Friday, February 8, 2013

Fujinon 14mm f2.8 Second Day Out - Part 2

There's a major snow storm in the area so I'm not sure I'll be able to get out this weekend for more shooting. As I process the images shot with the 14mm lens I see wonderful potential for experimentation, especially with point of view. 

I like the expression and the wonderful character of the age lines on the gentleman's face in the first image.

The animated hand gestures of the woman grabbed my attention as I walked by these two people conversing on the corner of Fifth avenue and 54th street.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fujinon 14mm f2.8 lens Second Day Out

Adjusting to this very wide angle lens is a work in progress. When I first got the Leica 21mm f2.8 lens I had some of the same problems, and it's been a long time since I used that lens. So I'm sure I'll have to spend a few more days on the street with the Fuji lens to get comfortable again with the focal length. Oh darn.

The biggest plus so far is that I can get in really close to people as I pass them and get the subject with room to spare around them in the frame. With the 18mm lens, when I shot from the hip, I usually had to aim the lens on a flat horizontal axis or tipped slightly up so as not to crop the top of the subject's head. The difference of 4mm focal length - which translates to about 7mm for a 35mm image size - doesn't seem that large, but that small difference translates into about 1/3 to 1/4 the total focal length of the two lenses. That's quite a big difference which requires a complete rethinking of how I aim the camera. I found today that I got much better results if I tipped the camera down a bit. But then again, that creates a whole different set of issues with the autofocus and the proper focus point. Half the shots today when taken this way were out of focus. This is definitely a work in progress.

Another issue I had to deal with today when looking through the optical viewfinder arose because the image through the viewer had a 'normal' persepective - much as my eye saw the scene. But the lens, because it is so wide, created a much deeper perspective and pushed background objects further away in the resulting image. That's one of the most attractive features of using a very wide angle lens. That wasn't a problem when I shot with the Leica lens, because I used the Leica 21mm optical viewfinder which fit into the flash shoe on the top of the camera, and that amazing piece of glass showed me pretty much how the final image would look. I'm going to try using that same viewfinder in the XP1 flash shoe. In general, after going through the keeper images to decide which ones I'll process, I was very impressed with how crisp and sharp they all are.

As I walked past the Main branch of the New York Public Library on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street I was scanning the crowd, and I saw an unusually dressed gentleman coming down the steps of the library - so my interest was piqued. From a distance he noticed me observing him so he tried to look nonchalant and oblivious to my attention. When he got closer I realized it was Tom Wolfe (author of Bonfire of the Vanities and many other blockbuster hit novels). I got several shots of him as he walked past me, but I couldn't get him to look at me. I'm sure if I had approached him to say hello and tell him how much I enjoyed his books he would have been gracious and allow me to get a good shot of him. Hindsight is always 20/20.


There were a number of the 'beautiful people' out and about on Fifth Avenue stocking up their daily needs at Gucci, Armani, Cartier, et. al. 

Some wore cashmere sweaters, mink coats, and all their bling to go slumming at Bloomie's.

And there were some who were not happy about me testing my new lens on them.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fujinon 14mm f2.8 Lens - First Impressions

On Saturday I went to the South Street Seaport Museum to see a street photography exhibit that was the results of a juried competition sponsored by the Museum of the City of New York. I had entered ten images for the judging - of which none were selected - and was curious to see the images that caught the eyes, minds, and hearts of the judges. I usually don't submit work to these types of competitions because on any given day and at any given hour for any reason at all the judging is ever so subjective. In this case however, since the genre was very narrow and there was no entrance fee I made the plunge. I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in street photography that they see this exhibit. The most outstanding image of the show, the one out of the more than a hundred on the walls, that stuck in my mind was a b/w image shot in the 1980's on film by Harvey Stein - who is a master in the field.

Then on to the real business of the day, I hit the streets of lower Manhattan on Saturday to give the Fujinon 14mm f2.8 lens a run for its money on my X-Pro1. No pixel peeping review, no technical analysis of curves and graphs - I leave that information processing to better minds than mine. I judge a lens by how it feels in my hand and how it performs in the field doing the work that I love. Probably the most important criteria of all to me is does the piece of equipment give me the feeling that I can't wait to get out and play with it again and again. After an afternoon with this lens, the answer is a resounding YES!

For the first eight months of using the XP1 I shot with the 18mm and 35mm prime lenses and loved the results. Since I got my hands on the 18-55mm zoom lens It hasn't come off the camera - I've talked about it extensively in previous posts of this blog. I have been looking forward to getting the 14mm lens since it was first announced by Fuji. My favorite lens for my Leica M6 was the Leica 21mm f2.8 lens. Since having the XP1 with the widest option of 18mm, I've had to always make accommodation the narrower field of view than I would like to be able to get the shot without looking through the viewfinder to frame the image. Getting back to using a prime lens just felt sooooo gooooood.

The response of the lens is at least as good as the 18mm lens. But then, I've never had a problem with the focus response time of the camera with any of the Fuji lenses that I use. The image quality is astonishingly good. Sharp from corner to corner with absolutely no chromatic aberration that I've been able to see. I've read some complaints about the aperture ring being too loose and turning too easily. It's about the same as the 18mm and 35mm lenses. I've found that putting a rubber band on the aperture ring adds just enough friction to counteract the looseness. The bitch that many of these trolls have is that for a lens to be this expensive it should be perfect. So it isn't .... perfect that is. I would challenge anyone to show me a lens, no matter how expensive, that is perfect. Not going to happen.

Esthetically speaking, the angle of view and the look of the perspective that the lens renders is ideal for my shooting style. I love to be in close to a person or situation, and yet be able to capture the surrounding environment to create a feeling of context for an image. This lens absolutely does the trick for me.

To wit: