Anybody getting something outrageously fun and photographic for Christmas?

Ben Puts the Star up on the Tree. 

For about five minutes on Weds. I was enthralled by the idea of buying a Fuji GFX-50S camera and the 110mm f2.0 lens to go with it. As I have a world class capability to rationalize camera purchases my brain started in earnest to construct the argument I might use with my partner about what a great investment it would be to drop $8200 on a first generation camera along with a largely unproven lens. 

I had a daydream about walking into a client's conference room, setting up my lighting and then pulling the GFX-50s and the miraculous 110mm lens out of some sort of pretentious Billingham bag and listening to my client suck in their breath and marvel at the obviously impressive camera I would have in my hands. Surely they would intuit just how wondrous each photograph would be when taken by such a remarkable camera, backed by such superior technology. 

They would call in their associates from accounting and marketing to see the light sparkle off the enormous front element of the lens. Doris, in client services would swoon when I casually mentioned that the sensor was 50+ megapixels. Chet in I.T. would walk in to see what all the excitement was with his new Nikon D850 hanging down by his pants pocket on a Black Rapid strap. He'd be ready to make the argument that the D850 was so close in performance AND only half the price. But then we'd shoot a test frame and he'd look at it on the rear screen of the Fuji, recognize its awesome superiority, and then cast a crestfallen look at his Nikon and slink out of the room. 

Then I got an e-mail and the cloying beep from the computer brought me back to the present. It was one of my clients and they had a complaint. The files I'd delivered to them "were way too big." They were having trouble making them fit into their website. "Could I re-work them and send the files back over with the longest side being 1200 pixels?" They also wanted to know if they needed to do anything special to the files to use them in a PowerPoint presentation...

It all reminded me that most of our clients don't care about which camera we use to take our photographs with. We could do the job with a Nikon D3300 or a Rebel 7ti. We could use the kit lens. As long as the photo is well lit and the CEO has a pleasant look on his face the marketing guys would be happy as clams. 

I usually buy myself a cool camera for the holidays but this year the "new" has yet to wear off of my GH5 cameras. Maybe our relationship will have cooled by Valentine's Day. A box of candy and a bottle of Champagne for the spouse, perhaps a pleasant little Phase One camera for me....?

I am curious to hear if someone is actually going to go for it over this holiday season and buy something that will make me and the rest of the readers on VSL jealous. If you are I'm pretty sure we'd all like to hear about it, tell you why you screwed up and tell you want we would have done instead. But if you have a thick skin and a good rationale then share away in the comments.

We'd love to know what's trending under your tree...


  1. The other day B&H had a flash sale where the silver Fuji XT-1 was available for $600. As I already had the 23 mm f/2 Fuji lens, I just couldn't pass that up! It arrived today and the lens and the body were like long-lost siblings - seems they can't be separated. I expect a long, happy year using that set up in 2018. Eventually, I'll get another Fuji prime - a portrait lens - but I am in no hurry. Life is good.

  2. I too was enticed by the $900 savings and picked up a $599 Fuji XT-1 Graphite Silver edition...will sell the X-E2s body on eBay, keep the great 18-55mm kit lens, and convince the wife that with $900 in savings I can't really loose any money....The Rokinon 12mm is fun, the 7Artisans 25mm was also too good to pass up, and yes, life is good especially when you find a bargain....

  3. Seasons greetings Kirk, I am eagerly awaiting delivery if a Panasonic G9 early in the New Year. I got to use one a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love, Valentine’s Day may see me adorn it with a new 45mm Olympus 1.2.

  4. I was at Yodobashi in Ueno, Tokyo a few days ago and noticed the microfiber cloths only cost a few hundred yen (exchange rate about $1 = 113 yen right now). The microfiber cloth I bought in 1996 at Yodobashi in Shinjuku, Tokyo still looks almost new, but I paid, I think, about 2500 yen for it. I started wondering if 21+ years later it would be worth spending $4-5 for another one? The one I have I have always kept in a plastic ziplock bag. I guess I washed it once about a decade ago. Not sure it needed it, but I saw it nearby while I was washing my hands and felt like doing something else before drying my hands so I washed it in the sink. Took less about 30 seconds, hung it on the towel rack, and later that day I checked and it was dry. Back in the same plastic ziplock bag from 1996 and back in my camera bag. I guess a new one would sort of make it feel like Christmas in Japan though.

  5. Scratch my previous post. I just remembered that it was 1992, not 1996.

    I was at Yodobashi in Ueno, Tokyo a few days ago and noticed the microfiber cloths only cost a few hundred yen (exchange rate about $1 = 113 yen right now). The microfiber cloth I bought in 1992 at Yodobashi in Shinjuku, Tokyo still looks almost new, but I paid, I think, about 2500 yen for it. I started wondering if 25+ years later it would be worth spending $4-5 for another one? The one I have I have always kept in a plastic ziplock bag. I guess I washed it once about a decade ago. Not sure it needed it, but I saw it nearby while I was washing my hands and felt like doing something else before drying my hands so I washed it in the sink. Took less about 30 seconds, hung it on the towel rack, and later that day I checked and it was dry. Back in the same plastic ziplock bag from 1992 and back in my camera bag. I guess a new one would sort of make it feel like Christmas in Japan though.

  6. I picked up a Fuji X-E3. I was contemplating a Sony A7 RIII but 4x the cost it just doesn't make much sense. Unexpected surprise is how well the bluetooth connection works to automatically transfer files to my phone. Going to be a blast in Venice!

  7. This year was difficult. I do have Salgado's 'Genesis' already, and I do have Kirks Tucks five books plus his novel already, so what would be my choice? Hmmm. I'm thankful that Mike Johnston's photobook of the year tip came just in time (see T.O.P. if you're interested in that), so I ordered that one. Shipping from Frisco bay to Germany is more than the book itself, but oh well...

    ... the last hardware item I bought? That was also from the US, and it was a Zuiko 135mm/2.8 lens for the (analog) OM system. Also gives a nice 270mm-like angle of view on my digital crop cameras, it's a good one. Around the 100$ mark, but with shipping, customs, and tax it was almost double of that in the end. Enough spent for myself for this season.

  8. Olympus EM1 mkII

    I am deliberately looking for handheld low shutter speed shots to test the miraculous IBIS.

    Friends and family and even the dog, are getting used to being asked to be still while I go for effects where they are still and sharp , while cars or people around them have motion blur. I am sure I will get bored with this effect eventually, but not for some time I suspect. :)

  9. Kirk while it's amusing to read your mental self jousting on camera equipment acquisition/or not which from past experience of your blog is apt to undergo as many changes as there are weather patterns one can't help wondering why bother? the situation is very simple if you can afford it then get it, end of story.
    Happy Xmas, Michael.

  10. I am looking for Santa to surprise me with a G9. Might have to wait until to ground hog day, I understand they are backup.

  11. I have 5 or 6 really good fuji lenses waiting for a new body, however I keep going back to 4/3 bodies for soom reason I don't fully understand. merry Christmas in Texas !

  12. Kirk,
    The Panasonic G9 will be available soon (it is already shipping in Germany) so that's my treat to myself.

  13. I'm getting a third trip (courtesy my company) to Paris, arrive New Years Eve.
    I've already done the usual tourist traps...Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame...even have a favored cafe by each. I'll be dragging along my tired, old Panasonic LX-5 and an equally useless Olympus EM-5 (With a favored Panny 20mm lens). I'll try and take some portraits for you Kirk as I have the Panny 42.5 f1.7 "killer-sharp" lens. I'm even considering taking along a ....gasp...film camera just for grins.

    I look forward to reading the Visual Science Lab every day, especially when I'm overseas.

    Have a Merry Christmas, and please accept my wishes for a productive and prosperous new year for you and your family.

  14. Happy holidays to you, Belinda, Ben, and studio dog!

    Like you Kirk, I'm still enamored with my GH5! In fact, after 5 years of fairly regular Micro Four Thirds upgrades and brand flopping between Olympus and Panasonic bodies and lenses, I've finally settled on a Panasonic 3-body kit with my GH5, G85, and GM5. At this moment in my development and interests as a photographer/videographer these 3 bodies offer a perfect mix of body sizes and features, yet with similar menus.

    I'm even reasonably settled with my lenses...though I'd be lying if I didn't say that I lust over the Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f1.2 and the Panasonic Leica 8-18mm f2.8-4.0 lenses. But for now, I'm trying the Laowa 7.5mm f2.0 UWA prime and I plan to stick with my regular Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 alongside my other lenses.

  15. My Leica CL kit just shipped yesterday, definitely a camera splurge finale for the year... Will be interesting to see how it goes! Who knows how long it will be until I can afford lens #2...

  16. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Kirk.

    Based on your praise of it, I just got a Contax 50mm off eBay for under 200. Love it! I might just sell off the handful of other fast 50's and simplify life a bit. Also a few "extra" cameras.

  17. Hi Kirk,
    Christmas came early to Clarksville. The Olympus 300mm/f4 is by far the most amazing lens I've ever used. Don't ever use a supertelephoto? Come up with a project so that you can!
    Ho ho ho!

  18. The most valuable commodity is time. So my present to myself is a couple days off, during which I plan to dust the Sinar off and go have fun with some 4x5 Tri-X.

  19. No plans for purchase in December, but already looking at 2018 for a Nikon D500S with the better focusing, silent shutter and better touch screen. Now the new Tamron 100-400 zoom comes into play vs. the Nikon 200-500. Who knows what Nikon will do with mirrorless.

    Olympus 100th anniversary - I bet some nice new models here too. Why not go back to their roots & give us a fantastic small interchangable camera for enthusiests. We already know they could do a GM-5 type of camera with the 4/3rd sensor.

    I am holding onto a Olympus EM-1 mark 1 for now with lots of decent but not pro lenses.

    Wait for it - the next generation promises some great upgrades!

    Thanks and have a Merry Christmas!

  20. Like you I bailed...on a pre-order of a camera body that several are intending to acquire. Instead I traded a Contax 135 and a bit of dinero for an Oly 150 f2 from 4/3s days. Gotta say, it’s a hefty chunk of glass that performs briliantly...but not on a Panny body. Happy Holidays to all!

    1. Leica M6, 1959 Canon 50mm f/1.4, tri-x, happy as a pig in.....

  21. I might splurge on something later in the year. I’d actually really like the G9, but it would be totally superfluous. Pentax might finally release its new, heavy, modern 50 1.4 for the K1 and I might buy it just to have one modern water resistant lens for it. I think I saw a box from Peak Design come in that might have a new backpack in it. Not outrageous, but nice. What I really need is a new printer. My 2880 Epson has reached a stage where it has more issues than I want to deal with. Maybe there will be some good post holiday sales.

  22. I got an extra battery and external charger for my GX85! Now I can take it out and shoot with confidence all day long knowing that I"ll have enough juice to keep going. Woohoo.

    Also, I've been talking myself into and out of buying a number of other lenses, but then I realize that I have all I could ever need or want.

  23. it's interesting what you say about what clients expect us to use. One of my last professional gigs was shooting annual reports and promo shots for the neurology department of a local major hospital. When doing the department headshots almost all of the doctors would come in, notice the camera I had on the tripod, and announce they had the latest and greatest model of pro camera gear. My camera wasn't shabby by any means and was only one cycle down from the latest pro DSLR in the brand. Their condescension was palatable. Some even used Phase One equipment. On the other hand the people who were using the images, the graphics and marketing people, were elated with my images and never asked me what I was using.

    My only photography related Christmas wish is that I become a better documentary video maker. Oh and maybe a GH5 under the tree. There is a remote chance of the former and no chance for the latter but hey I can dream.

    Give the "boy" a pat on the head, Studio Dog a tummy rub and Belinda a big hug from me. Gee I hope I have that in the right order ... Oh ya another big hug to you as well Kirk. Your advise, musings and temperament have been a great help this year.

    Take care of yourself, enjoy a break, tell your family you love them and have a very merry Christmas.


  24. 20 feet x 20 feet of kitchen flooring (Lino), some lumber to hang one end from, and some neutral pale grey paint Dulux Ice Storm 5, for the Brits). I now have a 20 foot wide cove to shoot dancers on, all for a few hundred pounds.

  25. I've been reading your musings and contemplating...comparing...my test m4/3 system and established Fuji systems. I am almost at the point where I think I can make the jump to a lighter, even more portable system, a good glass cheaper...remember I don't have world class clients like you...just fast moving ones...so why not put some money back into the bank and still have just as much fun making images? Then I get distracted by one of my six kids and it is game over for worrying about it for another day!

  26. Kirk, I did the same thing a few weeks back after a friend mentioned he was trying to justify a GFX. In the end, looking at actual client needs squashed the thought. Plus, none of my personal projects would benefit.

    I'm in Seoul spending the holidays with family and while here am shooting with my beat up X-Pro1 and a mediocre Meike 28mm pancake to match past work I've shot here.

    My holiday present to myself has been a stack of new photo books. (URL link goes to my Korean photo book blog.)

    Have a wonderful holiday. Looking forward to reading more of your musings in the new year.

  27. If I'm lucky Santa will chuck a box of the poor man's medium format down the chimney, Instax.

  28. I got a text from a friend, "I'm at an estate sale. Looks like a photographer died. Eastman? Eastwood?" The photographer was, in fact, Howard Eastwood, one of my early mentors and employers. He was his own person in every way, suits with tennis shoes, VW van, photograms of flowers on Cibachrome. So, yeah, I bought his 1900s 8x10 studio camera with its massive cast iron stand. I plan to use it. I've been shooting paper negatives with an old 8x10 field camera, and this seems like a natural extension of that. I also like the idea of a camera that, in a sense, travels through time, being handed down from photographer to photographer, carrying with it the Muse that made us all fall in love with photography in the first place.

    Link to the text conversation with photos of the camera.

  29. Merry Christmas Kirk!
    I just got myself the Crane v2 gimbal l... So Merry Christmas for me too I guess!

    All the best toyyou and your family for the new year.

  30. Hey Kirk and family,
    Always look forward to see what's posted. Anyway... Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and Happy Holidays...I think I covered them all.

  31. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year; thank you for all the enjoyment you have given for the past 12 months (pity about the old posts, I used to enjoy digging around for interest and inspiration, oh well . . . any chance of persuading you to archive them somewhere where we can access them?). Best wishes from the other side of the pond, George

    P.S. I am having a nostalgic Christmas digging out my old Tamron adaptall lenses with M4/3 adapter to have some fun with my EM-1

  32. Haven't gotten anything crazy yet,very pragmatic purchases so far. Bought the 40mm 2.8 Yongnuo AF for Nikon and its a cheap thrill. 8 TB hard drives. Rolling light stand.

    Craziest thing is I'm buying a 3'x4' California Sunbounce reflectors or multiples and I plan to cut a hole in the middle of them so I can create a CSB Omega Reflector ;)

    I'm waiting for a/the Nikon Mirrorless Full Frame camera. If that is disappointing I may go Panasonic GH5 or the rumored GH5S if I get into video. Nikon D850 I may buy but I'd rather wait to see what Nikon FX Mirrorless looks like. Or I may go really crazy and buy the Sony A7R3 with adapters and buy sexy Canon glass to add to my sexy Nikon glass.

  33. Thanks for the ongoing blog Kirk, and a very happy Christmas to you and your family.

  34. I'm a Nikon APS-C shooter and bought myself the 200-500 f5.6 pretty good lens. At Cocoa Beach, FL Surfing Santa this morning someone commented on my big lens! What can I say except thanks.....

  35. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, the family, and Studio Dog.

    Big photo excitement here is I expect to pay off the last of this year's toys before American Express comes due January 2nd -- Happy New Year to me. lol

    Then maybe a 12-100 around mid-year.

    Thanks for all you do, the photos and the writing. And thanks for being a voice of sanity (usually) in the photo blogsphere.

  36. I just traded in a Canon 5Dmk2 and a mk3 towards a mk4.
    It is a perfectly decent camera that will pair with my 5DsR for my work cameras.

    My wife lifted it up (with a 16-35 f4 attached) and said "Wow! that weighs a lot!"
    I said "That is why in my next photo career I will shoot a small sensor camera with single lens".
    At the moment the architecture clients get squidgy with small cameras.

  37. I forgot to add that my real Christmas present was getting two of my kids home for the holiday.
    Just as I know you and Belinda feel the joy at Ben's presence.

  38. Make readers of the VSL jealous? Probably not possible, but in a fit of GAS and lack of impulse control, I bought one of those splendid 250mm Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad, an elegant old chrome one from West Germany. It was all of $87 plus $13 shipping. Even if I only use it a few times per year, I think I can handle the monetary outlay......

    Prosperous and healthy 2018 to you and family!!

  39. Merry Christmas everyone!

    Unfortunately, nothing for myself...albeit I am temped by that Laowa 7.5mm f2.0 mentioned above. Back in the day, my Sigma 18mm f3.5 was by far my favorite lens to use. There just doesn't seem to be much 9mm out there these days, and let's not talk about the body-lens cap from Olympus.

    I did give clip-on LED ring lights to the daughters (who between them have over 40k instagram followers) to improve their product and portrait photography. They were wowed over and never knew that such a thing existed.

    To be honest, neither did I until I started looking for an inexpensive ring light for them. These were on German eBay and ended up costing something like $10 for four of these. Two daughters, one for the purse and one for home at the desk. AAA batteries...

    Both have carefully read Kirk's books on lighting. Best ones out there by far!

  40. A stunning book:”The Solitude Of Ravens” by Masahisa Fukase.

  41. I bought a Fotodiox EOS to EOS-M adapter so that I can use my sole remaining EOS lens (a film era 35-135) on my EOS-M body.

  42. careful with that Nikon D850 on the black rapid strap. My connector broke today and my camera fell onto sandstone right by a river. Minor damage, but this connector was faulty. It just snapped. Nothing as heavy as a D850. Just the lowly Olympus EM1 vii with 12-60mm pro lens. only damage I've been able to i.d. is the spring eject for the SD card. and a litle bruise.

  43. Capture One Pro 11. Goodbye, Lightroom.

  44. I ordered the Neewer 300w/s light through your affiliate to light my back drops. They won't arrive until the 8th of January, but I can hardly wait.


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