Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Tag: fujifilm xpro1

XPro2 First Thoughts and Review

Processed with Snapseed.

Fujifilm XPro2, 35 mm 1.4 lens, Cub Leather Strap, John Varvatos T-Shirt.

I just took delivery of the Fujifilm XPro2 and it will surely be replacing my beloved XPro1 as my primary camera. I’m quite thrilled, and since I’m old school, I like to hang onto photo gear and not get caught up in the great gear race of the latest. I mean, great photographers have been taking great photographs for over a 170 years now, how bourgeois to think that only the latest camera will make you shoot better!

Processed with Snapseed.

NYC High Line Rain. 18mm f 2.0 processed in Snapseed on iPhone.

On a rainy and cold Christmas Eve morning in NYC I took a stroll on the High Line with one of my favorite lenses, the 18mm f2.0. Before I left the warmth of my apartment, I did what I always recommend, take the manual along with cup of hot joe in one hand, and the camera in the other hand. Run page per page through the manual. There was a host of new features and a slight update on the menu system. I downloaded the Fujifilm Remote App and installed on my phone and tablet. The weather was totally miserable, and the normally very busy Highline empty. In a word, Perfect.

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Close up wide open on the Highline.

First thoughts are hallelujah I finally have a camera with a dependable wifi so I can use my iPhone and post the hyper quality image I get from a “real” camera as opposed to the super ease of iPhoneagraphy (which I love but makes me feel cheap and dirty). I was never able to have any success with Sony’s Memory App but Fujifilm delivers a pretty intuitive and easy app for controlling the camera and managing files transmitted to mobile devices. Note that when you transfer a file via wife to a mobile device, it sends a 3 mp file. On your cards are the big files. This blog post is comprised of only images downloaded to my phone, then airdropped to my MacBook for creating the blog post.

Processed with Snapseed.

Evidently New Yorkers are not ready to have Donald Trump as their next president. Wide open 18mm f2.0 and processed in Snapseed.

Down and Dirty on The Xpro2 from an Xpro1 User

 if you are here just for the pix, you might want to scroll past this part. 

I don’t want to cover what other camera bloggers have written, this camera has been out for a few months and admittedly, I’m late to the game. I’ll add that yes, the focus joystick is the absolute bomb. We all love to play with shallow depth of field, and this is an effortless way ensure that the focus point is exactly where you want it.

I noticed other things such as the now built in diopter and not the annoying Nikon style rubber eye cup. It’s hard to believe the XPro1 didn’t have a built in diopter now that I think about it. That’s a throwback to old school that I could live with out and a welcome feature on Xpro2.

I’m not sure how this is going to help, but when in OVF if you push the OVF/EVF arm towards the lens, a little magnified EVF window pops up in the lower right hand side of the viewfinder. I hit it by accident and had a devil of time figuring out how to remove the little pop up window (the lever now goes in both direcitons). I look forward to figuring out how to leverage that feature.

If you want your Xpro2 to be all it was born to be (LOTR reference) make sure you go into power setting and switch on “Performance Mode”. Thanks Big B Brandon for that tip. The factory default is a middle setting. Performance mode helps focusing by engaging phase detection. I have learned to live with the fact that the XPro platform is a battery hog and just roll with extra batteries. Seems that the XPro2 is the pig that  the XPro1 was. Well what ever we are used to that, if you have a problem keeping batteries charged and on deck, then I suggest you go look at Leica M camera.

The Exposure Compensation Dial has more tension than the XPro1 did, so a casual brush up agains your gut doesn’t result in a +2 exposure mistake you notice later. My first thought was a locking button on the dial would be great, but the tension is just right and a lock is not necessary. Somebody at Fuji was listening.

More Buttons and dials! Yup, pretty much you gain joystick, dials and buttons to customize any which way. The dials push in, turn and simply add tons of customization. I’m fortunate have video game training so my fingers can dance across the camera and do exactly what I want. Well.. almost what I want. I’d love to be able to assign the Fn button to activate the wife transfer instead of going through the menu.

The Grip (which I feel is essential if your hands are larger than Trumps) now has a hole to be able to change the battery (yea we do that a lot) and not have to go through the rigamarole of removing the grip as with the XPro1. The grip also has a machined arca-style QR built into it. #lovethat. Memory card slots (yup, now two of them) are accessed in the side of the camera as opposed to next to the battery. Two slots may entice me to shoot raw when I shoot Jpeg. Pretty cool update and modernization.

In short, if you are a XPro1 user, run, don’t walk to B&H and buy this camera now. Click here for the goodness.

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The next four years are going to be great for art, oppression has that effect. Glad I had the 18mm, to get this shot I was pressed agains the opposite wall. Wide Saves Lives.

I’m excited the focus system is now really snappy and accurate. I appreciate that, since I like to shoot wide open and have limited depth of field. I need to nail that focus! And the XPro2 delivers.

I did an unboxing video. It’s funny because Elvira (my dear mother in law) helps out. Check it and please, subscribe to my youtube channel)

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Happy Holidays and let’s toast to no matter what camera you have, make some most excellent photographs!

~David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fujifilm XF 18-135 3.5 ~ 5.6 OIS WR Lens Under a Tuscan Sun Review

Zoomed all the way in, Castle Fiorintino. The sun was setting and it really worked. I had to pull over for this one.

Zoomed all the way in, Castle Fiorintino. The sun was setting and it really worked. I had to pull over for this one.

The Tuscan summer vacation always leads me to a mini photo project using specific gear. In the past years the cameras have been diverse such as the Instant Italy summer, using only Fujifilm Instax cameras. Other times I had the pleasure of weeks resorting only to Deardorrfs and Hassalblads, Nikon rangefinder and toy cameras and of course the summer of water color not using a camera at all. This year since a Tuscan darkroom is available after setting one up last year, I knew I’d grab a film camera and using periscope (the social media livecast software), it was decided that the Zeiss Icon 535 medium format would be employed. But I did want a digital, and after the past year of using the cream of Sony’s crop of cameras I was distraught on what to use.

The light in the kitchen is always perfect. Processed in Snapseed.

The light in the kitchen is always perfect. Processed in Snapseed.

On my shelf, gathering dust was my trusty Fujifilm XPro1. I was down to only two lenses, the 18 and the 35. Why was a layer of dust on it? Well for one, this past year as I said I had been using what I would call, Ultra Modern Digitals, in particular the Sony RX series and a few short weeks ago, the brandy new Sony A7rII. Scroll back on this blog to see the many posts about these cameras.

18mm range and nice and wide. Processed in Snapseed.

18mm range and nice and wide. Processed in Snapseed.

Handling the XPro1 was a joy as it always has been. With its viewfinder allowing the option of analog or digital, the classic rangefinder look, the fit and finish and of course, the solid click of the shutter I resolved that I would bring that. But I must say, I know those two lenses inside and out, just like I know Cortona and the local country side, and I needed a new lens to inspire the exploration with the Xpro1.

Cortona and heavily processed in Snapseed.

Cortona and heavily processed in Snapseed.

So I reached out to my Fujifilm connection and long time friend and photo confidant, Brandon. He replied to my text contritely saying, “or be so not Dave and do a crazy zoom 18-135”. Sometime over a year ago, Fujifilm unveiled a “super zoom” that was weather proof and a slight departure from the old school primes that preceded it. For one, it is an image stabilized lens, and secondly the aperture ring while being where you would expect it, near the lens mount, is electronic. It’s not a small lens, and on the camera takes the compact Mirrorless and makes it DSLR size. The aperture is a variable f3.5 at 18mm and at 135mm is a slow f5.6. I figured the best way to deal with the slower zoom was to keep the stabilizer on and reset my auto iso settings. Jumping into the menu I selected 200 to 6400 auto with a min shutter speed of a 1/5th of a second (taking into account the stablizer).

Amazing I was able to catch focus, that's what 3 years with this camera does to you. Wide open and zoomed in, processed in Snapseed.

Amazing I was able to catch focus, that’s what 3 years with this camera does to you. Wide open and zoomed in, processed in Snapseed.

Brandon explained the weather proofing as ingenious. The back of the lens has air conduits built into it for intake and exhaust. This keeps dust inside the lens or pushed out of the lens, and not on the sensor. A fear of long zooms is the vacuum they create as they are zoomed. Fujifilm engineers figured a work around this inherent problem and I had no issues what so ever with dust contamination on the sensor.

Around 80 mm and wide open.

Around 80 mm and wide open.

I enjoy using the lens. It’s a big beast for sure, but by strapping the camera on backwards to my shoulder, the lens tucks nicely into the nook between my but and flank. How about performance? The images will speak for themselves. I found the images tack sharp from edge to edge. Shooting wide open on the wider focal lengths makes for a lack luster bokeh, but certainly at the tele settings on close up subjects, the bokeh improves. It’s no 35 f1.4 for sure, but the flexibility of the zoom overrules that objection quite nicely. Don’t buy this lens for sweet out of focus blurry for and back grounds, buy it to pull in distant details- of which it will do very nicely.

Winter is Coming.

Winter is Coming.

Those steps are special to me, in 2003 that was Barbara and I walking down them freshly married.

Those steps are special to me, in 2003 that was Barbara and I walking down them freshly married.

Also Fujifilm is now offering a line of filters. They are made of metal (not brass) and feature glass Fujifilm Super EBC coated optics. They are not thick and burly B&W filters, but inexpensive and well matched to the system. I would match them to any lens purchase I will make in the future. The threads are perfectly suited for the other lenses in the line up.

Fujifilm Branded Filters for the perfect fit. Shot with iphone 6

Fujifilm Branded Filters for the perfect fit. Shot with iphone 6

A crazy zoom, OK I like it!

~David

Performance
Focal Length 18 – 135mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 27 – 206 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/3.5 – 5.6
Camera Mount Type Fujifilm X mount
Format Compatibility APS-C
Angle of View 76.5° – 12°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.48′ (45 cm)
Magnification 0.27x
Elements/Groups 16/12
Diaphragm Blades 7, Rounded
Features
Image Stabilization Yes
Autofocus Yes
Physical
Filter Thread Front:67 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.98 x 3.85″ (75.7 x 97.8 mm)
Weight 1.08 lb (490 g)

A Stroll Down Super Bowl Boulevard or How The Super Bowl Invaded NYC in 2014

Seattle Sea Hawk Fans rampage in NYC

Seattle Sea Hawk Fans rampage in NYC. Zeiss 12mm 2.8

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. 

I’m not a jock. More of an anti-jock actually. So when the Super Bowl in 2014 invades my town I’m not excited. However there is no denying that it will have an impact on my city, and it’s my job as New York artist to document this occasion, especially when 7 blocks of Broadway is closed and turned into a Super Bowl conflagration. The Super Bowl is part sport, part commercial and all American. Broadway was transformed into a huge commercial sponsor fest for few days leading up to the big game. I figured I’d go and stroll down “Super Bowl Blvd” and see if I could find some images.

Helmets in Herald Square. Fujifilm 35 mm f1.4

Helmets in Herald Square. Fujifilm 35 mm f1.4

In case you wanted to see exactly where the sponsorship was street signs were modified. Fujifilm 35mm f1.4

In case you wanted to see exactly where the sponsorship was street signs were modified. Fujifilm 35mm f1.4

The morning of my plans to do this I posted on my Facebook my intentions and got into some lengthy discourses and what struck me the most, a number of my Facebook friends said they did the stroll and had trouble finding images. A challenge! The glove was down, can one fringe artists walk among massive commercialism and come back with a decent image or two? You be the judge.

Kids could be overwhelmed, I wonder if he will remember these days when he is grown up. Fujifilm 35mm f1.4

Kids could be overwhelmed, I wonder if he will remember these days when he is grown up. Fujifilm 35mm f1.4

It's New York after all, you have to one true fan of real NY in the mix. Long Live The Ramones!

It’s New York after all, you have to one true fan of real NY in the mix. Long Live The Ramones!

I chose to bring the Fujifilm Xpro1 with my three favorite lenses, the 12mm Zeiss, the 18mm F 2.0 (which I didn’t end up using) and the 35mm f1.4. I set the camera to B&W mode and shot away.

It's sports.. you have to have ESPN.

It’s sports.. you have to have ESPN. Fujifilm 35 mm f1.4

The crowds were daunting. Movement was a crawl. So many fans, so many New Yorkers. But we are used to crowds are we not? Zeiss 12mm f2.8

The crowds were daunting. Movement was a crawl. So many fans, so many New Yorkers. But we are used to crowds are we not? Zeiss 12mm f2.8

Later I opened everything up in Photoshop and burned the edges and did some cropping where needed. Pretty minimal, I was using the +/- exp comp due to some back lighting. I believe you getting it right in the camera and conducting minimal post process.

I don't know much about Football, but I think this position is called "The Tight End". Shot inside the NYgard store. They had models gogo sports dancing their tights. Fujifilm 35m f1.4

I don’t know much about Football, but I think this position is called “The Tight End”. Shot inside the NYgard store. They had models gogo sports dancing their tights. Fujifilm 35m f1.4

In the back of my head were the comments from the nay sayers saying they couldn’t find and image. Well it was crowded. Really crowded and I thought how the hell couldn’t you find an image in this crowd?

The Hulk and Bane showed up. After I shot them, they demanded a buck for the pose. I didn't want to piss them off, so I figured it would be best to cough up a buck before Hulk smashed. Zeiss 12mm f2.8

The Hulk and Bane showed up. After I shot them, they demanded a buck for the pose. I didn’t want to piss them off, so I figured it would be best to cough up a buck before Hulk smashed. Zeiss 12mm f2.8

I was looking forward to the Toboggan and how to shoot it. I settled on a slow shutter speed and “hail mary shot” holding still. The image was shot at 1/5th of a second at F16. The 1/5th gave me just enough blur to make it count for more than a snap shot. A tripod would have helped, but this is street shooting, no tripods allowed.

Slow shutter speed to give the subjects movement. Fujifilm 35mm f1.4

Slow shutter speed to give the subjects movement. Fujifilm 35mm f1.4

Yup, this is on Broadway. So weird, such a production.

Yup, this is on Broadway. So weird, such a production.

The lesson here is to just keep shooting and look for that image. I’m sure in 10 or 20 years looking back to when they brought a Super Bowl to NYC these images will age well.  So when its something out of the ordinary, grab your gear and shoot.

the fans, the football... the hashtag. It's 2014 all right.

the fans, the football… the hashtag. It’s 2014 all right.

~David

Coney Island Polar Bear New Years Day Swim 2014 : A Guide To Photographing This Tradition

Rush_to_ocean

The mad dash to get in the water first. Xpro1 – Zeiss 12mm

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.

The first day of the New Year is celebrated by New Yorkers at Coney Island in the form of a brisk dip in the Atlantic Ocean. This has turned into an event which is organized by the Polar Bear club of Coney Island, an organization  founded in 1903. This year the event drew close to 4000 viewers and 2500 swimmers in an extremely festive environment filled with characters, personalities and lots of photographers. I was actually quite surprised at how many shooters turned out, the day was a who’s who of NY photographers that showed up; from the venerable Harvey Stein, the Daily News veteran  Todd Maisel, iPhone extraordinaire Ben Lowy, man about town Louis Mendez, Brooklyn’s Kevin Downs and a motley assortment of many local photographers. I got the idea to shoot the Polar Bears a few days prior (looking for something cool to do New Year’s Day) and I texted my friend and fellow photographer Brandon Remler to see if he was game for it, and found out he had already plans to go, so I hitched a ride with him (creative minds think alike aye?). The board walk was crawling with photographers when we arrived at 11:30 am.

The seminal NY Street Photographer Louis Mendez covering the event.

The seminal NY Street Photographer Louis Mendez covering the event.

Covering this event to make photographs is exciting, fun and actually fairly difficult. Here is my take: first off, set a parameter. I wanted to capture portraits that resonate with the oddity of the moment,  the anticipation of the action, and the shivering resulting from it. Coney Island is an old place (my Grand Mother and Grand Father met there in the late 1920’s) and has distinctive landmarks that beg to be integrated into the final image.

hulk_n_wonderwoman

Characters abound. This is a husband wife Polar Bear team. The wife parked the invisible jet behind the wonder wheel (where else?).

The first part of the day is the action on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The music was provided by a DJ  and the result was a party filled with electric energy of the new year. I slapped on the 35 mm f1.4 for this and opened up between f 4.0 and f1.4 depending on the “width” of the photo. The shot below needed a little more depth of field because I wanted to catch the stuffed polar bear and the lady, and shooting at 1.4 would have given me focus on just one of those elements. I stopped down to f4.0 to capture both.

polar_bear_lady

too_cool_4school

A very typical character you can find on the board walk of Coney Island. I love the tattered leather and the macbook.

Coney_mummer

Elements that give a sense of place like the roller coaster are important to keep in the frame. I didn’t expect the tongue, but fired away when she stuck it out.

I love to shoot wide open and blur the background, but essential to this shoot was Coney Islands uniqueness so I was trying to get the parachute jump or the roller coasters in the background. The 35 mm f1.4 destroys backgrounds into a soft bokeh-ness so if I wanted that background to be demonstrative, I would have to really think about how far I was from the subject and carefully position myself to include those elements in the frame.

jaws_attacks

We’re going to need a bigger camera.

The action is carnival like, and people dressed up and cavorted for the many cameras. It was easy to make a portrait, all you had to do was get their attention and ask for the photo. I found you could also direct them a fair bit and roll out with some nice work. I would wait till the subjects were not being harrangqued by any other photographers so I could get their attention. You can see in their eyes if they are working with you, or the photographer next to them. The lesson here is wait your turn and make the photo yours.

run_to_water

The first wave of Polar Bears head to the cold surf.

The dip in the ocean occurs at 1 pm, so around 12:30 we made our way down to the beach and joined a crush of photographers. The Polar Bear Club makes a channel about 75 feet wide for the swimmers to run down the beach and hit the water. It gets filled up fast, so stake out your spot early. My plan was to shoot wide (Zeiss 12mm), and get in as close to the swimmers as possible. I set the camera for manual focus at f22 and just used zone focus to capture the run. I also put the camera into hi-speed drive mode and shot at 6 frames per second. Editing later on  you can find just the right shot and a lot of ones that clutter up your hard drive.

first_splash

This is my favorite shot of the day. I love the composition, but I did have to crop heavily, there was a Nikon 70-200 2.8 with lens hood sticking into the frame from the left side.

OMG_cold

The police boat on the horizon is an interesting element to include.

Winter_Splash

I did get tired of the police boat in the background, but the back lit splashes never gets old. One problem was the sun was just above the frame and wreaked havoc with the exposure. I was at +2 Exposure Comp to make this one.

After the swimmers took their dip they returned to the shore and an army of photographers converged on them. They showed great attitude and fortitude and posed for us. But again, you have to be proactive, smile at them and ask for the shot. Subjects looking into your lens will connect far better than subjects looking over you shoulder.

have_a_cigar

He couldn’t keep his cigar dry, but that didn’t stop him from smoking it.

I_did_it

This girl was skinny, so the cold was electric but look at that smile. A true NY’er and we don’t need the Giants hat to prove it.

This couple had just gotten engaged and were celebrating by taking the dip. I think everyone had a story, but with LBGT rights being the #1 story of 2013 I had a special warm place in my heart for these lovers. The woman on the right is proudly displaying her engagement ring. Let love rule!

married

How do you celebrate an engagement? In 32 degrees water thats how!

So what does a Coney Island Polar Bear get aside from a jolt of excitement? They get an official certificate stating, “I Did It”! Aside from crazy NY locals, this event also attracts thrill seekers from across the country.

I_did_it.too

This Polar Bear is loud and proud of her accomplishment.

This family came all the way from Sunny San Diego for the celebration and dip.

This family came all the way from Sunny San Diego for the celebration and dip. The family that freezes together stays together. They could have done this in their home town, but it wouldn’t have been the same.:-)

This work was all shot with the Fujifilm Xpro1 and my trio of favorite lenses, the Zeiss 12mm f2.8, 18mm f2.0 and 35mm f1.4. I was aperture priority and on the beach was always at +1 1/3 exposure compensation. I shot with B&W Yellow filter to bring out a little more contrast in the sky. The entire shoot was processed on my iPad using Snapseed. For those of you who find the FujiFilm Xpro exciting, please visit this blog  that collects all artistic articles about the camera. I also brought along my Fujifilm Instax Neo-Classic Instax camera. I gave away about 15 pictures throughout the day. Like I have written before, this camera just emanates good photo karma and it makes subjects happy when you  hand them an instant photo as a take-away.

Pin_hole_man

I saw Xpans, Graphlex, Hassy, and even a pinhole camera to capture the day with.

I am definitely going again next year, and to make better images I want to try mounting the camera on a pole and shooting remote to get a higher angle. I’ve noticed the press guys had fishing waders on and were in the shallow water making shots. I think this is needed, as I found it very hard to make images without lenses and other non “polar bears” in the image.

and the last image... the lone photographer capturing the surf of a new year. Complete with black fedora.

…and the last image… the lone photographer capturing the surf of a new year. Complete with trench coat and black fedora.

Regards to the brave Polar Bears of Coney Island  and see you next year.

~David

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

 

9 Essential Accessories For the Fujifilm X System or Window Washing the Xpro

Window Washing

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.

The Fujifilm Xpro 1 is a superb camera and many photographers are singing its praise while making great images from this unique and high quality digital rangefinder. There are a few pieces of gear that can really enhance the Xpro1 and this post is dedicated them. After using the camera for a year and a half and having a load of friends also indulge in the Xpro1 I built this list with authority. Some of it can apply to the XE1 and XE2 and some can’t, I’ll let you know so all Fujifilm X system shooters can benefit from these suggestions. So here we go, the 9 essentials.

#1 The Domke 1” Gripper Strap with QR. The strap that Fujifilm supplies is worthless. While looking nice and being leather it is too thin and slips off your shoulder every 3 steps you take. The Gripper is thus named because it has two rows of rubber woven into the strap and the rubber keeps the strap from falling off your shoulder.  The Gripper Strap has quick releases so it’s easy to remove for tripod shooting. The finish of the strap is also attractive and stealthy; it looks good and doesn’t get in the way. It comes with leather protectors so it doesn’t scratch the side of the camera and also features a nice leather accent. Anything that is this functional and under $20 bux is a winner. Works with Xpro, XE1 & XE2.

#2 The  Hand Grip HG-Xpro1 This is sort of a no-brainer. It gives you a better grip and brings the tripod socket to the middle of the camera, not off to the side. Yes, it’s a bit annoying to take on and off when you want to access the battery or memory card, but its easy to remove and put back on. I keep it on about 80% of the time for standard walk about shooting and when I want to go low profile (shooting discreet at performances) I simply take it off. It has a nice thick rubberness to it, and when using large lenses such as the Zeiss 12mm, Fujifilm 14 or any of the zooms it simply shines. I like the feel of the camera without it, but really like the feel with it. It also has a rubber bottom so it can’t scratch surfaces when you put the camera down and keeps it from slipping off slick surfaces. Coming in at $79 it wont break the bank either. The link I provided will show you both grips.

#3 Blue LocTite for the Eyepiece. A very small drop of blue Loctight is great to keep the stock eyepiece from falling off. I have replaced mine once already and it’s costly! Don’t use the red Loctight, that’s permanent! The blue is made to resist unscrewing but is not permanent for servicing. Make sure you shake the tube well before application and once again, just a small drop or two. You can find this at your local hardware store. Only Xpro1 users need this, the viewfinder in the XE is cheesy.

#4 Gaffers Tape the hood cap that Fujifilm provides. I lost my hood cap in about.. 12 seconds. Take gaffers tape and line the inside of the hood with about 2 layers of the tape, it just makes the lens cap fit more snug. Besides, you should always have a roll of gaff tape handy for just about anything. Use it to gaff tape the Fujifilm logo when shooting in sketchy locations (an old photojournalist trick).

#5 LCD Screen Protector: Your XPro1 is a constant companion, its right place is around your shoulder going where ever you do. It’s bound to get beat up, and that’s ok, because it’s a tough camera. But man, that LCD cover is soft! Look at it the wrong way and it gets scratched. Get on this one right away and put a cover on it! I know, you’re discerning, so try this Aegis Professional Multi-Coat Glass cover, it’s made from Schott glass and is only $30 bucks! It is easy to install and its tougher than the stock glass on the Xpro1 LCD.

#6 Soft Release Button: Since the Xpro1 has a standard cable release, they can accept a broad range of soft release buttons. Essentially a more ergonomic button that screws into your shutter release they feel nice, and make the camera more sensitive to activate auto focus and

#7 Camera Bags: There are only two to consider. Going stealth and relatively inexpensive the Domke F5XB is your huckleberry. It was designed primarily as a rangefinder bag and can hold the camera with a lens mounted on it and two more lenses. It’s canvas and discreet, you can wear it over shoulder or on the hip with it’s integrated belt loop. I like the black, but you can get it in olive or tan. If you never had a Domke bag you’re in for a treat, they age very well and at $70 dollars, wont break the bank so you can buy more lenses as they are released.

Billingham

Now if you have some $$$ to spare and are looking for something very special, look no further than the Billingham Hadley Small Shoulder bag. It’s like the Louis Vuitton of camera bags, made with a luxury canvas and gorgeous leather trim this is a camera bag that you can take to museum openings, the opera, or to Pakistan. Easily handles a body with lens and two extra lenses like the Domke, but also has two deep large pockets at the front for important extra stuff such as batteries and a hood loupe. Hiding behind the camera insert is an area that you can fit a iPad tightly or a iPad Mini easily. I personally have owned one for over a decade and while the insert’s Velcro has worn out, I replaced it and gave it new life. I don’t want to sound vain, but the Billingham Hadley really is a classy camera bag and you can be proud to tote it around. Coming in at $240 dollars it’s not cheap, but my daddy says, “good things are not cheap and cheap things are not good”. Hey you only live one. Works with Xpro, XE1 & XE2.

#8 Cable release: It’s not a big deal until you go to need one. Shooting fireworks, long shutter speeds in front of waterfalls, or macro work the cable release is part and parcel to the whole reason to mount the camera on a tripod. Sure you could set the timer to 2 seconds, but nothing connects to you to your camera more than a cloth sheathed 12” of wire. The Nikon AR-3 is a high quality shutter release that has been around for ever, it’s locking so you can keep the shutter open for hours if need be. It’s a simple design, that wont break the bank and once again, it’s proven quality. Works with Xpro, XE1 & XE2.

#9 Extra Battery: Get one. You’re going to need it. The Xpro1 is only good for about 225 to 300 shots before it dies. When it goes, it goes fast. It may read two bars, but that really means you have about 20 shots left. I don’t complain, I just keep an extra battery in my bag. So get one, keep it charged and keep it in your bag. This battery works with Xpro, XE1 & XE2.

I hope this helps. Feel free to share you own suggestions.

~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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