Babblings About Fuji X-Pro2

Given that our last post took on the Internet obsession with technical issues, I thought writing about a camera that is still in development would be odd, to say the least. Our intentions are not to start another discussion about the superiority of one camera over the other but rather to share our personal thoughts about the rumoured specifications of the highly anticipated Fuji X-Pro2.

Patrick of Fujirumors.com has been working very hard to provide us with the latest bits of information about future X-series cameras and our preliminary thoughts are based on the rumours shared by his sources.

First of all, we are pure photographers and we cherish simple cameras with direct controls (knobs!). Despite some early quirks, we enjoy shooting with the X-series cameras (especially the Fuji X100/S/T). We have worked with the Fuji X-Pro1 extensively and in general we like the design. Rumoured specifications point to the following:

  • Improved 24MP X-Trans Sensor – great but it doesn’t really matter for us – the current 16MP count is enough for our needs. Much more important is low-light performance and improved processing.
  • Dual SD card slot – it’s very important! We go a long way to capture some images and the thought that we have only one card slot (therefore no backup) in our cameras makes us shiver.
  • Tilt screen – don’t really care.
  • Video (4k or not) – we don’t know anyone who shoots with the X-series cameras (and we do know many) who would care about or need video. We certainly don’t need it and we don’t want it. The simpler the camera the better – we want fewer menus, fewer buttons and fewer features. We like the Leica philosophy here – I wish Fuji would refrain from adding features that are not related directly to photography.
  • Weather sealing – yes please – we shoot in the rain and in snowy conditions.
  • Size and mechanics – we like the size of the Fuji X-Pro1, its external controls and general feel. No revolution needed here.
  • EVF – this is crucial – we would like to see the largest and the best electronic viewfinder possible.
  • Improved AF – we usually do “slow photography.” However, we wouldn’t mind faster AF.  
  • Battery – needs improvement, especially more accurate information about usage.       

That’s all for now about Fuji X-Pro2.

One more thing! Fuji, please keep improving the X-series line and forget full frame (it is so crowded in that field). However, PLEASE BRING US A MEDIUM FORMAT RANGEFINDER CAMERA and three HIGH-QUALITY prime lenses. We will be the first ones in line.

Enough is enough. It is time for photography. Here are the images we took during our recent trip along British Columbia’s Highway 97c. The Highland Valley Copper mine – one of the world’s largest open-pit mines – and the area around it, offer truly stunning scenery. A passing winter storm arrived right on time as we started shooting with the Fuji X-100S and Fuji X-T1 coupled with the XF 56mm F1.2.

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Copyright © 2015 Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Artistic vs. Technical Perfection

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When browsing photography on the Internet it appears to be one huge quest for technical perfection. A plethora of websites deals entirely with photo gear and its evaluation. Pixel peeping has become an obsession for many. Message boards are groaning with perpetual arguments about the superiority of one camera system over another.

Then, there are thousands of photos so immaculately processed and photo-shopped that their technical perfection creates awe and envy in aspiring photographers. But many of the photos remind us of others we have seen before. They somehow feel plastic, artificial and cold. They lack emotion and authenticity.

In contrast, when you look at the images from the masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson or Sebastiao Salgado and others, you find thoughtful compositions, subtle moments and moods. Are they the most technically perfect photographs and the sharpest images you have ever seen? I don’t think so but somehow your eye feels content, your brain slows down and your visual emotions are elevated.

What strikes us is that those who produce a body of great work often don’t consider themselves photographers. They grab any camera and create art – they are artists. When Cartier-Bresson started shooting with the 35mm camera, other photographers of his time dismissed his new tool as a toy (back then only large format cameras were considered serious). But we should learn from artists. They see way beyond pixels and MTF charts. For them technical augmentation is just a distraction.

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So why are we so occupied with a litany of technical do’s and don’ts? Why do we ask the wrong questions so many times: Which camera should I buy? How do I sharpen photos? How do I apply layers? Which software should I use? and so on.

Don’t get us wrong – we like photo gear and are well aware of our ‘contribution’ to this plaque. However, each time we put everything technical in the back seat and let our emotions and inner artistic self rule our photographic process the results always astound us.

Sure, it’s not easy. But the next time you think your photo is not sharp enough, your images are grainy or your camera doesn’t have elephant resolution this may be the best thing that has happened to you. Maybe it is the right moment to stop and re-focus on seeing.

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

 

Early Mornings – When the God of Light Smiles on Photographers

I have to admit I love mornings especially at the weekend when places and people are still asleep. Waking up when it is still dark doesn’t bother me, in fact quite the opposite. Excitement and the unknown light, conditions, places and even the people I might encounter keep me on the go.

Whether you shoot in colour or in black & white, the early morning hours (especially at this time of year) provide you with all elements of a great photograph: changing and often diffused light, fog, dramatic clouds, mystical atmosphere. It is amazing how many times Mother Nature surprises me with yet another show of light, colours or patterns. In our previous post we shared with you images taken while dense fog dispersed into clouds. Today we would like to share more images shot in Vancouver but this time in colour.

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Lenses First, Camera Second

When someone is starting out in photography and asks us a question, it is almost always which camera to buy. Indeed, it’s an important question! However, we are rarely asked about lenses, as if they were just unimportant accessories.

It is well known that amateurs get excited about cameras while professionals care more about their lenses. It makes sense. Everyday we see high-resolution cameras on people’s necks with crappy, cheap lenses attached to them. What’s even worse, for many newcomers the first lens they buy with a camera is a do-it-all super zoom (we are preparing a post on how to start up in photography – the right way – so stay tuned).

That brings us to Fuji. Our adventure with Fuji started with the X100. It was a camera that we encountered by accident and since then it has been our camera of choice. Then we expanded our gear to the Fuji X-Pro1 and now the X-T1. But our decision to go to an interchangeable system with Fuji was not based merely on their cameras. It was the quality of the lenses that won us over.

Right from the start, Fuji concentrated on prime lenses. In a relatively short time, Fuji has built a large selection of glass for all sorts of needs. Most importantly, almost all the lenses are well-built, metal and super-quality glass. In fact, it is hard to find a bad lens in the X line-up. With the recent announcement of the upcoming XF 120mm F2.8, XF 16mm F1.4 and XF 100-400 super telephoto (get more info here), it appears that Fuji is nearing the completion of building the entire line-up.

For some it is difficult to choose which lens to get started with. We chose the Fuji X100 – therefore the 35mm field of view (in FF terms). However, for some of you it could be a classic 50mm (an excellent XF 35mm F1.4). Then we expanded into the XF 14mm F2.8 wide angle, which we always have in our bag. Finally, we completed our prime team with the XF 56mm F1.2. In fact 99% of our photography is done using the XF 14mm F2.8 lens (mostly landscape), Fuji X100S – therefore 35mm (everything, from landscape to street photography and people), and XF 56mm F1.2 (landscape and people).

To summarize, cameras come and go and sensor technology is changing quickly, so most likely in a year or two you will need to replace your camera. However, lenses will stay with you for years. When choosing a system, the first question you should ask is: “Is there a great selection of HIGH QUALITY primes?” If the answer is NO, forget about the camera. After all, your Ferrari is no use if you use cheap tires and keep your windshield dirty.

All right, it is time for images. In our previous posts we wrote how difficult it is to photograph the place if conditions are not right. Usually we scout locations in advance and wait for the right conditions to arise. Deep Cove, North Vancouver, BC is a beautiful place but we couldn’t get it right for a long time. We visited the place many times but never encountered the conditions that we had envisioned until…now.

All images were shot with the Fuji X100S, Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 56mm F1.2.

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Next time… 

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Dispatches from Misty Vancouver

While the usual January weather in Vancouver means rain and… more rain, this year has been nothing but unusual. We’ve had numerous days of intense fog in the morning and beautiful sunshine in the late afternoon. As you may expect, such conditions have kept us awake and sharp-eyed, especially in the morning.

I notice that I enjoy photography the most when I leave my house with the Fuji X100S/T as my only camera. There’s something liberating in this approach that is hard to describe. Somehow, our creativity is flowing, our seeing is enhanced and our senses are tuned to the surroundings.

Sometimes I also take the Fuji X-T1, our favourite wide-angle lens XF 14mm F2.8 and super sharp XF 56mm F1.2 lens. In fact, I notice that these three focal lengths meet 99% of my visual demands. The longer we are involved in this art of seeing, the less and less equipment we need.

So when you start in photography, start with one lens and one camera. Master one focal length and only then add another perspective. Three prime lenses are plenty, four is abundance and five is a superfluity.

But enough of these incoherent ramblings; here are the images.

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P.S. We have joined Instagram! Follow us @ olaf_photo

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Daydreaming

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Copyright © 2015 Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Death Valley – A Journey to a Visual Mecca

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There is no shortage of stunning places in North America and Kasia and I have hunted out many fantastic landscapes. Despite our travels, no other landscape has made such a profound visual and emotional impact on us as Death Valley. It is a visual Mecca for those who find beauty in remote, strange and rare places.

Death Valley is in California’s Mojave Desert. It is the lowest, driest and hottest place in North America. Death Valley holds the highest air temperature ever recorded on earth: 56.7 C.

While planning our trip, Death Valley was last on our list (after the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Route 66 and San Francisco). The only reason for that was efficiency and logistics. Since we had never visited Death Valley before, our intention was to soak up the atmosphere and gaze at the landscape.

Given that we entered the Death Valley National Park from the east, we stopped by Rhyolite Ghost Town.

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After taking a few photographs of the ruins, we stayed for the night at Stovepipe Wells Village. The weather forecast for the next day was not encouraging and the day turned out rainy and windy. Despite that, we decided to wake up early and hope for the best.

A stormy morning provided us with drama and occasional pockets of great light. However, the weather was deteriorating by the minute.

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After visiting a few spots we decided to head west toward Sierra Mountains – a visual gem on its own.

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Our first short encounter with this special place made such an impression on us that we are already planning our next, much longer trip to this area.

All images were taken with the Fuji X100T and Fuji X-T1 paired with XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 50-140 F2.8 and processed in LR5. Despite the deteriorating weather, we managed to keep taking photos with the Fuji X-T1 and XF 50-140 F2.8 – both weather sealed.

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Copyright © 2015 Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

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