It's official! Fujifilm are set to release two lenses in 2015 that will allow me to build what was once my "perfect three-lens kit" -- the one I wrote about back in January. Once released, Fuji will have primes approximating a fast 50mm (the 35mm f/1.4), a 135mm f/2.8 (the 90mm f/2.0) and a 24mm f/2.8 (the 16mm f/1.4). Unfortunately, the triad will cost a fair chunk more than what I spent back in the late '70s, by about a factor of 10, but they'll be spectacular lenses, I'm sure!
There are some other interesting lenses in the line-up, but I'm quite sure that I'd never buy them. For instance, I loved my 120-400mm on the Canon 40D, but I really can't see hanging one off an X-E1 or an X Pro. I think it would probably even be pretty un-balanced on the diminutive X-T1. And besides, I just really don't do that kind of photography any more, nor do I plan to.
Covering the range from 16mm to 90mm, however, fits right in with my direction -- landscape/travel and environmental/specialized portraiture/figure photography.
Part of me wants Fuji to step up to the plate on speedlights soon. The little EF-20 that I have is great for a quickie on-camera unit in tight spaces, but their more advanced units are expensive and lacking in power and features. But another part of me just wants to grab a few of the Cactus V6 triggers and a couple more used Nikon SB800 units (I already have one that I got back when we shot Nikons, and it's a pretty near perfect flash). The concept of a complete, basic system in one lightweight bag, with a second, also-lightweight bag for the rest of the lighting gear is very exciting!
It's been a long time in coming, but it's so nice being truly comfortable with my photo gear again, and the future looks brighter and brighter every day.
A few days ago, I posted Gary Fong's video on how to warm up the background while having your subject look natural. I added a comment that by using the an amber gel, you should be able to go the other way, too. Sure enough, Gary's got a video for that, and here it is: [embedplusvideo height="580" width="580" editlink="http://bit.ly/1aEqVcW" standard="http://www.youtube.com/v/q44QIBTK3Ag?fs=1" vars="ytid=q44QIBTK3Ag&width=580&height=580&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=" id="ep2598" /]
This is an actual shoot at a wedding using only one speedlight on a stand. This shows the spectacular result you can get with a very simple lighting setup. For product information, please see http://www.garyfongestore.com
My only problem with this trick is that not just the sky goes blue. Notice that the white fence in the background also takes on a blue cast. While most people won't notice, a few will probably think subconsciously that something's just not right. Of course, with careful choice of background, this technique could be very useful.
In this video on flash photography, Gary Fong shows how to quickly and easily "fool" the custom white balance of your camera so that it "colors the world" in the opposite color. Then, by using a Gary Fong color gel tab (or color dome) on a Lightsphere, the color on the subject is corrected out to a neutral tone! This enables you to create spectacular effects not possible through Photoshop or other post production software. For product information: http://www.garyfongestore.com [embedplusvideo height="580" width="580" editlink="http://bit.ly/18RFPWa" standard="http://www.youtube.com/v/mRReapIm1Zg?fs=1" vars="ytid=mRReapIm1Zg&width=580&height=580&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=" id="ep8759" /]
Gary is using a Canon Digital Rebel (not sure the exact model) for this demo, but the technique would work for any camera that allows custom white balance settings. To make the background very cold substitute an amber-colored insert or dome in place of the blue one that Gary used.
I'm finally able to share some first shots with the new Sony SLT-A35 -- and my first impressions as well! SLT-A35 and 18-55mm f:3.5-5.6 SAM lens: I mentioned in my post, Quickie with the A35, that the camera and kit lens just plain feel good. With my own, I spent some time customizing the operation. A few things I did right off the bat:
- Enable the automatic LCD/Viewfinder switching
- Enable the "Eye-start Autofocus"
- Enable the focus assist magnifier
- Enable the "rule of thirds" finder grid
- Disable auto image review
- Set the LCD to an info display by default
- Enable info displays in the electronic viewfinder
I also made my "standard" changes to imaging settings:
- Punch up the sharpness in all modes except for "portrait"
- Punch up the contrast in B&W modes
- Punch up the saturation in most modes
This morning, I headed off across the countryside to take some pictures on a gorgeous fall day. This image is straight from the camera. I'm letting the camera make all the decisions here, and selected the "Toy Camera" scene mode. The camera has done pretty much exactly what I would have done in post -- slightly darkened the corners and punched up and warmed the colors. While you can't tell a lot from even the enlarged image here, the overall sharpness is excellent, and there's little evidence of the dreaded "purple fringing" in the edges and corners. Very nice.
DT55-200mm f:4-5.6 SAM v2: Here, I've selected the 55-200mm lens, and chosen the auto HDR mode with a range of 6EV. In this mode, the camera makes three exposures -- one at the "correct" exposure, and then one under and one over. The images are then combined in-camera for a true HDR effect. The camera then saves the correct single exposure as well as the HDR version. As expected, the HDR image requires a little "help" in post, and I've done the basics -- correct the black point, the highlight limit and at the mid-point levels. The result is a nice, crisp, detailed image with good color and detail.
Like the 18-55mm lens I purchased, the 55-200 is also a "kit" lens. While the 18-55 was made in Thailand, the 55-200 was made in China, and you can definitely feel a difference in the lens. Where the zoom control on the 18-55 is very smooth, the 55-200 doesn't feel quite as "luscious." The zoom is tight and catches here and there. If I were to try to use this lens for video, and tried to zoom with it while recording, the zoom would not be smooth. But, the lens is sharp and lightweight, with only a little more evidence of chromatic aberration. For the money, not a bad lens to start with.
Sigma EF-610 DG SUPER Flash: I don't really have any images yet to show with the flash. I did shoot a few today, but I was working in really extreme conditions and talking too much about them wouldn't be completely fair. However ... I'm not as thrilled with the flash as I'd hoped to be. For now, I'm going to put it down to not being used to the new gear. I'll post some images and a little review on that once I get better acquainted with the flash.
Gallery: Here are a few selected images I made today:
I hope that I'll have an opportunity to shoot some more tomorrow, and I'll of course share my results.