Friday, March 16, 2018

Catching up on the Fujifilm GFX50s

Fujifilm GFX50s, Mamiya 200APO
1/3200 ISO 400

Before we begin speaking directly about the Fujifilm GFX50s we'd like to introduce a great camera store.

 Foto Care is located in New York on 41-43 West 22nd Street.  Foto Care has been on our radar for some time however we’ve only recently begun shopping there and more importantly recommending them. There are a few things (actually more than just a “few”) we like about Foto Care. First, our colleague  Anthony Festa works there.  Anthony is a great photographer as well as being a highly skilled technician; he’s our go to guy for anything we screw up on our cameras or software.

The second reason for liking Foto Care as much as we do is their diversification of products offered.  From cameras of all types, to tripods, bags, storage,and of course service.  While Sandy still prefers to shoot with a 35mm camera Don prefers medium format and Foto Care can offer Don a choice of platforms ranging from Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leaf, and Phase One.  For 35mm shooters the offering is just as wide with selections ranging from Canon to Nikon, Fujifilm and Leica.
You can visit Foto Cares website by clicking here or follow them on Facebook by clicking here. Neither of us are employed by or are affiliated to Foto Care in any way. We neither receive payment nor other compensation and are recommending them as we feel they are an excellent source for camera gear. 
1/400 ISO 160
We plan on writing more on Foto Care soon. In the meantime…

We recently visited the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson.  The primary purpose was for Sandy to test her new FE100-400 with her Sony A7rII.  (we’ll be sharing this soon). Don decided to use the Mamiya 200 AP attached to the GFX 50s via a Fotodiox pro lens mount adaptor.  The 200mm is currently his longest available lens and he is very patiently waiting for the Fujifilm GF 250 to be released. Okay maybe not so patiently. Don has cut his emails down to once a month to Anthony on this subject. Don’s  biggest fear is that it’ll be released in June while we are in Scotland and he’ll have to wait until we return to try it out.
1/400 ISO 160

The above image shows the full-frame version while the bottom is a 100% crop.  This as well as all the other images in this blog were captured handheld.  The processing was all accomplished in Adobe ACR and Photoshop CC.  I’d like to point out that the amount of processing was kept at a minimum and in all cases I used “Shake Reduction” either at 100% or 50% depending on the file.    

Full-frame 1/3200 ISO 200
100% crop
The Mamiya 200 APO was kept attached to the camera the entire time in the zoo and shot without the extender. While Don could have used the 1.4 extender on some occasions he found the resolution to be more than good enough to allow for cropping in. Since he was shooting animals, most of which were moving Don decided to do a continuous capture (or burst mode) thus allowing to take several frames at a time. There’s a trade off with this type of shooting which is volume. Don keeps 2-64-BG cards in both slots at all times; ending up using 1-entire card before it automatically switched to the second for a total of 566-frames. Don hadn’t done that much shooting since we were  in Alaska several years ago shooting bald eagles as they were feeding.

1/400 ISO 250
1/400 ISO 640

Don found the overall weight of the camera and lens to be more than manageable while walking around the zoo for several hours and miles.  This is something Don would not have attempted with his older medium format kit as it was much heavier and slower.
Yes, its a crop!
1/4000 ISO 800
As is this one

1/400 ISO 800
While Don carried a spare battery he never had to change.  Beginning the day with a freshly charged battery that showed 4-bars on the indicator; he ended the day with the same battery showing 3-bars. It was a pleasant day with partly cloudy and temps in the mid 60’s.
1/640 ISO 400
1/500 ISO 200
We had a lot of fun photographing at the zoo and are looking forward to our trip to San Diego later this year hopefully after Don gets his Fuji GF 250.    
It was an interesting exercise as the range of movement was either glacier slow or very fast.  The Mamiya 200 APO is a great lens to use as it is totally manual from the aperture to the focusing.  Don is still excited about being able to capture with a longer lens that offers the choice of auto-focus.  
Capturing this guy was more luck than anything else. Don is still uncertain if he was posing or just showing off.  
1/500 ISO 200
We have more to share with the next blog showing how well the Sony FE100-400 works with the A7rII so please stay tuned.
Thanks for visiting
Sandy & Don




Thursday, February 22, 2018

Shooting Northern Lights with a Fuji GFX 50s

Fujifilm GFX50s GF 23mm
f/4 20-seconds ISO 2500
Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier

We recently spent a week in Alaska attempting to capture the Aura Borealis or Northern Lights.  While we did see them we were only able to capture them 2-out of 5-nights due to heavy cloud coverage.  We also learned that while January is okay the real show normally begins mid-February lasting until the end of March.  Needless to say we’re already making plans to return.
23mm f/4 20-seconds ISO 2500
Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier

The Northern Lights began to show close to midnight and lasted until around 3am.  The temperatures while shooting ranged from a high of -10 to a low of -25 degrees and one night the wind was in excess of 20mph with gusts where it made it uncomfortable to stand straight.
I used a combination of the Fujifilm GFX 50s and 2-lenses; GF23mm f/4 and a GF63mm F/2.8.  I also used a Wine Country Camera filter system with a Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier filter.  Samples where no filter was used for comparison are included.

23mm 10-seconds ISO 2000
No filter

I had no issues using the GFX50s with either lens. I made certain the battery was fully charged at the beginning and carried a spare kept warm inside my jacket and never had to change batteries during the 90-minure period I was outside shooting.  I would spend between 60 and 90-minutes outside at a time before going inside to warm up and return back for more punishment.  The first night I shot I changed batteries just as a precaution however the second night I didn’t.
63mm f/2.8 10-seconds ISO 2000
No filter
63mm f/2.8 10-seconds ISO 2000
with filter

The Wine Country Camera filter system worked well and was very easy to use.  The Singh Ray filter was in a 100x100 “filter vault” which slipped into the filter holder.  The vault system helps protect the filter while making it much easier to remove while wearing thick gloves.
63mm f/2.8 10-seconds ISO 2000
No filter 

There isn’t much more I can say about the Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier than I’ve already shared. I spent a couple minutes shooting without it and after seeing the results in camera I immediately decided to keep it in place.  I found that using the filter instantly produced richer colors.
63mm f/2.8 4-seconds ISO 2000
with filter

The average ISO used was 2000 to 2500 at anywhere between 4.0 to 20-seconds. I shot both lenses wide open using f/4 for the 23mm and f/2.8 for the 63mm.  Surprisingly my favorite lens turned out to be the slower GF23mm f/4.
While I’m disappointed at the lack of northern lights I am very pleased with what I was  able to capture.  I’m equally pleased with the performance of the GFX50s as well as the lenses.  I did other shooting while in Alaska last month with some of it in cold wet conditions just not at night and never encountered any difficulties.
I had tested the Singh Ray LB color intensifier prior to Alaska and was pleased with the results of shooting sunrise and sunsets. I figured if it failed to work with the northern lights I’d still be happy; however it works better than I could have hoped for.
23mm f/4 20-seconds ISO 2500
with filter
63mm f/2.8 20-seconds ISO 2000
with filter
I highly recommend the Fujifilm GFX with any combination of GF lenses. I also recommend using the Wine Country Camera filter system for your filters. And lastly I highly recommend giving the Singh Ray LB color intensifier filter a try as I believe you’ll be just as pleased as I am.

The following image is from the first night we saw the northern lights.  The temp was hovering around -20 with winds gusting to well over 20mph. This is a really quick capture at around 11pm using the GFX 23mm f/4 13-seconds ISO 6400 and the LB Color Intensifier filter.  The red lights are from our headlamps which I forgot to turn off due to the excitement of actually seeing the light show. There’s no processing done here other than converting to Jpeg and resizing the image.

There’s more to come so please stay tuned.
23mm f/4 20-seconds ISO 2000
with filter