2.09.2019

New acquisition as a result of all the photography equipment I want being on sale... Hello new lens and memory cards.

Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8. Big, heavy, pricey. But cheaper right now.

Just to put things in perspective, I have two different mid-range zoom lenses for my Panasonic cameras. I vacillate between using the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 and the (amazing!) Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lenses. They are each good at what they do and I just can't decide which one needs to stay and which one should go. 

Now I have two standard zoom lenses for the Fuji cameras as well. One is the well regarded "kit" lens and the other is the much vaunted, constant aperture f2.8, 16-55mm version (with a bit more reach on the wide side...). I started out with the 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 lens because it's competent, popular and, when purchased with a camera, well discounted. It's smaller and lighter (obviously) that its faster sibling and it also is equipped with OIS (Fuji's abbreviation for image stabilization). The 16-55mm f2.8, which I bought yesterday, is much bigger, much heavier and.....if you believe the "press" on the web....much sharper and contrastier at most points throughout its range. And, well, it's a constant aperture f2.8. Sadly though, no OIS.

Which to keep and which to send away is a bit more difficult here since two of my four Fuji cameras are bereft of in-body image stabilization and will need to be used lenses that have OIS if I want that feature available on an assignment. In the Panasonic system (GH5, G9s, GH5S) both the Olympus and the Panasonic/Leica lens will provide good image stabilization. On the first three Panasonic cameras the P/L lens will also provide dual image stabilization, using the stabilization methods from both the lens and the body. It's damn good stabilization too. 

With the Fuji XT3 and the Fuji XE3 I need the lenses to provide I.S.. if I require it. 

I'm just getting started with the new 16-55mm for the Fuji and am shooting my first portraits with it in about ten minutes. The casual shooting I've done with it looks great so far. I've been interested in this lens since I first started playing with the Fuji cameras but I was hesitant to drop the cash for one since it is normally priced at about $1200. A lot of Fuji product is on sale this month and the asking price at my favorite retailer was $899 (retail translation = about $900). Since the year has gotten off to a good start I thought I'd let my curiosity dictate my purchasing decision. Curiosity beat caution and here we are.

The 16-55mm is roughly equal (in angles of view) to a 24-85mm lens in the 35mm format. It has a big, fat body and a 77mm front filter size. The construction is something like 17 elements in 11 groups and a good number of the elements are aspherical while another generous portion are ED glass. When you look closely at the lens you'll see that it's beautifully built and a pleasure to use. Build quality, in my opinion, exceeds that of the similar lenses from Nikon, Canon and Sony by a good margin. 

Interlude

I was away from the keyboard for the last hour or so making a nice portrait of a guy named, Kevin, who arrived promptly, was well prepared and very engaging to converse with. Turns out we had a few things in common; his brother is a photographer and Kevin visited Iceland last year. But if you are ever at a loss for conversation with an Austinite you need only mention "traffic on Mopac" and you'll get some sort of response.... Anyway, I'm back and have now used the 16/55mm for a portrait session in the studio. 

On the XH1 camera it did a good job consistently locking focus when using the face/eye detect AF setting. The rest of its performance was just the same as all the other Fuji lenses I've shot with: sharp, contrasty and nicely detailed. I'll try some more engaging scenarios and have a full review of the lens in a while. It sure is big.....and heavy......and very professional looking. The red badge on the lens body is cute. 
They might have been able to do a better job with the lens hood. It's a bit...thin.

So, while I was out at Precision Camera happily hemorrhaging money I also came across some new memory cards; ones I had not yet seen from Delkin. These are called the Delkin "Black" cards. They are UHS-II, V60 SD cards with a write speed of up to 300 MB/s. They are advertised as being "unbreakable", "waterproof and dustproof", "three times stronger than regular SD cards", they have a lifetime warranty with a 48 hour replacement policy, and (ta da!) they have their own, unique serial numbers. 

I'm guessing the call them "black" to riff off the black American Express card which is seen as a status symbol in some circles but I'm also guessing that they made the cards black so we will never find them when they disappear into our black interiors of our camera bags and so they can dodge the liability of having to replace them. 

The last set of 128 GB UHS II V60 cards I bought (about a year and a quarter ago) cost me right at $225 each but these are now $124.99 each. I bought two because I like to use identical SD cards in the cameras that feature two card slots. I imagine it's because I think they'll be better matched and for that reason more reliable. I have no science to back up my conjecture. 

I'm not sure if $124.99 is a sale price or an everyday price but since they are almost half as much money for more features than the cards I bought from them last year I am definitely considering them to be virtually on sale. The XH1 camera likes these cards. The camera smiled and winked at me when I loaded them in and formatted them. Nice. 

I now have six 128 GB SDXC UHSII cards and I think, for the time being, that will keep me well situated even for the longer video assignments. tip: Never format a camera memory card in your computer or allow your computer to erase all the files on a card after downloading. Always format your cards in camera and you will be almost painfully happy with your lack of technical card issues. Follow this advice to the letter and you may even find that you can use cameras with only a single card slot....really!

Someone asked me if the fast UHSII cards are worth it. First, if you are shooting 4K video with high data rates you'll need them to prevent shooting issues. Second, if you are using them in cameras that are UHSII compliant you'll notice much faster buffer clearing. Third, if you are using a UHSII, USB 3.01 card reader you'll marvel at how quickly your files download into your computer. Three good reasons to make sure you are buying modern, decent cards. 

A few more photography notes; especially for Fuji camera users: Fuji now has a firmware update available for the XH-1. It prevents some occurrences where the camera exposures become unexpectedly brighter. I haven't seen this effect but am happy to prevent it, proactively. It's a recommended update. 

Fuji also has a firmware update for the XT3 cameras. The update is similar to one made for the XH1 back in January. It allows the camera to right continuous video files to SD cards 64 GB or larger. Previously the cameras wrote video files in 4 GB chunks which didn't affect the final products but required shooters to speed more time in video post production to string all the needed files together on longer projects. The update also fixes some unspecified, general camera bugs. Joy. 

I've updated two XH1 cameras and one XT3 cameras and all are working well. No update glitches I've discovered. 


Finally, and apropos of nothing important, I got some push back on my advice that everyone exercise as much and as vigorously as is safe and possible. Several people told me that they didn't have any time in which to exercise. None at all. I asked each person why. Some said their workday was too long. I suggested they quit their jobs and just walk full time until they were in perfect shape. I also suggested that they disconnect their cable TV (never had it, never will) and walk away from their programming addiction. I also suggested to one person, after learning that he "LOVES" to watch sports on TV that he substitute long runs in the place of broadcast football, basketball, baseball, snooker etc. programming. 
He was appalled. In one fell swoop I seem to have lost four or five VSL readers..... 

( I felt embarrassed for them and did not post their comments). 

I felt so badly about this that I headed to swim practice a bit early today so I could get in some extra yards. It was another freezing cold day but we had a full pool of mostly the same faces I see the majority of mornings at 7:00am. All in great shape, all dedicated to the 1.5 hour Saturday swim and all able keep their desire for watching golf and bowling on TV in check. (That last bit about golf and bowling was meant to be a joke. If people are actually spending time watching that instead of doing their own exercise then we just are on such different wavelengths that perhaps nothing I write here would make sense to them. Nothing). After swim practice a small group met for coffee. We talked about training theories and stroke efficiency. It was sublime. 

Dammit. I forgot the ads and links again. Oh well...

10 comments:

  1. With respect to exercise I too, was of the "no time for that" school. This was rationalized by the fact that I had jobs to shoot, PP, bill, administrivia to attend to and meals to eat. Upon reflection, I realized I was really saying "I don't charge enough for working my butt off".
    As I am roughly the same age as you, the years are starting to make themselves felt. Knees are less flexible and hint at extreme pain if I am planning on jumps, leaps or skiing. My shoulders ache more after a long job shifting heavy lights and stands.
    Exercising regularly every day allows me to actually feel better after a job and truly allows me a lot of energy during the day.

    As most of my jobs start mid-day I block out the early morning to get things done and get to work by 10. Almost feels like I am retired but with a full time job.

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  2. I won't say that I am too busy to exercise regularly, but there is no way that I could maintain the kind of exercise regimen that you keep up. What I can do, however, is go out for a 30+ minute walk whenever possible, and bring a camera along just in case there is something I see that is worth photographing. There are no swimming clubs frequented by ex-Olympians in my area. But there is an abundance of walking trails in my neighbourhood, and I try to use them as often as possible. Thanks for reminding us that we need to maintain our health, and not make excuses about doing so.

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  3. Kirk, first a disclaimer: THERE IS NO JUDGMENT HERE! I know the lure of new gear, I understand its gravitational pull. But I confess that when I saw the header of this latest post, I thought, “Man, that guy must have a lot of cameras.” For example, I’m a longtime Fuji shooter and was happy to see you join the clan. But in only a few months you’ve acquired more Fuji gear than I’ve collected since I bought an X-100S about five years ago. (I’m semi-pro. I shoot the occasional wedding, get a few pictures hung in assorted galleries.)

    Stop me if I’m getting too personal, but how many cameras do you own? Lenses? Ballpark figures are fine. Count all brands and everything that is currently being used or might be used; forget about the 1964 Vivitar that maybe, someday you’ll take out for old times sake.

    Let me emphasize that I’m just curious, that there’s no underlying motive here. You don’t have to justify your camera collection to me or anyone else. If it makes you happy, Mazel Tov! I hope that you use it for many years to come.

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    1. Hi Paul, I currently own 7 digital cameras, about 12 "serious" lenses, four or five "manual focus/cheap fun lenses" (all under $200, most under $100), as well as a few older film cameras. Right now the 7 cameras only span two brands. The thing most people seem not to understand is that old gear gets traded in for new gear. I try not to keep anything beyond the time when its trade in value or resell cost drops very far. Most of the cameras I've bought over the years retained value well enough to make the strategy work. There is NOT a trove of (for example) Sony cameras and lenses just sitting around waiting for their turn in the shooting rotation. The minute I decided that I didn't care for the ergonomics I started planning to sell them or trade them for something I liked better. For most stretches of time I own and use one system but I can't bring myself to sell the Panasonic cameras and lenses nor the Olympus lenses even though I'm currently having a blast using the Fuji gear. At some point it will all get sorted out. I do tend to get a lot of use out the gear I buy. I'm still shooting two or three projects per week and some days I made shoot 1200 to 2000 photos in a day. In Iceland I shot over 5,000 photos over the course of nine days. All the jobs get billed and though some conjecture that there's no money left in the photo business some still seems to roll in the door. Enough at least to make buying, selling and trading gear non-anxiety provoking. If and when I retire I'll settle into on camera and a couple lenses. But I'm not anticipating changing my habit of constant experimentation with new gear for at least the next seven years. I don't keep stuff around. I am not very "gear nostalgic." I also tend to buy a new car every five or six years and I certainly don't keep the older cars around either. I hope the answer is valuable to you.

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  4. I'm loving the 16-55 mounted on my XT3, and quite honestly do not miss the I.S when shooting stills. Video, maybe I.S. would be nice, but if I'm that worried about shake the best solution is using a small gimbal. And yes, the 16-55 is heavy (for an APS-C lens), but still much smaller and lighter than an equivalent FF lens. But wow is it beautiful and constructed so well.
    I too enjoy exercise, and think it prudent to make it a part of our lifestyle. I plug in about 8 hours of bicycling every week. If the intention is strong enough it will find justification, and our desires are reflected in how we fill our time.
    ~Ron

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  5. I started with the 18-55 on my XE2, and later XE3, and it was surprisingly good. Then I got a chance to get the 16-55 at a deep discount (at that time) and sold my 18-55. I occasionally miss the OIS but I love the bigger lens. It balances so sell on the XT2, but is a bit heavy on the XE3.

    Re exercise, there's no doubt it is necessary part of any healthy lifestyle and I think most people know that. Unfortunately, some see it as an option and choose to find ways to suck up time that otherwise could have been used exercising.

    The bottom line is, life is full of choices and good choices are much more likely to result in a longer, healthier life. So choose wisely (I say to myself constantly).

    Cheers

    So choose well.

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  6. This one requires 10 minutes per day, 3 minutes warmup and 7 minutes for the excercises. If you do not have time for this you really do not want to exercise. Even doing three times a week will have huge benefits. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/ / it\s developed specifically for people with little time on their hands such as perople who travel a lot and requires no equipment.

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  7. Have you seen Prograde Digital cards yet? https://shop.progradedigital.com/collections/all

    They were apparently founded by Lexar refugees. Their cards don't claim to be uber strong, though.

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    1. I saw them but they are more expensive than the Delkins, less rugged and don't have the same track record as a V card maker. Most honest answer? My retailer isn't currently carrying them...

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  8. I'm 75 and I still work full-time. However, I've now prioritized exercise over work. After watching my father (who was a healthy man) right to his death, and then watching myself slipping into old age, I'm intensely aware of how your body starts to decline. However, almost *every* authoritative source you read says you can minimize the decline with fairly heavy exercise. You (Kirk) get it with swimming. I get cardiovascular with spinning (a Peleton bike) and two rounds of weight workouts on machines every week. I also have a swimming pool, which I use a lot when I can have it open (generally April-October.) The bottom line is that you need about an hour of vigorous exercise a day to stave off a serious decline (which you can't stave off forever, but you can until you hit your late 80s.) People who say they don't have time are simply wrong -- You probably need to exercise about 1/15 of the time you're awake during the day, and that will, in effect, gain you much more effective, active time as you age.

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