Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Tag: mirrorless

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)
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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

 

Suspect Photography Workshops: West Village Photo Walk, Saturday May 18th 2013

Village Americana

Village Americana

When it comes to charming neighborhoods, New York City’s West Village is second to none. From turn of the century carriage houses to ornate brownstones and winding little streets the West Village has a romance all its own. This photo walk will culminate in the “secret garden” which will be in full bloom and offer exquisite photographic opportunities.

 

Hidden gardens found and photographed.

Hidden gardens found and photographed.

 

David will share his secrets to photographing great compositions and teach you to spot the elements that will help you capture this colorful and eclectic New York neighborhood. An emphasis on choosing repetitive elements to seek out and photograph will be encouraged to reinforce a project based thought process. This photo walk will set a great foundation for capturing, “Sense of place” and introduce you to the full potential of your camera.

Barrow Street

Barrow Street

This Photo Walk will begin at a local Village café where David (and a few cappuccinos later) will show you how to properly set your camera’s functions to maximize this type of “street shooting”. You will also be given a “shoot list” to help you navigate and keep your vision sharp. DSLR’s, Digital Point and Shoots with override settings, and Mirrorless cameras are all welcome. Take this opportunity to learn your camera better, as David will be able to show you how to get the most out of the complex menu settings of a modern digital camera.

The lessons you will learn will be invaluable next time you are on vacation and roam about with your camera.

This West Village Photo Walk is limited to 10 attendees and runs from 9 am to noon. You are welcome to arrive at 8:30 am with a small portfolio (print or tablet is fine) to get some feedback on your photography.

This photo walk is rain or shine, and costs $79. per person. Please use the pay pal button to process the payment. Suspect Photography Workshops will gladly refund your payment in full if you cancel 3 days or more before the photo walk. Canceling two days before the day of the photo walk  will earn you a workshop credit for future workshops.

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Studies in Light and Composition

Studies in Light and Composition

Entrance to the secret garden

Entrance to the secret garden

Village Chracters

Village Characters

Any questions please feel free to contact David Brommer. David has taught numerous photo walks and attendees always walk away with some great images, new photographic ideas and most of all, fun.

Remember, the limit is ten attendees and this walk is going to sell out so jump in now and reserve your spot.

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DSLR is Dead, Long live DSLR

Gene Simmons of Kiss, still spewing blood after 40 years.

The grumblings of this rumor started with my friend Brandon a few weeks ago. We’re both “photo industry” guys and we are privy to charts, numbers and insider information (of course this is photo industry insider info so we wont be chillin’ with Bernie Maddox) about cameras and the technology that drives them. In the past few days after the big Photokina show (photo industry trade show in Europe where half the new camera’s of the year are announced) a flurry of “Mirrorless” cams were announced. Also back in January 2012, photo blogger and all around good guy, Trey Ratcliffe posted “DSLRS are a dying Breed”. Seems a lot of attention is being mentioned online about the future of camera gear and it seems the poor old DSLR is getting it’s mirrored rump slapped.  However, I disagree whole-heartedly with these predictions.  The DSLR is a vital tool in photography, it has its place and shant be replaced with a Mirrorless camera they way the DSLR made the film based SLR obsolete. On the contrary, DSLR lenses and functionality will continue to increase and become much more popular as the coveted full size sensor becomes more affordable. For a long time I believe, at least a few more generations of photographers. Many of my students ask which is better? I don’t believe one is better than the other inherently, but which is better matched to the user. I do get rankled when I hear that DSLR is dead. I think far from it. Very far, like galaxy far.

First I’m going to characterize the users, the photographers who will be making images so we can establish what they need. The first letter will act as code applying to the following lists, the strong points and weak points of DSLR vs. Mirrorless and which photographer can benefit. This is a very fair way of evaluating the merits of each class of camera.

Types of Photographer

<PP> Pro Photographer: Someone who pays for their food and shelter with money generated by photographs they make. In most cases, they will specialize in genre such as journalism, fashion, portrait, event (weddings and such), sports, commercial (companies need photos of all the time), fine art, and the a common one, the “freelancer” who will shoot just about anything to make buck. Often they may have studied photography in school and fallen in love with the medium. Pro Photographers often blur the lines teaching, lecturing, testing and taking on new projects as they present themselves. But for all, this is their primary source of income.

<AH> Advanced Hobbyist: Someone who loves photography including the images, the gear, and the simple act of clicking a shutter and capturing a slice of time and place. They can be fanatical in their pursuit of photography. They purchase the latest gear, they take photo trips and join clubs and enter photo competitions. If their 2.0 minded, they might also have a heavy online presences with social media such as Flickr, Pinterist and such. I’m also going to put the fine art photographer in this category. The emphasis is on vision with a solid versatile camera for the needs of these shooters.

<CS> The Casual Shooter: They would never call themselves a photographer, they just seek to document important people and occasions in their life. They are the vacationers, family, and friends. They are not usually artistic nor the have the inclination to really care about the finer aspects of a good photograph. They often know a good photo when they see one, but their quest is to record a slice of time and place sharply, well exposed and with a minimal of effort and size.

What cameras will this generation be shooting with? BadAss I’d say!

Merits and Shortcomings of DSLR and Mirrorless

Long lenses: Long and fast telephoto optics is plentiful for the DSLR. Since these lenses tend be long and heavy, having a larger camera on the back of them really helps your maneuver the whole package to get what you want. PP, AH

Easy Ergonomics Due to Larger Size Camera: DSLR are indeed larger, and that can help by providing more space to put buttons and larger buttons at that. The Olympus Pen cameras in particular have very small and annoying buttons to navigate menu and camera features. Having a good grip on the camera can help make it more easy to use and less fumbling. This rings so true when working with heavy fast optics. PP, AH, CS

WYSIWYG or “What you see is what you get”: No matter how good a EVF (electronic view finder) is, your still looking at pixels. Movement, gain, grain is all presented in the viewfinder if your lucky and even have one on Mirrorless cameras. That archaic mirror reflex system found on DSLRs lets you see in analog, like the world was meant to be seen. I don’t want to compose looking at a TV screen, because that’s exactly what an EVF is, a miniature TV. I’d rather look at the real world when I’m making a photograph. I want to “feel” the place and find the image. I have never been a huge fan of video games and seeing the scene gives it more tangibility.  PP, AH

Pros shoot with Pro “looking” Cameras: Show up to shoot a wedding with the same camera that Uncle Bob has will make the Bride wonder why they are paying you the big bucks. It may be superficial to make this claim, but it’s true. There are different levels that a pro photographer can attain. Lets say the highest is shooting for Vogue, you will need to project an image to have access to this type of photography, and yes, a Hassalblad H4 will impress the art directors, models, and most important, the client. Show up with a Panasonic GH3 and your going to get laughed at. PP

Value: $500 bucks gets you a really nice DSLR. $3000 gets you’re an extremely capable camera. I think that there are great values in the range of DSLR’s out there. CS

Compact and Light Weight: For the photographer who travels, this is fantastic. Hauling around lots of heavy and cumbersome gear is annoying and for some folk prohibitive. Many of my female students have small hands, and the smaller cameras fit into them better. Some of my students have been older and between arthritis and other physical reasons a smaller camera is easier on their wrists and back. The photographer Bob Krist who is known as a travel photographer likes to use these smaller cams because he is restricted often by weight limits on bush planes. CS, AH (and sometimes the PP if travel is their specialty)

Performance vs. Cost: Bigger sensors provide more information and can yield a better image. Especially if your printing large or will be cropping. Larger sensors to tend to also have a greater dynamic range to capture highlight and shadows. As of 2012, it is less expensive to purchase a DSLR with a APS-C size sensor than a comparable mirror-less camera. The Canon Rebel T3  costs $479 which is the least expensive DSLR on the market. The least expensive Mirrorless that has a APS-C size sensor, the Sony NEX 5n is $499. All the other models of Mirrorless that have APS-C size or micro 4/3 are much more expensive. CS 

Lens Selection: You can mount more lenses without adaptors onto the DSLR system. While this may be true you may never venture out to using a 1970’s vintage Canon FD, Nikon AI or maybe that hip Russian Zenit lens. Mirrorless cameras can use various mount adaptors that can be costly but usually the focus will be hampered by the EVF. The only one that does it well is Sony with their focus peaking feature, but I don’t care to evaluate focus with shimmering white dot matrixes personally. PP, AH

Cool Factor: DSLR cams hearken back to the golden era of film based 35mm photography. There is nothing like making pictures with a SLR, the clicking sound, the heft of the camera and the strapping on of a camera that says Nikon. Mirrorless cameras are radical and hi-tech. they often don’t even look like a camera. AH, CS

Talk to the skull, er I mean hand.

I hope this post sheds light on the recent debate. As for me, I chose the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 mainly because it gave me parallax corrected viewfinder, performance, and size plus a whole lotta cool factor. I stand by saying that any camera in the hand of a person who has vision and some technical skill can make a great image from that camera. Can they make many? Then it takes the right camera to photographer combo.

The place is really jumping to the Hiwatt amps,
‘Til a 20-inch cymbal fell and cut the lamps,
In the blackout they dance right into the aisle,
And as the doors fly open even the promoter smiles,
Someone takes his pants off and the rafters knock,
Rock is dead, they say,
Long live rock, long live rock, long live rock

The Who

~David Brommer

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