Muggy Summer

This summer has been very hot and muggy. Blame global warming I guess, but if I’m going that far I may as well blame the sun while I’m at it…..

I’m gearing up to accept a second sports photography gig for the school year. Here goes….

I’ve been shooting street, working full time hours at my day job, and launching a few other business ventures. I’ve also resumed investing in my potential retirement. Here goes….

Single again. Here goes…..

Summer means scooting around on my Harley. I’ve been doing that a lot. If I wasn’t so busy maybe I’d combine my rides with street shooting….

The next big purchase for me is the Canon 1dx II. Then after that I’ll try to get the 300mm 2.8 IS II…..

Besides that shit is real. Keep banging….

Exit.

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.

…ABOUT FORM VS. FUNCTION

I used to want every pro lens Canon makes, a thousand dollar Gitzo tripod, and two of the latest and greatest Canon camera bodies. Now I want to sell my Canon gear. Now I believe:

“The less gear you own the better. “ ~ RIC RAY

Do not get shit twisted with me. I love gear. I also love women with big boobs and fat asses. A man shouldn’t have too many of those types of gals in his life either, if he is so fortunate to have one at all. In fact one gal is more than enough….

Similarly, one camera and one lens will suffice for most general photographic purposes, unless you are doing professional work. If you own a compact camera like my Fujifilm X100F that’s all the better. 

God save the poor fuck staying up late nights dreaming of gear….

At the end of months of gear research, the prospective gear buyer arrives at the sterling conclusion that he MUST buy camera X. He has studied many online gear forums and has read and watched dozens of reviews. He has developed a budget so he can reasonably afford the camera. In fact, he has applied reason so thoroughly that reason has given way to a passionate, almost scientific defense of his camera choice. When challenged about his choice, he speaks as if he already owns the camera. 

There is nothing wrong with this, but in truth nobody should buy a camera or lens because of rationality alone. How the piece of kit looks, feels, and how it makes you feel is as important as burst rate, 4K video, and image quality. Indeed any camera will take a fine photo theses days much like any gun can kill a person, but since that is the case I think it is better to buy something that inspires you as opposed to the “best tool for the job” if these two criterion don’t intersect. This is partly why I detest Sony as a camera maker, because however great their cameras may be, they seem to hoist function over form. 

I understand that a pro sports shooter needs something that focuses swiftly and shoots a lot of photos equally as fast. I get it that wedding shooters need low light champion cameras that can focus in near darkness reliably. These shooters may choose function over form. Still, there are plenty of shooters tackling weddings with elegant yet hard to use digital rangefinder Leica’s and film cameras….

I can honestly say I don’t want another piece of camera gear right now. I’m good. Maybe if Leica drops the price on the Q or if a new similar camera comes out from them or a full frame Fuji compact then I’d start planning my budgets again. I still have my Canon 5d3 with the 70-200 2.8 IS II to shoot sports with. Between my two bodies I could probably cover a large number of paid events but fuck all that. I’ve been on that train of thought. It is too easy to surrender to gear lusting. It is way too tempting to put off shooting photos now and surrender to watching gear porn on YouTube while mentally assembling a kit you will hopefully complete a year in the future. 

I know I often defend GAS. This is a bit of a departure from that. I’m not being passionate or speaking from a lectern here today. These are more random thoughts than anything. In fact, let me get the fuck out of here like this: 

“It is man’s natural sickness to believe that he possesses the truth.”  ~ Blaise Pascal

Exit. 

CAMERA REVIEW: The FujiFilm X100F

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Introduction:

The fujifilm X100F is nearly flawless for its intended uses. This camera is the real fucking deal here folks. It may not be the “all time greatest” compact mirrorless camera, but it is the second best of all time, behind a certain Leica camera I will not mention by name…

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The Fujifilm X100F…

Many of us have been shooting with DSLR’s, and though they perform very well and are ubiquitous, a lot of times we wish we had something equally as powerful but a hell of a lot smaller. I’m a street photographer. I shot with a Canon 70D and then a 5d Mark III in the streets. This was great as far as autofocus speed and lens choices are concerned, but those are some big bitches, those cameras. Coupled with a 135L and then the 50 1.2L…it was a chore to carry those kits around. It got to a point where I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was like: fuck it, I need something smaller.

Smaller historically has mostly meant “image quality compromise” when it comes to camera selection. For example, the image quality available from a huge $50k Hasselblad will be better (in theory) than the image quality I can get from a Nikon D750 (nothing against the D750). This is due to the sensor size (medium format vs full frame) of course. When looking at camera choices, I immediately realized that even though I wanted something powerful, I needed to go as small as possible if I was going to actually use this new camera every day and not just when I felt like it. That was my first consideration: I wanted to buy a camera (or camera system, more on that later) that I would actually carry with me everywhere I travel daily. A secondary thought when making that consideration was whether or not I wanted a “point and shoot” style unibody, or did I want a small camera system with small lenses, such as those expensive cameras and lenses the Germans make. This consideration took a few months to sort through.

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My Harley in ACROS…

The next consideration was price. A camera too cheap will be so inferior to my Canon system that I will feel buyers remorse, and a camera that is too expensive will be like carrying a huge diamond with me in public. I’d be paranoid about losing it and would dread having to replace it. Don’t let people bullshit you: price is definitely a factor in these decisions and not just the “can you afford it?” calculation. The proper way to express that calculation is: can you easily afford to replace it? 

So I decided to get the Fuji X100F here, and made a big fucking deal of it, as if my decisions matter in the scheme of the planet. With no further bullshit…here is my review!

Image Quality:

Let me cut to the chase. The image quality from this cameras is very very good. I totally prefer the X100F jpegs over the jpegs coming out of my Canon 5d Mark III. These Fuji jpegs are superb. As of this blog entry Adobe hasn’t updated camera RAW so I can’t process RAW files in Lightroom without doing a bunch of bullshit workarounds. Fuck that. I’ll wait.

Are there some issues that suck about the images I get from this camera? Maybe. Really it’s an issue with Fuji X-Tran sensor cameras in general, and is summed up in three words: waxy skin jpegs. That’s it. Other than the fact that at higher ISO’s (above 800), white people look like they are made of plastic when you shoot color jpegs, there are no issues to speak of.

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Waxy Skin Jpegs…

Notice I’m leaving out specs here. Fuck specs. The camera has an APS-C sensor and around 24 megapixels of resolution. If you want more specs then google them.

The high ISO performance of this camera is pretty good to my eyes, with fine grain appearing prevalent around 6400 or so. The grain (which can be included or excluded artificially) from this camera is decisively unlike the color crazy “noise” you get from your run of the mill DSLR at higher ISO.

You can hand-hold this little fucker to about 1/60 with no problems and get images that are crazy sharp. The camera doesn’t have image stabilization, like that unmentioned Leica does, but mirrorless cameras don’t have a slapping mirror to complicate the process and work against the hand-hold-ability of the camera using slower shutter speeds.

The camera has a noise reduction engine which is weirdly cranked up by default. I suggest turning it down (to between -1 to -4) before you take your first jpeg photo.

One of the coolest features in the history of digital cameras is the film simulations offered by Fuji cameras (including their new GFX medium format camera). These simulations are sublime. I use ACROS, which is a contrasty black-and-white sim. Most people use ACROS and the faded color look called Classic Chrome (and by most people I mean everybody)….

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Classic Chrome

Bottom line is: if you have a big ass DSLR and are afraid switching to Fuji will hurt your Instagram follower count… it wont. Buy the camera. You’ll be fine…..

Build and Handling:

When the pretty counter-girl at Service Photo in Baltimore handed me the Fuji X100F box on February 23rd 2017, I stood there stunned at how miniature the camera was once I unboxed it. The camera is TINY. My iPhone 6S+ is both wider and longer than the X100F. My iPhone doesn’t weigh more though. The X100F is meaty, and holding it betrays the fact that the intended use for this camera is heavy street and travel work. There is a lot of tech packed into this little weapon, and you can feel it when you hold it. I opted for the all black version, but it also comes in hipster-grey, or whatever it’s called. Regardless of color scheme choice, the camera itself is an analog throwback celebration of dials and switches, but is as well the peak of modernity with its glass LCD screen and high-tech hybrid viewfinder (more on that in the autofocus portion).

The lens, which I have not mentioned until now, is the same lens that has been on this model of camera since its inception with the original X100 (or at least the X100S). In my opinion the lens is fine. Pinned against the body is a 1/3 of a stop clicking sliver of an aperture ring that is thrilling to turn. Next, and I have to say this: that “control ring” is some bullshit. It spins too freely and is wasted in jpeg-only mode, where it controls stuff like the built in teleconverter (35, 50, and 70mm options–all at 24mp) and lets you choose between the film simulation modes, in addition to two other options I cant remember. Enabling Fine (jpeg) + RAW disables these annoying choices and returns the control ring to its intuitive function of being a focus ring. In Fine + Jpeg the control ring is also a parallax correction ring, when you are shooting stuff that is very close.

The camera comes with a strap which I will never use. I got one of those trendy rope straps instead. If anybody wants a free Fuji strap then hit me up (I’m lying).

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ISO 1600. ACROS

I am a bit confused as to how to affix a 49mm clear filter on the front of this puppy. Thats the filter size. The X100F comes with a lens cap that pops on and off and looks terribly awesome.

This may be the best looking camera on the market today. There are simply no bad angles about this camera.

Handling is fine unless your phallus beaters are particularly large. The button layout on the back of the camera is a bit tight on the right side, and some users have complained about the placement of the Q button. It’s also easy as fuck to bump the exposure compensation dial off the zero setting, so be mindful of that as you toss the little camera about.

Autofocus:

That Leica camera I promised not to mention is fast as shit to attain focus and fire. I tested it and was blown away. Amazingly, this little Fuji is almost as fast if not equally so. It’s quick. I can use one hand to attain focus, fire with professional precision, and keep it moving all in less than a second and a half. The camera does take a nervous second or two to wake up, but I have a feeling this has more to do with the time it takes the “eye detection” function of the viewfinder to kick in than actual wake-up time. I probably just need more practice with this particular camera. My number one personal focus is speed.

There are the standard modes of autofocus. Continuous, Single shot, and Manual. Choose whichever one you prefer. I refrain from the continuous shot mode because, honestly, I shoot Canon and these little mirrorless jobs are not on that level yet as far as tracking swiftly moving subjects are concerned. This isn’t a sports camera by any means, but it can nail a shot here or there of something in fast motion that will surprise you.

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Shot out to the ambassador of Street Photography Eric Kim. That guy. The more I get into this street photography thing, and become a God at it, the more I realize that kid knows exactly what the fuck he’s talking about. In this case I’m speaking about using the LCD to shoot. With a Canon 5d Mark III, it isn’t practical to use the LCD to shoot. It’s possible but not practical. With this Fuji X100F I use the LCD by default. It’s fast and brilliant. I’m in my car and I see something and BAM. I can shoot it without having to guess or manually switch shooting/viewing modes. I see the final exposure right there on the screen. Now I see why many shooters go for the Ricoh GR.

As for the viewfinder, here is where novelty meets practicality. The EVF I would rate as average. It doesn’t seem as fast or nice as the one in that Leica camera, but it does the job well. There is a bit of a lag though, but it is a practical and useful EVF. The OVF function is very nice, but it seems sort of novel and unreliable as far as your certainty of nailing focus. It’s addictive though, and is great to use for we Canon/Nikon monkeys who already know how a photo will turn out exposure-wise because of our settings. I’d say the OVF is more for advanced photographers and the EVF is the easier viewfinder mode to use, just slower. I use the OVF and the LCD, for the record….

The AEL/AFL button is maybe an 8th of an inch too far to the left. It works fine if back button focus is your thing. I said I would start using a half-shutter press once I got this camera and that’s what I have been doing. I use 100% back button focus on my Canon. You can set the AFL to any of maybe 8 buttons on the X100F, so no need to fret if your hands are poorly sized for this camera. If you got those Donald Trump sized hands though you’ll be fine…

Video:

What is that?

Battery and Storage:

The X100F has one SD slot. The card slot is sketchy to me (it gave me an error the FIRST time I tried to reinsert my SD card after dumping images with my card reader) so now I tend to upload images using the USB cable. It comes with a charger, the camera does. You can also charge the battery using the USB cable by plugging the camera up to a computer or any USB charger, which is super fucking dope awesome. This camera takes the same battery as the X-Pro2 and the X-T2. You get maybe 300-400 shots on one charge. Not bad really. I have 2 batteries but have yet to need the second one. If I were using this camera for a wedding (as a 2nd body) I’d likely have maybe 3 batteries and one in the clip, totaling 4.

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Price:

The Fujifilm X100F costs $1299 new. You get a lens already anchored to the body. That’s important. You see, guys like me with GAS would buy 6 lenses if the X100F didn’t have a lens already rooted onto the front of it. This is important as it takes much of your temptation away. To this day I randomly log into Amazon to look at cameras before realizing I don’t really need anything……

Alternatives: 

In this price range? The Ricoh GR reportedly has better image quality and is cheaper to boot. No viewfinder though. More expensive? That Leica camera and the Sony RX cameras are luxury greatness. Other than that you have to get a whole new camera system and scout for lenses and troll over DXO lens sharpness tests and all that bullshit. With a compact camera all you have to do is shoot.

Conclusion:

Buy the goddamn camera.

Exit.

The Bad Rap on G.A.S

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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