabbed my trusty Fujifilm Xpro1 and slapped on the 18mm f2.0. I picked the Xpro1 because it can take a hit, and the look and size of the 18mm (1.5x APS-C size sensor brings it to 28mm effective) would both perform, and fit in my bag. Instead of a camera bag I choose a vintage ww2 ammo satchel, because I like the way it melts to my body and it’s discrete while having an edge. Note, the bag does have a Domke insert to further pad the gear. I also stuffed my gas mask and a fresh filter in the bottom of the satchel. In this game the best offense is a good defense.

Israeli issue M15 gas mask and cartridge. Sony RX10 digital camera. Fujifilm Xpro1 with 18mm f2 lens. US issue WW2 ammo pouch.

Israeli issue M15 gas mask and cartridge. Sony RX10 digital camera. Fujifilm Xpro1 with 18mm f2 lens. US issue WW2 ammo pouch.

2 pm I parked the Vespa on Bleecker and Sullivan. Twitter images showed the masses of protesters thronging beneath the Arch where 5th Avenue meets Washington Square Park. Enter from the rear, so you can get an idea of dispositions of the crowds.

As you neared Washington Square park there was a constant buzz of helicopters. The eye in the sky never looks the other way.

As you neared Washington Square park there was a constant buzz of helicopters. The eye in the sky never looks the other way.

I wanted to capture the faces and signs. I wanted to show the disparity of the protesters, and what they were saying. Simple task.

All Lives Matter.

All Lives Matter.

As I walked further into the epicenter around the fountain I found the wide settings on the camera were taking most of it in. Standing up on bench I was able to zoom into details. The Sony RX10 has swing a out LCD screen, I used my height and tilting out of the screen so I could turn myself into a 8 foot tripod in this fashion. That gave me a sweet perspective on the throngs.

Get that monument in so you can readily arm the viewer with an accurate location.

Get that monument in so you can readily arm the viewer with an accurate location.

There was not a police presence inside the protest throng, except Parks Dept (protecting the trees from being climbed) and this interesting Police Captain from Philadelphia. I do have a regret, I noticed one Parks Dept Officer with a tonfa strapped to his belt. Interesting, but I didn’t feel like getting my lens smashed by it so I didn’t shoot him. I regret that now.

A Police Captain from the City of Brotherly Love.

A Police Captain from the City of Brotherly Love.

The protesters, while mixed with all races, were predominantly white.

Pockets of protesters could broadcast stories.

Pockets of protesters could broadcast stories.

6 pm Time to edit and archive shot images. I shot as jpegs and imported into Nik Silver EFX through Photoshop. Since the subject matter was heavy, I felt that I would add drama and impact by choosing a heavy process. I went to the Film Noir Preset #1 and then decreased the size of the grain 40% while pushing up the structure. I also minimized the spread of the digi-faux rebate edge.

Brommer is now going to discuss his feeling on racism. It might be time to click here for lighter subject matter.

My personal take on the issue at hand is that it’s something that has been brewing in this country since the 1800’s. Racism. It’s not always fair and it’s not easy to understand. It may very well resound in all of us, deep down, hidden and can bubble up in certain circumstances. Others make decisions and judgments based on race with little provocation and thought. I see color and race, I am a photographer and my job is to see. However, I do not let race, nor social standing effect the way I interact with the population. So while acutely aware of racial details and stereotypes the factor is nullified until you give me a reason to respond from your deeds and words. After all, we are all human. And I’ll treat you like a lady or gentleman as long as you are one. That’s how I roll. I’m ashamed when a racist thought runs through my head. My first best friend was Lamont Swain, we played together on the streets and playgrounds. I was a skinny little white kid, and Lamont was a skinny little black kid. R.I.P. Mont Mont, your friendship showed me in the end, we were just skinny kids.

In a perfect world you don’t get taken down so hard you die for selling illegal cigarettes. In a perfect world when you steal and you get caught you don’t resist arrest. In a perfect world the cops don’t have the right to use violent force unless being met with violent force that is un-arguable. In a perfect world a segment of the society was not enslaved and then after generations set free. In a perfect world all the children are taught to respect one another and know right from wrong. In a perfect world no one would take advantage over another. In a perfect world… is just a dream. 

~David

The Aesthetic of Compositional Perfection and Post Production

The fog was thicker than pea soup at the Dickey Ridge Lodge.

The fog was thicker than pea soup at the Dickey Ridge Lodge.

I’m one of those odd people who throw on a heavy backpack and hike in the woods for days. I have been doing it for a long time now, at least 25 years. I have a dwindling network of friends who I go on these hiking trips and we fancy to call our selves Trailpounders. Among all the miles I have hiked in pristine wilderness across many states I am reluctant to carry a cameras, or serious one at least. The reason being weight, and getting the picture right. Cameras can weigh quite a bit, and add to that good lenses so that you can make high quality photographs is daunting when you’re crossing mountains and pushing every fiber of your body to keep moving up switchbacks.

I have been tasked by B&H & Sony to create a program on the RX10. The focus of the program will be, “Travel Composition with the RX10”. To prepare for the program I have been shooting exclusively with the RX10 and pushing what it can do while learning what it cannot do. I’m familiar with the camera, and those who follow my blog will recall the initial review of the RX10 I wrote and shot a little under a year ago.

Elderly folk appreciating the park. They moved slow, but stuck a cord inside me. America's National Parks are for everyone, every age.

Elderly folk appreciating the park. They moved slow, but stuck a cord inside me. America’s National Parks are for everyone, every age.

This past weekend the Trail Pounders planned a four day hike in the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. Since I was working on material for the presentation, I figured this would be the perfect place to shoot with the RX10 and put it to test doing some nature photography. I would suck up the weight (1.79 lb / 813 g with battery and memory card) and stuff the camera in my trusty Moutainsmith Frost Fire pack.

The trip was excellent and pretty heavy duty. I’m not getting any younger and that pack isn’t getting any lighter. I felt I could have reached for the camera more often, but hiking (especially in a group) is an act all of its own. We managed to traverse about 17 miles in three days which didn’t afford me much lens time. On the trail we crossed a pine covered mountain top (Neighbor Mountain) and ran the ridge. I came across these interesting pine cones that had survived a fire, called a pack break and took some photos. I did my “composition dance” and moved around trying to find that perfect angle to capture the pine cones, you know that angle, the one with a perfect background and every branch facing the right direction? Well I couldn’t find it. I just couldn’t get the lens, the pine cone, and what I wanted to capture groove.

Pine Cone as it was shot- no editing.

Pine Cone as it was shot- no editing.

As I sat editing I thought, “I was so close… but darn those extra branches”… I saw them when I shot and figured they would not cut my mustard. It was then that I figured I’d work them in post and try to rescue them. This wouldn’t be retouching per sey , but more compositional rescue. I busted out my trusty Wacom table and set to it. After the image was cleaned up I ran it through Silver FX and finished it to my personal standards.

Pine Cone

Did I succeed? Did I just polish a turd? I always joke that I have taken so many bad photographs that when I do shoot now, it’s with a great intensity to only shoot what is decent if not compositionally perfect. But now, when the world is simply not cooperating it might be safe to shoot the best you can, and then do some very heavy post to get it right. Ethically I’m not 100 percent behind this, but I do feel good that at least the option is open. What do you think?

Here are a few more from the first edit. I shot in jpeg and used the creative modes that are built into the RX10 such as “Autumn Leaves” and “B&W”. Each image is taken into Photoshop and massaged.

Home and Shelter. I have had this tent since 1993.

Home and Shelter. I have had this tent since 1993.

Hiker JA- one of the Trail Pounders founders. Note, a circular polarizer was used to clear up the water behind Joe.

Hiker JA- one of the Trail Pounders founders. Note, a circular polarizer was used to clear up the water behind Joe.

SHAZAM! Joey V, he was a  Trail Pounder for years and didn't even know it.

SHAZAM! Joey V, he was a Trail Pounder for years and didn’t even know it.

Fall Leaves straight up.

Fall Leaves straight up.

The lone tree sits in the fog.

The lone tree sits in the fog.

I’ll post a link to the RX10 Presentation when it goes live. If you don’t live near NYC, we will be recording the presentation and I’ll post that too.

Till then, this Trail Pounder is signing off!

The three last Trail Pounders.

The three last Trail Pounders.

Fujifilm XT-1 : Sh*t Just Got Real

shit just got real folks.

Attention Suspect Photography Fans- Finding Photographic Style and Composition in NYC 4 Day Intensive Workshop April 17th to April 20th 2014. Early Registration Discount By March 1st.

suspectworkshopbanner

The mouse that roared in the photo world of gear is certainly Fujifilm’s X system. Not sitting on the laurels of their acclaimed XE and XPro cameras the short giants have released a sneak peak of their new flagship camera, the XT-1.

UPDATE January 31st.

The smoke has cleared, the Fujifilm XT-1 was officially announced and you can now pre-order this gem of a camera at B&H.

A few clarifications, we did not get a double card slot. What we did get is an amazing and groundbreaking viewfinder. The viewfinder is larger than the Canon EOS 5D MKIII’s and has unique features never before seen such as a vertical view with info off to the side, not blocking the frame. A focus assist “box” in the viewfinder while still giving you the full view beside it. 3 new weatherproof lenses down the road.

I’m debating on pre-ordering one. I think it’s vastly worth it, but I’m just afraid that when I go to shoot, will I grab my XPRO1 or the XT-1, you can only shoot with one camera at a time.

Ohh heck, who am I kidding, of course I’m going to grab one. 

Several websites have released info and speculated such as Petapixel, Fuji Rumors, and the great Fujix Forum regarding the new camera. The date that an official announcement from Fujifilm will be is January 28th it seems. Lets look at this dream camera a little further based on what we know now.

First off, head over to Fuji Rumors and look at the post. Andrej was first to break the story. I have included some leaked pics that I can only imagine how they were obtained. Looked like a dude had a about 3o seconds with the camera and shot some iphone images. But what a tease!

Hump and Dial:

I think what is most interesting is that they went for the HUMP, the look of having a pentaprism mirror on the camera which is a departure form their other Mirrorless offerings which mimic a traditional rangefinder. We also see an additional dial for ISO, bringing the total analog dial count to three. I can’t think of any other camera that has that many dials on the top deck! Not too sure why the emphasis is for a dedicated ISO dial, I always recommend to just set your auto ISO parameters and that’s just one thing to not worry about. Regardless, the dials look super cool.

post-13300-0-17510000-1390312186

Weather Sealed:

YES! A great feature that I wish my Xpro-1 had. I was taking a class one year up at Maine Media Workshop and a classmate and I went to shoot in the Camden cemetery with some light painting techniques. It was raining and I had a Canon EOS 1 DS III that was weather sealed, I loved it, I put the camera on the tripod and just kept water drops off the front elements and shot away in the rain. My fellow student couldn’t really shoot since her 60D was susceptible to the rain.

Fast- Like kittens with jet packs:

Coming in at 8fps continuous shooting with AF tracking this jammer is going to keep up with the big boys. One thing with Fujifilm is certain, their AF gets better with each generation.

I can see the light:

With a hi-performance EVF that is. OK, Sony has been doing a great job on great EVF’s so I expect that. Better be at this point anyway.

Twice is Nice:

Double SD slot is a new feature for Fujfilm. I would have liked to see CF and SD but why not? Slap an extra card in, say two 128GB SD cards and shoot till the XT-2 comes out. Since I love to shoot RAW+Jpeg I hope I can assign files to card 1 and card 2. That would be something I’d dig.

post-13300-0-99944000-1390312188

That’s all the compelling rumors that are out now that I care to mention. The price at $1800 with a lens is inline for a camera of this heft and specs. But what about Nikon and Canon?

What surprises me most about this upcoming announcement is how the big two have completely missed the boat on Mirrorless. Last week I was on a Linblad Expeditions trip with Nat Geo shooters to Baja and was helping a guest with a Nikon V1 camera. Oy Vey what dog! And the Canon guy who came up with their Mirrorless should be thrown off a cliff.  Fujifilm was silent for the late 2000’s and Early part of this decade, but man have they hit the ground running.

It looks like we wont see an Xpro-1 replacement soon, and I bet we can expect them to offer two lines, a SLR style and Rangefinder type bodies. Regardless I’m excited and can’t wait to get my hands on this camera. Will I buy it? Well I have to say I do love my Xpro1 to death, and I don’t know if I could cheat on the Xpro with a XT.

post-13300-0-40177700-1390312181

Lets keep our eyes and ears open and see where this goes. Long live Fujifilm!

Update 1/22 More pictures of camera leaded on Fuji Rumors- and man does it look good! Click Here for Goodness!

Sony RX10 Review – The Perfect Travel Camera

photo

The great digital camera buyer Ben at B&H gave me a call about a month ago and said come down to my office, Sony has something to show us. I was busy and told him I didn’t have time and he replied, “you should come down, they have a game changer here… a 24-200 mm 2.8 constant aperture camera that is compact”. I ran down. Now how can you get that fast aperture of a zoom lens to go from super wide to tele in a compact ZLR (Zoom lens reflex)? What I beheld was the Sony RX10 which actually can do all that. I got to mess around with the prototype and was impressed. Last week I actually got a production model to play with. The following are my observations and some quick work produced while testing it. Like my other reviews I’m not going to get super technical, but I will show you a load of images so you can judge for yourself.

WashingtonUnionSqNYC

Union Square shot at 180mm f2.8. The camera make cropping distant subjects so easy.

So first off lets get back to that lens, because that’s really the reason to consider this camera. The RX10 sports a Carl Zeiss 24-200 mm f2.8 lens. That focal length is the 35mm equivalent. It is not a 2.8-5.6 variable aperture; it is a fast f2.8 throughout the range. Sweet. Very Sweet. The lens is damn sharp, and in my testing I couldn’t help but put the zoom out and bring in distant subjects. For those of you who know me, I’m a wide guy, and prefer getting more in my picture from using a wider perspective. My testing would have to get me out of my comfort zone, so I decided to shoot something that’s out of range of my wide lenses, NYC water towers. They make great subjects!

This short study was all shot with the creative B&W mode. The RX10 allows you to fine tune the creative mode and I chose a +1 contrast and +1 sharpening for good measure.

watertower1

WaterTower2

WaterTower3

WaterTower4

WaterTower6

Lets discus this lens. You zoom by twisting the lens (or a use the toggle on the top of the camera) and it activates an electronic servo zoom. The zoom was fairly slow, and that leads to a precise adjustment of focal lengths, but again, it is a slow process. From 24mm to 200 mm it took me 4 seconds to zoom across that range. The aperture control is very nice, instead of changing aperture from a dial on the back or front of the grip like most cameras, the aperture ring is located like a traditional slr optic, on the back of the lens near the body. Those who appreciate a manual feel will dig this aperture ring, it has a very solid tactile feel with positive 1/3 stop clicks. I want to reiterate, it feels very substantial and of quality. You can also hit a slider button and the aperture ring then looses its clicks for adjusting aperture silently in movie mode. I suggest a 62mm UV filter as an add on. You want to protect that Zeiss goodness right? Go for B&W’s standard 62 mm UV.

gabenbarry

Gabe and Barry Biderman. Two generations of great photographers. Love these guys.

The camera measures 5.1 x 3.5 x 4” and while certainly not a pocket camera it is not overly large. It is about the size of an entry level DSLR like the Canon Rebel t4i or Nikon D5200 with a fat kit lens. There is ample rubber around the body and it feels good in the hand. The viewfinder is superb and has a diopter. I don’t wear glasses, but for me, it was very easy to view through the finder and the EVF is a High-resolution XGA OLED Tru-Finder whatever that hell that is, it works very well. You can with custom functions make sure you see exactly what you to see meaning things like iso, exp comp, levels, metering mode, and more is visible or invisible. The viewfinder has a nice rubber coat, and there is a built in diopter as well, so I assume that if you did wear glasses, it’s not bad at all. The LCD is a 3.0″ / 7.5cm 1,228k-dot tilting Xtra Fine TFT design and works very well. I have to say, it was very nice to use the tilt at ground level to get a cool perspective. Auto focus rocked, super fast and very modern. For those that want manual focus you have a very nice large focus grip on the lens which you can then rely on Sony’s excellent focus peaking feature. Whether you go AF or MF you will be content, both modes work wonderful.

zoomrange

Running through the zoom to get an idea just what 24mm to 200mm can give you. And the answer is, “a lot”.

RX10 sports a 20 megapixel 1” sensor that is up to the task. The camera rocks in low light and also has a new generation processor that builds raw and nice jpegs. I’d say pretty much you have a top of the line sensor in this camera, Sony has been making leaps and strides in their sensors for the past few years. The sensor leaves nothing to be wanting.

The following images are fine in their own right, but when you need to crop in post, how does the jpeg file hold up? Judge for yourself.

nocrop

Sunset Creative Mode- notice the helicopter in the distance?

helicrop

800 % crop into the image to pick out the ‘copter. Notice the detail in the blades? wow.

elviriawavingnocrop

Can you find the mother in law waving?

Elvirawaving

There she is! That’s Elvira and she is at about 600% magnification. Great detail is still in the shot. That 1″ sensor really shines.

The camera has a clean design, it’s not cluttered. The top left of the camera has command dial with the usual modes, but also adds two custom settings, so if you like to profile the camera with specific style, it’s a breeze to recall the settings. The top deck LCD panel is lighted so you can see what your doing in the dark or dimly lit room (a feature from mid-line & high end DLSR cams)  There is also a exposure compensation dial that has a firm feel and is not easy to misadjust when the camera bumps against you (I really like that, my go to camera the XPro1 is so dang easy to accidentally move that dial).

JayDickmanUnionSqNYC

This was taken at Photo Walk with National Geographic photographer Jay Dickman in Union Square NY. Image is shot at 24mm.

The buttons and dials on the back of the camera make sense, there is one Fn button you can assign to a multiple of tasks or get into a high level menu adjustment mode. The deep menu system is easy to navigate, you can access almost anything you would want to change and I found it easy to get in a make an adjustment on the fly quickly.

gabetimndavid

Gabe grabbed the camera and turned to a mirror to make this image of our party table with photographer Tim Cooper. I’m on the phone in the background struggling with AT&T’s crappy service.

So I didn’t play with the movie mode, I’m not into that but my research confirms the camera has an excellent video system that borrows a flicker free scan system that is only found on the FS700. It has a headphone mini jack and audio in with manual level control miniphone jack too, and for those who want XLR connections you can add the pricey Sony XLR-K1M Adapter and Microphone Kit to get perfect audio. Pretty impressive if you’re into that sort of thing.

librarynyc

The range of the zoom lets you really work your perspective.  Shot of the James A Farley Post Office steps in NYC.

And since the camera is a modern high end jammer, you get some other cool bells and whistles, like built in WiFi that can download to your mobile phone and tablets. The RX10 is also weather proof, so feel free to take it out in the rain.

rainyday

The only negative I can see on the camera is that it is a slow start up and shut down. The camera has to move around that big lens it takes its time. I counted a solid 2 second delay on the start up and shut down. That could be annoying. My other concern is that its not a small camera, that is the trend and cameras these days are high performance in small packages. This camera is super performance in a relatively large package.

tulips

So the camera sells at $1299. Yikes! But you do get a serious lens and really you don’t need to buy anything else to make some great images. The question I asked myself is who is this camera for? Well it’s not for the soccer mom and those that are looking for a bargain. This camera is for someone who appreciates high quality and has some disposable income. I am known as a camera whisperer and today I had lunch with the actor Alan Arkin. Alan is on the quest for the perfect camera, not to large, not too small and super high quality. I had been suggesting to him the Fujifilm X system for over a year and just when I thought I had him set, I busted out my RX10 and he fell in love right away. When I mentioned who I thought this camera was for, he proclaimed, “me!”. Needless to say, Alan bought an RX10 on the spot. I look forward to hearing how he feels after shooting with it. I hope he enjoys it, but he really couldn’t keep his hands of it at lunch.

Alan Arkin at MercadoNYC

Alan enjoying some lunch at Mercado in Hell’s Kitchen NYC. Between being a wonderful actor and teaching acting, he enjoys a good camera.

I would say it shines for travel photography; this is the ONE camera you need to pack when on the road. You will travel light, and be assured you will take great images in any light of near or distant subjects. At 10 frames per second and that great AF you wont miss anything. I give it 9 of 10 ten stars. Speed up the start up and shut down time and I’d give it a perfect 10. Now if you ready to buy the Sony RX10 be a mench and buy it at B&H.

girlinalaska

This was taken at B&H’s Event Space during a Sony A7 demo. The lights are Ikan LED and the theme was Alaska. I like that soft bokeh of the background.

Specifications

Imaging
Pixels Actual: 20.9 Megapixel
Effective: 20.2 Megapixel
Sensor 1.0″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) CMOS
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MP4, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MPEG-4 AVCHD
Audio: AAC LC, AC3
Max Resolution 20MP: 5472 x 3648 @ 3:2
Other Resolutions 10MP: 3888 x 2592 @ 3:2
5MP: 2736 x 1824 @ 3:2
18MP: 4864 x 3648 @ 4:3
10MP: 3648 x 2736 @ 4:3
5MP: 2592 x 1944 @ 4:3
0.31MP: 640 x 480 @ 4:3
17MP: 5472 x 3080 @ 16:9
7.5MP: 3648 x 2056 @ 16:9
4.2MP: 2720 x 1528 @ 16:9
13MP: 3648 x 3648 @ 1:1
6.5MP: 2544 x 2544 @ 1:1
3.7MP: 1920 x 1920 @ 1:1
12416 x 1856
5536 x 2160
8192 x 1856
3872 x 2160
Aspect Ratio 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9
Image Stabilization Optical
Color Spaces sRGB, Adobe RGB
Optics
Lens Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar, 14 elements in 11 groups
7 Aspheric
(35 mm equivalent: 24-200 mm)
Aperture: f/2.8
Filter Thread 62 mm
Zoom Optical: 8.3x
Clear Image Zoom: 16.6x
Digital: 66x
Digital: 93x
Digital: 133x
Digital: 249x
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 125-12800 (Extended Mode: 80-12800)
Shutter 4 – 1/3200 sec in Auto Mode
1 – 1/3200 sec in Program Mode
30 – 1/3200 sec in Manual Mode
8 – 1/3200 sec in Aperture Priority Mode
30 – 1/3200 sec in Shutter Priority Mode
Exposure Metering Center-weighted, Multi, Spot
Exposure Modes Modes: Aperture Priority, Bulb, Intelligent Auto, Manual, Movie, Program Shift, Programmed Auto, Scene Selection, Shutter Priority, Superior Auto, Sweep Panorama
Compensation: -3 EV to +3 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
Shooting Modes Anti-motion Blur
Black and White Copy
HDR Painting
Handheld Twilight
High Contrast B&W
Illustration
Landscape
Macro
Miniature Effect
Night Portrait
Night Scene
Partial Color
Pop Color
Portrait
Posterization
Retro
Rich-Tone Monochrome
Sepia
Soft Focus
Soft High-Key
Sports
Sunset
Toy Camera Effect
Vivid Color
Watercolor
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature Filter, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (Cool White), Fluorescent (Day White), Fluorescent (Daylight), Fluorescent (Warm White), Incandescent, Shade
Burst Rate Up to 10 fps at 20.2 MP
Self Timer 10 Sec, 2 Sec
Remote Control RM-VPR1 (Optional)
Flash
Flash Modes Modes: Auto
Fill-in
Off
Rear Sync
Slow Sync
Compensation: -2 EV to +2 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
Built-in Flash Yes
Effective Flash Range 3.28 – 33.46′ (1 – 10.2 m)
Up To 66.93′ (20.4 m)
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe
Memory
Memory Card Type Memory Stick Duo
Memory Stick Pro Duo
Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo
Memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed)
Memory Stick XC-HG Duo
Memory Stick Micro
Memory Stick Micro (M2)
SD
SDHC
SDXC
microSD
microSDHC
microSDXC
Recording
Video Recording Yes, NTSC
Resolution 1920 x 1080: 60 fps, 24 fps
1440 x 1080: 30 fps
640 x 480: 30 fps
Video
Video Clip Length Up to 29 Minutes
Audio Recording Built-in Mic: With Video, Stereo
Optional External Mic: With Video, Stereo
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Electronic
Screen 3.0″ LCD Rear Screen Tilt (1,229,000 pixels)
Screen Coverage 100%
Connectivity/System Requirements
Connectivity DC Input
HDMI D (Micro), USB 2.0
USB 2.0
Wi-Fi Yes
Software Requirements Windows: XP (SP3), Vista (SP2), 7, 8
Mac: OS X 10.6 or later
Power
Battery 1x NP-FW50 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.7VDC, 1080mAh
AC Power Adapter AC-UB10 (Included)
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 5.1 x 3.5 x 4.0″ / 129.0 x 88.1 x 102.2 mm excluding protrusions
Weight 1.79 lb / 813 g with battery and memory card

 

30 Minutes With The New Fujifilm 23mm f1.4

Best of the West Deli Man

Best of the West Deli Man

Since this lens was announced I have begged and cajoled my Fujifilm contact for a test ride to no avail.  Man, I have known better crack dealers that take better care of their clients! Evidently there was a glass gag order to keep the lens under wraps until they could provide the blogosphere at large with samples. Bah I say! I have had to be content with my 12mm 2.8, 18 f2.0, and the awesome 35mm 1.4.

 

A insiders view of Espositos on 9th ave.

A insiders view of Espositos on 9th ave.

Now if you do the focal conversion this makes my collection of lenses the trifecta of an 18mm, 28mm and 50mm. What’s missing? Well my favorite focal length is 35mm. I little bit wider than the eye perceives, yet extremely natural. While I got used to the 18mm it was always just a tad too wide for tastes. I yearned for the 23 mm focal length.

Taken through a glass window but man, look at those out of focus blurring in the background!

Taken through a glass window but man, look at those out of focus blurring details in the background!

So today I had the opportunity to grab the 23 1.4 which translates to 35mm for a fast half hour. Yup, you heard that right, it was mine! For a half hour at least.  I threw my coat on and walked up 9th Ave around the corner from B&H. You can’t keep a good man from his 23mm, no matter the time constraints. Here are my findings. Oh and one more note, I pretty much shot everything wide open at f 1.4 because that’s how I roll. I love bokeh, and this lens as you can see delivers spectacular bokeh.

1/40 second at 1.4 ISO 320. Now thats low light love.

1/40 second at 1.4 ISO 320. Now thats low light love.

It’s a bit of large lens, but then again, it’s a 1.4 so who can complain. It has a depth of field scale. Lots of you young’ probably don’t know what that is in the age of digital zoomy slacker glass. It’s a scale that tells you what will be in focus based upon the f-stop. A analog scale. Sweet.

Snap! Sharp and zippy this lens simply rocks!

Snap! Sharp and zippy this lens simply rocks!

Very nice to shoot manual focus, you pull the lens back to you and then you access to that DOF scale and it has a good feel, a little loosey goosey, but still better than other AF lenses. I confess, I shot in AF during my short test. I don’t have any problems with the XPro1’s focus.

The legendary Hershel of B&H. Ever wonder who edits the comments on our You Tube videos, well wonder no more. A gentleman among gentleman. Notice the lights in the background, yum.

The legendary Hershel of B&H. Ever wonder who edits the comments on our You Tube videos, well wonder no more. A gentleman among gentleman. Notice the lights in the background, yum.

I’m like Goldilocks, 18 mm to wide, 50 mm to tight, but 35 mm… just right.

Very narrow depth of field, notice his arm out of focus? This lens might just need to be shot at f4.0 or 5.6 if you need a little front and back details to be in the shot.

Very narrow depth of field, notice his arm out of focus? This lens might just need to be shot at f4.0 or 5.6 if you need a little front and back details to be in the shot.

I’m sorry if I didn’t have the time to really put the lens through a more thorough test in different light with more varrying apertures. Truth is, I was just happy to get the short time I had with it. Am I getting one? Yea. Not tomorrow though. I will have to get used to the size, I like to keep it on the smaller tighter side, but dang, I do love me the 35mm effective focal length. I think that this lens will be the lens that sits on the camera 96% of the time once I own it.

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did shooting it.

~David

 

Fujifilm X Pro 1 Predictions – No more pro Mirrorless Cameras?

Lady Liberty

It’s Fujifilm X series prediction time. I have my photo tarot cards out and here is what they say. One word first, yes I have industry connections and I respect any NDA and or personal confidential info that comes my way. However this info is just my personal prediction and is not based on any confidential intell I’m privy to. I came down to these conclusions with Moose Peterson and Gabe Biderman in conversations this week.

With Photo Plus East just around the corner, we’re going to see lots of announcements in the upcoming days of October. I’m only interested in what Fujifilm has up thier sleeves, since I believe they are the currently the most interesting and principal driver of new and cool photo gear. Yup, I just said that. Sorry Big C (the good kind) and the camera company who used to “take the worlds greatest pictures”. It’s all about the Fujifilm X system. Here we go…

We won’t see a XPro 2. I don’t think ever. But we will see a XE2. I think that the hybrid finder on the Xpro1 is going to be the last Mirrorless camera made that has it. It’s what set the Xpro1 apart from pretty much the whole rest of the Mirrorless world but it’s going to be a feature of photo goodness past.  Here is a question to all the current users, do you still use the OVF as much as the days when you first had the Xpro? Or do you find yourself using the EVF more? Lets face it, the EVF is not accurate, I’d say it has about a 10% minus factor on what you see as to what you get. Also, two words, Focus Peaking. Yea, I’m using the OVF less these days. And it hurt to just say that. Seems like analog is just slipping further and further away from me. Next I’ll just be like Neo in the Matrix.

The future is fuzzy… and this is just what I feel in my bones and read in the cards so take it with a grain of salt and look forward to more weather proofing and enhanced EVF functions (manual exposure wysiwig and clearer view).

The Above photography is Lady Liberty shot on the Moose Cruise II with Fujifilm Xpro1 w/ 35 1.4 @ 1/64 F 2.0 ISO 200 and processed in Camera Raw (pretty heavily I may add).

~David

The Exhibition at the old Hospital and the Zeiss Touit 12mm for X-Pro1

View of Val di Chiana from the Old Hospital

View of Val di Chiana from the Old Hospital

I’ll be honest, I’m not that much of a super wide guy. My preferred focal length is just a little wider than normal view. The 28mm to 35mm is pretty perfect for me. Back in May, I got two lenses from Zeiss to try out, the 35 1.8 and 12mm 2.8 Touit lenses. I walked with the 35 1.8 around NYC for a few weeks testing the lens before I passed it on to Gabe from Ruinism and wrote about it on my “Part 1” of the Zeiss Touit tests which can be found here in this earlier blog. I then began to shoot with the 12mm and actually had trouble making images I was excited about. It wasn’t that the gorgeous lens was anything less than a great optic, it was I who had issue with the lens. For those who follow my blog, its not just words, the images have to back up what I’m saying. The environments that I was testing the lens in were just not coexisting and the lens wasn’t working for me. Well, all that changed yesterday when I took the 12mm and mounted it on my trusty Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the aim of checking out some exhibitions at the Cortona On the Move Photo Festival in Italy. All of the images are shot using the 12mm 2.8 at ISO Auto 1600, color shots are Velvia Film Sim Mode unless I chose the B&W Y mode (I used film sim bracketing so I was able to capture it all).

Study in the geometry of Composition in Tuscany

Study of the geometry of Composition in Tuscany

This photo festival is really unlike any other that ever existed before. Taking place is Cortona Italy, a hilltop medieval city made famous lately by the Frances Mayes book, “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Mayes tells the tale of being an expat American and finding herself while rebuilding a Tuscan villa) the festival consists of a series of exhibitions that are found in odd locations throughout the city. By using spaces that are currently unused or abandonded, the festival curates photography with a theme of movement, travel and exploration. It’s a super cool way to explore the old city and see some photography and also, gain entry to spaces that would otherwise not be available.

The festival for the second time was able to procure the old hospital and transform it to a gallery featuring edgy and stimulating photographers as well as a retrospective look at the now defunct Newsweek magazine. For me, hospitals are associated with death, and I found it fitting that Newsweek (which ended publication in December of 2012) a perfect fit to showcase multiple news themes that it was known for, along with some of the brightest documentary shooters. Indeed, the exhibition is aptly titled, “An Autopsy”. RIP Newsweek.

Crowd sourced installation where readers of La Republica were asked to submit photos taken prior to 1999

Crowd sourced installation where readers of La Republica were asked to submit photos taken prior to 1999

I have a new hero, Zed Nelson, who over 5 years shot in 18 countries across 5 continents the diaspora of western concepts of beauty being exported as a new manifestation of aesthetic globalization. His work is akin to Lauren Greenfield and Erwin Olaf but has a technical savvy and execution I was moved by. The room that Zed is displayed in has wide-open windows that over look the city and the valley below. Visitors are torn between looking at glass jar containing fat taken during a liposuction procedure and a view to die for. The dichotomy is exquisite.

Sol Neelman is a North West photographer who couldn’t cut it as a jock, and became a photographer. His are larger than life shots of extreme and weird sports. The subject matter is instantly interesting and his timing for the camera frame impeccable. I look forward to purchasing his book of the complete project, the exhibition left me wanting more.

Salvatore Santoro documentary of his childhood home and despotic local of Campania was what I felt the weakest of the exhibitions, yet still the spirit of the festival pervades the curation of work. While Salvatore’s work is solid, the subject matter is sad and the locations simply run down from the effects of mafia and pollution. I preferred to look at weird sports and go back in history with the covers of Newsweek.

The 12mm super wide lets you explore space unlike a normal view.

The 12mm super wide lets you explore space unlike a normal view.

The crazy Italian photographer I met at Photo Show Milan, Antonio Manta led a workshop at the opening of the festival. This wild spirit and master printer always works with a quirky twist on his portraiture and his workshop embodided that spirt. He set up a red carpet with an inspired throne in front of the signature building in Cortona, the Palazo del Comune and had his class photograph tourists and while choosing the theatre location for the Cortonesi (locals) to be photographed. A selection from his class is on exhibit and shows the organic nature of the festival, work from students attending on display.

Charlatan

I loved how with the use of Newsweek large proofs the festival was able to make a political commentary on thier home country and the world at large. Seeing a Tim Hetherington print as well reminded me what a genius we lost in Libya and I lament that we can’t have Tim’s eye look at current events any longer.

fallensign

Walking the corridors of old hospital and looking at great examples of photography is inspiring, but doing so with the super wide 12mm Zeiss Touit was the icing on the cake. I wanted to take it all in, not just a slice. What better way to examine it all than with a larger than life lens? After all the trying with the lens, I found its home in my bag, as I travel. All the shots in the blog entry are shot with the 12mm, I’ll let the images do the talking.

View3

The super wide is great at taking it all in, and perhaps if Cortona On The Move festival is about travel going places, then its official lens should be the Touit 12mm.

B&W  w/ Yellow Filter Film Sim mode

B&W w/ Yellow Filter Film Sim mode

David Brommer on August 22nd and 23rd will be conducting a Composition seminar in Cortona that is part classroom, part portfolio review, and part photo walk. A trip to the old hospital will be in order!

Steps leading to multiple levels of the exhibition

Steps leading to multiple levels of the exhibition

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