Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ulva Ferry, Isle of Mull

This shot was taken from the deck of the Mull Charters boat as we headed back to land after the trip out to see the Sea Eagles during our recent trip to Mull.



Ulva is a small island off the coast of Mull and it is a short 200 metre ferry crossing to get on the island.  The building on the edge of the quay is the Boathouse, which is a coffee shop / gallery and serves fantastic snacks to anyone going over to walk around Ulva.  Unfortunately we didn't get chance on this trip to partake in a cup of tea and a scone.  Maybe next time.

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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Review: X100S and X100 Image Comparison Part 1

The other night I went out to take some images of the poppy field near Burton Coggles - see blog post on 27 June.  I took these images on my Nikon D800 but at the same time I took some pictures with the Fujifilm X100 and X100S to do a side by side comparison.

To do this I set the tripod in position and then put the X100S on it to take an image of some poppies.  The camera was set to ISO500 and Aperture Priority with the camera set to f4.  I took two images and then did exactly the same with the X100, using the same settings.  The two images came out at 1/110s @ f4.


The image on the left was taken on the X100 and the image on the right by the X100S.  Both images were downloaded in RAW and the same changes made to the exposure, clarity and highlights.

The images are so similar that if I swapped them over I don't think anyone would be the wiser.  The older 12.2mp sensor certain holds it own against the newer 16mp X-Tran sensor.

I will be doing more back to back tests in the coming weeks but I think we'll call this a draw, with the advantage to the older X100.


Another shot taken on the X100S - 1/140 @ f4 ISO500
Another shot taken on the X100 - 1/250 @ f2  ISO500

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Friday, 28 June 2013

The Gulls on Mull

If you are near the sea there are Sea Gulls, they are the sparrows of the coast.  I think these birds get a raw deal because they are so common they tend to be ignored or treated as a nuisance.  While out on the Mull Charters boat last month taking pictures of the White Tailed Sea Eagles (see blogs HERE and HERE), I also snapped the various gulls that followed the boat in hope of getting some food.  

Here are some of the shots taken on the Nikon D800 and Sigma 50-500mm lens -








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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Poppy Field at Sunset

My first day back in the UK after 10 days in Le Mans and the chance of a good sunset had me grabbing the camera bag and heading out to the poppy fields out towards the village of Burton Coggles.  The scene that greeted me didn't disappoint and the a low sun meant the field of red was backlit for around 20 minutes as the sun sank below the horizon.  This gave me the chance to capture the scene on the D800 and three different lenses.

Nikon D800 - Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D - 1/250 @ f9 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D - 1/320 @ f5.6 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D - 1/500 @ f5.6 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S - 1/25 @ f11 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D - 1/1600 @ f2 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D - 1/250 @ f11 - ISO400 - SB600 off camera flash

Nikon D800 - Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D - 1/80 @ f6.3 - ISO400
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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

REVIEW: Fuji X100S v Fuji X100

Anyone who reads this blog will know that the Fujifilm Finepix X100 is my favourite walkabout camera. It can produce images that rival the much larger Nikon D800, it is beautiful to look at and is so well screwed together that I'm sure it will last me years.  My X100 is a limited edition 'black' version and came with a few special extras in the box when I bought it last October.



In March 2013 Fuji unveiled the X100S, an updated version of the X100 with improvements in several areas including the use of a 16mp X-Trans sensor from the X-Pro1 / XE-1, full 1080P HD video and a faster AF system.  I played with an X100S at the Focus on Imaging Show in March but last week I was able to get my hands on one for a long term test.

X100 on the left and the new X100S on the right
REAL WORLD TESTING: Like all my tests on this blog there is nothing scientific about how I go about assessing a camera. I use it in real world situations and then report how I found using the camera.  How I use a camera might not be the same as another photographer but I feel that a real world test is more beneficial than comparing numbers on a lab sheet.

BUILD QUALITY: First thing I noticed is the body of the X100S is the same high quality construction as my X100, in fact anyone owning an X100 and then picking up a X100S would have no problem with the layout of the controls, they are almost identical.  

The 'S' only comes with a silver finish rather than the black finish of my limited edition model and I think that is a shame because I really like the camera in black.  Perhaps Fuji will bring out a LE version of the 'S' later but at the moment the silver finish is the only option.  However it still looks like a modern take on a classic camera and the 'S' is still a joy to use and to be seen with.  One thing that hasn't changed and didn't need changing was the superb Fujinon 23mm f2 lens, which is identical on both models.  This is one of the sharpest lenses available anywhere and because it is a fixed focal length there is no compromise when it comes to producing stunning image quality from f2 up to f16.

The same high quality feel is carried over from the X100
ERGONOMICS: The layout of the controls is largely the same with the big shutter, exposure compensation and shutter release knobs and buttons still in the same place.  These are beautifully machined items and have a tactile feel to them. The function button is also on the top plate, which can be set for several different options but I prefer to have this set for changing the ISO quickly.

One item that has been changed and is a big improvement is the AF/MF selector on the side of the camera.  On the X100 this is MF/AF-S/AF-C with AF-S in the middle.  I never use continuous AF on the camera, I only use Servo AF or Manual Focus.  The problem is the slider is quite fiddly and when moving back to AF-S it slides from MF to AF-C and it is a faff setting it back to AF-S.  This has been changed on the X100S by swapping the AF-S and AF-C selections around so it is easy to move from MF to AF-S and vice versa.

The focus selector - on the left is the X100 and on the right is the X100S

AF-S is now at the bottom on the X100S - a small but significant change for X100 users
FOCUSING: The AF seems to be quicker and the Manual Focus, which is the one thing on the X100 that I really do not like, is a big improvement on the 'S'.  While the system is still a 'fly by wire' manual focus, it is a lot smoother and easier to use than the older model.  I would still prefer to have a direct manual focus system, like on the Nikon lenses, but the new system is a welcome improvement. 

The menu on the X100S - you can select each page and then move across to select what you want.  A lot quicker!
The menu on the X100 - you have to scroll through four pages to find what you are looking for
MENUS: Another big improvement is the menus.  On the X100 you have to scroll through the four pages on the shooting menu to find what you want.  On the X100S each page has a tab and you can select the page before selecting the item.  A small but very welcome improvement.  Another addition is the 'Q' button or Quick Menu button.  This is another carry over from the X100S's bigger brothers and it allows quicker access to the menus.

The Q button for Quick Menu

The Quick Menu 

VIDEO: While the X100 has 720P video, the 'S' has full 1080P HD video and I tested it at Le Mans when I conducted some driver interviews.  The video is not a massive leap forward but the inclusion of full HD is welcome.  The sound is still recorded by the internal microphones, there isn't an external mic socket on the 'S' like there is on the XE-1, and this is a shame because using an external mic improves the sound quality on my Nikon D800.

Full 1080P HD video 
SENSOR: The 16mp X-Tran sensor produces some stunning images but I had to download the latest update for Lightroom 4 (4.4) to be able to read the RAW files from the camera.  Photoshop Elements 11 can't read the RAW files from the 'S' but I'm sure there will be an update soon.  The file size of 4896 x 3264 is significantly larger than the 12mp files from the X100 (4288 x 2848) but as I have said in previous blogs, unless you are blowing images up to bigger than A2, a 12mp camera is more than enough.  What the 16mp camera enables you to do is crop into the image more and that is a good thing to be able to do on a fixed lens camera.

Other changes are subtle, including the moving of the AF selector to the command dial, swapping with the Drive selector which is now one of the four buttons to the left of the rear screen.



The drive selector is on the command dial of the older model

The drive selector button has moved to the 3rd button on the X100S
ACCESSORIES: The X100S can also take all the current accessories that are available for the X100, so my EF-20 flash gun, the WCL-X100 wide angle converter and the spare batteries all fit the new camera.  A big plus point if you are considering moving from an X100 to an X100S.

CONCLUSION: Over the coming weeks I am going to be doing some back-to-back tests of the X100S alongside the X100.  My first impression after using the camera at the weekend at Le Mans is the X100S is an improvement in several key areas but I am still not convinced that the improvements are significant enough to warrant me selling my current camera.  Perhaps that is because the X100 was a superb camera from the get-go but after a couple of months with the 'S' maybe I will change my mind.  However I will give the 'S' a thorough workout over the coming weeks and report back on my findings on a regular basis.

Quick Run Down of the Improvements
                                     X100S                                X100 Black LE
Sensor                         16mp                                  12mp
Video                           1080P                                 720P
AF                                Faster response
MF                                Faster response
Q Button                       Yes                                     No
Menu Layout                 Quick find                          Scroll through


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Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A Quick Stop at Loch Dochart


Another image taken on our trip home from the Isle of Mull earlier this month.  Loch Dochart sits next to the main A85 that runs from Crianlarich to Lochearnhead and is a favourite stopping point for a quick break, or, in the case, a bite to eat.  The low clouds with sunlight breaking through had me grabbing the Fuji and heading down to the loch to grab a few shots of the scene. On the left is the remains of an old house, with just the chimney stack still standing amongst the trees.

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Old Puffer at the Mouth of Loch Linnhe

This image was taken on our way back from the Isle of Mull at the start of June while we were waiting to board the Corran Ferry at the mouth of Loch Linnhe.  This old fishing boat was beached on the shore near to the ferry terminal and is starting the decay.   But as with my favourite derelicts in Salen Bay on Mull, the old Puffer provide a good photographic subject for my little Fuji X100.


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Sunday, 23 June 2013

RIP Allan Simonsen


Today was the worst day in my career in motorsport and this was the last picture I took on the grid before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  During the first few laps Allan Simonsen (on the left) was killed after his Aston Martin Vantage hit the barriers and little did I know when I gave Allan a thumbs up and a 'good luck' that this would be the last time I would see him. 
 
I had the pleasure of working with Allan for most of my career, first meeting up with the happy-go-lucky Dane during our time at the European Formula Palmer Audi Championship in 2000.  A blindingly quick driver in single seaters but lacking the backing to move up to the upper echalons of the category he switched to sportscars and this where he really made his mark.
 
Allan spent a lot of time in Australia where he became a well known and successful GT driver, he stayed so long that the Danish driver picked up an Aussie accent.
 
I started working with Allan again in British GT, where he assisted Hector Lester to the title, and then FIA GT3 and lately in the FIA World Endurance Championship.  Always quick and always a force to be contended with on the track.  Off track he enjoyed life to the full and was one of the characters of the paddock.
 
RIP Allan, I was proud to count you as a friend and I will miss your cheeky smile in the paddock.  Thank you for the happy memories over the years, which will never be forgotten.  My heart goes out to your family and friends and to everyone at Aston Martin, who are still racing with the blessing of your family and I hope they bring home the winners trophy in your memory.

 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Night Qualifying at Le Mans

Le Mans this year is extremely busy and the opportunities for taking images are few and far between.  However I went up to the top of the main grandstand on Wednesday evening during the first qualifying session and set the D800 to a very slow shutter speed to get some interesting effects as the cars travelled along the main start-finish straight.


The first shot was taken at 1/10th of a second and shows the nr71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia


The second shot is more extreme and was taken at a 1 second exposure, handheld and panned across the frame.  The car is the Toyota TS030 hybrid and is recognisable (just) amongst the light trails of the lights on the main grandstands on both sides of the track.


The newly unveiled Michelin Tower will be used for the first time in 2013 and will make following the race a lot easier for the 250,000 fans that will be at the race tomorrow.

For more information on qualifying for the FIA WEC at Le Mans CLICK HERE
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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Ye Olde Le Mans

Being in Le Mans for the famous twenty-four hour race for ten days has given me plenty of opportunity to explore the city and the surrounding area.  On previous trips to Le Mans for meetings I have started to explore the old part of the city but on this trip I have really had the chance to get to grips with the architecture and the narrow cobbled streets.

Here are some of the shots I've taken on the Fuji X100 during the couple of evenings I've spent exploring the old quarter of Le Mans














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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Saint Marceau, Pays de la Loire


Saint-Marceau is a small French village in the department of Sarthe and the Pays de la Loire. I headed off the main road, the D338, to take pictures of the Priory St Julien and the Roman bridge which crosses the River Sarthe.

Surrounded by the municipalities of Saint-Jean-d'Assé, Teillé and Le Tronchet Saint-Marceau is located 20 km northwest of Le Mans.





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