WHAT IVE BEEN DOING ON SUNDAYS II

I haven’t been watching football on Sundays this year.

Why?

Who knows?

I have been shooting aspiring models and friends though.

 

The Weak End of Summer…

There were no 100 degree days this summer.

I’m not saying global warming is wrong, but back in the 90’s I recall consecutive summers in Baltimore and Georgia where the thermometer read 100 degrees or above.

The current/past summer was muggy yes. Hot? Not really to me.

I switched companies that I shoot sports for. (If you want to know to whom I switched check my Facebook page or something) Shooting sports is fun but the money is drying up pretty quickly. Fewer and fewer parents are willing to buy prints of their kid once he or she (the parent) leaves an event, and those photo tents you see at tournaments aren’t as lucrative as they once may have been. Couple that with newspapers and magazines dying slowly, and there really isn’t a major demand for sports photos. I see parents and high school students with semi-pro gear on the sidelines now all the time. They may not have the passion and skill to produce high level sports compositions, but that camera and lens they now hold represents the money they would have spent on professional photos perhaps…..

Sports are in full swing though. I’m booked to shoot every weekday afternoon (after my main job) up till probably the first week of November. I’m also shooting models now until kingdom come, and will probably miss many Sundays in front of the tube watching the Redzone channel because of it. Sundays are great to shoot models for that reason however. It’s a dead day in the city for foot traffic and that’s a perfect environment to shoot in….

MICROSTRUGGLER is nearly a year old. I mainly like to shoot women and that’s what this blog will be about moving forward: photos and women…..

Exit.

Model on Instagram is @myrlanis_

She only accepts followers who follow me first….

My IG is @rickyray73

Tee shirt available here.

FUJI X100F – 6 Month Review

Enter.

I like this little camera. Model Ana Rivera ain’t bad either.

So it has been 6 months since the Fuji X100F debuted and I of course purchased the first one sold in my city of Baltimore. In fact, I have yet to see another X100F in Baltimore, but I digress. Since I bought the camera I’ve shot ~5000 photos and spent untold lunch breaks going through the menus. I’ve shot sports sidelines, pretty models, and I’ve shot and killed streets. I’ve hooked up an external flash, more on that later, and have fallen in love with using the LCD only to shoot.

WHAT I LOVE

I started out with this camera thinking I could shoot jpegs using those cute film simulation modes. I really tried to make it work too. My favorite one is ACROS (followed by Classic Chrome). I used ACROS a lot. I knew though, that sometimes I needed to record a scene in color so I quickly started shooting RAW + Jpegs to my card, which slows my Lightroom flow down, but it was manageable. Then, at some point, I downloaded the fuji film simulation plugins from some damn place on the internet and installed it in Lightroom. That way I could change a Fuji (only Fuji) RAW file to the Classic Chrome look if I wanted, or whatever. After a while I figured there really is no fucking difference between the in-camera jpeg film simulations and the Lightroom plugin camera conversions, AND I noticed that Fuji RAW files have a shit ton of dynamic range. I shoot all RAW now. Fuck it. Those in-camera film simulation modes are too cute for me…

I never understood or cared about having a leaf shutter until I started shooting sidelines at sporting events. I normally shoot 1/1000 F5.6 and auto ISO range 200-800 during the day for streets. When I’m shooting events I turn on the built-in fill flash just for shits and giggles. This is when I discovered that I could overpower the sun and create these hauntingly half dark images. I continued this trend later shooting models using an external flash….

The image quality beats the unholy fuck out of my Canon 5d Mark III, even when the DSLR is coupled with the world class 70-200 2.8 IS II lens. This little Fuji point-and-shoot compact beats it handily as far as micro contrast and sharpness is concerned. RAW to RAW the Fuji wins handily when it comes to dynamic range for both shadow pulling AND highlight recovery. Colors are more of a taste thing, but I find Fuji colors to be more accurate than Canon, even though Canon’s colors are warm and lovely.

The face detection works reasonably well, and it will even detect a models eye (left or right depending on your chosen setting) when it feels like it.

 

This is most likely the finest street photography camera ever made.

Models and subjects smile at this camera, as opposed to my big ass Canon which makes folks get all serious or run away.

THINGS I HATE

The afl/ael button is useless and positioned horribly. I have reassigned it to change my focus type.

The control ring concept is so horrid that I try my best to never touch the lens unless I’m changing apertures.

What the fuck is up with Fuji and off camera flash? Nothing works right. I can get my Canon (actually a Pixel Mago) flash to fire in manual using a chord that I have to jiggle and pray to get it to work. When it works the results are good though. I’m getting the X-T2 and some lenses soon as well as this new Godox flash trigger and flash unit that’s supposed to work with Fuji TTL and HSS and do it all wireless. We shall see…

I hate the view mode button. God forbid you ever hit that bitch by accident and spend an hour thinking your camera is malfunctioning. Perhaps I’m just an idiot but still….

FINAL THOUGHTS

This camera is a nice intro into the Fuji universe and also has a leaf shutter. That’s the deal. The jpegs are good but overrated. The RAW files are superb. It’s compact yet made of steel. It’s sharp as fuck. It’s silent. The autofocus is good in single shot mode. If you’re a street photographer this camera is superior to almost any camera you can buy besides a manual focus Leica and maybe my beloved Leica Q. None of those cameras have a fill flash though. This one does….

Exit. Please like and subscribe.

Tee shirt available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8L6WS

Model: Ana Rivera @myrlanis_ on Instagram.

Does Image Quality Really Matter?

What matters more: photo content or picture quality? What photo has more intrinsic appeal: a grainy photo of a person getting shot in the head at point blank range or a crisp medium format photo of an apple sitting on a kitchen counter?

People seem to prefer interesting content over visually appealing picture quality. Actually, having both at the same time can be a detriment….

Before I begin I must admit: I’m far more shallow and superficial than I might have hoped….

Let’s take the internet for example, which consists of 3 things: photos, video, and text. That’s it. That’s the internet.

With laptops and PC’s declining in sales and tablet sales becoming stagnant, the main way folks consume the internet these days is by using their phones. Phones have made people highly tolerant of inferior photo quality, especially if the photo features a juicy ass, a nice set of boobs, or a cat, in no particular order. This is because people use their phones to record video and snap photos of the above things, often times in bad lighting or with less than professional level cameras mounted on their phones. Actually, there arguably has never been a professional level camera mounted on a phone…

Come to think of it, amateur porn is the reason this is a debate at all. Every time a chick sends you a photo of her rack and you whack off to it you are taking a side in this debate….

Meanwhile, the internet gives us high quality porn and photographers offer their services for top dollar. Premium porn sites sell content that later gets bootlegged and iPhone photo geeks scoff at paying 5000 USD for a wedding shoot. What the marketplace, both the internet consumer and iPhone shooters are saying is that image quality essentially doesn’t matter.

….and we wonder why our basic friends are simply not impressed by our nice, sharp, well composed DSLR photos, and instead like grainy, drunkly composed iPhone St. Patrick’s Day pictures….

Actually taken with the Fujifilm X100F and ruined in post….

This is why Instagram models are so successful. For every person surfing the web on their phones looking for art there are 2600 men searching the hashtag #tittytuesday. Art is secondary to porn, and in turn, image quality is secondary to content. In fact, many men are suspicious of well lit, professional photos on an Instagram models feed. They suspect a sell is coming, and nobody likes “the sell”. We, ahem, they are more amenable to poorly lit bathroom and bedroom photos where the model is wearing her often worn night clothes…

A nice painting is probably not as desirable as a nice blowjob I suppose, even though the painting normally costs more….

We photographers spend thousands on our cameras and even more on an array of sharp lenses and we only have 900 followers on Instagram and 300 on twitter while some chick in her moms basement using a Galaxy Note has 200k followers on IG and a respectable 24k on twitter, even though she never does more than post photos….

Everything here works besides the Black 4k, which is crap…

Why the fuck are we buying all this gear? Are the camera companies mind fucking us? If you shoot weddings or funerals or school photos I get it, but most of us don’t shoot shit besides street photos and our reluctant family members who we are afraid to tell how much we paid for our gear….

This is a micro-struggle. The debate over image quality vs. image content will not determine whether or not your city legalizes prostitution. This is small shit in the scheme of things. Still, think about how much grainy amateur porn you whack off too compared to over-produced West Hollywood porn…..

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.