Category Archives: The Journey

The Tripod Dilemma

One of the things I enjoy doing is getting pictures during periods or situations where there is little or no light from which to get the picture.

In these situations the photographer has one of 2 options: change the ISO setting son the camera to a higher one – which in turn introduces noise/ grain, or use a tripod usually in conjunction with a remote or cable release.

With my choice of kit being smaller than previously, I chose to go for the Manfrotto Element Carbon Fibre Big Traveller Kit tripod.

I chose it because it is designed to be light and compact to carry about yet still has the capacity to support the weight of the camera with battery grip attached and the very large 100-400mm lens attached.

It also comes with its own carrier bag as well – a saving of a few quid I can tell you.

And yes, it is very compact and very light to carry around. But I may have discovered a small issue with it, and I’m not sure oif the issue relates to the tripod or my expectations of what a tripod can actually do.

I decided to try something I had previously considered trying, but without a lens of sufficient focal length to get the shot, and that is to take a picture of the moon.

The shot left is one of the examples I got, and very nice it is you might say.

But this picture is not quite as sharp as it could be, and that is because when the lens was fully extended, the camera and lens did not seem able to stay locked in to pointing up to the moon, and had to be supported by my hand holding it in place.

Not quite what I had in mind!

I used the special collar that comes with the lens to attach to the tripod. This is supposed to balance the weight out and so ensure greater stability when using the lens with a tripod. The camera had a battery grip attached to it, when in theory means that the extra weight should have had the lens WANTING to point up!

But no, it just wanted to wander off from true.

I tried tightening up the attachment screw on a few occasions. I considered using a higher ISO setting, but that would’ve defeat the purpose of having the tripod surely?

I have now discovered, courtesy of surfing the WEX web site (they are my go to suppliers and are the place I have purchased all my kit from) that you can buy tripod heads specially designed to ensure such large lenses are not only supported in weight, but also in rigidity – meaning they do not swing all over the place on a tripod when the lens is extended to its maximum focal length.

 

One such example is the one shown on the left – yes, it’s a Manfrotto, but I’m trying to just replace the tripod head not bu a whole new tripod system.

I’m not sure if it will work with my current tripod base, but it shows that all is not lost. Just that it was not in my original return to photography budget.

But then, I’ve never owned or used a lens as big as the 100-44 mm before!

 

 

 

A Longer Focal Length Needed

In my previous photography career, most of my subjects were more those in need of a close up and wide angle lenses.

I never really had need for a lens for long focal length.

This time however – I am finding I have a need for such a lens.

Maybe it is just a simple case that the lens purchased with the camera body is so good it is covering all those other lenses I previously used in the days of Canon kit.

Fuji offer me a choice of 3 long focal length zoom lenses:

 

The 50-140mm f2.8

This would be a direct follow on from my 16-55mm in focal length.

As much as I love the f2.8 aperture through the focal length range – truth is, the longest focal length comes up short with what I need.

I need something that can extend my focal length by at least twice that offered by this lens…

 

 

That brings me to the 100-400mm which comes in 2 flavours

There is the vanilla version that is a straight 100-400mm focal length lens, or the version that comes with a 1.4 converter built in that would extend the maximum focal length to almost 600mm.

That might be nice to have, but I didn’t have need for that extra feature – so I settled for the vanilla version which is the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.

 

The important points of note are that it is still a weather resistant lens, and comes with an onboard image stabilisation system to help counteract camera shake created when trying to work with this lens via hand holding. It is a heavy lens and is often more suited to use with a tripod.

I chose to get the vanilla version of the 100-400 mm lens – and, WOW, it is heavy all right – and BIG!

My initial play with the lens has taught me that this is NOT a lens you just get out of the box, bolt on to a camera body and become a fluent user of.

Using the picture from one of my first trips as a reference point on the left, the picture on the right shows you what 400mm of focal length gets you:

That is the crane operators cab you can see occupying a significant part of the picture – and that is a person you can see working from a cradle to lock the spigots that hold a container in place. You can click on the left picture to enlarge it and see how insignificant that crane operators cab is. As for seeing a person working?

I’m more than happy with my choice of lens purchase – just need the time to get out and use it! Maybe time for a shot of the moon?

(when talking about focal lengths, all those quoted above are for the crop sensor system used by Fuji X system cameras. In Full frame they are 1.5 times longer – 400=600 in FF)

A New Day

This was the moment when I knew I was seriously returning to my long time interest of photography!

It is an initial selection of kit that allows me to start having much more control over the images I create than on my iPhone 5S.

 

It comes with easily customizable aperture, shutter speed & ISO settings – all at the touch of my fingers.

No apps to look at and preset – just eye to the viewfinder, frame the shot, adjust shot settings accordingly, focus & capture.

And I also get to choose which part of the image I want as the focal point.

Maybe you can do that on an iPhone 5S, but I never found a way and truth be told, wasn’t really interested. For me, taking photos is about using a dedicated camera – not an all in one device like a smartphone or computer tablet.

Having previously been a long time Canon user, I have now switched to Fuji and their X-Series camera bodies and lenses. They just feel so right in my hand, though still heavy when fully assembled and even more so with a battery grip attached. But then, I am talking about the Fuji equivalent of ‘professional kit’.

Now I have the assembled kit, as will be used – with batteries fully charged and memory card formatted ready to go.

The instruction manual is a chunky little thing, but then this is quite a powerful camera.

I’ve also taken the time to upgrade the camera to the latest firmware version. The lens is already configured to the latest firmware version.

Fuji Firmware upgrades are another reason to invest in Fuji kit.

Fuji Firmware upgrades do not just fix bugs – they introduce new features that have been incorporated into more recently released cameras.

This may seem like madness – but it is getting Fuji quite a following, and so sales!

Before getting stuck in to the manual, I took that camera out on a couple of trips to Felixstowe and took some pictures using the basic features such as aperture, shutter and ISO settings only – along with my initial attempts at using the autofocus system. The following are my initial efforts:

This is the Port of Felixstowe, and the boat in the background is amongst the largest of the worlds container ships. The small yellow boat is the Felixstowe, Harwich, Shotley Ferry.

I was amused at the difference in scale of these two boats, when you consider ALL of the containers on the MSC Clara are larger than the little ferry – and the MSC Clara can carry up to 18000 of those containers!

But what impressed me most – was the close crop as shown below:

This is just a small segment of that initial picture – and not even saved to its best quality. Say what you want, but you won’t hear me complaining about the quality of images produced by this camera. And then there was another trip where I tried the camera on a less stationary subject, my Grandson, as pictured below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an uncropped jpg from the original RAW file downloaded from the camera.

The only thing done to it is recovering from the shadows a bit.

I am so loving the BOKEH this 16-155 f2.8 LM WR lens is producing.

The autofocus [AF] has also pulled exactly the right spot on his face, as can be seen on the next shot below – which is another crop of this shot.

Tell me you wouldn’t be happy with that as a shot of any child – let alone a fidgety 2-3 year old!It was even good enough to pick up his runny nose!

No flash was used – this is just as downloaded from the camera with a drop of shadow recovery using Adobe Lightroom® – again, you will hear no negative comments with image quality like that to expect from future uses.

So, to summarise:

  • I have purchased a new camera kit made by Fujifilm
  • I have put it all altogether, charged the batteries and upgraded any firmware
  • I have taken a few test shots
  • I have a manual to read so I can learn how to master this camera
  • In short – I am BACK INTO PHOTOGRAPHY 🙂