Saturday, 30 November 2013

Meet the Drivers in Bahrain

While at an FIA World Endurance Championship race weekend I organise at least three press conferences and two other media activities where the drivers meet the journalists for interviews. 

This weekend in Bahrain has been no different from other meetings, but with seven championship titles still to be won there is plenty of interest from the specialist and local media in getting that  special quote from the driver of choice.

Here are some the images I took yesterday on the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the Fujinon 23mm f1.4 lens that I was able to borrow for a couple of hours to test. More on this lens later this week.

2013 World Endurance Champion and nine times 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen (Audi)

2013 FIA World Endurance Champion Allan McNish (Audi)

2012 World Champion Andre Lotterer (Audi) talks with the only lady driver on the FIA WEC grid Keiko Ihara (Oak Racing)

Australian race winner John Martin of G-Drive Racing


Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujifilm XF 23mm f1.4 lens

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Friday, 29 November 2013

TEST: Three Days with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

For the past three days I have been putting the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 telephoto zoom through its paces to assess whether I will add one to my growing Fujifilm collection. 

Firstly I need to say I didn't set out to buy a zoom lens when I opted for the Fujifilm X-Pro1, I liked the idea of fast prime lenses and bought four (14mm, 18mm, 35mm and 60mm) for the camera.



However I soon discovered that I needed a longer focal length than the superb 60mm offered.  I bought a Fotodiox adapter to fit my Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D to the X-Pro1 (CLICK HERE) but this solution has a couple of drawbacks - there is no AF, so it is manual focus only and it is quite a big lens on the Fuji.  The Fujinon XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 offers full automation, a very fast AF and optical stabalisation, which is superb (but more about that later).

I was able to get my hands on a 55-200 for a three day test at the Bahrain International Circuit where I was working on the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The Sakhir Tower at the Bahrain International Circuit
The first thing I noticed was the build quality of the zoom is of the same high standard as the primes with a solid finish.  When connected to the camera the lens is obviously very large, especially when it is zoomed out to 200mm, but at no time does it feel unbalanced, in fact the weight is evenly distributed.  There is a lens hood included which I did use, but isn't shown in the pictures, and this added around 7cm to the end of the lens.

The zoom action is very positive and weighted while the manual focus ring is in the obvious place and again has a nice action. 

The aperture ring is a bit disconcerting at first because there are no numbers on the outside, unlike the Fujinon primes, you have to look at the rear screen or in the viewfinder to see what f-stop has been set.  This is due to the fact it this lens is a variable maximum aperture.  On the primes I have got into the habit of looking at the lens to see what aperture was set but you soon get used to the alternative method.

No numbers for f-stops on the lens

In action the lens is sharp, very sharp in fact, at all focal lens.  I've seen some reports of the lens being softer when zoomed out to 200mm but as I didn't have a portable laboratory with me to do these tests and I go on the results I see on my computer screen.  And the results look pretty sharp to me.

The Optical Stabilasation function is a superb addition and really does work.  I went to the FIA WEC drivers briefing and I was shooting at 1/30th at 200mm at iso3200, without the aid of a tripod or monopod, and the pictures were very usable - see the handheld examples below.

1/40 @ f3.5 lens at 55mm iso1600


Lens at 200mm 1/30 @ f4.8 iso3200
As I reported yesterday I also went trackside and shot one of the free practice sessions (CLICK HERE).  Again the Fuji X-Pro1 and 55-200mm is not the ideal combination for this type of photography but it does work if you know what you are doing. 

The AF coped very well with the tricky lighting conditions at dusk and the fast moving cars.  However the AF-C setting on the camera did struggle to lock onto the cars at times but it did capture a sequence at 6fps of the Pecom Racing LMP2 car spinning off, so it's not all bad news. 

Capturing trackside action.  Lens at 120mm 1/320 @ f4.5 iso200
Overall I am very impressed with this lens.  At around £580 it isn't the cheapest telephoto lens on the market but the high build quality and the optical performance makes this lens good value for money in my book.  Will I be buying one? 'probably' will be my answer.  I tend to shoot landscapes not sport or wildlife with my X-Pro1 so the Nikon 80-200 will be the lens of choice for now.  But at some point in 2014 I can see a Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS ending up in my camera bag. 

Well done Fujifilm, you've done it again - my bank manager hates you but I certainly don't.




Lens at 55mm

Lens at 200mm






Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Trackside with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 55-200mm Fujinon

This weekend in Bahrain I have the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS telephoto zoom on test and I have been walking around the paddock taking some test shots for a review I am preparing to be published on this blog next week.

As part of this review I headed out this evening to take some shots trackside as the sun was setting. 

I have to say I am impressed how the camera and lens combination handled the difficult conditions.  The AF was snappy and, with the camera set to aperture priority, the exposures were excellent.  I had to push the ISO to 800 to get a fast enough shutter with the slower maximum aperture but the X-Pro1 handles this relatively low ISO extremely well.

Here are four of the shots I took this evening.







Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Disco Palm Trees

Nothing says 'desert' more than palm trees and there are plenty here at the Bahrain International Circuit.  The paddock is lined with trees which have been strung with party lights and in the evening the whole area becomes a party area.  This evening we have our paddock welcome party for all the teams, drivers and officials and the trees will provide the perfect setting for the party in the dessert.




All images takens on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon 14mm f2.8 lens
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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Arty Kerbs in Bahrain

I arrived in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the early hours of this morning and after a few hours sleep I went to the Bahrain International Circuit to sort out some things ahead of the FIA World Endurance Championship finale on Saturday. 

One of my jobs as the Media Delegate is to have a look at the photographer positions around the track and while out and about I took the opportunity to grab some images for the official website and Facebook page.

Here are some of the brightly coloured kerb stones here at the BIC





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Monday, 25 November 2013

REVIEW: Nikon 50mm f1.4D on a Fuji X-Pro1

Two days ago I posted a review of the Fotodiox adapter so that Nikon F mount lenses can be fitted to the Fujifilm X-Pro1.  My first test was with the Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D (HERE) and yesterday I got to try out the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D on the X-Pro1 during the Christmas Lights Switch On celebrations in Edinburgh.


The Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D fitted to the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the Fotodiox Adapter
The Nikkor 50mm f1.4 is another stunningly sharp lens from Nikon and like the 80-200mm it is a 'D' lens, which means it has an aperture ring to set the f stop manually.  This is important for use with the Fotodiox adapter as the newer 'G' type Nikon lenses wont work because they don't have the aperture ring.

Because the X-Pro1 is an APS-C sensor the 50mm becomes an effective 75mm f1.4 when fitted to the Fuji.  The Japanese manufacturer is launching a Fujinon 56mm f1.2 next spring so the Nikon is almost a perfect match for the new X-Series lens, which I am looking forward to trying when it is launched.

Here are some test shots on the Nikon 50mm f1.4 and I have to say I am as impressed with the results as I was with the ones from the 80-200mm two days ago.  For £17 + £4.95 P&P, the Fotodiox adapter has to be one of my best bargain buys this year.

Just walk on by....  I have to admit I couldn't do the same after taking this shot

Waiting for the missus to finish shopping

The Royal Mile

Shop sign showing the wonderfully shallow depth of field the Nikon 50mm f1.4 has to offer

More signage on the Royal Mile

Christmas Market on Prince's Street

Sir Chris Hoy Switching on the Edinburgh Christmas Lights
All images taken on the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D

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Sunday, 24 November 2013

500th Post: Switching on the Christmas Lights in Edinburgh

This afternoon we went to Edinburgh to see the switching on of the Christmas Lights in George Street by cycling's multiple Olympic gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy.  The event was crowded with thousands of people attending the event that saw 850 artists performing across 10 different stages and got everyone in a festive mood.

Here are some of the shots taken on the Fuji X-Pro1 and a variety of lenses including my Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-D (more on this lens test tomorrow)

The Ferris wheel in Princes Street

Some of the lights in George Street

Sir Chris Hoy on stage outside the Assembly Rooms

The lights are switched on to a massive firework display on the roof of the Assembly Rooms

Edinburgh Castle


This post is the 500th since starting this blog in February 2011.  At the start of 2013 I planned to post at least 365 times before the 31st December and this is the 333rd so far this year.  I am on course to hit my goal on the 26th December.

Images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon 35mm f1.4 or Fujinon 14mm f2.8 
Picture of Chris Hoy taken on a Nikon 50mm f1.4D fitted to the Fuji X-Pro1

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Saturday, 23 November 2013

REVIEW: Using Nikon Lenses on a Fuji X Camera

I've been using the Fujifilm X-Pro1 for the past month and I haven't enjoyed my photography so much since I bought the Fuji X100 12 months earlier.  The only issue I have with the X-Pro1 is the lack of a long telephoto lens.  The longest lens I have is the 60mm f2.4, which is the equivalent of a 90mm telephoto; it's a great lens but I sometimes wish my Fuji system had a bit more pulling power.  

Fuji have provided the X system with a telephoto zoom, the 55-200mm f3.5 / f4.8 R LM OIS and I will be testing this lens next week for three days. I will be showing the results on this blog.

However my Nikon kit has one of the best short telephoto zooms in the world, the Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D.  I bought this lens brand new in 1996 for £1600.00 and it has been a faithful companion ever since. I've bought and sold plenty of SLRs / DSLRs in the past 18 years but I've never felt the need to upgrade the 80-200mm because it is still optically the best lens I own and it has never let me down.  


The Fuji X-Pro1 fitted with the Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8
I had read about adapters that were available for the Fuji X-Series cameras to attach different lenses to the X-Pro1, XE1 etc.  On Amazon I found a company selling the Fotodiox adapter for the grand sum of £17 + P&P and so I decided to buy one.


The all metal Fotodiox Fuji X Mount to Nikon F Mount
The package arrived and I discovered the adapter is made of metal, is well constructed, and fitted easily between the camera and the Nikon lens.  

All of my Nikon lenses are the older 'D' type, which means the lens has an aperture ring rather than the newer 'G' type lenses that have had the aperture ring removed.  Having the aperture ring means the lens can be used on the X-Pro1 with the Fotodiox adapter because the aperture can be set manually.


Picking out this tree on Doon Hill silhouetted in the late sunshine
I took the X-Pro1 fitted with the 80-200mm f2.8 out and about to capture some images of the sunset here in East Lothian.  

Firstly the X-Pro1 is a crop sensor camera so the 80-200 becomes a 120-300, with a constant f2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range.  The downside is the fact that the lens can only be focused manually; there is no AF function when it is attached to the X-Pro1. The focusing might be manual only but I started with an all manual camera (Minolta X700) and so I am quite used to this method of focusing.

The other problem is the lens is quite large and I am unsure if the pressure on the lens mount caused by the heavy Nikkor might damage the camera.  So I decided to carry the X-Pro1 with the lens attached in the crook of my arm rather than slinging it over my shoulder using the camera strap.

To get the lens to work on the X-Pro1 you need to set the camera menu to 'shoot without lens' and then the camera shutter will fire.  

The viewfinder also needs to be set to EVF so you can see what the camera is seeing and then it is pretty easy to focus manually.
Set to aperture priority the X-Pro1 shows f1 in the viewfinder because it can't read the lens aperture but the shutter speed does adjust automatically when the aperture is altered on the lens.  All of the shots on this page were shot in aperture priority and the camera adjusted the exposure perfectly.

The images taken here show that the Fuji X-Pro1 using the Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D is a great combination and I am very pleased with the results.


Barns Ness Lighthouse - lens at 200mm
Barns Ness Lighthouse - lens at 80mm

Wildlife photography becomes a possibility using the X-Pro1 and 80-200mm f2.8

Barns Ness Lighthouse
Looking across the bay towards Bass Rock
The benefit of a long telephoto lens is the ability to focus on subjects within the landscape, such as these waves in the late sunshine
The Barns Ness quarry ramp machinery - lens at 80mm
The Barns Ness quarry ramp machinery - lens at 200mm
Doon Hill in the late evening sunshine
Trees on Doon Hill

As I said above, I am testing the Fuji 55-200, which has the advantage of AF, optical stabilisation and full automation with the X-Pro1, but it is nearly £600.  

I will keep an open mind when I test the Fuji telephoto next week and I might still end up buying the 55-200mm but having the 80-200mm f2.8 already in the MacLean Photographic arsenal means I can keep my options open.

All images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D lens

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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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