Nov 102013
What you have attached to the front of your camera does alter your point of view

I’m building out my Fujifilm X-Pro1 kit and I was on the fence about the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.  When shooting for myself or traveling I rarely find a need for a lens longer than 90mm (in 35mm full frame equivalent field of view (FOV)).  The FOV on this lens is 82.5mm to 300mm — that far end not being a place I spend a lot of time.  Also, I’m not a fan of lenses that change aperture while they zoom.  Aperture, in most shooting, is the control that has the most impact on the “look” of the picture and many photographers prefer to have all the exposure controls stay the same over the zoom range, especially if they are using a hand-held light meter or are using flash units.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Enterprise.  (100mm; 1/25 sec @ f/6.4; freestanding)

(Notes:  (1) Click on the images to see them more clearly — it makes a big difference.  The pictures in the blog body were automatically downsampled to lower resolution to fit the column width.  (2) All the larger images you see after the “click” were down-sampled in PhotoShop to 50% of original cropped size in order to save loading time.  (3) All the photos were shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 — all at ISO 3200 with the exception of the Boeing 307, which was shot at ISO 6400.)

Engine cowl detail.

Engine cowl detail of Dornier Do 335 A-1 Pfeil.  (172mm; 1/20 sec. @ f/6.4; freestanding)

On the other hand, constant aperture lenses are heavier and more costly.  The engineering is more complex, lens elements are usually larger, and that means that the lens, overall, needs to be beefier.  My Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens weighs 1,540 grams (3.40 lb).  The Fujifilm, on the other hand, comes in at only 580 grams (1.28 lb).  The Fuji is physically smaller, so hauling it around isn’t that much of a chore.  Both lens have optical image stabilization.

Self Portrait from Boeing.

Self Portrait from Boeing 307 Stratoliner…I’m the shape reflected in the propeller dome with the light at my feet.  Note the dust and lint.  (141mm; 1/40 sec @ f/8; freestanding)

Pondering the purchase, my research showed the Fuji lens was getting good reviews.  The image stabilization was reported to be very effective and the optics across most of the zoom range performed well.  Optical performance degrades a bit at the long end of the zoom, but that’s not as much of an issue for me.


Vought F4U-1D Corsair.  (149mm; 1/70 sec. @ f/5.6; freestanding)

So I wrote out a check (the advantage of shopping locally — PhotoCraft in Burke, VA) and the next day I visited the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy facility near Dulles International Airport.  As some of you know, this is my lens and camera test venue.  The displays inside don’t change that much, but the lighting can be a real challenge….Fairly dim inside combined with the mixed-source lighting, so the photographer is presented with ample opportunities to really blow shots.  The longer and slower the lens — the more those opportunities present themselves.  (There are some photos from this session that will never see the light of your monitor.)


Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star cockpit.  (90mm; 1/17 sec @ f/5.0; supported by handrail)

So…Pictures close up.


Globe Swift GC-1A cockpit.  (200mm; 1/30 sec. @ f/6.4; supported by handrail)


Ryan PT-22A Recruit.  (156mm; 1/50 sec. @ f/4.5; freestanding)

Rotary Engine

Nieuport 28C-1 rotary engine & cowl.  Note the dust on the propeller.  (67mm; 1/15 sec. @ f/6.4; supported by column)

Tail Gunner position on the B-29 "Enola Gay".

Tail Gunner position on the B-29 “Enola Gay”.  (200mm; 1/40 sec. @ f/4.8; supported by handrail.  This is pretty much the extreme shot:  slow shutter speed, lens fully zoomed and wide open.  But the rivet and hinge detail still holds up well.)

Post Processing (PP):  Raw conversion by PictureCode’s Photo Ninja running inside Adobe Photoshop CS6 — includes Noise Ninja and some adjustment for detail and highlights.  Continued PP in Photoshop including conversion to a PSD file, curves (for a black point and, if available, a white point),  cropping,  color balance, etc.  A final pass with NIK Viveza 2, which gives you a last chance to see how the image looks and adjust lightness, saturation, shadows, etc.  Then saving for Web JPEG in PhotoShop.

Aug 012013

Checking out some new lenses…

The Udvar-Hazy facility of the National Air and Space Museum (at Dulles International Airport) is a destination for me whenever I need to check out new cameras and lenses…In this case, three lenses for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera:  The 12mm f/2.8 and 32mm f/1.8 Zeiss Touits and the 60mm f/2.8 Fuji.  Although I have some regular subjects (for repeatability) any visit can take its own course.

Click on any photo for a full screen view.  (File sizes range from 4MB to 7MB, so will take some time to load.)


Beechcraft D18S “Twin Beech” (60mm lens.  1/200 sec. @ f/2.8.  ISO 800)

Below the entrance overlook. Curtis P-40E “Warhawk” and Vought F4U-1D “Corsair”. (12mm lens. 1/30 sec. @ f/5. ISO 1600)

Curtis P-40 nose detail.  (32mm lens.  1/70 sec. @ f/2.8.  ISO 1600)

Curtis P-40E “Warhawk” nose detail. (32mm lens. 1/70 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO 1600)



King-Bugatti U-16 engine (Duesenburg) builder’s plate. (60mm lens. 1/180 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 3200)


Republic P-47D-30-RA “Thunderbolt” below Vought OS2U-3 “Kingfisher”. (32mm lens. 1/18 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 1600.)


Nose of Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” Enola Gay (note reflection of P-47D). (32mm lens. 1/30 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO 1600.)


Boeing 307 Stratoliner engine detail. (60mm lens. 1/90 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 3200.)


Boeing 307 Stratoliner “Clipper Flying Cloud”. (12mm lens. 1/90 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO 3200.)


Concorde Fox Alpha, Air France (entire plane in one frame). (12mm lens. 1/20 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO 1600.)


Lockheed 1049F-55-96 “Constellation” (C-121C, West Virginia Air National Guard). (60mm lens. 1/210 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 1600.)


Ariel-1 satellite (replica from parts). (60mm lens. 1/125 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO 1600.)


Space Shuttle “Discovery” hull detail. (60mm lens. 1/40 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO 1600.)


Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC propeller blade and spinner detail. (60mm lens. 1/75 sec. @ f/3.2. ISO 1600.)


Grumman G-22 “Gulfhawk II”. (60mm lens. 1/55 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 1600.)

Jan 112010

A quick test run with Ricoh’s very interesting GXR.

I like to test new cameras at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport.

The museum is a very difficult place to shoot since it is generally dim, has several different light sources (it is not unusual to have four light sources in a single picture) and the curved ceilings and all those airplanes make for some compositional challenges.  With shooting conditions right on the edge, the bad habits of a camera or lens (or photographer, for that matter) don’t stay hidden.

This WWII vintage Vought F4U-1D Corsair is one of the first planes you see as you approach the first overlook (on the right in this photo), and is one my regular test subjects from that vantage point.  But I also like this view from below since you can get visitors in the picture.  (As a side note, this is one of the few situations where you can somehow manage to get only one airplane in the frame.)

Most of my serious travel photography is done with a Leica M8, but it’s good to have a point-and-shoot camera available too.  The Ricoh GXR features different lens/sensor modules that slide into the camera body.  The module I have on my GXR is a 5.1-15.3mm zoom — which is equivalent to a 24-72mm lens in 35mm film cameras.  The GXR will replace my current GX100.  Ricoh cameras are a bit of a niche item in the U.S., with very few dealers.  However, Ricoh seems intent on designing cameras for more experienced photographers and their functions and control layouts are, in my opinion, the best of any compact cameras made.  The small sensor models suffer a little more from noise than other brands, but the GXR is quite improved over the GX100.  (I need to build some Noise Ninja profiles for making larger images, but you can’t really see any noise issues at this size.)

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