Lensbaby make a dedicated mirrorless 28mm lens by the name of Lensbaby Trio 28. The 'Trio' title comes from the three effect types that this lens is capable of rendering- Twist, Velvet and Sweet. I plan to evaluate this promising product in the coming weeks and will publish a number of articles with example images from some real world photography in London.
I recently visited a local dog agility show and took the opportunity to test the Autofocus Speed of the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm lens. I took photographs from the sidelines for a few minutes and captured the dogs jumping the fences.
Fuji AF-C Custom Settings
The Fuji X-T2 provides some Autofocus Presets which are optimised for certain shooting conditions. I used the Set 4 - For Suddenly Appearing Subject for all of the example shots in this article. I set the focus mode to 'Zone' with 9 focus point grid.
When taking this type of photograph there is advantage to setting the camera frame rate to continuous high. This helps ensure that you capture a good number of frames and can choose the best composition.
I shot all the images in RAW format but have converted a selection to Black and White using the Fuji ACROS settings.
The Fuji 18-135mm is not the fastest lens in Fuji's lens line up but it is a versatile and capable lens. It focuses quickly and Fuji have made great improvements in Autofocus speed with the X-T2. I was pleased that I was able to capture the fast moving subjects effectively without much experience of technique.
Macphuns excellent Luminar software has just received a major free update. They have added what they call an 'Accent AI Filter' that is designed to analyse and enhance photos at the touch of a button (or slide of an amount slider)
I tried it out on a landscape image from Yosemite.
Luminar has done a pretty good job of analysing the image and lifting out the shadows and details in the sky as well as adding saturation and punch to the foliage.
Broad Haven Beach
I recently visited the Stackpole Estate in South Wales where the South facing Broad Haven Beach is conveniently located near to a National Trust Car Park.
Broad Haven Beach is within a 'Dark Skies' area of the UK and enjoys fairly low levels of light pollution. I took the opportunity to visit the beach at mid-night and try my hand at some astrophotography with the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 16mm f1.4 and 10-24mm f4
Overall I was pleased with the shots that I took on this night and although I managed to get some things right there are a number of mistakes that I made that I will hope to avoid the next time out.
1) Not utilising Long Exposure Noise Reduction
When taking photographs of the stars or Milky Way it is important to keep the length of exposure short to avoid blur caused by movement of the stars during exposure. (It is useful to refer to the 500 rule to help calculate this for your lens - See Below)
It becomes necessary to use a high ISO even when using fast glass. I did not think to enable the 'Long Exposure Noise Reduction' feature on the X-T2 which would have helped reduce digital noise in the final image.
When using Long Exposure Noise Reduction it is necessary to expose for 20 seconds and then wait a further 20 seconds for the camera to complete the Noise Reduction Frame.. but this is not to inconvenient.
To achieve points of light you can use a simple rule that's often called the “500 Rule”. For example; let's say you're taking a shot with a 16mm lens on a full frame camera. 500 / 16 = 31.25 seconds, which you can round to 30 seconds.I was using a 16mm Lens on a Fuji X-T2. Taking into account the 1.5 crop factor of the APS-C sized sensor - This gives a guideline exposure of 21 seconds - 500 / (16 * 1.5 Crop Factor)
2) Not waiting until full dark
I visited Broad Haven around 11:30pm and stayed until around mid-night. I was on vacation with my wife and didn't want to let this diversion impact on the next days activities but it would have been better to shoot later in the evening when the light from the day had faded further.
You should reference apps such as PhotoPills to calculate the darkest point of the night.
3) Not taking into account lens performance artefacts @ f1.4
I used the excellent Fuji 16mm f1.4 for the photos of the Milky Way. I did not realize that the lens suffers from coma effects at the edges when stopped right down to f1.4
I should have taken some exposures at f2 or f2.8 to reduce the effect.
4) Not turning off 'Preview Picture Effect'
This is specific to mirrorless cameras. I should have thought to disable Preview Picture Effect for the LCD and IVF screens to ensure that I got an enhanced image to compose with rather than a preview of exposure (which was blank in the dark!)
I had to compose using 10 second exposures to trial and error the camera angle.
5) Not being fully prepared to manual focus
While I did some research on methods of focusing in the dark I should have experimented further with the 16mm to ensure that I was confident on manual focus to infinity. The 16mm f1.4 has a focus scale which should make this straight forward.
I was photographing with an aperture of f1.4 and I tried a number of methods on the night to focus correctly. This is the wrong time to be experimenting and I missed some shots due to mistakes
I wanted to capture the Milky Way above Church Rock and took my Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 16mm f1.4 lens to the beach around midnight on 24th May 2017
Fast Glass - Fuji 16mm f1.4
The Fuji 16mm f1.4 has a useful focal length which is wide enough to capture the elements of the scene. I used the excellent Photopills App to plan the shot and knew the position and elevation of the Milky way before the trip.
When taking photographs of the Milky Way it is important to keep the shutter speed as low as possible to avoid the stars blurring into trails. The 16mm f1.4 was fast enough to allow shutter speeds as low as 10-20 seconds at ISO 3200.
I edited the photographs in Lightroom where the 'Dehaze' feature is very useful to bring out the detail in the sky. In this case I used a Dehaze setting of around +45
It can be a challenge to find focus in the dark. In the case of the Fuji 16mm f1.4 there is a focus scale which helps. It is usually also possible to focus on the moon or bright star or ask a friend to walk a distance away and shine a torch towards you.
I forgot that the X-T2 features the ability to enhance the LCD and EVF to make composition in the dark that bit easier. (Disable 'Preview Picture Effect') so I had a bit of trial and error to get the composition. The Landscape Shot at the top of this page is the third shot of the evening.
I swapped out the 16mm for the 10-24mm to get a wider view. I think the fact that this was later in the evening and the Milky Way has risen in the sky has helped the definition.
Fuji 23mm Examples
I have been using the excellent Fuji 23mm f2 with the X-T2.
The shots below were taken using the Fuji Film Simulation ACROS and are un-modified straight from camera unless otherwise indicated.
The shot of this young busker was taken in a gloomy tunnel under the railway line. The 23mm f2 allowed me to capture a sharp image in the low light. The X-T2 did a great job of capturing the image in challenging light.
Full Size Crop
Full size crop from the original ACROS JPG. Click on the image for the full-size version
I highly recommend the Fuji 23mm f2. It is a versatile focal length on the cropped sensor Fuji bodies. It is ideal on the X-Pro bodies but pairs very well with the Fuji X-T2 forming a lightweight and weather proof option
I got a chance to grab some shots of this years Bluebells. I was only able to get out and about around mid-day so the lighting was a little bland... but the Bluebells looks good this year.
All of these shots were taken in the grounds around Polesden Lacey
I took the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 16mm f1.4 around London this week and captured some of the interesting graffiti in an around my office and around London Waterloo Train Station.
All images were taken on a Fuji X-T2 in RAW using the Fuji 16mm f1.4 lens. Post Processing in Adobe Lightroom using the Fuji Classic Chrome Pre-set. Images have been cropped and perspective corrected in some cases.
A friend of mine runs an excellent blog featuring some very cool examples of graffiti...
Depth of Field Scale
I've been taking photographs with digital cameras for over 12 years and have never got around to learning how to read a depth if field scale!
The depth of field scale can be useful for setting the focus to maximize the front to back sharpness or hyperfocal distance.
There are other methods for calculating Hyperfocal distance using charts or mobile phone Apps and I have included some comparison test shots and 100% crops to illustrate my experiences.
This is a fairly un-scientific but real world test of these two methods
Hyperfocal Distance - Using Depth of Field Scale
Set your lens to an aperture - say, f/16 (NOTE: Too small an aperture can result in diffraction effects that result in progressively less sharp images at small apertures so generally aim to for f8 or f11 depending on lens quality)
Since your lens is set at f/16, find the "16" markings on the depth-of-field scale on the lens. Position the infinity symbol below the "16" mark. This brings infinity just within the depth-of-field at f/16
Now, you are no longer focusing directly on infinity. Depending on the lens, you are now focusing on a distance of around seven to ten feet away and everything from around half that distance to infinity should render acceptably sharp.
Hyperfocal Distance - Mobile App Calculations
I used the DoF Plus App on iPhone to calculate the Hyperfocal Distance for the Fuji 16mm lens at f16 on a Fuji X-T2.
The App gave me a focusing distance of 81.6cm which I measured out and focused to using the Lens Auto Focus.
81.6cm seems pretty close and gives a good option if you have foreground objects that are very close (as close as 40.8cm) to the camera sensor.
Hyperfocal distance calculations take into account the camera model, focal length of lens and aperture as well as a sharpness factor known as the circle of confusion (CoC) the CoC is based on the premise that only objects directly on the focal plane are in critical focus and the CoC informs you that objects nearer or further away are acceptablty sharp. I understand that the value is based on whether objects in a certain sizes print appear sharp over a given viewing distance.
Like most things in Photography there is no right answer and there are always compromises to be made. In the case of the precise Hyperfocal Distance gained from the Mobile App what you gain in near object focus you lose in overall front to back sharpness.
I have gotten by over the years focusing about a third of the way into the scene but I think I will give the Depth of Field Scale method a try in the wild. It is not always the case that everything in the scene needs to be sharp front to back but when it does it's useful to have options to try.
Fuji 16mm f1.4
I recently picked up the Fuji 16mm f1.4 Prime
I work close to Spitalfields Market in London and took some photos at lunchtime yesterday. The effect of having a wide-angle prime is that I was compelled to leave my comfort zone and actually speak to some of the stall holders and ask them if they would mind if I took their photos.
I met some interesting characters
The X-T2 seems to suit primes and while I miss the versatility of the zoom... I think using the prime might help improve my photography...
Fuji 16mm f1.4 Examples
These images have been cropped from the original and converted in Silver Efex Pro2 or shot in ACROS JPG straight from the X-T2
The rule with tripods is meant to be "buy cheap, buy twice" but like camera bags my tripods continue to multiply.
I have been looking for a compact model that will fit in my ONA Prince Street Messenger bag along with my X-T2.
The MeFoto Backpacker Air fits that requirement. It closes down to an incredibly compact Folded Length: 10.4 in (26.5 cm) and weighs in at 0.9kg.
MeFoto Backpacker Air - Height
A tripod that closes down to 10.4 inches is going to struggle to extend to eye level. This is not an issue with the Fuji X-T2 as the articulating LCD makes it comfortable to compose with the camera much lower down. The tripod seems very solid and the extension of the legs is simple and fast.
There is an extension to the central column as shown in the image on the left but the stability will be compromised. This option really only comes in to it's own if supporting the camera at higher shutter speeds (e.g. for a group portrait) or for supporting items such as flash guns.
MeFoto Backpacker Air - Comparison
The MeFoto Backpacker is extremely compact. It closes down smaller than the compact SIRUI T-025X (shown Below) which is quite a feat. My Gitzo is shown for further comparison.
MeFoto Backpacker Air - Summary
I have not had a chance to take the MeFoto through it's paces but it feels solidly constructed and represents a good compromise on price, weight, compactness and maximum height.
The MeFoto has a very modern feel. This is demonstrated by the number of colours available and the built in removable selfie stick and remote release for mobile phones :)
I will be testing this tripod out in the comming weeks and will post my thoughts
Fuji 18-135mm Super Zoom
I swapped the excellent Fuji 'kit' 18-55mm for the 18-135mm 'super-zoom' after reading a number of strong reviews of this lens.
I came to the Fuji X-T2 from Nikon and I've shot with the Nikon D3 and D800 with Nikons excellent 24-70mm f2.8. I am frequently tempted to invest in the Fuji 16-55mm f2.8 which is the closest APS-C match to the 24-70mm on full frame.
The trouble is that the 18-135mm is so damn versatile. It's hard to replace in my workflow. It's not small but is compact enough to sit nicely on the X-T2. The combination fit nicely into my ONA Prince Street Messenger along with the items that I need to take on my commute to the office.
I guess I could invest in the 16-55mm and keep the 18-135mm but wonder if I don't think that I would find a place for both lenses in my workflow.