Honestly, I can’t believe I remembered my password much less my username to log onto my typepad account. It’s been almost two years since I’ve written anything here. My friend Randall saw me in Venice walking to a gig and he said, “When are you ever gonna write something new.” He named my last blog post but, seriously, I have no idea what it was. I’m actually shocked typepad was still here when I went to my blog. I’d suspect old people with gardening blogs probably use the service. Gardening is the number one hobby in the States.
I remember sitting in Central Park talking about street photography with Severin awhile back. The topic of popularity, social media and what kind of people are attracted to that in the context of photography. We both agreed that it takes a lot of effort to post content every day. One has to be committed. I just don’t know any constantly working photographer who has that kind of time. It’s not just the work. It’s the marketing of oneself to one’s clients to keep up the flow of work. That takes time.
I’d rather makes photos for clients than spend time racking up likes and followers. Thinking of running a blog-slash-forum actually turns my stomach.
That, in a nutshell, is why I haven’t blogged a lot … well … at all. The page views aren’t important to me. In fact, I’d rather post a stream of photos, which I do much more regularly than write blogs.
I mean if that’s what you want to do and if that’s how you feel relevant in photography … by all means. Making photos for clients allows me to make photos for myself; I prefer it that way.
I still like to share photos.
I/we have been working on an update or answer or whatever to “Documenting the Human Condition” as well. Editing video is a joy. A week or so ago someone rushed up to me on the street trying to scare me and said, “Give me your Leica, pal.” I knew him. He introduced me to his friend who said he was a video editor to which I said, “So you have no life, enjoy tedious bullshit, rendering and you live in a black hole?”
“Something like that.” Yeah, that’s how I feel about video editing. But instead of responding to blog/forum comments or endlessly promoting oneself on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram I’d rather do something more fulfilling. Fulfilling to me, at least.
We shot footage in a lot of different cities in a few different countries on a few different continents over the past three or four years. Human Condition was way too Leica-centric for my taste. But whatever I didn’t know any better at the time. I think it'll be done this year. I’d say the appearance of a Leica played a pretty small part in the current project.
The only Leica I use is my venerable MP which has been loaded as of late with CineStill film. Shooting street with the M9 taught me that there were more than a few instances where I really liked what I saw in color unlike always having b/w film loaded in the MP. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 solidified it because I didn’t have to focus and the files the X-Trans sensors make are fantastic. I’m so used to shooting Nikon D4’s and D800’s and before that Canon 1Ds Mark 3’s and 1D Mark 4’s and their terrific autofocus. I wanted that option when I was using a rangefinder-ish body. The Fujifilm X-T1 isn't a rangefinder-ish body in the way the X-Pro1 is but it's definitely different.
I still get asked if the X-Pro1 is a film camera. No, not by photographer-photographers but like laypeople. After almost two years I can say that I beat the crap out of my X-Pro1. It has dropped to tarmac on at least a few occassions from at least a couple of feet. There is NO WAY I could have done that with an M9. No way. It'd still be getting fixed. I’m sure the X-Pro’s resale value wouldn’t be too high, though. But whatever. She served her purpose more than well.
It’s nice having AF; I don’t care what the hardcore Leica-users say. The only place they’re absolutely relevant is largely to themselves within their specialist forums with a couple thousand users. They have their heroes. Their heroes like to measure sharpness by shooting hoses in their yards. I guess that’s real world to someone. It's funny the difference between the "real world" my friends and I have and the "real world" of enthusiasts/forum photographers.
Recently, I've been using the Fujifilm X-T1. I’d heard rumors on enthusiast sites that “mirrorless was going to replace the D-SLR.” I always laughed when I read that. My only experience with a mirrorless EVF was the X-Pro1. It has an optical and EVF mode. I used them each about half of the time equally. I didn’t mind the EVF at all. I thought I’d hate it but I didn’t. Did I ever think an EVF/mirrorless camera would replace my D-SLR’s? No way. None of my shooter-homies shoot mirrorless. Perhaps they have a point-and-shoot for throw-away snaps or even an iPhone but no way could it replace one of our D-SLR’s.
I also hear “...but full-frame is always better than a cropped sensor.” I shot cropped sensors for years. It never bothered me. It never hindered me from getting a frame I needed. I got published plenty. I guess I just don’t need full-frame for everything I do. If I really need what full-frame is truly capable of, I’m going to shoot a 16-bit RAW out of a Phase back, which no D-SLR can match.
When talking about the X-Pro1 I’d heard people also say, “It’s only 16 megapixels.” I’d ask them, “That’s going to hold you back from getting a two-page spread in a magazine?”
“I don’t shoot for magazines; I just post to my blog and flickr.”
When I held a pre-production sample of the X-T1 I had no predisposition about how I’d feel about it. When I put it up to my eye, though, I had never seen an EVF like that. No optical finder option at all. First time I’d ever had a camera like that in my hands. I knew I couldn’t post anything so I just made a few random frames to check a few things. No, I didn’t find any hoses laying around the hotel to shoot. I looked, though.
A few weeks later I got to use a proper X-T1. Same battery as the X-Pro1, which was nice. Same menus except for some additional WIFI modes. The EVF, again, was the first thing that absolutely blew me away aside from the build quality. I know it’s way better than what I saw in the 1.4 mp EVF Leica rebrands and sticks on their M240. In fact, the EVF in the Fujifilm X-T1 is almost double the resolution of the Leica EVF and the Fuji is OLED. The AF was significantly faster than anything I’d used extensively from Fujifilm, meaning the X-Pro1. The X100s has pretty zippy AF but I didn’t use that camera very often.
After making a few frames I put on my glasses and looked at the beautiful monitor, which seems better than the X-Pro1 as well and was amazed it nailed focus so consistently. Again, no, I didn’t run outside and find the first hose to photograph. I did make a photo of a pretty rain drop – yes, it rains here once in a while – on a branch.
Homage to you backyard tree shooters and gear reviewers.
Took the Metro – yes, we actually have public transit in Los Angeles other than than buses with pee-stained seats – and shot downtown. Took it with me pretty much everywhere because I always have something to shoot with.
As long as I picked the perfect spot to use AF with the X-Pro1 it was cool. The X-T1, however, locked on anything. So fast it's mental. I still use a center AF and recompose. I know my Nikons will focus just about anywhere there are AF patches but I still use the center. I've just always just used the center. I'm old. Same goes the same with how I focus with the X-T1.
Yeah, I know: I hate when cars are in photos. Rinz hates them, too. But random mariachis (sp?) are pretty common in Los Angeles.
What I like about a small-ish camera like the Leicas I’ve used is that it’s not like putting a D4, D800 or some other huge D-SLR to my face to make a frame. Even though the X-T1 has a bump on the top part, which usually signifies some type of prism (there’s no prism in there), it’s still a diminutive camera. The shutter is way quieter than any digital Leica I’ve ever used. It’s about the same as the X-Pro1. I’m not buying a db meter to find out the difference.
I like surreptitious frames. The X-T1 helps me achieve that kind of photograph by boiling itself down to the essentials. Honestly, having had the Nikon Df in my hands I can say that Fuji did what Nikon wished they could have done. The X-T1 is almost half the weight of the Df. The MP with the Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH is far heavier than the little X-T1 with any lens other than the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t feel nice in your hands. It has that little bit of heft like the iPhone 5, which lets you know it’s made very well.
I guess they weren’t too busy. Then again, it was an odd time during a weekday.
I’m not totally sure I would have raised my camera to my face and pointed it at this dude. I’ve never had a camera that had a rear monitor that tilted. For the much-vilified hipshot it sure is useful. I was surprised I liked that aspect so much. Who knew.
In this low-light situation I don’t think the X-Pro1 would have liked it so much. The X-T1, well, it nailed the face in the window three frames in a row. I think in any low-light situation you really have to pick your AF area wisely. AF likes contrast. Granted, with the MP I could have nailed it no matter what but that’s one of the places a rangefinder really shines.
Spot-metering works extremely well, too, nailing the exact shutter speed I would have picked manually. I know, I know, I’m supposed to get out my physical spot meter and take a real reading. My bad. I'm supposed to use a color checker, too, right!? All real photographers never leave home without one. ;)
I’m not bagging on the AF of the X-Pro1 at all. I knew how to make it work for me. The X-T1 is seriously in a whole other league. I would sometimes have had to double-check the focus on the X-Pro1 monitor. Ya' know ... just to check. There was no AF-hunting with the X-T1 on the man’s face at all in the above photo. I didn’t believe it, checked focus on the monitor, zoomed in and was impressed.
I still have no idea what a benevolent society is.
I don’t think I’d ever try on a hat. It kinda creeps me out. Happy these two were enjoying it. We also talked about how to make carnitas. I’ve learned three random facts about carnitas by asking three random people. Each of them has said, though, “You must cook it really really slow.”
I know for a fact that firecrackers are illegal in Los Angeles County if not all of Caifornia. The dude frame left lit pack after pack of various sizes with impunity. It was the weekend after Chinese New Year and they were still going. LAPD acted like nothing was going on. Love city cops!
A whole store and they sell pandas accessories. I had no idea there was market interest like this.
I wasn’t ever able to look at RAW files (.raf) because as of the night of 19 February neither Adobe or Apple (or Phase) had any update including the X-T1. Each file, sorry, photo, was an in-camera jpg. That being said Fujifilm appears to crank out very pleasing jpg’s. Best coffee in Los Angeles on this corner. Just FYI. They don’t serve sugar or any standard Dumb Starbucks condiments.
This is my friend’s latest rescue. He’s pretty amazing. They found him wandering the streets. The Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens makes lovely frames.
I also had the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS. Normally, I use this kind of lens for atmosphere photographs during assignments. It’s definitely not something I would carry with me. Knowing that lens is available, though, is quite nice. When I used the M9 as an ambient body one of the biggest issues was super-wide glass. Not just 24mm or 21mm … but wide-wide. It just wasn't available.
Not to mention the extra accessory grip. It makes it look like a bit smaller FM2 with a winder. Having extra battery life is nice, too. Anything besides a D4’s battery is less-than-optimal for me. I can make over 5000 frames on one charge. It seemed as though I got about 200-250 frames per charge with the X-T1. I have several batteries – as I do with every camera I own – so it’s not a huge issue for me. Gotta think that gorgeous EVF sucks a little energy. Everyone should have at least four batteries.
I was interested to see what the continuous focus AF mode was like. I tried it only a few times with the X-Pro1. It’s not a camera format I mentally associate with continuous. If I need focus-tracking, I use a Nikon. I didn’t shoot any sports with the X-T1 but subjects I shot moving toward me or away from me were surprisingly tack.
I think I made four or five frames on Continuous Low and it was properly focused on each one. I just don’t use that mode of AF. I guess it’s nice to know that if I really need it this camera can deliver. I’m almost positive homeboy had been drinking. Driving a rascal on the sidewalk after drinking and then talking on the phone. We have it all in L.A.
Or a random fire suit and whatever that is frame right.
Instead of going into the backyard and finding a hose or snow-covered law furniture I texted my friend and actress, Cody Kennedy, and asked her if she wanted to do a shoot. I’m not a huge fan of the Hallmark holiday that screws with the self-confidence of insecure single girls. I had an idea.
The available light was spilling in frame right so I diffused a surprisingly bright LED by Simple Studio Lighting (Photo Video 1344 LED Light Panel) to “extend the available light.” This thing is kind of a brute force kind of LED; I've diffused it everytime I've used it. I get sick of strobe all the time. Dunno wny. Continuous is so much more fun.
Our winter light is almost over. Soon we’ll be back to that brassy up and down stuff we get for a while. I wish we had winter light all the time.
The premise was that she was pensively readying herself for a Valentine’s day date. All girls wait by pools in their bra waiting for a text. #normal
I tried to use the Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens as much as I could. Whether it's wide open or any other f/stop I found it to be excellent. Reminds me of the out-of-focus areas unscharfen bereichen I get from one-four Nikon glass. I just can't bring myself to use the word bokeh. It gives me the same reaction as some girls I know when they hear the word moist.
I used the same kind of diffusion as I did for the first shot but with different light. A kind gaffer on a set where I was doing unit photography explained a concept for me and I use it quite often. When the ambient light is one thing or another I try and use the same color temperature. This scene was predominately tungsten so I used a Mole Richardson 1K Baby Solarspot. Yes, I could have gelled up the LED with CTO but I didn’t. A gel plus diffusion cripples the output.
Clearly, the text wasn’t taken well.
Even shooting into a mirror the X-T1 focused where I wanted every time.
As a note I haven’t color-graded these at all. Levels, contrast and perhaps tweaking the color temperature/hue or adjusting the exposure level is all I did. I wanted to show what was possible in-camera with only light adjustments in Aperture … on a broken MacBook Pro. An old one to boot.
Cody was beyond brilliant! Thank you again!
That’s another thing. There’s this new type of SD card called Exceria Pro by Toshiba that writes at 240 MB/s (reads at 260). Ridiculous. I have fast CF cards and even faster XQD’s that I use in the D4’s. This is on the same level as the XQD it seems. I did a burst of about five frames and didn’t even see the drive light on the camera body light up. I actually wondered if it actually recorded the frames.
Valentine’s Day dinners were in full swing at the restaurants.
When I write a blog I use Word and make notes as to what photo to insert in brackets. My bracket for this photo was [enormous breasts and desert]. ‘nuf said. And, honestly, I have no idea if I took this or my homie Bert did. Mai Tai's were involved. He won Best Director at the Pasadena International Film Festival. Congrats, again, man!
I don’t think I shot anything at 3200 ISO. I have this mental block to never go past 1600. If I have fast enough glass, which Fuji definitely has, about all I need is 1600. And the X-T1 has a clean 1600. I wouldn’t expect any less because the X-Pro1 did very well at high ISO’s.
Fuji’s got this app called Fujifilm Camera Remote that I downloaded from iTunes. It took a little bit of getting used to it. It has four programs: Remote Control, Receive, Browse Camera and Geotagging. Between all of those programs it cancels your connection and you have to reselect the camera’s WIFI from the iPhone. That was my only issue with it. As long as you work within one particular program it was pretty robust. You have to reconnect within each of the four programs in the Remote app.
Although it doesn’t have a GPS radio, you can get GPS data from an iPhone and embed it into the EXIF on the X-T1. I do a lot of location scouting and don’t have to take a reference photo with the iPhone any longer. Yes, I know I can buy a GPS radio for one of the Nikons but I never did.
Browse Camera is cool because I can transfer a photo to the iPhone instead of using the iPhone’s camera. I know you can control the iPhone's camera pretty well but I still prefer using a “real camera,” whatever that means. I pulled a few photos from the X-T1 to my iPhone, adjusted them in VSCO and posted to Instagram pretty fast.
I have no idea what Receive does within the app but I’m going to assume it receives something.
Wish my Nikons did this kind of stuff. There are always situations where a client wants something immediately. Being able to send a file from my iPhone to my client will be more than helpful. Except once you spoil them there’s no going back. Ya’ know kind of like showing them how well you can do video b-roll with D-SLR’s.
On the X-Pro1 I had the Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R on it at least seventy percent of the time. On the MP or the M9 I primarily use a 35 ‘lux. The Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R is the closest prime Fujifilm had available at the time. I knew the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R was available at a certain point but never got one. The Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R’s angle of view was interesting because it was just that little bit wider that I didn’t normally use on my street/personal Leica. In fact, because of using that 28mm on the Fuji I'd buy one for the MP if Leica ever does a Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH. It would represent the last Leica lens I ever buy. I'll bet if one ever comes out it's at least six grand.
I've recently been using the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R and feel like I’m looking through an old friend. It’s funny how we find that focal length that we like more than other focal lengths.
It’s also odd that I never really got around to buying the normal set of ND filters I normally have for whatever system I’m shooting. The day I received the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R I also received the requisite set of filters from B&H for the Fuji glass. It was so funny when I tried to shop local. “Can I get 52mm and 62mm in either Hoya or B+W 1, 2 and 3 stop ND’s”?
“You really should be using Heliopan.”
“Yeah, okay. B+W and Hoya have always treated me well. So have the Schneider Cine ones.”
“With that beautiful Fuji glass I’d really put Heliopan on it.”
He starts rattling off prices and I’m B&H’ing the prices on my iPhone.
“That’s the best you can do?”
I turned the phone around so he could see that B&H’s prices were about thirty percent less. The Fuji lenses I have use 52mm, 62mm and 72mm (for that super-wide zoom which I already have because they're the same size on many Nikon lenses, too). I don’t use dial-a-stop ND’s even though I’ve heard they’re good.
I like using an ND filter when I'm shooting digital so that I can open up a bit and sometimes give my subject a bit of diferentiation from the background. I remember when I loaned my Noctilux to a workshop instructor who was a friend at the time. He looked at the front of the lens and saw the 3-stop B+W filter and said, "Why do you have that on there?" I thought everyone knew what an ND was. I mean especially by someone who teaches Leica owners. I hear since that day he's been all about using an ND.
Although I didn’t expect the build quality of the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R to be anything but well-made, it’s not until you get it in your hands that you see what a great job Fujifilm did.
When I was mentally proofreading this to see if I missed anything I couldn’t believe that I almost blanked out about something I saw. The local news in LA starts off with the first five minutes telling us who was brutalized, who was run-over, who was shot, who was whatever. This day was no different. There was a story about a nineteen year-old girl who was shot by her boyfriend who then went on the run but turned himself in at the behest of his mother who witnessed the shooting in her apartment. I looked it up on my iPhone and saw they were having a candlelight vigil for the slain girl.
It’s only a few blocks away.
His sister was brutally murdered the night before.
And the “news people” stood around to get their eleven o’clock content. They’re so formulaic and predictable. They were literally bitching at each other to get their interviews first so they could finish up and go home. Each time homie was asked to recount his story he cried. It was sad to watch.
I was making this frame and thinking, “My kid never had to see this kinda shit. I never grew up seeing this kind of shit for that matter. But it happens right around the corner.” How does that affect you growing up?
The little camera I was holding didn’t make me stand out at all even with the grip. I shot the photos with the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R and the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 XF R. They both performed lovely. When the ENG (electronic news gathering) guys get “their content” I don’t think their mannerisms, methods and equipment lend anything to being surreptitious. Your subjects will almost always be reacting to the massive equipment you’re using to document the situation. Putting a ultra-bright spot light in someone's face is never a way to get true emotion.
After I made a few frames I asked, “Did you know her?”
“She was my neighbor. She was so nice. I haven't seen her for a month or so.”
Any blur is not the AF. It was the fact I was at an 1/8th wide open and 1600 ISO. There’s no mirror floppin’ around, which makes shooting slower shutter speeds easier. But 1/8th's and 1/4's can sometimes be a little tricky handheld. Not that I'd bring a tripod with me. I could always just bite the bullet and shoot 3200 I guess.
Luckily, these subjects were lit so that I could be at a 30th. Looking right of that group I saw a frame I wanted but knew I’d never get it at an eighth. I thought I could use that extra shutter stop. So I went to 3200. Not only that but the Fujifilm X-T1 performs very well in low-light (I don't have the AF focus assist beam turned on). AF-hunting depends upon the skill of the photographer knowing where to select focus. At least I think so. I find that some complain about their system's AF ability because they don't know how AF works and they expect it to work under any circumstance.
I got the extra shutter stop I needed by going up to 3200.
I left but got one more frame.
When I looked through the EVF I saw the lines on the girls hand when I went to focus. I can now say that if I really really really need 3200 I’m pretty confident shooting it that high with this camera.
Sent the photos I posted here for online printing and delivery to the family of the slain teenager. In a neighborhood where pit bulls roam the streets – happened during the vigil – and life is a little tougher than many other places ... there was a kind energy in that little part of the world. It’s too bad it had to happen because of the death of some girl who hadn’t seen the best part of her life yet.
I still can’t believe I like a mirrorless camera body. The OLED viewfinder is just amazing. From the analogue dial on the top for exposure compensation – it doesn’t move as easy as the X-Pro1 – to the ISO and shutter speed knobs the X-T1 just feels like someone finally got it right. It doesn’t have a cable release-type shutter button. I know that’s gonna piss off some. My Nikons don’t have one either. I think that’s one of the reasons it felt so good in my hands. It feels quicker making photos than the X-Pro1. I'll just use Camera Remote to trip the camera without touching it.
How many times has any of my Nikons been mounted on a tripod? Probably count it one hand. Never put the MP’s or M9’s or the X-Pro1 on a tripod. The only reason I’d ever need a cable release was if it was tripod-mounted. So … I see no need. I’m sure there will be some who just have to have a soft-release. Although my friend Gandy gave me several of them, I believe they’re still in some random box containing random unused accessories. I don't know one working photographer who uses a soft release. I always though they were camera jewelry.
Looking forward to making many many more frames with the Fujifilm X-T1. It’s a joy to use. Wanna see the RAW files, too. I’ve been shooting RAW+jpg so that I’ll have the RAW files in the future. Hopefully, that will be very very soon.
Figured out that using “Silent Mode” didn’t actually give me all of the AF’s capabilities. You get essentially the same thing by turning off the beep and the AF-assist beam but the AF is a hair faster when you don't activate Silent Mode. I have no idea why that is but on both the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-T1 it seems faster to me without it.
There's this other palpable different I see with the files from both the X-Pro1 and X-T1: the colors are so different than the "other CMOS" sensors out there. There's just something. They seriously remind me of the colors I loved getting from the CCD sensor on the M9. Ya' know ... up to ISO 640. There was a "pop" to them that CMOS files just don't seem to have. Whatever Fujifilm is doing I hope they keep doing it because I get that same pop.
Not once did I take it off auto-white balance. Granted, I wasn't able to see the files from RAW but the X-T1 did really well.
I used the M-Mount Adapter as well. On the X-Pro1 I used several Leica lenses with the adapter and was pretty pleased with the results. It slows shooting down considerably seeing as how the X-System is meant for autofocus especially now with the X-T1's lighting fast AF. With the X-Pro1 I was able to use assisted manual focusing with a later firmware update including focus peaking. The X-T1 has a Digital Split Image focusing aid that is spot on and seems faster than the previously mentioned method. I used my Noctilux-M 50/1.0, which makes it about a 75mm in full-frame parlance. I just wanted to see how the split image worked and it seemed to be more than adequate. The OLED EVF makes that aspect of the camera sing.
The X-T1 also comes with a tiny flash but I didn't really check it out yet.
There are definitely going to be situations in future assignments where at least one of the Nikons will be left at home. I can foresee situations where I could use just the Fujifilm platform and save my shoulders.
I don’t know why I’m shocked I love this camera as much as I do. Fuji did A LOT of things right with the X-T1. And, no, I've never extensively used one of the new Sony's or the Olympus I've heard some things about. Unless I know a system pretty well I'm not going to talk about it. No idea how they compare but then again I don't chase gear. I learn how to use what I have. It's cheaper that way. Most working guys I know don't chase gear at all.
Would have put this on tumblr but doing a long post and tumblr aren’t well suited for each other. I have no idea how often I’ll post on this blog in the future. I’d rather spend my time making photos.
I hope this finds everyone very well!
Note: None of the photos or text posted in this entry are intended for use or quotation anywhere but on aphotocontributor.com.