fuji

FUJINON LENS DILEMMA, OR PROBLEM, OR...

From left: The Fujinon 16mm, f1.4; 50mm, f2.0; 35mm, f2.0; 23mm, f2.0; and 18mm, f2.0.

From left: The Fujinon 16mm, f1.4; 50mm, f2.0; 35mm, f2.0; 23mm, f2.0; and 18mm, f2.0.

I'm not sure how it happened. Of course, it started with one lens, the Fujinon 35mm lens which I purchased at the same time as my Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera. Then the desire to go wider, combined with a rebate, led me to purchase the Fujinon 16mm lens. Somewhere along the way I became aware of the Fujinon 23mm lens, followed closely by the Fujinon 50mm lens.

Now I've acquired the Fujinon 18mm lens. That's when I realized I might have a problem. Or more accurately, a dilemma. Even before this recent acquisition, I was looking to pare down my lens lineup. But which one would go. I was leaning towards the 35mm, however, with the addition of the 18mm, does that mean the 23mm is the logical choice to go? 

The Fujifilm 50mm, 35mm and 23mm lenses are all f2.0 and are sometimes referred to as Fujicrons, a nod to Leica's Summicron lenses which also have an f2.0 aperture. I've also referred these three lenses as the trifecta.

The Fujifilm 50mm, 35mm and 23mm lenses are all f2.0 and are sometimes referred to as Fujicrons, a nod to Leica's Summicron lenses which also have an f2.0 aperture. I've also referred these three lenses as the trifecta.

But the 23mm, along with the 35mm and 50mm make up what some call the "Fujicron" lineup, a nod to Leica's Summicron lenses. In this case, the Fujicron lenses are all sharp, lightweight, sturdy and do provide an acceptable range of coverage. I also previously wrote about how the Fujinon 23mm was possibly the perfect X lens, or how the 50mm completed my kit

Before I go any further, I should mention that I've decided the 16mm will stay. I've written about it before and while it is a bit heavy and large for everyday carry, it is absolutely my go-to lens for landscape photography.

Table and Chairs, Memphis, Tenn., 2018. Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with Fujinon 18mm lens, 1/125 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Table and Chairs, Memphis, Tenn., 2018. Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with Fujinon 18mm lens, 1/125 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

So, what about the 18mm? I love the compact size and it's the first Fuji lens I've purchased that came with a usable lens shade out of the box. On the negative side, it's a noisy lens and a bit slow when focusing as compared to my other Fuji lenses. It also doesn't have the same build feel of the other Fuji lenses, yet it doesn't feel cheap either. Obviously, I need to shoot more with this lens before I make a final decision.

If you're reading this and have an opinion, I'd love to hear it in the comments. And if you haven't realized it yet, I probably won't part with any of these lenses. What's the point? Unless, of course, another lens catches my eye.

CAMERAS IN THE MIST

I was in Florida looking at some property and took note of this small grove of trees and thought it might be worthwhile returning to photograph it at some point. Then several days later when I awoke to fog, I knew exactly where I was headed. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/4 @ f14, ISO 200.

I was in Florida looking at some property and took note of this small grove of trees and thought it might be worthwhile returning to photograph it at some point. Then several days later when I awoke to fog, I knew exactly where I was headed. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/4 @ f14, ISO 200.

The biggest problem with photographing landscapes in the fog is actually predicting when there will be fog. And while timing, location, and a little luck are important, an understanding of the types and causes of fog may help lift the veil and put you, and your camera, in the right place at the right time.

But before we get into the details, why would you want to shoot in the fog anyway? For me, fog provides a softness or ethereal feeling that adds interest to the landscape. It's the unknown, the mystery. Fog can also obscure unwanted backgrounds and help to isolate a subject. But it really is that otherworldly feeling that gets me excited. 

I choose to shoot a little tighter in order to emphasize the Spanish moss hanging from the tree. It's scenes like this that scream for fog. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/4 @ f11, ISO 200.

I choose to shoot a little tighter in order to emphasize the Spanish moss hanging from the tree. It's scenes like this that scream for fog. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/4 @ f11, ISO 200.

So then what is fog? It might help to think of it as clouds at ground level. Made up of condensed water droplets which are the result of air being cooled to the point where it can no longer hold all the water vapor it contains.

There are four types of fog.

Radiation fog is formed on clear nights with relatively little or no wind present and usually forms in low-lying areas like mountain valleys. Radiation fog usually burns off as the sun and temperature rises.

Advection fog is when a layer of warm, moist air moves over a cool surface and is most common in coastal areas where sea breezes blow the air over cooler landmasses.

Upslope fog happens when moist stable air is forced up sloping land like a mountain range. Unlike radiation fog, upslope and advection fog may not burn off with the morning sun and may persist for days.

And finally, steam fog forms when cold, dry air moves over warm water and as it rises, resembles smoke. It is most common over bodies of water during the coldest times of the year.

Fog softens and obscures all the distractions from the background, allowing the tree to take center stage. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 35mm, 1/13 @ f8, ISO 200.

Fog softens and obscures all the distractions from the background, allowing the tree to take center stage. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 35mm, 1/13 @ f8, ISO 200.

Understanding the types of fog and when they might occur may help you to predict when and where it will happen. Or like me, you might just get lucky. 

And unlike John Carpenter's movie "The Fog", you probably won't encounter any vengeful ghosts of shipwrecked mariners, but the fact that you don't know for sure is what will add interest to your photographs. And if it adds interest for you, then it will certainly add interest to viewers of your photography.

FROZEN - PHOTOGRAPHING ICEBERGS

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/150 @ f10, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/150 @ f10, ISO 200.

There are many things I have thought about photographing, a sort of bucket list of subjects. This list is not written down and if you asked me to name the subjects, I'd probably struggle a bit and surely would miss a few. Sometimes that's because I don't even know something is on my list until it's right in front of me. Like when I was in Fairbanks, Alaska, a few years back and realized I might have the opportunity to see the Northen Lights. Suddenly that was on my list and after three late night attempts, I was rewarded. 

Shortly after arriving at Thule, Air Force Base in Greenland, I noticed icebergs and suddenly photographing them was at the top of my list.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/160 @ f11, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/160 @ f11, ISO 200.

Thule AFB is the northernmost U.S. military installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 947 miles from the North Pole on the northwest side of the island of Greenland. I was on assignment to photograph the deployment of oceanographic buoys over the North Pole. Cool assignment, right? However, since I had several days until the aircraft from which we would drop the buoys from arrived, I had plenty of time to explore and photograph the incredible landscape located all around the base.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 1/480 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 1/480 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

My first real view of the icebergs came while I was photographing Wolstenholme Fjord at sunset. I've photographed so many bodies of water, so many sunsets, and I've even photographed glaciers before. But what makes Wolstenholme Fjord unique is that it's fed by four large glaciers and that was the picture I was trying to make. But it was the icebergs floating throughout the fjord that I found most interesting. I also began to wonder if there was a way to get closer. 

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/340 @ f8, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/340 @ f8, ISO 200.

What I didn't appreciate at the time, photographing from high above the fjord, was just how big those icebergs actually were. When I finally had an opportunity to get close to them, it just blew me away. 

Once I started taking pictures, I no longer felt the cold, didn't hear the voices of the others in the 15-foot skiff or care that it was almost seven o'clock at night and I hadn't eaten dinner. I was focused on icebergs, shooting, changing between the Fujifilm XF 16mm (24mm full-frame equivalent) f/1.4 and the Fujifilm XF 50mm (70mm full-frame equivalent) f/2 lenses, and shooting some more. 

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 1/210 @ f11, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 1/210 @ f11, ISO 200.

As we approached each iceberg I began to realize how different each one was. From a distance, they all look pretty much the same, but seeing them from sea level, up close, you appreciate that each one is unique in shape, size, and color. As we neared each iceberg I would begin taking photographs and just when I thought I took every photograph possible and lower the camera, something would change and I would find myself shooting again. 

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/500 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 50mm, 1/500 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

The icebergs actually seem to change color as you move around them. Going from white to blue, and all shades in between. From a distance, they had a monochromatic look, but up close it was evident they were anything but. To make it even better, the sun setting (something that seems to last forever at this time of year in Greenland) and the clouds hung in the sky and provided a nice contrast to the icebergs.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 1/680 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 1/680 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

In total, I had a little over an hour to photograph as we moved from iceberg to iceberg. I could have spent two hours capturing more icebergs or probably spent the whole hour on just one iceberg.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN WITH MIRRORLESS CAMERAS

Carol Cannon, with Allison Tsai on piano, perform at the Centre Street Performance Space, part of the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute, in Baltimore, Md. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 50mm, f2. 1/160 @ f2, ISO 1250.

Carol Cannon, with Allison Tsai on piano, perform at the Centre Street Performance Space, part of the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute, in Baltimore, Md. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 50mm, f2. 1/160 @ f2, ISO 1250.

While reading the recent release announcement of the Sony a9, something buried in the article caught my attention. It wasn't that it was full-frame or that it was capable of 20 frames per second or even how this could finally be the mirrorless camera to cover sports, but that because of its electronic shutter, a photographer could get shots like never before.

Okay, the electronic, or silent shutter, is not new. In fact, I've written about it before. I just wondered why all of a sudden I was reading several articles about this new Sony camera extolling the fact that we could now have a mirrorless camera capable of shooting sports while not making any shutter noise. Was it all about making photos of golfers in their backswings we'd see now?

I took these photos from my seat while the event's official photographer, with two Nikon D5 cameras, who was sitting right in front of me could only watch. The soloist never knew I was taking these pictures. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 50mm, f2. 1/160 @ f2, ISO 800.

I took these photos from my seat while the event's official photographer, with two Nikon D5 cameras, who was sitting right in front of me could only watch. The soloist never knew I was taking these pictures. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 50mm, f2. 1/160 @ f2, ISO 800.

The reality is for those of us that shoot both mirrorless and DSLR cameras, the benefits of that electronic shutter is well known. During meetings, performances, or being discreet on the street, any time that the clunk of a shudder would draw attention or break the mood, the electronic shudder wins. And, yes, it even has its place when covering sports.

I understand the mechanics of why a DSLR makes noise and often use the quiet shutter-release mode on my Nikon D4s. While it is sometimes the better option, it still isn't silent. And because shutter noise can be distracting, get you noticed, or worse, get you kicked out of a room, it is nice to have the option of an electronic shutter.

Silence is golden, which is why my default setting on the Fuji X-Pro2 is silent, all sounds muted or turned off. I even go as far as to cover the indicator lamp with gaffers tape.

The electronic shutter allows for a certain amount of stealth, even when it is obvious you are taking pictures. But without shutter noise, it's easy for the subject to forget you are there, allowing you to blend into the scene and truly capture the moment.

 

 

DOES THE FUJINON XF50 LENS COMPLETE MY KIT?

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and a Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/80 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and a Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/80 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

I recently purchased the Fujinon XF50 F2 R WR lens, my fourth Fuji lens since I purchased the Fujifilm X-Pro2 mirrorless camera in March of 2016. Why should you care?

First a little history of my Fuji lens purchases. I initially purchased the Fujinon XF35mm F2 R WR lens at the same time as I purchased the X-Pro2. That lens decision was mostly based on using the 35mm f/1.4 for seven days with an X-Pro1 in New York City which I wrote about here. I liked the 53mm equivalent focal length and on this f/2 version, I was drawn to the smaller form factor and weather resistant features. 

Well, it didn't take long for me to realize that I wanted something a little wider. I was leaning towards the Fujinon XF16mm F1.4 R WR lens but at the price, it wasn't going to be an impulse buy. However, when I received an offer for $300.00 off, I couldn't resist. I wrote about the 16mm (24mm equivalent) here, and while this a super lens, it is just too big for everyday carry. It does get used as my primary landscape lens, however.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/500 @ f3.6, ISO 400.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/500 @ f3.6, ISO 400.

You may see where this is going. After a year shooting with these two lenses, something was still missing and I couldn't put my finger on it. I really liked the X-Pro2 but just didn't seem as satisfied with my photos as I when I was using the Fujifilm X100s. Could it be as simple as the focal length of the lens? The X100s has a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens and I just never missed having another focal length when carrying that camera.

In August of 2016, Fuji released the Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR lens and I thought that would finally be the answer. In fact in my previous blog post, 'Did I Finally Find the Perfect Fuji X Lens?', I attempted to answer that very question. And I think I did a pretty good job of justifying that purchase. And if that lens had been available when I initially purchased the X-Pro2, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog post now.

In January Fuji released the aforementioned 50mm (70mm equivalent). This is a focal length I didn't think I would need or want. However, after several outings with it, I'm convinced that it will get used second only to the 23mm.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/17 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

Fujinon XF50mm F2 R WR lens at 1/17 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

It also completes what I'm calling the trifecta of lenses, the 23, 35 and 50mm. Others refer to these lenses as the 'Fujicron' line-up, a play on Summicron, a term Leica uses to designate lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/2. Whether you refer to them as the trifecta or 'Fujicron', they are all f/2; lightweight, but solidly built; small and compact; weather resistant; sharp and all match perfectly with the X-Pro2.

Another real bonus is you can own this trifecta for around $1200.00 total and that makes a real nice set of glass to couple with whichever Fuji camera system you shoot with.   

My only complaint is the lens shades that Fuji ships with the 23 and 35. The 50mm lens hood is acceptable, but I did break down and buy the Fujifilm Lens Hood for XF35 from B&H. At $59.99 it is a little pricey, but the good news is that it also fits the XF 35.

So, why should you care? Don't make the mistake and impulse buy lenses. Take the time to think about the type of photography you do and what a new lens will add. I would be perfectly happy with just the 23mm and the 50mm if I could do it over again.