Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fuji X-Pro1 More to learn

To date Adobe Software hasn't come up with reasonable raw processing for the Fuji X-trans sensor. The way the new sensor captures and processes light requires new thinking on their part and as yet Adobe has been satisfied to rework their current formula to produce acceptable, but not outstanding images. The jpeg processing in the Fuji camera can do it, SilkyPix can do it (albeit through a rather arcane user interface), and Phase 1in the beta release of their raw processor - Capture 1 - has apparently been able to do it. I gave a beta version of Capture 1 (which includes updated processing for the X-trans sensor and Fuji X series camera profiles) a test run. If it works as well as touted, I'll have to think long and hard about switching from Lightroom which for me so far has been OK .... just. To have two different cataloging systems - for Lightroom and for Capture 1 - is a bit daunting for me.

Now onto the XP1 and the 18-55 zoom lens. I was out on the streets in New York City yesterday with the intention of shooting most of my images at the 55mm setting with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) turned on. Previous to my outing yesterday, I discovered information about how the OIS works between the camera and lens, and understanding how to use it affects both image quality and battery life. There is a new setting in Shooting Menu 5 called 'IS Mode' for which there are two settings with descriptive names of IS1 and IS2 - oh so helpful. In the IS1 option OIS is on and running continuously whenever the camera is turned on and a lens which has the OIS functionality is mounted and the function on the lens is acctivated. In the IS2 option OIS is activated only when the shutter is depressed half way before shooting.

Ah me, there's always trade-offs in life, and especially in photography.

If IS1 is selected, the OIS runs continuously which creates a serious drain of battery power. But it also means that the teeny weeny gyroscopes in the lens are always engaged, running, and ready to stabilize without the slightest delay. This, not surprisingly, results in a very large percentage of the images shot in this mode being completely unaffected by lens motion or shake at slow shutter speeds.

If IS2 is selected, the OIS kicks in only when the shutter is depressed half way. So power from the battery for the OIS is used only at that time which, of course, results in a significant saving of battery power. However, in the time it takes for the battery to get the gyros up and running, and to stabilize the image the camera can still fire the shutter if the button is depressed quickly in one continuous motion. This resulted in a significant number of images shot on Friday (in this mode) being not optimal.

Sometimes the story or the expression of the person in an image is significant enough that I process and post it even with its technical shortcomings. So here's what I got from my outing on Friday. The first was shot at 55mm and, with the OIS set to IS2, was one of the few at that focal length that were spot on.

The following two images were taken at 18mm. At that focal length the depth of field is deep enough to cover a multitude of sins. I was especially attracted to this gentleman's glasses.

I saw this gentleman from half a block away. He was puffing so hard on the cigarette there was no time to get a clean breath of New York air.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Street Portraits at 55mm

Shooting at the long end of the Fuji 18-55mm zoom lens has some advantages and some drawbacks. Both of these shots were at an f-stop of 5.6 and a focal length of 55mm (82mm equivalent for a full frame sensor). If I had taken them at a wider focal length with that aperture, the depth-of-field ratio would have made the background elements seem more in focus which then would have made isolating the main subject from the background more difficult. The downside of shooting at that focal length is that I know (and I see it in the images) that I was farther away from the subjects than I like to be, and there's a feeling of immediacy missing from the images. 

I like very much the blurry background of this shot. The focal length works well here because there's really only two planes - the subject's front and the background.

The planes in the next image are a bit more complex. The background and the subject form two planes as in the above image, but the trombone slide extending out appears a bit flattened because of the 55mm focal length. If I had shot this next image at 18mm, the slide of the trombone would have much more of an extended effect. 

And then there is always my favorite - 18mm -  which gives both of these images a real feeling of presence in the foreground with a deep falling off in the distance.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Practicing with the Fuji 18-55mm zoom

I went into New York on Xmas day specifically with a personal assignment in mind - to practice shooting on the long end of my zoom lens. As I mentioned in yesterdzy's post, it's a different feel for me. I nailed some shots, and got some flubs (I know, it's hard to believe, huh?). I'm working on processing the good shots, and I plan to go in again later this week to work more on the technique. Retirement is soooooo difficult.

I still love to shoot from the hip at 18mm. As I walked by this guy he had such a guilty look on his face. I have no idea what he just did, but it must have been really baaaaaaad!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Xmas Day in New York

It was a slow day here in suburban New Jersey (nothing new about that), so I made a quick trip into the Apple. It's strange to see so few cars racing around and not much pedestrian traffic (except probably for Fifth Ave. around Rockafeller Center). 

After re-reading some ebooks published by Thomas Leuthard, which are available for no charge on his website, I've begun thinking about taking street portraits with the longer end of my zoom lens. It requires some adjustment in my street perceptions - I have to be more aware of what's happening a longer distance away from me. Shooting from that distance is good because I have more of a chance to capture a face and expression without the subject being aware of me, and bad because I have to lift the camera to my eye to get the shot. The angle of view is way too narrow to be able to shoot from the hip, and too narrow to include any environmental subject material. And it's bad because I don't sense any immediacy with the proximity of the subject - but that's something to which I may just need to adjust.

I took this shot this past Sunday on Broadway. I think I heard him say into his cell phone ' ..... I don't know why, the guy just punched me in the nose!'

Sunday, December 23, 2012

SoHo Fashionista

This afternoon, after exploring part of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, I took a walk through SoHo and the West Village. As usual, when the crowds are out shopping there are many people carrying all sorts of cameras. But I rarely see anyone actually taking a photo, with the exception of those shooting with phone cameras. I guess it's just my 'gearish' (not sure that's a real word) curiosity, but I'm always checking out the cameras that people carry. Mostly Nikons and Canons - no surprise there. But lately, every time I hit the streets I find another shooter carrying a Fuji X-Pro1. It's always fun to chat with them, compare notes, and exchange business cards. 

As I was walking across Spring Street towards West Broadway, I spotted this fashionista surveying the parade of shoppers. I saw him from a block away and just said a small prayer that he wouldn't move before I had the chance to snap a few frames. This was the best of the series.