I’m not going to go to the blog and see the last time I updated. I’m betting it’s been at least two years. Audiences require daily content; I don’t have time for that. There’s a huge difference writing about photography playing to an audience than actually making photos for clients.
I prefer to post on IG. It’s so easy. You don’t really have to reply to comments; you just tap to like. One of the reasons I stopped blogging or posting on dA is that I couldn’t keep up with the comments. Blogging was a hobby; shooting for me is not. Not being able to comment back and look like a jerk got old. On dA I could get 1000 comments a week on journal or photo posts. That’s full-time job to keep up.
Would I be remiss if I didn’t say I missed photoblogging? For sure-ish. Making my living, though, from affiliate sales and hot linking makes me sick to my stomach. Time is time. I get more inspired by looking at my feed on IG. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Being inspired by photography and not being inspired by “new gear” (ironic this post is about a new camera)? Instead of chasing gear I think someone who truly wants to be a better photographer would just pick a platform and commit to shooting instead of commenting on some blog. How does that make you a better photographer? It doesn’t. But I'll bet it makes you a "super commenter." The only blogs with really high rates of clicks are those that talk about gear. I know that personally: Anytime I just posted about gear the views went though the roof. Most of the people I know who make photos for a living rarely change their gear. I think that’s left for IT weekend warrior-types who tend to post the most on the “gear review sites.” I still shoot D4’s, D800/810’s, Leica for 35mm film, Contax for medium format film and medium format digital — I’ve shot these same platforms for years and 10’s of TB’s for clients.
I moved from the Fujifilm X-Pro1 to the X-T1 because I liked the way it focused and wrote to cards faster. Never really got into the X100/s/t because I don’t like being forced into a focal length. I have an iPhone for that.
Recently, I did some drive/RAID maintenance and saw that I’d shot about 18 TB of Fuji files over the course of a few years. The more and more I shot the X-T1 I really liked the fact I didn’t need some heavy mirror box to make photos. Sometimes I’d just bring one as an ambient body while still having the D4-beast on another shoulder. Wanna guess which shoulder hurt more after four or five hours of shooting? For some assignments where I wasn’t expected to use flash I’d just take a few X-T1’s. There hasn’t been one client or publication yet who’s said the deliverables were “too small” or not “high-quality enough.” I did hear a couple times “Is that little thing good enough?” They don’t realize that it’s about the same as the D4 file size-wise. It’s not their job to know that. When clients were surprised that they’d see images appear as a text on their phone all I heard was, “Our social media team loves that you can get us photos almost immediately.” Couldn’t do that with the Nikons. Can't wait for the X-Pro2 to work with the app.
My shoulders appreciate it so much when I leave the "mirror boxes" at home. Slinging two D4’s is torture now that I’m used to having one and sometimes two Fuji’s for a gig. When I was first checking out the X-Pro1 what I really wanted was something to replace my Leica M9’s. I know I know I know: It’s heresy to suggest anyone could make any real photo with anything less than a Summilux or Summicron. After using the X-Pro1 for a while I got used to the autofocus. I still think most people don't know how to use AF properly. Fujifilm engineers made it better and better with subsequent firmware upgrades. I don’t really remember Leica doing anything like that except to try and correct numerous problems with their platforms not to mention sensor glass that liked to crack. To be honest, I didn’t even really pay attention to what Nikon did with their firmware upgrades because they usually nail it right out of the gate.
Getting better and better with both hardware and software tends to happen when you have beta-testers who are actually guys who work with their gear and not just fawn about it on forums.
I haven’t been blown away by a camera since the X-T1. Yeah, cool, I can put two XQD’s in the new D5 but I probably won’t be buying D5’s. 12 frames per second. Don’t do much sports so that aspect doesn’t matter much. I get the shot in three frames. Six and a half grand for a camera body just seems so stupid when one considers that’s almost approaching the glorious world of medium format digital. I'd be surprised if they actually sold a lot-a lot. Hopefully, Fuji gets "voice tagging" integrated before my D4's die.
Not only that but it’s only 20mp. I mean I guess it’s a game of give and take when you’re designing a camera but still having a noisy mirror flopping up and down and all of that extra unnecessary weight just doesn’t seem to go the way the camera industry is going. Yeah, I know: It’s full frame. These days who cares. There hasn’t been one client who’s ever said, “Yeah, but can you shoot a full frame camera, please.” Not one. I’ve never had a deliverable rejected because the file wasn’t good enough or a client having said, "I was really hoping for that full-frame look." Not once.
That’s not to say I would have liked to have had “a bit more file” to work with when shooting the X-T1. Well, I may not have gotten the replacement to my X-T1’s but I’ve been shooting the X-Pro2 (codenamed “Leo”) for the past few months. The first thing I noticed was it was so much “snappier.” The focus was just crisp and super-accurate. I’m not saying the X-T1 isn't good I’m just saying this is better. Files processed through the X-Pro2's image engine were amazingly fast — at least two times faster and probably faster than that. Whatever this new Sony sensor is doing it’s doing it much faster than the X-T1 does and exponentially faster than the old venerable X-Pro1.
I asked why this sensor was better and was told that its architecture stems from conductivity using copper instead of aluminum giving it much more speed. That speed isn’t just limited to recording the image but the readout speed, which effects the EVF refresh rate, AF speed and all sensor functions. Because the internal architecture is based upon copper the general thickness of the sensor is greatly reduced the gaps between the pixels all but disappears. All of those aspects are hard to quantify as an end-user but I saw way less noise in the mids and shadows. Fuji confirmed that this new sensor has reduced noise as well.
The 64gb SDHC Class 3 UHS-II prototype Samsung memory cards along with the 16gb SDHC Class 3 UHS-II Toshiba cards I was using with the X-T1’s write so incredibly quickly. I never hit the end of my buffer. Then again, I rarely hit it with the D4’s, sometimes hit it with my D800/810’s. I’m not sure what the throughput on the Samsung cards was but I know the Toshiba’s were 260/240 mb/s. Much faster than the dinosaur workhorse CF cards and on par with the XQD’s I put in the D4’s. Why live in the past by using old CF cards when there’s new technology available?
It’s also got two card slots one being for the UHS-II cards and the second for normal SD cards whatever those are because I don’t use them. I know people love to put RAW files on one card and cooked JPG’s in another or write sequentially but I don’t really see why people really want to do that. Whatever. If it helps your workflow, all good. I normally have a TB of card space on hand so it’s never really been an issue. Not only that but I rarely touch my workflow as I have editors who handle it.
One thing I love about using SDHC Class 3 UHS-II and XQD’s for that matter in the D4’s is that they also download A LOT quicker. Any amount of time I don't have to be editing photos or waiting to edit photos is a good thing.
Fuji added a cool little joystick on the back to select the area you want to use for AF. Love this feature because it’s one of the things I love about my Nikon’s.
Although I normally have “Single Point AF” selected for 90% of what I do, the “Zone AF” worked exceptionally well with little spaniels running at me. Unsure how it’d do for sports but at least the target would be bigger than a “little dog.”
Single Point AF is extremely snappy and focuses on just about anything I pointed it at. Where my Nikon’s contrast detection would hunt this little camera just locked and let me get the shot I wanted.
I noticed that the XF 35/2.0 seemed to be extra-snappy. Dunno why but that lens was on the body most of the time -- you'll see below. I tend to use the XF 23/1.4 the most. Really enjoyed that XF 35/2.0 as it seemed very Summicron-like to me. The menu system on the body has been fully revamped and much more intuitive to me. Before I just “got used to where everything lived” but with the X-Pro2 the moment I launched the menu I figured out where everything was almost immediately except for formatting. Since this is the X-Pro2, there’s that rangefinder-ish window that allows you to see your photo optically as well as the lovely EVF. I’ve gotten so used to the EVF using the X-T1 to make 100’s of thousands of frames that it’s something I really like and it's the mode I use the most. The EVF on the X-Pro2 is even better. Fuji explained to me that the OLED EVF is .48” with 2.36M dots vs. the one in the X-T1 which is .5” and 2.36M dots. It’s also a much newer generation screen with a big feature that in its high performance mode it runs at 85fps rather than the 56fps refresh rate we find in the X-T1.
Along with the EVF one of the things you’ll notice first is the larger monitor on the X-Pro2. Instead of 1.04M pixels this one is 1.62M pixels. Does it tilt? No. Would I prefer that it did? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I get why it doesn't, though.
No, there’s not 4K video. That really doesn’t bother me because I don’t use this platform for video. When I shoot video I use D800/810’s. I’d like to experiment more often with the Fujifilm platform for video, though. It does have 60p at 1080, though, which is a nice tool to have. Would love to see a poll of how many people have actually edited 4k video, though. Like the X-T1 it has electronic shutter up to 1/32,000th of a second which means I don’t have to carry ND filters as much as I have in the past. Another lovely thing with the electronic shutter is that it’s totally silent (if you turn off the sounds, of course), which allows me to shoot on set without a camera condom AKA “a blimp.” I’ve now seen three other guys “lose the blimp” because technology is your friend and you don’t need to shoot like it’s 10 or 15 years ago. I'd hate to be in the blimp business.
Leicas aren’t even this quiet. I do tend, however, when silence isn’t a total issue to use the mechanical shutter because I’m old and I like the positive feedback of hearing a frame recorded. And for shooting street this camera feels sneakier to me than the X-T1 does.
Living in sunny California I normally shoot when it’s nice outside. It’s always nice out. We get the occasional rain but that doesn’t happen very often. Except for now at least thanks to our friend “El Nino.” No, I’m not looking up the tilde version of the “n.” I would expect a camera to work well in nice weather. I was able to shoot an assignment with some cattle ranchers in Northern California in the middle of December of 2015. Driving toward the ranch from my hotel in the tiny little town I watched the temp gauge in my truck start out at 32F (0C) ... then ... 22F (-5C) … then 18F (-7C) … then 14F (-10F) and then 8F (-13C) when I got to the ranch. Since I’d never used this camera in these kinds of environments, I was a little apprehensive. Not only … it’s a prototype as well. It’s close to production but it’s not production. The firmware was pre-production as well. I was used to my Nikons and Canons (back in the day when I was forced to shoot Canon) not being very happy in similar conditions when I shot as an official Sundance Film Festival photographer in the winter ... in the Utah mountains.
I expected the battery to drain faster because of the frigid temps as it did. I didn’t get as many frames as I would have on a temperate day but this little camera performed as well as anything I’ve ever shot in the same conditions. It kept going and going. Instead of perhaps 230 frames per battery I got about 200.
Interestingly, when I got off one of the horses I didn’t look down — trying to make sure I didn’t drop any gear — and inadvertently stepped in a hole that was full of slushy sloppy muddy cold-ass water with my right leg up to about my calf. I’d shot for about 10 minutes. I think it had warmed up to 14F (-10C). When I told one of the ranchers/cowboys that “I couldn’t really feel my foot” his response was “Have a donut. You’ll live.” I think that glazed raised was really what helped. ;)
Being on both a horse and riding shotgun in a 4-wheel drive Kawasaki Mule keeping a hold of the camera wasn’t as much of a challenge because the new X-Pro2 has a handgrip-thingy built into the body. So happy I didn’t drop/break any gear on this gig. We rode all over a certain portion of the 12,000 acres which had obstacles everywhere. Yes, I know how to ride a horse. I didn’t just jump on one blindly. That said, yes, I was sore for the next day. What else? Film simulation mode! I love the “classic chrome” setting. It reminds me of Leica M9 files, which I thought were some of the loveliest to come out of a digital camera (under 640 iso, of course). The “Acros” setting was also very nice for monochrome but I almost never shoot monochrome JPG files. I like to use VSCO vis-a-via Lightroom or my own settings in PS CC and Capture One.
Although I was provided with an advanced version of Silky Pix, I never used it so I’ve actually never even seen a RAW from the X-Pro2. I’m set in my ways and prefer to process RAW files with Capture One or if I have to I’ll use Lightroom. Given that I was very conscientious of how my highlights were coming out given the exposures I chose. Surprisingly, there’s pretty good latitude in the cooked JPG files coming out of the X-Pro2. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing what RAW’s look like! In the few months I’ve used Leo I’ve fallen in love with it. If you’re upgrading from an X-Pro1, you’re definitely going to love what you’re going to get in the X-Pro2! I have no doubt. Given what they’ve done with the first Fujifilm digital camera that the world fell in love with they did an incredible job. It even feels better in my hands.
ISO performance is as good as I expected. I RARELY go over 6400 with any platform. I mean I guess there's a need but I've never really seen any examples that are of those stratospheric speeds that a desk editor would ever accept. Dynamic range is lovely as well. I was told to put the dynamic range on auto, though, a while back and it seems to work just as well on the X-Pro2 as it does on the X-T1.
Don't get me wrong: ISO is important. My first digital camera, the Nikon D1, is fresh in my mind (15 years ago?) with its horrible dynamic range and ISO performance. What I really want, though, is a camera that is as comfortable for me doing street and going straight into an paid assignment. The M9 was cool until you got past ISO 400. The X-Pro1 was a bit slow for work. The X-T1 did both very well ... as ... does ... this little beast. It's so damn snappy. Focus locks whether I've got a 23/1.4 or even the 50-150/2.8 (even with the 1.4x converter), which is used as recently as this past weekend.
Although I’m not sure what the X-T2 will feature, given what I’m seeing with this camera, I can’t wait to see! I know I hope that it includes the ability to “voice tag” so my editors can listen to the tags to speed up their workflow. Did I mention voice tagging already as a friend at the AP also mentioned to me today?
In addition to “voice tagging” I’m also looking forward to a competitive on-camera flash solution from Fuji. When that happens I’m pretty sure that I’ll be saying goodbye to mirror box cameras for the majority of my work. In most of my prior blog posts I interlaced photographs into the text. This time I decided to put them all at the end…
Los Angeles - Then I picked on the dogs. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Los Angeles - 'tis (was) the season -- everyone is always so happy. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Bishop - Almost. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 35/2
Round Valley - It's as cold as it looks. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 35/2
Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
I was more just hoping I didn't fall off with all of my gear ... and a prototype named Leo. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
12,000 acres at the foot of the beautiful Sierras. Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and XF50-140/2.8
Not only was I cold but I was dusty as hell, too. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF50-140/2.8
Works with cattle every single day. "Cows don't know it's Christmas." Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
I remember having gone to a country bar once and seeing a guy with spurs. I asked him, "What kind of horse do you have?" He told me to f*ck off. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
I think even they were cold. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
Hasn't run for a couple decades-ish. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
Their winter home. It's 15 degrees warmer up here ... or wherever we were. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
Works harder than 99% of the people I know. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
Round Valley - Absolutely love this area of California - Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 23/1.4
Bishop - Later that day. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Los Angeles - Dinner by LED. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
St. Louis - Afternoon tea. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Agoura Hills - I asked him if that's the way he really felt and he said, "They should stay in Williamsburg." Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Los Angeles - We used to have to wait a week after going to Fotomat but now it's instant. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Los Angeles - Finally, it rains. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2.0
Los Angeles - Hula girl in an old VW van. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Beverly Hills - Window shopping. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Downtown Los Angeles - Surveying the new Broad museum. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Los Angeles - Pretty princess. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF16/1.4
Downtown Los Angeles - Caught in nice light. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF35/2
Downtown Los Angeles - Contemplation over a drink at happy hour. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF23/1.4
Santa Anita Race Track - Opening day. Homie was rocking an M6, too. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF23/1.4
Los Angeles - Coquettish daughter. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF23/1.4
Santa Anita Race Track - He acted like an alien. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF23/1.4
Downtown Los Angeles - "Yo, you should get some of those to shoot street, man." "Nah, I just try to blend." And he does. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF23/1.4
Las Vegas - Or how I spent my New Year's Eve weekend. Vegas. For the umteenth time. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF90/2
Las Vegas - Nicki Minaj and I'm still trying to figure out how she's talented. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF50-140/2.8+1.4 converter
Las Vegas - She doesn't look anyone in their eyes. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF50-140/2.8+1.4 converter
Las Vegas - Quiet moment in chaos. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF16/1.4
Las Vegas - Chris Brown before he allegedly smacked someone else. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF16/1.4
Las Vegas - He's very proud of his "talent." Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF50-140/2.8+1.4 converter
Las Vegas - Some people pay huge $$$ for the privilege. I look out into the crowd and see hell. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF10-24/4
Las Vegas - Next up was The Weeknd. He definitely had a semblance of talent. Crowd loved him. Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF16/1.4 converter
Las Vegas - Surprised that the X-Pro2 focused better than my D800. I'm also surprised that so many people think mobile phones are going to provide great photos and video. People don't just enjoy concerts anymore? Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF50-140/2.8+1.4 converter
***All Photos ©2015/2016 Chris Weeks***