Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

I wish you and your loved ones a joyous festive season and the very, very best for 2014.


X-Pro1 + XF 35/1.4 @ 8
Warmest Regards,
vkphoto

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Morning after the ice storm

The ice storm hit Ontario, my area now looks like one big hockey rink. Streets, sidewalks everything is covered with thick ice, one big hockey rink. The storm left thousands without the power. Luckily we still have  all services up and running.


It's still raining but I managed to take couple shots around the house with my trusty X-Pro 1.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Holiday season discounts!

Capture One (both Express and Pro) are now support Fujifilm XE-2 and available at 30% discount, ==> link


My favourite raw developer, Iridient (also with XE-2 support), is on sale too (enter code: IRIDIENT9), ==> link



 "In celebration of Iridient Developer's nine year anniversay and a great year in 2013 I am happy to announce a rare sale on Iridient Developer! Get 29% off your purchase of Iridient Developer by using coupon code "Iridient9" now through Decomber 27"

I have no affiliation with PhaseOne or Iridient Digital, I just like both products and can recommend them to any Fuji X-trans user. My reviews are here, here and here. But as always, I encourage you to download trials, test and draw your own conclusion:)

Cheers!
vkphoto


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Toronto Distillery District with Minolta 16mm 1:2.8

Finally I found time to re-process files from the last year trip to the Distillery District in Toronto. The set below was taken with Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Minolta MD 16/2.8 fish-eye lens.


All images were post processed in Silver FX Pro, with low key filter to add some drama, may be too much :)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

DXO Perspective, tested with Fujinon XF 14/2.8

Couple weeks ago I downloaded DXO Perspective (OSX,  App Store). It was free but now it goes for  $12.99 :)


Here is my quick test using X-Pro1 + Fujinon XF 14/2.8

Friday, 15 November 2013

Ilford PanF Plus 50 vs. X-Trans vs. Foveon

I like to shoot film and still shooting at least couple rolls a year. After reading that Ilford opened film processing lab in US I decided to try their service to test my favourite PanF+50 (35mm film) against my favourite digital sensors, Fujifilm X-trans and Sigma Foveon. Obviously I used my favourite cameras for the task: Fuji X-Pro1, Nikon FM2 and Sigma DP2M :)


Here is my results.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

B&W with Foveon Merrill

Lately I am using DP2M almost exclusively as my B&W camera. Not because something wrong with its colour rendition but because I love how Foveon handles B&W.

Misty morning, Gull river, Ontario

Thanks
vkphoto

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Fuji colours

When I switched to digital the foliage season here in Ontario has become a very challenging photography exercise for me. I just couldn't capture the palette of colours when nature explodes and leaves beginning to change from green to fiery hues. I've tried various  cameras from every leading brand but never got it done right. Until the Fuji X-Trans is arrived. After using X-Pro1 for more than a year, I have to say that this camera+sensor+lens(s)  is truly a perfect "colour capturing" combination.


Here is some pictures (actually many pictures) from my recent trip to the Ontario cottage country, hope you like them :)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Taking pictures in the rain

Although Fuji X-Pro1 is not weather sealed it did survive in some pretty nasty condition, including the hail storm. But would I do it again? Absolutely not! Followed on recommendation from one of the dpreview forum member I bought very inexpensive rain sleeves from OP/TECH and tested them today.


They may look almost like a regular plastic bag, but surprisingly do the job well. I spent about an hour under the drizzling rain taking pictures in my garden and both camera and the lens were absolutely dry.


Drawstring is pretty snug and if you add filter to your lens it will be even more protected. Overall the product is good, compact (fits in the pocket) but can be very handy in harsh weather conditions.

All the best,
vkphoto

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Photo Ninja 1.2.0 with X-Trans support

PictureCode just released version 1.2.0 of their very popular professional-grade raw converter Photo Ninja.
This update comes with initial support for Fuji X-Trans cameras (X-Pro1, X-E1, X-100S, X-M1, X20). Note that highlight recovery, in particular, is not yet implemented for the X-Trans. Full change log is here.


I quickly compared this latest release to LR5, C1 and Iridient Developer. Here is my first impression.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Fall foliage in Ontario

This is my favourite season, when I am spending more time outdoor than sitting in front of the computer :)


The foliage season just started here in Ontario, and slowly moving from north to south. I am planning to spend next couple weeks  taking picture, a lot of pictures. Should be great workout for my Fuji X-Pro1 and myself!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Shooting macro with cheap focusing rail

My biggest challenge shooting macro with reverse lenses is razor-thin depth of field. The lens focusing ring doesn't work and I had to move the camera to or away from the object to nail the focus. Very tedious exercise. I started to look for some sort macro focusing rail and just got one from eBay for $11 delivered.

Rig assembled (X-Pro1 with Nikkor 28/2.8 in reverse)

How does this rail work for macro?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Happy 25th Anniversary!

Please welcome a new addition to my classic Nikon collection.
25 years ago, in September 1988, the legendary Nikon F4 was introduced. It is arguably the most innovative camera ever made by Nikon.
F4 is fully compatible (including matrix metering) with every Nikon lens made since the introduction of Nikon F in 1959. It is also the last Nikon professional camera that was operated by knobs rather than by menu and buttons.

Beautiful design by Giorgetto Giugiaro (picture was taken with DP2M)

When couple weeks ago I saw one in excellent condition for $150 I just couldn't resist and bought it. I am planning to run couple rolls through it and will share my experience.

BTW,  if you dod't know, Ilford Lab Direct (US/Canada) is now offering mail-in processing for B&W films.

All the best,
vkphoto

Saturday, 14 September 2013

iShoot Quick Release Plate for Fujifilm X-Pro 1

Personally I think that the biggest X-Pro1 design flaw is its tripod mount. It is off the center and too close to battery/memory card compartment. I am using tripod often and prefer to have a standard Arca Swiss quick release plate permanently attached to the camera, but with X-Pro 1 the plate blocks direct access to battery/memory compartment and that's really annoying.
Almost immediately after getting X-Pro1 I bought the Gariz half case (my review is here) and the issue was resolved. I was one happy camper until XF 55-200 has arrived.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Reverse lens macro photography with X-Pro 1

Macro photography is one of the area that I had never really explored. Good macro lenses or close-up filters are not cheap so I decided to try a well known "reverse lens" method just to see if macro photography is for me. All you need is an adapter to mount your lens in reverse, using the filter thread in front rather than actual lens mount at the back.You can easy calculate the diopter power of the reversed lens by dividing 1000 by the focal length. For example, a 35 mm lens gives a 1000/35 = +28.5 diopter.
Inside a 100 years old Omega watch 
That's how I setup my new macro rig.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Pocket Light Meter

I always considered a good trusty light meter as one of the most important tools in my photo bag. Regardless of the camera (film or digital) and built-in metering system (matrix, centre, spot, weighted, etc) I am still using a dedicated light meter to re-confirm exposure settings. Couple months ago disaster happened, I lost my beloved Gossen Luna Star F light meter. Before spending ~ $ 200 on the replacement I decided to check what other options are available in 21st century and came across this Pocket Light Meter  app.
This FREE app transforms you iPhone into a pretty good spot light meter. There are several other apps available that can do similar job, but I picked up Pocket Light Meter because of its accuracy and simplicity. Here is my quick review.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Iridient Developer 2.2 (quick comparison)


Iridient Developer is arguably the best RAW converter  for Fuji X-Trans raw files. About a month ago I tested Iridient 2.1 and was really impressed. My review is here. The latest 2.2 update brought additional features, improvements and bug fixes for Fujifilm X.


New Features:
New, smoother "Soft Look" demosaic option for Fuji X-Trans models.
Added support for Fujifilm RAW daylight, cloudy and tungsten white balance presets for most recent models.
Added support for automatic RAW lens distortion and vignetting correction metadata for many Fujifilm models.
Support for Fujifilm X-M1
Improvements:
Modified tone curve and baseline exposure for Fujifilm X-Trans models to better match other software and camera JPEGs.
EXIF 2.3 lens model information should now be displayed in Preview window for many more camera models, including the Fuji X-Trans models.
Bug Fixes:
Fixed bug with "Soft Look" checkbox and the Fuji X-Trans cameras. Now, like with Bayer/Foveon RAW models this option enables an alternate, smoother demosaic (RAW interpolation) method.
Fixed ISO gain adjustment for Fuji X-Trans models at ISO 3200 and 6400.:
Full Release Notes  

I quickly compared Iridient 2.2 to Aperture 3.4. 5 and Lightroom 4.4

Friday, 9 August 2013

Fuji X-Pro 1 as a film scanner?

Couple days ago I was scanning some old 4x5 negatives and wondering, is there any other way to make the process faster? Each scan usually takes about 5~7 minutes and files are huge (500 + mb @ 3200 DPI). Can a modern digital camera take a perfect "scan" of the negative and replace my old monster ?


Just for fun I decided to test the concept and see how well Fujifilm X-Pro1 (with Nikkor 28/2.8 CRC lens) stacks up against Epson V700.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Berries for breakfast

As I have already mentioned in my previous post AF works faster and more accurate in M mode (using AE-L/AF-L button). Don't know why but I am consistently getting better results.

X-Pro1+XF 55-200+DCRAW 9.1.9

Thanks,
vkphoto

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Testing Fuji's Focus Peaking (+ some tips)

Last week, finally, Fuji implemented a long awaited focus peaking (FP) function with their latest FW update. I consider this and the previous update in June (to use Selector button to move AF point) as the most important, at least for me.  I have and using various old legacy lenses on a regular basis and those two functions are absolutely critical to achieve the best possible results, especially with fast lenses (f/1.8 or faster) when DOF is really thin and/or main focus point is not in the center of the frame.


Once I installed all required updates (including 3.01:) I quickly realized that I can't use FP!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

ICA /Tessar/Sony Colours

Love it.
Taken with 100 years old German view camera and NEX-F3 digital back :)
Thanks,
vkphoto

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Early morning on the lake

X-Pro1 + XF 55-200

Thanks,
vkphoto

Thursday, 18 July 2013

X-clusive Event: good things are coming!


Hi folks,
Yesterday I attended Fujifilm X event and here is my report.
Key points:
  • It was very well organized. No BS dry presentations, instead - open face-to-face  discussions about cameras, lenses and shooting techniques. 
  • It was clear that Fujifilm is listening to the voice of their customers and standing strong behind their products. For sure.
  • Greg and Billy (and all other Fuji reps on the floor) are true photographers with years of hands-on experience (various cameras, lenses, films). They are passionate about photography. They understand our concerns and are working on to address them. 


Greg's opening remarks and introduction of Mr. Saito, Manager, Technical for digital cameras & optical devices.

Fujifilm Canada X-clusive Event


I am attending and will post my report later today tomorrow :)(EST).

Cheers!
vkphoto

Monday, 15 July 2013

Vintage olive oil bottle at sunset

Another one from the "Simple objects in my kitchen".

X-Pro1 + XF35/1.4
Thanks,

vkphoto

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Iridient Developer 2.1.1 (with X-Trans support)


Iridient Developer is a powerful RAW image conversion application designed and optimized specifically for Mac OS X. On June 25th Iridient Digital introduced version 2.1.1. This release caught attention of many Fui X-Trans users because: “X-Pro1, X-E1, X20 and X100S now natively supported by new demosaic process in addition to existing support using Apple RAW libraries”
Almost immediately several bloggers compared Iridient to ACR 8.1 and posted their raving reviews on the net. Great, but we all know that ACR does less than a stellar demosaicing of x-trans raw files.

So I decided to compare Iriridient Developer 2.1.1 to Aperture 3.4.5 and Capture One Express 7.1.3, because, in my opinion, they both are excellent tools and handle RAF files way better than ACR 8.1.


Iridient interface is well thought, logical and easy to use. There are plenty of options and controls but what would be the best method/settings combination?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

DCRAW 9.19

* July15th Update: Colour Noise

DCRAW is a very popular Open Source raw converter developed by Dave Coffin. DCRAW supports almost every raw format available on the market and  is used by a large variety of imaging programs, including Adobe, ACDSee, RPP, RawTherapy, LightZone, etc.
Just 6 months ago DCRAW 9.17 was possibly the  best raw converter for x-trans files. The level of details was amazing, no "foliage" or "colour bleeding" issues but it came with the price - so called "zipper aliasing".
Couple weeks ago version 9.19 was released and I quickly tested it. For test purposes I used raw file available at DPReview (Respective Owner, thank you and let me know if you would like to remove it from this review)

-v -w -o 1 +M -T
I think that DCRAW code (at least related to x-trans sensor) was significantly re-written, "zipper" effect is gone. But the output image looks a bit softer. Easy fix with USM.


I am impressed, the image looks very crisp and clean. Dave, job well done!

*** After doing some additional testing and pixel-peeping I found some weird colour noise in the some of my output files.



What strange is that noise (colour artefacts?) appears to be identical to Aperture.



Thanks,
vkphoto



Monday, 1 July 2013

Golden hour

X-Pro1 + Fujinon 35/1.4 + Capture One Express

Thanks,
vkphoto

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cathedral of the Transfiguration


According to Wikipedia,  the Cathedral of the Transfiguration is a Slovak Byzantine Rite Roman Catholic former cathedral located in Markham, Ontario, Canada.Work began on the Cathedral in 1984.
That year it became the first church in North America to be consecrated by a Pope, when John Paul II blessed the cornerstone during his trip to Canada.
Cathedarl is closed since 2006.

X-Pro 1+ XF55-200

Friday, 21 June 2013

The cabbage and the knife

Continuation to " Simple Objects in my Kitchen"

Sigma DP2M

This was finished in high contrast, I am still experimenting with various B&W conversion technics.

Thanks,
vkphoto

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

White-tailed deer (OIS sample)

Testing Fujinon XF55-200 in "real world"

X-Pro 1, XF 55-200mm, ISO320, 1/50@6.4

Actually not bad for 1/50 handheld, OIS works really well.

Thanks,
vkphoto

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fujinon XF55-200 vs. Legacy Prime Lenses

Hi folks,
Few days ago I received my new Fujinon XF55-200 zoom lens. It is not the prettiest lens and nor the fastest, but very well built, has AF, OIS and cost only $700. Obviously my first question was how this lens performs compare to old classic prime lenses.



I ran a quick test today against: Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 58/1.2, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85/1.7, Nikkor 105/2.5 AI-s and Nikkor ED 180/2.8 AI-s.
Here is my observations and preliminary conclusion.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Street Musician

This is Jerry Moore, classical guitar soloist, arranger, composer and teacher.

Sigma DP2M

Full resolution file is ==> here

Thanks,
vkphoto

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Wet white rag

Still raining...

Thanks,
vkphoto

Monday, 27 May 2013

Night rain

What time of night it is. I do not know.



vkphoto

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Eaton Hall with X-Pro1 and DP2M

Eaton Hall, Norman style Ch√Ęteau in King City, Ontario, was built in 1937 and now is very popular wedding destination. I like this place a lot. It is only 5 minutes away from my place and I am visiting it quite often, to test my cameras, lenses or just for a nice walk.

DP2M

Today I took Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon 14/2.8 lens and Sigma DP2M  with me.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Garden B&W

Couple recent pictures taken with Sigma DP2M and converted in Silver Efex Pro



Thanks,
vkphoto

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Simple objects in my kitchen III

Another one

Sigma DP2M

Thanks,
vkphoto

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Yellow Tulip

Taken with Sigma DP2M.


Full resolution file is ==> here, click on "Original Size"




Thanks,
vkphoto

Sunday, 12 May 2013

X-PRO 1 - surviving the hail storm

Today I was shooting in the garden when the hail storm started.


In a matter of seconds my camera got absolutely wet , but I decided to take couple more pictures.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 vs. Sigma DP2 Merrill (first impression and final)

After traditional “spring clean-up” of my collection (read: sell, sell, sell) I got some cash to acquire new toys. Since I already have superb 35mm and 14mm lenses for my Fuji X-Pro 1 I start thinking about 18mm lens. But after some research I quickly realized that for additional $200 I can acquire Sigma DP1M. Similar focus length as Fujinon 18mm but it would give me an opportunity to explore famous Foveon sensor.
I closely followed Foveon story since its introduction about 10 years ago and several times I seriously considered to buy it but couldn’t justify the price. With the recent price drop DP1M become a very attractive alternative to Fujinon 18mm.
Next step, I contacted several fellow photographers and they all recommended going with DP2M instead of DP1M.  They unanimously claimed that DP2M sensor /lens combination is magical and rivals medium format quality. Medium format?? They’ve got to be kidding me…
But the seed was planted and few days later I made the most impractical decision, I purchased DP2M and ended up having two cameras both with exotic APS-C sensors, tons of quirks and lenses that cover similar focal length.



Obviously my next step was to compare them :)