Allen's Blog

Posts tagged ‘Foto Care’:

My Own (Fuji) X-Files

After months of being a very interested observer from the sidelines, a series of events in the past month has turned me into a player.

Smartphone as makeup mirror (in Times Square)

First of all, I’ve been intrigued by all the press, blog posts and reviews revolving around Fuji’s X-Series of cameras, and recent posts here (including Raj Tavadia’s here and here) will bear that out. But I’m at the point in my life now where I really want to be sure I have some very valid reasons for acquiring any new equipment. And it’s not about the money involved — more a case of recognizing that I have a lot of gear that hasn’t been used for a very long time, and wanting to move that equipment out of my life before adding anything new.

So when I learned from Jeff Hirsch at Foto Care in New York that each year his fine operation plays host to representatives of KEH Camera Brokers, who evaluate and purchase used equipment online (from their base in Atlanta), it seemed the ideal opportunity to accomplish two goals at the same time.

Earlier in December, I emptied my equipment cabinet of a number of non-autofocus Nikon lenses, along with a couple of F3s and  an F100, plus a few accessories that were never going to be used again, made the trip into NYC and left a couple of hours later with the Fuji X-E2, lenses and accessories; including the adapter that will let me mount most of my Leica M-series lenses (the version of my 21mm won’t work — too deep to clear the Fuji’s sensor.)

I’m holding on to a number of Nikon and Leica lenses, since the Nikons perform beautifully with the D800 (especially the 15 / 300 / 500mm), and my ancient Leica 90mm f/4 Elmar may well be a perfect portrait lens (wide open).

So, now, what about the camera and the images —

Times Square tourists with a mime

First of all, the X-E2 fits my hands just like I’d hoped (think Leica M-series). Displays make sense and Fuji’s “Q” button is a great way for quick access to various functions. But what about real-world picture taking? Since a prime reason for getting the X-E2 was my need for an unobtrusive “street camera” without spending a not-so-small fortune for the latest Leica M (never an option), I took it out into Times Square the other night, after leaving a private screening of the new Scorsese film, The Wolf of Wall Street. The scene in the streets was about as surreal as much of the film itself. And the weather the weekend before Christmas was approaching 70 degrees, which brought out crowds that would have never been seen there in typical winter conditions.

I had mounted Fuji’s 18mm f/2 (27mm full-frame equivalent) and shot mostly at ISOs of 400 and 800. Bottom line — superb.

Grand Central Terminal, main hall

This image of the main hall at Grand Central Terminal, taken from a marble railing, was a 5-second exposure @ f/11 (ISO 200). Two things other than the camera’s inherent excellence made it work so well — the X-E2 has a threaded socket for a standard cable release, and I supported the camera on one of our Steadybag® camera supports – in this case the 8 oz. model SB-3. Yes, it’s our product, but this is not a shameless promo. We make Steadybag in a range of sizes, to support every kind of still and video camera and all their lenses, including the longest telephotos. Sometimes even the smallest Steadybag makes a world of difference in cushioning the front of a super-telephoto optic.

Looking up in midtown Manhattan at night

The nighttime image looking up at some of midtown’s taller buildings is a good way to appreciate the importance of a large sensor (as well as the 18mm optics). There is a tremendous dynamic range in this hand-held shot (f/2.8 – ¼”).

And the images in Times Square itself have a tonal range (even in JPEGs) I didn’t think possible. It’s early days for me with this camera, but I think I could travel just about anywhere with only the X-E2; and the whole set of gear would only take up part of a shoulder bag (including plenty of room for my still-wonderful Sony RX100. More impressions to come…

NAB 2010 Report: The Canon 5D Mark II, Redrock Micro, and How They Will Impact the Next Generation of Photographers

Canon 5D Mark II

The major broadcast equipment companies go all-out at NAB, and Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and JVC are some of the ones you’d expect to be major exhibitors each year. One year ago, there was so much attention paid to the video applications for Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II digital still camera that it was difficult to get hands-on time with the camera and all the third-party devices that had quickly sprung up to support it for video shooters. The crowds at Canon’s booth and that of Redrock Micro, who make an incredible range of accessory products for the 5D, were the biggest I saw. The 5D has almost single-handedly created a new niche straddling semi-pro and pro video, and then filled it. While I was in Las Vegas, Raj Tavadia, our technology director, emailed me to say that this season’s finale of House was shot entirely using the 5D and linked me to an interview with Greg Yaitanes, the director of photography.

By the way, Canon’s use of the photographer Vincent Laforet (former NYTimes staffer) was a really good idea. Vincent’s live presentations were riveting (if you could find room to watch him). I took an unscientific survey of his audiences, and they ran the full age range from students in their 20s to shooters who had started with 16mm news film. Even though Vincent and other presenters showed a lot of lovely scenic video and aerials, it’s clear that the 5D is a real crowd-pleaser when it comes to night scenes (complete with mist and wet streets); the music video shooters were all paying close attention.

That brings me to a conversation I just had with Jeff Hirsch, President of Foto Care in New York City… Continue Reading…