Thursday, 29 October 2015

Shanghai Panorama


Yesterday was sunny at the Shanghai International Circuit and I took the opportunity to go out to inspect the photo areas around the track and take a few images along the way.

Using the X-T1 and the XF16-55mm f2.8 I used the panoramic function on the camera to capture some wide, sweeping images of the track.






Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nice Light, Shame About the View



I am currently in Shanghai for the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship on Sunday 1 November.  This morning I woke up in my hotel room and on opening the curtains I was immediately hit by diffused sunlight through the polluted atmosphere that seems to permanently shroud China's largest city.  

This is the fourth year I have stayed at the Crowne Plaza hotel located a few miles from the Shanghai International Circuit and every year I take pictures out of the window to show how things change very quickly in this part of the world.  Last year there was bare ground now, 12 months later, it is a massive construction site with four cranes and hundreds of workers.

I took some shots on the X-T1 and XF50-140mm f2.8 to document the changes.  At least the light was quite special even if the subject matter was not.  Probably have a massive tower block in front of the windows next year.







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Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Calm Before the Storm



Last Saturday in Estoril Portugal the sun came up over the town bathing the Portuguese coast in a warm glow.  However on the horizon storm clouds were gathering and by mid morning the winds were howling and the rain was lashing down, which brought a halt to first Free Practice session of the 4 Hours of Estoril (see blog HERE).  The weather was so bad that a container ship was driven onto the rocks not far from our hotel and had to be towed off by tugs.

All landscape photographers know that the light just ahead of a storm front can be quite dramatic as the sun can light objects against a very dark sky.

These images were taken at sunrise from the hotel balcony in Estoril using the Fujifilm X-T1 and the 50-140mm fitted with the 1.4x converter.






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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

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Friday, 23 October 2015

What's in the Camera Bag Now?



In February I posted on this blog that I was going to have a spring clean of my Fujifilm kit (CLICK HERE).  Since then I have become and X-Photographer and have had the opportunity to test some of the new products that have appeared in the Fujifilm line up and even some that won't be appearing until 2016.

One of the main reasons that photographers swap from a DSLR system to a CSC is to save weight.  Now for me the primary reason is the image quality and the ease a camera system allows me to work, but after taking 87 flights in 2014 and having already taken 62 in 2015, weight has to be a consideration.  I recently flew to Tokyo with Qatar Airways and they do have a carry on limit, even for Business Class, so my bag had to be weighed.  Carrying everything photographed above, plus a second XF50-140mm f2.8 to test the 1.4x converter that has now been launched, the total weight of my Lowepro backpack was 11.7kg - and that ladies and gentlemen is amazing.

So what has changed between February and October 2015?

Today I have the three pro zooms 
XF50-140mm f2.8R LM WR OIS
XF16-55mm f2.8R LM WR
XF10-24mm f4R OIS

The 55-200mm f3.5/4.8 was sold a few weeks ago because I now have the 50-140mm f2.8 with the 1.4x converter.

Four Primes
XF18mm f2R
XF35mm f1.4R
XF56mm f1.2R
XF90mm f2R LM WR
+ the new 1.4x Teleconverter WR

The XF14mm f2.8 and XF60mm f2.4 macro were both sold in February for the reasons stated in the February blog.  Mainly because I wasn't using the lenses that much and I could duplicate the focal lengths with other lenses that already owned.

Camera Bodies
2 x X-T1 + Battery Grip
1 x X100 Black Limited Edition - the camera that started my X-Series journey three years ago this month

The X-Pro1 was sold a few months ago to fund the purchase of a second X-T1.

Accessories
Nissin i40 flash gun
Lee Filters - 3 x ND grad and 1 x 10xND (Big stopper)
Nikon ME1 external microphone
10mm and 16mm extension tubes for macro work
Remote release
7 x batteries for X-T1
3 x batteries for X100
A selection of 16GB SD memory cars (UHSII type)

The Fujifilm EF20 flash was sold in the spring as the i40 is more powerful and has more overrides that the Fuji flash.

Conclusion
I now have a system that works for me and the way I take images, whether it is motorsport, wildlife, commercial or street.  The X-Series system can be as heavy or lightweight as you want it to be.  I can go for a walk with an X-T1 without the battery pack with the 18mm attached and the 56mm in my pocket.  Or I just take the X100.

Alternatively I can take two bodies and the three zooms (+ 1.4x converter) and that set up will cover from 10mm right up to 200mm (15mm to 300mm in 35mm terms) at f4 or f2.8 maximum aperture.  

If I decide to take the 'kitchen sink' then all in I know the weight will be less than 12kg plus my tripod.  That is the beauty of the X-Series CSC, it provides excellent professional quality in a robust but lightweight package.


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MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'





Thursday, 22 October 2015

Review: Testing the New Fujinon 1.4x Converter


For the past 3 months I have been secretly testing the new Fujinon 1.4x converter which when mated with the XF50-140mm f2.8 makes this superb lens a 70-196mm f4 (or 105-300mm f4 equivalent focal length).

I have been using mainly for motorsport but I have also used it for wildlife and for landscapes and I can report that this converter doesn't affect the image quality, even when using the lens with its maximum aperture, and it also doesn't affect the performance of the AF.  You do loose one stop of light (hence the f4 rather than the f2.8) but if the light drops off too much you can just dial in an extra stop on the ISO.



Physically the Fujinon 1.4x converter is tiny as some of the elements fit up inside the back of the 50-140mm lens and it only adds 18mm to the profile of the lens and body.  It may be small but the 1.4x converter feels solid and is easy to attach and remove.

As I said earlier the quality of the images the lens produces with the 1.4x converter fitted are not degraded in anyway. The same goes for the AF tracking, which was just as snappy in AF-S or AF-C as the lens is without the converter fitted.

The following two shots of the Eiffel Tower show the zoom range from 70mm to 196mm




The one question that will be asked is the 55-200mm f3.5/f4.8 better value for money than the 50-140mm f2.8 + 1.4x converter, which gives more or less the same focal length at the long end for a loss of 0.5 stops but costs one third of the price and is more compact - £486 for the 55-200mm against £1099 + £329 for the 50-140mm + 1.4x. 

Having run both lenses side by side the 55-200mm is a good lens but doesn't match the quality or the AF speed of the 50-140mm, even with the 1.4x fitted.  Plus you have the option of removing the converter and have a fast f2.8 lens. 

For me having this 1.4x converter in my bag is a no brainer and it will be useful when Fujifilm bring more lenses that can utilise this nifty piece of kit.

Three of my images have been used by Fujifilm as sample pictures to illustrate the quality of ths Fujinon Tele Converter 1.4x TC WR.  

For more information and to see the sample images CLICK HERE









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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8R LM WR


The Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8R LM WR is Fujifilm's second 'red badge' professional zoom and covers the standard 35mm focal range of 24mm to 84mm with a constant f2.8 maximum aperture.  This, along with the Fujinon XF50-140mm f2.8R LM WR OIS, makes up Fujifilm's professional zoom offering.  

We have had a 50-140mm f2.8 since June and this lens lives up to all the hype and press coverage as it is a match for anything that the other manufacturers can produce in this focal length range with a fast aperture. So it was with interest that I tested the 50-140's smaller sibling to see if it can match the quality of the larger lens.


There are a few physical differences between the 50-140mm and the 16-55mm (and we are not talking about physical size.  The 16-55 is a big lens but it isn't too big.  Unlike the 50-140mm, the lens extends when zoomed towards the long end of the zoom range.  This is a little disappointing for me as I expected the zoom function to be internal like the 50-140mm.  It is a minor issue when the image quality is taken into account but....

The second item you notice is the lack of a switch for the Optical Image Stablisation (OIS) and these three letters are missing from the full name of the lens.  Now for me this isn't a problem and if an OIS system had been included it would've added even more to the bulk of the lens.  Now some photographers have complained bitterly about the lack of OIS but I cut my teeth as a photographer using manual lenses and OIS was a thing of science fiction.  The f2.8 maximum aperture allows you to keep the shutter speed at a reasonable level as the light drops and when it drops too much you just up the ISO a bit to compensate.

The third item is the 77mm diameter filter ring, which is bigger than the 72mm filter thread on the 50-140mm.  I wish Fujifilm would stick to one or two filter ring sizes instead of chopping and changing.  As it happens all my screw in filters and my Lee slot in filter system are configured for 77mm as this is something I had on my old Nikon system.  I have been using step up rings for the various lens filter sizes so at least on the 16-55mm I wont need to utilise these step ring for once.


The 16-55mm proudly wears the WR (Weather Resistant) label on the front of the lens and I can report that the WR does work after I got caught in a huge deluge last Saturday at Estoril while photographing the European Le Mans Series.  I did a blog the excellent Weather Resistance of the Fujifilm kit HERE and while most of the images were taken on the 50-140mm, the 16-55mm performed equally well in the challenging conditions.


The zoom range is perfect for a lens of this size. The 24mm equivalent focal length on the wide end is perfect and allows me to get a lot into the frame without having to get the excellent XF10-24mm f4 out of the bag.  The 84mm equivalent on the telephoto end is also a great focal length and if I need a faster aperture I always have the 56mm f1.2 in the bag.

The build quality of the XF16-55mm f2.8 is on a par with all the other XF range of lenses and is built to last.  I had an unfortunate accident when the camera fell off the tripod because I hadn't secured it properly.  The camera and lens fell 1.2m to the concrete floor and I thought that was it, game over.  No, the camera and lens just shrugged off the impact and carried on working. 



However it is the quality of the images the XF16-55mm f2.8 produces that is key and here are some images from the grid walk on Sunday afternoon at Estoril.  The weather was overcast but the images that I got from the 15-minutes on the grid were all very usable. 

Because the focal range of the zoom covered most of what I needed with a fast f2.8 aperture, I was able to cover the grid walk with just one camera and one lens, which was very liberating.. 

Here are some sample images from the ELMS is Portugal -










Conclusion
The XF16-55mm f2.8R LM WR is a lens worthy of the premium 'red badge'.  The quality is as we would expect from a professional XF Fujinon lens.  The lack of OIS will put some people off buying this lens but they will be missing something that is capable of rivalling the best prime lenses out there that has the flexibility of a good focal length range.

For me it is a no brainer to have the 16-55mm f2.8 in my camera bag.


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MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Testing The Weather Resistance of the X-T1



Some Fujifilm products come with a WR label which stands for 'Weather Resistant'.  The X-T1 and the 16-55mm f2.8 and 50-140mm f2.8 lenses all come with this WR label but I always try to protect my camera gear from the weather as much as possible.

However yesterday morning during Free Practice for the final European Le Mans Series race of the 2015 season the weather provided a good test to the WR claim.  I still had the cameras covered when I was walking but when shooting the camera and lens were exposed to the heavy rain and high winds.

The conditions were certainly a challenge for the photographer as well and I think the cameras performed better than I did in the heavy rain and wind.  At least I know that the WR label on Fujifilm products actually means what it says.  I will still try to protect my gear as much as possible but if I do get caught out in bad weather in future at least I will have the confidence to know that the cameras will continue to function. 









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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Timelapse: ELMS Scrutineering in Estoril


Using the X-T1s Interval Timer function I took over 600 images of the LMP2 cars going through scrutineering using the XF16-55mm f2.8 lens fitted to the Fujifilm flagship camera. 

I then put them together in Microsoft Movie Maker to produce a short 50-second timelapse video, which can be viewed here -


4 Hours of Estoril - Scrutineering Timelapse por ELMS

The video was then uploaded to the official ELMS Dailymotion channel and also on the ELMS Facebook page, where it received over 70 shares in just a few hours.



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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Friday, 16 October 2015

Downtown Tokyo with the XF16-55mm f2.8



After a couple of hours in the studio filming an interview with Fujifilm, and then lunch, we took a 2-hour walk around Ginza Street in downtown Tokyo, one of the longest shopping areas in the Japanese capital.  The street is very narrow and is only for pedestrians and cyclists, perfect for street photography on the X-T1 and the XF16-55mm f2.8.

The flexibility offered by the XF16-55mm f2.8 quickly became apparent when I was walking around.  The 24mm to 85mm equivalent focal range meant I only needed one lens to capture a variety of subjects on the streets of Tokyo.






We headed off the beaten track a bit, exploring some of the side streets and it was sometimes hard to believe that we were in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it was so quiet.


The sense of peace continued when we came across a temple, tucked away in amongst the houses.  I have visited many temples on my visits to Tokyo and they are usually an area of calm and tranquillity in the hustle and of daily life in Japan.  This one was no different and it was with great pleasure that we were able to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. 


















After we got back to the studio we collected our car and headed to the airport to take our flights home.  Japan is one of my favourite destinations and somewhere I always want to visit.  I look forward to returning to Japan in 2016.


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ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability

Jeff Carter was recently named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'