10 Things I love About the Fuji X100F

Here is a list of 10 random things I like  ❤️ love about my Fujifilm X100F…

🔘 The X100F autofocus is accurate and fast. I was worried it might be a bit sluggish when compared to the Panasonic/Leica Q. No worry needed though. It’s zippy fast!

🔘 The X100F is quite useful to me for sideline shots when I shoot sports. So useful in fact that I prefer using it over having a standard two DSLR setup.  No need for a 35mm lens on my 5D mark III when my X100F has a great 35mm equivalent lens and a filler flash to boot!

🔘 I love having analog style dials for my ISO, exposure compensation, aperture, and shutter speed. It beats having to dig through menus in my humble opinion.

🔘 The 35mm 2.0 lens itself is pretty sharp to my eyes, even wide open. RAW files are particularly awesome.

🔘 The ACROS film simulation mode (jpeg only) is maybe the best thing about the camera to me. You can shoot almost anything in ACROS and it looks surreal and historic.

ACROS….

🔘 The flash is useful in a pinch. I use it a lot for sideline shots as I mentioned earlier.

🔘 I almost exclusively use the EVF. It’s so good that my original reason for buying this camera, it having an optional OVF, is a non-issue.

🔘 The camera fits in my pocket and is extremely portable. It’s also so light that I can scarcely feel it dangling around my neckbone.

🔘 The Fuji X100F is 100% silent when the shutter volume is turned off. Dead ass quiet.

🔘 Lastly the little focus knob is swell. It works about as good as the ones on the pro DSLR’s I’ve had the fortune of using.

Thinking of purchasing this camera? Don’t do it! Lol. I want to keep all this bananas awesomeness for myself.

Please support me by buying my classic street-fiction novel available here.

Exit.

Why I want the Canon 1DX Mark II…

Somehow. Some way. I am getting the Canon 1DX Mark II.

This isn’t GAS. I need it.

My Canon 5D Mark III is awesome and everything, especially with a 70-200 2.8 IS II on the front of it, but for fucks sake it’s so slow at 6 fps. It feels like 1 fps really.

I shot a massive soccer tournament last weekend, a total of 57 games. Um, I really could have used the 14 fps that the 1DX II offers. This is really about speed people. The image quality from my 5d3 will probably prove to be a hair better in daylight shooting. For my upcoming night football this fall, and volleyball as well, the 1dx 2 should fare better when I push up the ISO.

The 1dx 2 is expensive as fuck. It’s $5999, which is basically a billion dollars….

Still, it’s for business purposes only. I have my Fuji X100F for street stuff and even casual portraiture. I’ll likely keep the 5d3 for any major portrait work that pops up, or god forbid a goddamn wedding or something…

Quick 1dx 2 specs: 20.5 megapixels. 61 focus points with 41 cross type (same as my 5d3 basically). Faster focus acquisition and better and more reliable focusing in low light. Built like a weapon. That’s it really besides the burst rate. Well, there’s the “my camera is better than yours” factor I’ll feel when facing every person I meet along the sidelines, regardless of what they have if it’s not my camera.

I’d love to get it by the start of football/soccer/volleyball/cross country season in the fall but most likely it will be around Christmas if that soon. Once again this isn’t GAS. This isn’t me wanting the 2 year old mirrorless Leica Q for $4300 or the slow focusing medium format Hassleblad X1D for $9000. This is strictly business, as I’ll likely not even touch the 1dx 2 when not shooting sports. I’ll keep you posted as I get closer to my purchase date.

Oh….before I exit. That Sony A9? Lol. The sonofabitch has overheating issues in STILLS mode! Wow. If that proves to be a permanent feature of the camera then it’s dead to me. Well, deader than it already is, being a Sony….

Exit.

The Mirrorless Pro 

With the recent announcement of the Sony A9 mirrorless camera I’ve been wondering when I’ll make the big switch and go all mirrorless. Up until now, going all mirrorless has not been a serious option for me because Sony and Fuji and other serious mirrorless makers don’t make professional level bodies and lenses for sports. 

Sure, a good, well prepared shooter can probably use a pair of Sony a7rII’s to shoot a wedding or a concert, and there is a nice selection of glass available in the wide angle to medium telephoto ranges for that stuff. There is no, say, 400mm 2.8 offered by Sony or Fuji however. Canon and Nikon have several versions of lenses in this focal length going back decades. That’s always been the main point of contention for me changing my sports kit over to mirrorless. There is no fast and long telephoto glass to be had. 

There’s also battery life, which is still far better in a DSLR. I’m talking 3 times as good battery life on average between a pro level DSLR and an alleged pro level mirrorless like the A9 and the Fuji XT-2. Another main thing though, is AF speed and accuracy. This is where mirrorless has been making dramatic strides. It seems that the A9 has AF speed on par with the pro level Canon and Nikon DSLR’s, though this remains to be seen….

A Sony pro body is bound to crush Nikon and Canon is the area of low light and dynamic range, partly because Sony makes the lion share of Nikon sensors these days and holds back the really aggressive tech for their own bodies, and Canon has never seemed to be too concerned with dynamic range, although they have decent noise levels at high ISO’s on some bodies. Sony also has apparently eliminated the “blackout” that happens when continuous shooting with a typical mirrorless body. Also the A9 apparently shoots a disgusting 20fps RAW. It can do this in 100% silent mode. That’s insane!

Will I trade in my Canon sports gear and go full on mirrorless? That remains to be seen. I want to for some reason. It’s not that I hate my Canon gear, or GAS, but more that I feel I’m stapled to outdated tech. Fastened to it. Maybe when Fuji makes a full frame sports camera or fuck it, I may go with a Sony even though I hate them. Some long prime fast glass for these mirrorless jobs wouldn’t hurt either… 

Exit. 

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: Go Small or Go Home

I’m going to be a bit of a toolbox here, but bear with me….

I cringe these days when I see guys shooting street photography with a fat DSLR. Full disclosure: I used to be that guy myself just 3 short months ago. Since then I’ve gotten my tiny little Fuji X100F, which might be the worlds best street photography camera, and now I feel embarrassed that I ever pointed my big ass Canon 5D Mark III at an unsuspecting street denizen with artistic intentions. It’s like what Obi Wan Kenobi said when he tossed that blaster aside after shooting General Grevious to death: SO UNCIVILIZED…..

Of course my Fuji, and perhaps every Leica outside of the Leica S (and the Leica Sofort), is an elegant photographic weapon harkening back to ages past. Sure, you can blast away 15 shots per second with your crude DSLR but it’s much more fun to manual focus or shoot in single shot mode with a compact or a rangefinder. Also, I’ve never been braver than I am now with my small camera. Sure, we get braver as we mature as street photographers regardless, but my ninja shit is on fleek these days. (Do the kids still say that?) I can literally stand in people’s faces and my silent leaf shutter compact camera makes absolutely no noise as I snap away photos like a maniac…..

Are Leica’s and little midget Fuji cameras better than say, a Nikon D500? Probably not, UNLESS you’re shooting street. So you need to be committed to specificity if you are contemplating adding a compact camera to your arsenal or switching altogether. In my case I still have my Canon system for sports and my Fuji camera for street and candids, well, until I can afford a Leica….

May the force be with you motherfuckers….

Exit.

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Black Camera Ambassador 

I’m going to keep this short because, well, I know my audience is basically a bunch of beer drinking white guys. I’m fine with that. Underneath my black skin and aside from sobriety, I’m basically a beer chugging white dude myself. I find something troubling however: 

There is an alarming paucity of black/African-American camera brand ambassadors…. 

I know bruh, it’s not your fault, but hear me out. 

I don’t know why the fuck this is. A number of black shooters are accomplished professionals right? It’s not like black photographers don’t spend a small fortune on camera gear like any other subculture does, but I have an impossibly hard time finding a black brand ambassador for ANY camera brand I can think of. 

Canon? Nah. Fuji? Nope. Leica? Lol! Really?

Late 80’s shooting Ricky Ray style….
I’m sure folks can point me in the direction of a few black guys who get to try out new cameras before they are released and shit like that. I’d appreciate info about them. I suspect they are coons and ass-kissers but I can surely be wrong. I’m keeping an open mind….

Maybe black folks are seen as criminals. Fuji probably thinks I’ll run off with an unreleased camera and disappear or some fuckery like that. Funny how I see so many white and Asian brand ambassadors on YouTube though…. and hardly any women either, regardless of race.

 

This is perhaps a micro-struggle, but it speaks to a larger problem in society. I don’t want to infuriate my loyal readers but I guess I’ll have to wait for you to preview new gear on the web before I buy it because it will never be me. I was born on the wrong side of the color palate. 

Exit. 

The Gears of Change

My friend told me he was contemplating a switch to Sony. 

This is a big fucking deal to me. No, seriously. 

You see, for years my friend and I defended our mother brand, Canon, against all other brands when it comes to still photography. Not to say Canon is better than say, Nikon, when it comes to image quality and dynamic range (for starters) but Canon has historically been a well rounded brand with few recalls and boasts dependable bodies. When it comes to video Canon obliterates Nikon of course, and my friend is big on video stuff. I don’t give a half of a fuck about video, as many of you know. My friend is excited about the expected release of the Panasonic GH5. 

So why Sony? Well Canon has been sucking ass lately. The 5d Mark IV is a disappointment to many folks. Nobody besides soccer moms cares about the upcoming 6d Mark II. The 5dSR is a nice camera, and is tempting for stills. The 1dX II is expensive as fuck and more than decent for video. All of the above cameras sport Canon’s sharpness murdering anti-aliasing filters, even though the 5dSR cancells the filter effect. 

As far as a camera I’d want to shoot with there is nothing. Canon has not taken producing a viable mirrorless camera seriously to this point. A full frame mirrorless that takes all of Canons famous EF lenses would be game changing, especially if it was compact and elegant. It would have to have 4K video for you guys who care about that shit, and hopefully it wouldn’t overheat like the Sony cameras do….

So again: why Sony? Well what else is there? Nikon is reporting epic losses and is cutting back on the cameras and lenses it produces moving forward. That’s not scary right? We’re talking full frame here of course. What else is there that is worth migrating to that shoots good stills and 4K video besides Sony? Each day more and more shooters are leaving the DSLR empires and migrating to mirrorless systems, myself included. I still have a Canon 5d3 and use it to shoot sports ONLY. If my sports gig ever dries up I will march up to Service Photo the next day and sell all my Canon shit. 

I hate Sony personally unless it’s time to play Uncharted or God of War. I get it though. These big ass DSLR’s just don’t seem worth replacing with another big dumb ass DSLR. Don’t get me wrong, DSLR’s are still the most professional units available for most applications, but with money drying up in photography gigs in general, it’s worth investigating how long that will remain the case….

Exit. 

Where is the Money?

Money is vanishing.

_R3X0007-Edit.jpg

In photography, the money is drying up. It is happening in every photographic genre.

Street photography never paid shit so lets just clear that up firstly. I’m not delusional here. I know that shooting candid photos of people having brunch at a hipster cafe in Denver isn’t the roadmap to making 200k per year….

Wedding photography is changing however, and that genre is one of the holy trinity of cash cows in photography (the other two being photojournalism and portraiture).

Firstly, I blame Canon and Nikon. They have been engaged in a nuclear war for quite some time, and the fallout has been nothing less than the annihilation of the wedding photography market. Both camera and lens makers have been churning out high quality entry-level (consumer) DSLR’s for over a decade and a half, and have placed them at a price point that tempts a casual shopper into trying his or her hand at photography. This in turn leads to casual shooters who realize early on that they can make money from these high resolution images they are taking. Unfortunately, the nubile shooters don’t have much skill, but most of them are not foolish enough to ignore this fact. To compensate they may charge bargain basement prices to shoot a wedding, as low as $250 or even lower, as opposed to the $5000 a reputable and seasoned wedding photographer charges on average. Thats a huge fucking disparity.

21.jpg

It would seem logical that the seasoned photographer’s photos would be qualitatively better than the nubile photographer’s collection and this is indeed the case. The problem is the photos aren’t $4500 better normally, at least not to the casual observer. This is blatantly obvious to price-conscious brides when viewing competing wedding portfolios, and will influence her decision. Thus the bride, not wanting to have a tacky amateur photographer but also not wanting to be financially raped, will settle on a happy medium: a photographer who charges between $1000-$2500 dollars. No problem right? Wrong.

People have mortgages, car payments, gambling habits and all sorts of fuckery to support with their photography. There are only a precious few brides getting married per year in a given community so the competition is horribly fierce EVERYWHERE. This will drag that $1000 down to $750 when an “early booking discount” is factored in or whatever. What follows is a buyers market, where brides have shooters tripping over themselves to book a wedding, as opposed to a sellers market where brides pay no less than premium for the services of very competent artists.

Photojournalism is dying because the print media is dead. Not really much to say about that. Sports Illustrated fired their ENTIRE staff of photographers a few years back, and then fired the department that fired the photographers a year later. Nuff fucking said….

The portrait market suffers from nearly the same woes as the wedding photography market. There are a lot of amateurs with capable gear who undercut the shit out of the masters of light…..

Of course cell phones getting better and better doesn’t help pro photographers earn more money….

Where is the money then? I shoot sports but basically the clients are parents who want to buy photos of little Davon or Tyler playing football and soccer in high school. I see more and more Canon 6D’s with 70-200 2.8 lenses on the sidelines these days, as moms have decided that its cheaper in the long run to invest in gear than to spend hours combing through photos only to buy one or two per season. Also, taking photos is fun so there’s that……

MR3X0343.jpg

Stock photography doesn’t pay a lot unless you go all-in. If anybody makes a shit ton of cash from that then comment below please.

Selling fine art prints is…… some bullshit unless you can maintain the “mysterious artist” persona constantly. I am indeed a mysterious fucking artist but I’m too lazy to try to sell prints of my shit. That could change though…..

If you’re making good money let me know what you do……

Exit.

 

Smaller Seems Better for Street Photography

_47a0991

I’m seriously considering moving away from DSLR’s for street photography.

Reasons:

My Canon 5d3 is WAY too big, especially with a 50mm 1.2 lens hooked on the front of it.

I only have one body now, the Canon, which I use for sports. It feels doubly risky to take my money making body out for street shooting.

I can’t reliably one-hand-shoot the Canon when I’m driving. That’s some sneaky shit I love doing, drive by shooting.

I have GAS…. fuck my life.

I am looking for any excuse to go mirrorless because I can sense in my core that DSLR’s are the past and mirrorless is the future.

DSLR’s scare the fuck out of people. A rangefinder-style mirrorless would make me look like a retro film student. Well, a 40+ year old retro film student. I still look young though. Black don’t crack.

I am starting to hate optical low pass filters. I am a sharpness snob, even though street photography isn’t all about sharpness. My 5d3 has a low pass filter and the underlying smudge frustrates me while viewing photos on my 27 inch 5k MAC screen…..

That’s it. Stay low and keep shooting, as I will do once I figure out which camera I want.

Street photography camera candidates currently are:

Fuji X100F, which comes out next year. The currently discontinued X100T just doesn’t have a good enough focus system for my needs.

Fuji X-Pro2 + 35mm F2 lens (53mm full frame equivalent). Very intriguing.

Leica Q. Perfect street camera but way too fucking expensive.

I hate Sony so the RX1R II will not be considered.

The Bad Rap on G.A.S

_47A0991.jpg
Canon 70D held by a beautiful stranger…

G.A.S.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome….

GAS is the impulse many of us have that compels us to want new tech all the time. The reason I said “us” generically and not “shooters” specifically is because GAS is not confined to digital photography. Computer builders have it too, as do digital DJ’s, music producers, graphic architects… basically anyone who uses modern tech in their profession or hobby. There have been many articles written about overcoming GAS. I will not add to that list of articles. I don’t see any problem with GAS. Actually, I think GAS can help to enlighten you as to what you like and don’t like, and is directly analogous to money that might be spent on formal schooling or paid personal instruction.

_MG_2817.jpg
What do you mean, “GAS can enlighten you?”

To be clear, a newer, better camera won’t automatically enable you to take better photos. It MIGHT enable you to take good photos more easily however, and for many professionals this makes upgrading their gear worth it. There is a LOT of gear out there, including but not limited to half a dozen popular camera and lens brands and an uncountable number of accessories. Some gear can actually have an immediate impact on the quality of your photos. I used to shoot field sports with a 135 2.0 L Canon lens. It’s a great lens and is tack sharp when shot correctly, but it’s a prime, and thus, I missed a lot of shots as the action got closer to the sidelines. Recently I hocked the 135L and got a 70-200 2.8 IS II. The sharpness of the new lens is roughly equivalent to the 135L across the full focal range and the new lens zooms, so I’m able to get many of the sideline shots I used to miss before. Also, I have more reach.

_MG_0703.jpg
Nothing makes manufacturers more giddy than seeing moms with GAS. Especially when that GAS relates directly to a mother’s children….

I understand that unchecked consumerism is unseemly. We feel used and exploited when we pay insane prices for new gear. Still, how else are you going to learn what you like and don’t like? Renting lenses? Who does that long term? How else can you learn how to execute what is required by you for the shoot at hand? Different gigs require different combinations and calibers of gear. If you stick with a Canon Rebel t3i and refuse to upgrade after reading this Eric Kim article, how can you ever compete with the wedding shooters in your area who are willing to invest more money in their photography than you do? There are some shots that are only achievable if you have a fast expensive prime, or a fast zoom, or a tilt-shift lens, or a camera with an extremely fast burst rate. This hipster, millennial-inspired rebellion against the evolution of your gear kit is not only counterproductive, but it ruins the challenge one feels to continually justify the buying of expensive lenses and bodies in your photography kit. How do you justify these purchases? By shooting the fuck out of whatever you are assigned to shoot and balling out, that’s how.

_47A3177.jpg
And yes…bikers can have  GAS too. I’ve already changed my pies…

GAS isn’t all bad. Don’t let these people make you block Amazon.com from your browser. If you are thinking of upgrading your favorite portrait lens, there’s nothing wrong with either choice. Keep it or sell it. It’s your prerogative, your career and your thrill when that big ass box arrives via UPS. After you get that gear set up, take your new fancy shit out there and fire off some shots. When you’re out there don’t stop. Stay low and keep shooting!

Please follow, like and share….. 🙂

The Reason…

_47a6728-edit
I don’t know if the “I have to scream to talk on the phone in a loud gymnasium” problem will ever be solved by science….

Winter is coming but it isn’t here quite yet. The leaves are turning and the morning school children waiting for busses blow steam though upside down peace signs, smoking imaginary cigarettes. The commando business women of summer are now wearing hose with thick black lines of thread down the back of the leg. The trash men on Reedbird Avenue are…….hold up, before I get all poetic and shit let me introduce myself.

I’m Ric Ray. I take street photos with a 5D Mark III, normally of attractive women, and I shoot sports photos with a 70D (though I’m transitioning to using the 5d Mark III for sports as well) for a growing national website that I find myself having to repeat the name of twice when I tell people about it. I don’t know for sure if the reason I have to repeat myself so often is because I mumble when I talk, or if the website name is too alliterative, but I digress. The sports photo site pays me on time each week, and because of them I am finally able to bring this hellish blog to you unwilling victims. Trust me, never have you clicked on a blog authored by such an individual as me. Subscribe whenever I figure out how to allow you to do so. Keep reading this blog because I can tell you better than I can tell you.

_47a3104
Put a pair of Chucks on any human or primate and they immediately look cool badass…

Why the girl in the photo above? Why do I capture women in my photos primarily? More on that later. Way later, as in another post. Winter is coming, but I wont rip off corny lines from Game of Thrones any longer, at least until I’ve told you the reason why this blog exists in the first place.

What is my motivation when I call my blog “micro struggler”? Am I bitching about my life? Am I saying that I’m out in these streets grinding like a 1989 drug dealer in Harlem, you know, as if “micro” is slang for the tedious day to day process? Am I being purposefully cryptic and vague to create some silly aura of mystery about me? None of the above….besides maybe the grinding part.

We all struggle at times in our lives, and indeed many of us define ourselves by a general outline of struggle. We are “cancer survivors” or we “did 5 years in the bing” or “started from the bottom” or “stayed with her even though the kid wasn’t mine”….stuff like that. Some of our struggles are harder to grasp or relate to such as “I swear to God Starbucks is using a high gluten extract to flavor my latte” or “The street sweepers are coming through this afternoon and I have to move my car two blocks away from my house” or….. “I can’t find a condom that fits me”….that’s where most of us find our day to day self-definition. Most of us don’t have monster, life-altering, wickedly unfair struggles to define ourselves by on a weekly basis. Most of us have silly little micro struggles.

_MG_1125-Edit.jpg
Because the last thing pretty girls want is their photo taken…

That’s fine on the surface. Who cares if I feel honest rage about having to listen to a 30 second commercial on Pandora during the middle of my workout? It’s no big deal right? Even if it is a big deal to me at the moment, I know that’s it’s not a fatal STD diagnosis or getting pulled over by the police when you have a half-emptied bottle of Patron nestled between your knees and a smoldering blunt in your mouth. Compared to that my micro struggles are nothing. However, even though they are meaningless to the world, my micro struggles are mine. They are a part of my story. Taken in totality they are my inner badge and they constitute my life reference points. They are not comparable or related to YOUR micro struggles, that is unless your micro struggles are congruent with mine. If they are, then we have bonded, because to be human is to relate to others and bond through struggle, and together hope for that impossible moment when all struggles are absent. But in addition to co-micro-stugglers, there are people in our lives, on our social media timelines, in our local and national political offices and especially on our 24 hour news channels who will take the momentary gorilla rage one feels when having a “micro-struggle” and turn that into a national crusade. I don’t know how I feel about that in a historical sense but I suspect I disapprove. This blog will, over time address when that happens in our various medias, and will also be deeply intimate as I relate my micro struggles to you, and give you the forum to relates yours. I’ll also share my random photos, which are perfect of course. 😉

My name is Ric Ray. I’m a photographer and I guess now I’m a blogger. I’m NOT a father or a husband though I’d like to be those things I suppose. I suppose I’m a sex partner to lonely old ladies until that lady grows sick of my shit. I am a self-proclaimed lifelong or “career” bachelor of sorts, but I’m no keeper. I don’t know when I was sentenced to be forever single or by what authority, but here I am, doing my bid and hoping for parole.

Recently, while going about the business of offering my “forever single” micro-struggle for consumption I heard the phrase, “You ain’t missing much” from a lovely chatty patty. I hear this often. This particular lady was a career-minded married woman and was tired of being the one who took the kids school in the morning while her unemployed husband slept. Once upon a time he was a big time drug dealer, she said, but now he was a full time visionary. After hanging up with the married lady I logged onto Facebook and the first post I saw was from a busty beauty complaining that she is single because all men are crazy, as if beauty isn’t the root of all insanity.

I can’t cover all that I have to say in one blog post or even one billion blog posts, but I will try. At least I will if I don’t drink heavily and ride my Iron 883 at unlawful speeds across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during a rainstorm.

I don’t know what is wrong with people these days as much as I can’t tell you whats wrong with myself. We are all humans and thus, it is impossible to be “objective” about our lives or even the lives of others. We are all trapped within the human experience, and the only way to truly gain an objective vantage point is to die. All Ricky Ray can do is bitch about my little micro-struggles, and heckle yours, and thank you for reading my blog, even though you don’t give a shit about me anyway. 🙂

_47A3086-Edit.jpg