2015 Year End Review

Happy New Year! I hope you have had some good experiences and taken some good photos this year that make you happy. Here is my year end recap.

2015 was definitely the year of the Fuji switch for me. After shooting Canon for many years and getting tired of lugging around large, heavy equipment, it was time for something better and smaller.

Fuji X-T1

My first impressions of the Fuji X-T1 were made on vacation to the Grand Canyon, and it didn’t disappoint. Follow-up impressions after several months were just as good, and with the right accessories like a faster SD card, the right hand grip and camera strap, the X-T1 settled into the workhorse that I anticipated it would be.

Fuji X-T1 Blue Angels

The “kit” 18-55mm and consumer grade XC 50-230mm were much sharper than anything out of my Canon equipment including the Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS. This was reaffirmed test after test. The XC 50-230mm was definitely appreciated at outdoor, moon photography and mostly well lit indoor events (orchestra, play, church), but was just a little too dark when indoor lighting is poor (looks like a little investing is in order).

Fuji X-T1 electronic shutter

Straight out of the camera JPEGs were all they were cracked up to be. I only shot JPEG+RAW in case I want to change the film simulation or tweak an exposure adjustment after the fact. High ISO performance was impressive for a crop-factor sensor. Background sensor noise was nearly non-existent compared to Canon. The added “electronic shutter” option in firmware 4.0 (released in June) worked wonderfully (completely silent) and was much appreciated at orchestra and plays, but it was important to test your lighting in case the artificial lighting would cause banding.

I also experimented with Canon to Fuji and Nikon to Fuji lens adapters and found that the old Nikon lenses were easier to get into focus. This might apply to older Canon lenses, too, but I only had old Nikon lenses. And, although manual focusing is fun with a Fuji, the so-so results from non-Fuji lenses limits the results to artsy black and white photography for me. The Fuji lenses (and the coordinated processing in the Fuji bodies) just give better results (surprise! surprise!).

Fuji X-T1 Thumbrest by Lensmate

And finally, I tried out some accessories that I thought would help. I initially loved the Lensmate Thumbrest but ended up preferring to go without it once I got a Fuji MHG-XT Large hand grip. A generic battery grip (after some modification) turned out to be very good for portrait orientation photography, but (for me), was not helpful in daily use.

There are still issues that bug me about the Fuji equipment like the focusing issue of the XC 50-230mm at full zoom which seems to be related to macro mode (auto macro mode on the X-T1 fw 4.0). I wish banding didn’t occur so often in in-camera panoramas which occurs even if you don’t increase the shutter speed manually (this isn’t too often, but is worse in sunsets and sunrises).

I also found that my Canon 7D + 70-200mm f/4L IS is still a better sports camera due to it being easier to use in those situations. The Fuji X-T1 can take great soccer and cross country pictures that are at par or sharper than the Canon 7D, but the Canon equipment is just much easier for sports.

On the experimental side, I converted stereoscopic prints and stereoscopic slides, as well as doing a detailed slide/negative copier comparison (among dozens of other tests and experiments not worth blogging about).

And last, but not least, I started this blog to learn how to blog about photography, give important advice, hopefully help some people get more educated about sling straps and camera bags and to press myself to take more interesting product shots.

What do I have to look forward to in 2016? 

  • Spring soccer is coming up for my younger daughter.
  • Girl Scout bridging and award ceremony.
  • I might share more/larger sizes of my photos on Flickr (free WordPress storage is pretty limited) especially so pixelpeeper.com users can see more examples.

Equipment

  • Priority 1 — The X-T1 needs a back up singer.
  • Priority 2 — If all goes well, by the end of the year, I hope to get an XF 50-140mm for low light event photography. The XF 10-24, which is a lens for my own joy, will have to wait.
  • Cheap and interesting — I’m considering getting a reversing ring to turn my old Nikon 50mm into a crazy macro lens (with weird focus effects). I remember doing this in high school with duct tape and getting interesting results.
  • Continuing to cut the DSLR cord — I may get a Canon 600EX-RT to get “legacy” auto flash exposure on my Fuji bodies (with a quiet Canon flash) to give my Fuji’s more options at events.
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