Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A Highland Photo Trip: Part 4 Bealach na Ba to Applecross

Frozen water - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/13 @ f8 ISO800 (zoom 10mm)
Bealach na Ba is Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle and is a road that is reminiscent of Alpine roads with tight and twisty bends as the single track road twists it was from sea level to 626 metres (2054ft).

We had packed away our camera gear into the car at the bottom of the pass and as we headed up the weather had taken a turn for the worse, with rain swiftly turning to flurries of snow as we headed up.  This made the climb seem even more dramatic as the dark layer of cloud was lit from underneath by the sunlight down on Loch Kishorn.


Bealach na Ba - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/100 @ f4 ISO800 (zoom 10mm)
When we reached the top we stopped to climb out of the car to taken some images.  The twisting road provided a great lead in line for the resulting image

At the top of the ridge the large pools of water were frozen over with snow flakes being blown across the surface.  The X-T2 with the XF10-24mm fitted was placed low down to capture some images.

Frozen water - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/100 @ f4 ISO800 (zoom 10mm)
Quickly retiring to the warm car we headed north west to the village of Applecross.  With the dark clouds piling in from the Atlantic it looked like the sunset we had hoped for was going to be a non starter so we resigned ourselves to finding something else to shoot as we dropped down towards the village on the edge of the sea.


Applecross - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/200 @ f5.6 ISO400 (zoom 24mm)
The light was starting to appear through the clouds on the far horizon so we stopped on the side of the road above the bay.  We then headed down to the front but the light, which had shown promise on the top of the hill had faded.

I did take one shot on the edge of the beach looking back towards the houses.  I switched the camera to ACROS (R) film simulation and this was the result.


Applecross - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/60 @ f2.8 ISO200 (zoom 100mm)
We decided to head up to Ullapool where we had booked a hotel for the night but as we were heading out of Applecross more opportunities presented themselves.

On the other side of a wall bordering the Applecross Estate was a herd of Highland Cattle and we duly stopped to take a look and take a few pictures of these gentle beasts.


Highland Cow - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/180 @ f2.8 ISO3200 (zoom 80mm)
Highland Cow - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/80 @ f2.8 ISO3200 (zoom 140mm)
Highland Cow - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/80 @ f2.8 ISO3200 (zoom 140mm)
Highland Cow - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/80 @ f2.8 ISO3200 (zoom 140mm)
We hadn't gone a mile up the road when I spotted a stag on the road side eating some of the bracken.  We pulled over expecting the stag to bolt but he stayed put long enough for us to get some shots.  We thought we were extremely lucky to get a close up shot of this wild deer but little did we know what day 2 would have in store for us!


Young Stag on the Roadside - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/110 @ f2.8 ISO6400 (zoom 140mm)
The final image was taken on the road heading north away from Applecross Bay.  Once again the final light of the day was trying to make a break through the dense cloud cover and we were presented with this scene of a house on the headland with the northern tip of the island of Raasay in the distance.


Across the Sound to Raasay - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm f2.8 - 1/70 @ f2.8 ISO800 (zoom 50mm)
After that the light faded completely and we headed the 75 miles up to Ullapool for a beer and a plate of fish and chips before heading off to bed.  A 6:30am start the next morning would given us two hours to get to our next location before sunrise on day two of the Highland Photo Tour.


Ullapool Harbour at Night - iPhone 6S Plus
Part 5 on the ruins of Ardvreck Castle of will be posted tomorrow morning.  

CLICK HERE for more information on Bealach na Ba and the Applecross Peninsula on the Undiscovered Scotland website

Other features from this trip
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 8 Sunset at Altandhu - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 7 Clashnessie Beach to the River Polly - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 6 Kylesku to Drumbeg - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 5 Ardvreck Castle - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 3 Lochcarron to Loch Kishorn - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 2 Inverness - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 1 Ruthven Barracks - CLICK HERE


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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 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

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

A Highland Photo Trip: Part 3 Lochcarron to Loch Kishorn

Russel Burn - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 77s @ f11 ISO100 (zoom 10mm) - Point D on Map below
After our brief stop in Inverness we pushed on cross country 64 miles to Lochcarron. We stopped briefly to take in the view across the sea loch and stretch our legs before setting off towards Applecross.

At Lochcarron we spotted a Heron fishing on the shoreline so with the X-T2 and XF100-400mm I managed to capture a few shots of the bird and the landscape in the winter sunshine.

Lochcarron - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/640 @ f5.6 ISO200 (zoom 400mm) - Point A on Map below
Lochcarron - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800 @ f5 ISO200 (zoom 100mm) - Point A on Map below
We then headed out of Lochcarron following the road across the headland to Kishorn.  As we dropped down towards the sea loch the landscape opened up and we were greeted by the looming  mountain Sgurr a Chaorchain on the far shore.  We stopped to get some shots of the mountain from the southside of Loch Kishorn before continuing on the road turning left onto the single track road at Tornapress.


Sgurr a Chaorchain - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF14mm f2.8 - 1/400 @ f6.4 ISO200 - Point B on Map below
Loch Kishorn from Tornapress - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800 @ f9 ISO100 (zoom 180mm) - Point C on Map below
The road started to climb up the side of the mountain as we head for the famous Beach na Ba, which means 'Pass of the Cattle' in Gaelic.  We decided to stop at the base of the mountain and hike across the boggy ground to the waterfall at Russel Burn to take some images of the scene both up towards the mountain ridge and also of Loch Kishorn and the land beyond below us.


The waterfall at Russel Burn - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 0.5s @ f22 ISO100 (zoom 10mm) - - Point D on Map below
Russel Burn and Loch Kishorn - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/125 @ f8 ISO100 (zoom 10mm) - Point D on Map below
We stayed for nearly an hour and during this time the cloud had started to come in from the west so we decided it was time to push on up through the pass and on to Applecross.

Part 4 will be the journey up through Bealach na Ba, to Applecross and our overnight stop in Ullapool.

Map of the route from Lochcarron to Applecross
Lochcarron - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/500 @ f5.6 ISO200 (zoom 400mm) - Point A on Map
Sgurr a Chaorchain  - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF16mm f1.4 - 1/250 @ f5.6 ISO200 - Point E on Map
Russel Burn  - Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 300s @ f16 ISO100 (zoom 10mm) - Point D on Map
Russel Burn and Loch Kishorn - Fujifilm X-Pro2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/25 @ f11 ISO200 (zoom 10mm) - Point D on Map
Other features from this trip
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 8 Sunset at Altandhu - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 7 Clashnessie Beach to the River Polly - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 6 Kylesku to Drumbeg - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 5 Ardvreck Castle - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 4 Bealach na Ba to Applecross - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 2 Inverness - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 1 Ruthven Barracks - CLICK HERE

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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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 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

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

Monday, 30 January 2017

A Highland Photo Trip: Part 2 Inverness


After traveling up the A9 to Inverness and stopping for a coffee we crossed the bridge over the River Ness onto the Black Isle.  The city was back lit with a slight mist and the church spires above the tops of the houses.

The image was shot on the Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF100-400mm.

We pulled into a parking bay at the side of the dual carriageway opposite the port to take a few images before continuing our journey north towards Lochcarron and then onto our next stop on the River Kishorn before making the climb through Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle).


Other features from this trip
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 8 Sunset at Altandhu - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 7 Clashnessie Beach to the River Polly - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 6 Kylesku to Drumbeg - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 5 Ardvreck Castle - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 4 Bealach na Ba to Applecross - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 3 Lochcarron to Loch Kishorn - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 1 Ruthven Barracks - CLICK HERE


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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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 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

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

A Highland Photo Trip: Part 1 Ruthven Barracks

Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 3s @ f9 ISO200 (zoom 10mm)
On Friday 27 January we set off from Edinburgh for a two day photo trip into the Highlands around Ullapool.  We left Edinburgh two hours before dawn and as we traveled up the A9, the main road from Perth to Inverness through the mountains, we decided to stop at the ruins of Ruthven Barracks to capture the sunrise.

Ruthven Barracks stand on a mound on the opposite side of the A9 from the village of Kingussie, about 13 miles south of Aviemore.  I have been traveling up and down the A9 since I was posted to RAF Kinloss in February 1987 but have never stopped to view the ruins.


Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/13 @ f11 ISO400 (zoom 12mm)

Ruthven Barracks were built in 1719 by the British Army after the failed Jacobite uprising in 1715.  

In the 1745 rising led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart a unit of 12 British soldiers, commanded by a Sergeant Terrence Molloy of the 6th Regiment of Foot, defended the barracks against 200 Jacobites and lost just one man. The following year Molloy surrendered to a larger force of Jacobites, commanded by John Gordon of Glenbuchet.  Ruthven was destroyed by the Jacobites after their defeat at the Battle of Culloden and the ruins are what remains.  Ruthven Barracks are now a scheduled monument and is free to visit all year round.

When we arrived it was about 45 minutes before sunrise and the sky was starting the brighten as we set up the tripods.  The main building is lit by floodlights and we captured a few images from the main entrance.  I then decided to head down to the left into the field near a copse that would give me a good long shot of the barracks perched high on the mound.

While I was taking wide shots on the X-T2 I was taking detailed images of the barracks with the X-Pro2 and the XF100-400mm, with the stonework silhouetted against the brights sky and a flock of black birds flying above the ruin before landing.


Fujifilm X-Pro2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/200 @ f5.6 ISO200 (zoom 100mm)
As the sun broke over the surrounding hills I headed back to the entrance before we headed north up the road to stand on a hill looking south with the sunlight providing a golden glow to the stonework with the mountains as a backdrop.


Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/640s @ f5.6 ISO200 (zoom 100mm)
We then headed further north to Inverness for the next leg of our photo tour into the Highlands.

CLICK HERE for more information on Ruthven Barracks

Other features from this trip
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 8 Sunset at Altandhu - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 7 Clashnessie Beach to the River Polly - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 6 Kylesku to Drumbeg - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 5 Ardvreck Castle - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 4 Bealach na Ba to Applecross - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 3 Lochcarron to Loch Kishorn - CLICK HERE
A Highland Photo Trip: Part 2 Inverness - CLICK HERE


Fujifilm X-T2 + XF16-55mm f2.8 - 1.5s @ f6.4 ISO200 (zoom 16mm)
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 2s @ f11 ISO200 (zoom 10mm)
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF10-24mm f4 - 1/125s @ f9 ISO400 (zoom 10mm)
Fujifilm X-Pro2 + XF90mm f2 - 1/220 @ f4 ISO200 
Fujifilm X-Pro2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/50 @ f5.6 ISO200 (zoom 400mm)
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.4/5.6 - 1/500s @ f5.6 ISO200 (zoom 245mm)
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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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 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

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





Thursday, 26 January 2017

REVIEW: What is the Best Fuji Kit Lens? Part 3


Well it has been a fun three weeks testing the two XF 'Kit' lenses and I will admit that I would be happy to have either in my camera bag.  They certainly are not 'kit' lenses in the same vein as the ones you find on the low end DSLRs.  In this final review in this three week test I will weigh up the pros and cons of the two kit lenses and how they compare to the big brother, the XF16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR.

I conducted two earlier reviews in Part 1 and Part 2 of this feature.  Click on the links below to see those reviews and sample images.

Part 1: XF18-135mm f3.5/5.6R LM OIS WR
Part 2: XF18-55mm f2.8/4R LM OIS            

QUALITY PRODUCTS
Both the XF18-55mm f2.8/4 and the XF18-135mm f3.5/5.6 are well built, have a solid construction, are optically on a par with the best of the XF range of lenses and have a very useful Optical Image Stabilisation system built in.  The 18-135mm is also weather resistant which for lens that is very well suited to travel photography this is a big plus point.

VALUE FOR MONEY
Compared to the XF16-55mm f2.8 both lenses stack up really well in all departments but the red badged pro lens still edges it on image quality plus the constant f2.8 aperture is certainly a big plus for me.  However the other lenses both have OIS, which the f2.8 lens lacks, and the extra £300+ on the price tag, means the two 'kit' lenses are great value for money. They are even better value if you buy them bundled with a camera body.  

The street price for either kit lens is just over £600 but buy an 18-55mm with an X-T2 and that price difference between body only (£1399) and X-T2 + 18-55mm (£1649) is £250.  Buy an XE2S and the price difference between body only and body + lens is even lower at £140.

Put another way, if you buy the XF18-55mm lens at its RRP of £619, you can get an XE2S for just £70 - the combined price is £689 CLICK HERE, and there is a £40 cash back on that price before the 31st January from Fujifilm UK.  

LENS SIZE
The size of the 16-55mm f2.8 is quite large but it is quite nicely balanced on any of the X-Series cameras, especially on the X-T2 with the battery grip fitted.  At 655g it is also double the weight of the 18-55mm (310g) and heavier than the longer reaching 18-135mm which weighs in at 490g.

Lets look at the physical size of the lenses as they all extend when zoomed out to the telephoto end of the focal length.

The three shots below show the three lenses fitted to an X-Pro2 body with the lenses set at the wide end of the zoom range.  You can see there isn't much difference in size between the three lenses.

XF18-55mm f2.8/4 at 18mm
XF18-135mm f3.5/f5.6 at 18mm
XF16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm
Now here are the same three images but with the lenses set at the telephoto end of the zoom range.  You see the differences in size.

XF18-55mm f2.8/4 at 55mm
XF18-135mm f3.5/f5.6 at 135mm
XF16-55mm f2.8 at 55mm

USE IN THE REAL WORLD
I test lenses and cameras in the real world as a working photographer, not in a lab.  I found there really is very little difference in image quality between the two lenses.  The 2/3 stop extra on the 18-55mm compared to the 18-135mm at the wide end was useful in low light conditions but I found the OIS coped very well on shutter speeds as low as 1/15s handheld using both lenses.  

The 18-135mm is very compact and lightweight and fitted with the X-Pro2 really well. When zoom out to 135mm the extra barrel length on the lens did look comical on the X-Pro2 body but it was certainly not unbalanced.  On the X-T2 both lenses worked really well ergonomically.

IMAGE QUALITY
Image quality, as I have already said, is excellent, you really have to 'pixel peep' to see any flaws. If using either lens zoomed in or out at the widest aperture you will see a marginal fall off at the edges of the frame but stop the aperture down a stop and this solves the problem. 

Here are two examples. The first is a shot on the XF18-55mm taken at 55mm at f4.  The top image is the JPEG straight out of the camera.  The second shot is a 100% crop on the left edge of the image.  You can see the fall off at the edge.


XF18-55mm f2.8/f4 at 55mm @ f4
XF18-55mm f2.8/f4 at 55mm @ f4 - 100% crop showing the edge detail
Now here is the same scene taken on the XF16-55mm f2.8 taken at 55mm at f2.8.  The top image is also the JPEG straight out of the camera and the bottom image is the same crop as above.  

XF16-55mm f2.8 at 55mm @ f2.8
XF16-55mm f2.8 at 55mm @ f2.8 - 100% crop showing the edge detail   
You can see the better quality of the edge detail in the shot taken using the 16-55mm.  

The detail in the shot using the 18-55mm is not as good but the overall image is very good.  If you stop down to f5.6 or f8 the detail in the edges will improve significantly.

The extra pulling power of the 18-135mm was welcome and I could see me having this lens in my camera bag for that all round travel lens.  Yes the slower aperture was frustrating at times, especially when trying to throw the background out of focus in some of my shots, but it worked really well in all  the situations I put it through.

OIS FOR VIDEO
The one area that both kit lenses have an advantage over the pro f2.8 lens is when shooting video handheld.  As I said earlier the 16-55mm doesn't have OIS.  Now for still images this doesn't bother me because of the fast 2.8 constant aperture, but for shooting video OIS is a huge boon as it eliminates any 'waivering' when hand holding the camera.

CONCLUSION - Which is best?
If I had to choose I would probably go for 18-135mm for its flexibility, the 'one lens fits all' appeal, when travelling and the weather resistant build.  However I can recommend both these lenses.  They are certainly not second best and if you choose either they will serve you well for many years.  

Yes the 16-55mm edges both in the image stakes but the difference is relatively minor unless you are 'pixel peeping'. As a professional photographer it is important that I have the best quality lenses and that means having the 16-55mm f2.8 in my camera bag.  However each photographer has different priorities and budget.  You will have to weigh up if it is worth the significant difference in the price tags or not.

Here is a small table comparing the three lenses and what they have to offer.


XF18-55mm f2.8/4 R LM OIS XF18-135mm f3.5/5.6 R LM OIS WR XF16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR
Focal Length 35mm Equivalent 27-84mm 27-203mm 24-84mm
Max / Min Aperture (Wide) f2.8 / f22 f3.5 / f22 f2.8 / f22
Max / Min Aperture (Tele) f4 / f22 f5.6 / f22 f2.8 / f22
Filter Size 58mm 67mm 77mm
Weather Resistant no yes yes
Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) yes yes no
External Dimensions 65.0mm x 70.4mm(Wide)/97.9mm(Tele) 75.7mm x 97.8mm (Wide) / 158mm (Tele) 83.3mm x 106.0mm(Wide) / 129.5mm(Tele)
Weight 310g 490g 655g
Fujifilm RRP (UK) £619.00 £659.00 £959.00
Street Price (Fujifilm UK Dealer) £619.00** £659.00** £849.00
Website Information  CLICK HERE CLICK HERE CLICK HERE
** cash back available until 31 January 2017

Finally here is a set of images taken with both lenses in similar situations for you to compare.  There are 24 shots taken with the 18-55mm and this gallery is followed by a set of 22 images taken with the 18-135mm.

Images Taken with the XF18-55mm f2.8/4 R LM OIS




























Images Taken with the XF18-135mm f3.5/5.6R























CLICK HERE for more information on the XF18-55mm f2.8/4R LM OIS

CLICK HERE for more information on the XF18-135mm f3.5/5.6R LM OIS WR

CLICK HERE for more information on the XF16-55mm f2.8R LM OIS

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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) 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 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

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