Monday, 30 May 2016

Venetian Square


A few weeks ago we visited Venice for the first time and the city lives up to it's reputation as a photographers paradise.  I had to be careful not to overdo it as this was a weekend for my wife and I to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and to have a camera permanently glued to my face would've been the wrong thing to do.

Check out the blogs on Venice HERE (Venice with two lenses) and HERE (Details of Venice)


Now I have been a fan of the square format since I started photography and dreamed of owning a 6x6 Hasselblad medium format camera.  The square format is iconic in photographic circles (sorry about the pun!) and when I see an image that suits 1:1 format then I shoot it with that in mind.  

While the X-Pro2 can shoot 1:1 format images I prefer to shoot the images 3:2 and then crop in post production as it gives me the flexibility that I wouldn't have if I shot it in camera.  That isn't to say I don't shoot 1:1 in camera, in the same way I do shoot black and white in camera but I prefer to shoot in colour but seeing the image in mono when I take the image for converting in Silver EFEX in post production.

Here are a set of images from the trip to Venice that are all cropped 1:1 in post production but ones that I saw as square format when I pressed the shutter release.  

All images taken on the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and either the XF18mm f2 or XF56mm f1.2 lenses.

























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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

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE


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Sunday, 29 May 2016

REVIEW: Six Months with the X-Pro2


Well I have reached the six month point of using the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 in the field and now it is time to report back on my findings.  

As an X-Photographer I obtained a pre production model back in November 2015 and was asked to fully test its capabilities and send my feedback on a regular basis.  This meant that the final version that was launched in January 2016 in Tokyo (where I was invited to take part in the press conference) that finally hit the shelves in February / March had received some real world testing from the 100 X-Photographer chosen worldwide using the camera in a variety of different situations. I now own a production model and the finished product is a great camera.

I received the prototype X-Pro2 on my return from the last round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain and the end of November so I wasn't able to test the X-Pro2 on motorsport until well into 2016. 



As regular readers of this blog will know I also tested the 100-400mm and tested the combination on a variety of sporting subjects including international rugby at Murrayfield.  I also used it for my landscape and travel work and I have to say I am extremely happy with the performance and results in all of these areas.  

It is so good that when I now pick up the X-T1 I see things like EVF black out and slower AF performance that I didn't notice before I got the X-Pro2.  Now the X-T1 is a great camera and I still use the two I have on a regular basis, but the X-Pro2 is the next step in the evolution of the X-Series and as such it sets new benchmarks that the X-T1 struggles to match.

I've even gone back to using the optical viewfinder after favouring the EVF almost 100% on my X-Pro1 and X100 for the last two years.  The focus assist in the OVF is a real plus point and gives the best of both worlds.

The 24MP sensor is brilliant and produces great quality images.  Also the ability to crop the 6000 x 4000 pixel images and still have an image larger than one from an X-T1 is a real asset.

The autofocus is a massive step up from the X-T1 and can cope with most sport and wildlife situations with ease compared to the X-T1 and is now on a par with a Nikon or Canon prosumer DSLR.  I still think that Nikon / Canon pro DSLRs have the edge in AF performance but the gap has closed considerably and Fujifilm can now hold its head high in these arenas.

So What's Not So Good?
So is the X-Pro2 100% perfect? No, it certainly isn't.  The lack of a tilting rear screen still annoys me and I am still not happy with the ISO dial when trying to adjust it in poor light or when the camera is strapped to a tall tripod.  The actual operation of the dial - lift and twist -doesn't bother me it is just not being able to see what the setting is in low light.  The solution is to use the rear screen to see what the ISO is set to.

The X-Pro2 still uses the same NP-W126 batteries as the X-T1 / XT-10 / X-E2 which is great from the compatibility point of view but is not so great for battery power.  The X-Pro2 is not so bad as some people would have us believe but I still get 400-500 shots per battery, far short of the equivalent Nikon / Canon DSLR and I do keep plenty of full charged spare batteries when I am out and about. The new battery indicator on the X-Pro2 is much better, giving a more precise reading on the amount of power left in the battery than in the X-T1 or X-Pro1.

One of the plus points is the fact the X-Pro2 is the first X-Series camera to have two SD card slots.  Slot 1 can utilise the faster SDHC II memory cards and this, coupled with the faster processor, means that images are written to the card faster.  The only downside is the fact that slot 2 is only configured for the slower SDHC I cards.  While you can use the newer SDHC II cards, you don't get the benefit.  I have got around this by swapping the cards around once the card in slot 1 has filled up, but this isn't an ideal solution.  I did a test on memory card write speeds in February HERE

One little annoying point is the rubber eye piece keeps falling off the camera when I put it in the camera bag.  The rubber only pushes on and is easily knocked off the camera when it rubs up against something, like the sides of the camera bag.  This has happened about three times in the past six months and each time I have found the eye piece in the bottom of the bag but it is really annoying when this happens.



The exposure compensation dial now has a 'C' setting, which gives +/- 5 stops using the front selector dial, which is brilliant.  However if the camera is on your shoulder it is easy to knock the dial off 'C' and when you put the camera to your eye the exposure is way off because the dial is now +3 or -3 stops.  My solution is to put tape on the dial which isn't an elegant solution but it does work well.  I wish the dial had a lock on it like the shutter dial.

Conclusion
This may seem like a lot of negative points but they are all minor irritations and in all the areas that matter to me as a photographer this camera is superb.  In fact it is the best X-Series yet and, dare I say it, the best camera I have used in the 25 years I have been a photographer.  Well maybe not THE best but it certainly ranks up there with my Bronica ETRSi and Nikon F3/ F5 film cameras and is certainly the best digital camera I've ever owned.

Plus points -
  • The 24MP X-Trans III sensor
  • The X Pro processor  - processes images a lot quicker than the X-T1 
  • The much quicker AF 
  • The high ISO ability and the fact that RAW is now available on all ISO settings from 100-51200.
  • Superb Build quality and weather resistance
  • Hybrid Viewfinder
  • Dual SD-Card Slots
  • ACROS Film Simulation
  • Exposure Compensation dial 'C' Setting giving +/- 5 stops adjustment on front dial

Minus Points -
  • No tilting rear screen
  • ISO dial hard to read in low light
  • Battery power - still a lot less shots per battery than the equivalent DSLR
  • Only memory card slot 1 utilises the faster SDHC II cards
  • Rubber eye piece keeps coming off the camera in the camera bag.
  • Lack of a lock on the Exposure Compensation dial.
Here are links to some of the MacLean Photographic Blogs on the X-Pro2













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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

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was 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, 26 May 2016

Row Boats


Using the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF50-140mm f2.8 fitted with the 2x converter I took some close shots of the various row boats moored at the Balmaha harbour on Loch Lomond.

In the strong afternoon sunshine the various colours and textures made for some interesting images.





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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

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was 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'

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Underwater Test Shots with the X-T1



Last week I bought a DICAPAC waterproof case for the Fujifilm X-T1 for a project I am working on and yesterday evening I took it for a test run in the rock pools at Skateraw harbour just along the coast from Dunbar.

I attached the case to my monopod using a Manfrotto Mini Clamp and a Peak Design leash attached to the case as a safety line should the clamp fail.

Using the XF18mm f2 lens on the X-T1 I set the camera to interval timer, set at 1 second intervals, and put the case in the water as the surf rolled over the rocks.

I took around 200 images and while most were binned before downloading I got several 'keepers' from this unorthodox method, including the images you see on this blog.

The camera was bone dry when I removed it from the case but I still put several sachets of silica gel in the bag just in case any water got through the seals.

I will run a second test very soon, probably setting the WiFi remote app on the camera to see if it will work underwater and allow me to see what the camera is seeing while I take images.

If this works out I will be trying the camera set up in anger very soon and if it works I should come back with some very interesting wildlife images - more on that very soon.






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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

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was 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, 24 May 2016

Cruising on Loch Lomond


This image was taken from the ferry back to Balmaha from Inchcailloch island.  On the short crossing we passed a yacht heading out of the small anchorage towards the north end of Loch Lomond.  

Using the Fujifilm X-Pro2 with the XF50-140mm f2.8 lens and 2x converter I captured this shot from a low angle close to the water.

The shot below was taken a short time later as a small motorboat also headed out of the Balmaha boatyard.




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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

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador and you can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE



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Monday, 23 May 2016

Visiting Inchcailloch


Yesterday we visited the small Scottish island of Inchcailloch, a 52 hectare piece of land situated in Loch Lomond and reached by a short ferry ride from the little village of Balmaha on the loch's eastern shore.
Inchcailloch lies in the south east corner of Loch Lomond, within Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and is cloaked by oak woodland which is particularly important because of its rich flora and distinctive communities of mosses, lichens and birds.  There are also deer on the island but we didn't see any during our short visit.



The ferry goes from Balmaha boat yard, which is a short walk from the free public car park.  The return trip costs £5 per person and runs from 9am to 5pm.  The 'Margaret' was our boat, a beautiful wooden vessel that was built in Cockenzie in 1947 for the Balmaha Boat Yard.


The crossing to the North Pier on Inchcailloch took around 5 minutes and then we had two hours to explore the island.  The paths are well marked and very easy to follow.  We headed to the 'summit' which at 85 metres above Loch Lomond gives some great panoramic views of the loch and the mountains.  We sat with our picnic taking in the breathtaking views.


The island is covered in trees of different varieties and at this time of year the ground is carpeted in bluebells (see yesterday's blog), wild garlic and other wild flora.

Inchcailloch is steeped in history and has been a site for the Christian faith for 1300 years since Saint Kentigerma established a nunnery on the island.  In fact the name Inchcailloch means 'Isle of the Cowled Woman' in Scottish Gaelic, a direct reference to the Nuns who lived on the island.


There is also a burial ground for the Clan MacGregor and MacFarlane.  There was a 13th century church dedicated to Saint Kentigerma but it fell into disuse after 1770 but the burial ground was still being used right up to 1947.  


On the south side of the island is a small beach at Port Bawn which is a favourite of visitors using the ferry and also with boats owners and kayakers.  While we were on the island there were several BBQs underway but we wanted some peace and quiet so headed further up the path to find a smaller beach located a short walk away.

We headed back to the North Pier to catch the ferry back to Balmaha.

CLICK HERE for more information on Inchcailloch




















All images taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with either a XF16-55mm f2.8 or XF50-140mm f2.8 + 2 x 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

In June 2015 Jeff Carter was 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'