Thursday, March 23, 2017


Fuji GFX, 120, Pentax 120 macro. I now have the angle viewfinder attachment. It's nice, but perhaps not essential. I was working fine using the hoodman loupe for viewing in bright sunlight, and it does get in the way a bit, and sticks out well beyond the back of the camera - a mixed blessing - no nose prints on the lcd screen, but a tad awkward in the camera bag.

I'll make use of it, but might suggest you hold off on this expensive accessory unless you know you need it.

Elbow Falls Wall

Fuji GFX 50s, 120 mm. Pentax macro, 5 images to average the water, Akvis Enhancer to bring out the textures of the rock wall, slightly toned.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Liking A Camera - the Fuji GFX 50s

DPReview has just published an article saying, in essence, hold on, medium format isn't all it's claimed to be, and perhaps you should consider sticking with a smaller format. They point out things like depth of field and availability of much faster lenses in full frame vs. medium format, and comparative resolution and noise to conclude there isn't much advantage.

I come at the decision to the Fuji from the other direction. I was already shooting medium format after having worked with the Nikon D800e. I much preferred the work flow and camera operation of the Pentax. I detested live view focus stopped down, and never could forgive Nikon for their backwards threaded lenses and rear caps. You'll note that this has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the image, which is excellent.

But, how well a camera works in hand is very important to a working photographer. The more you use the camera, the more workflow and intuitiveness become of primary importance vs. a 10% or even 20% difference in absolute noise or resolution.

I'm finding the Fuji remarkably comfortable to use. The magnified view by pressing the rear dial falls exactly to where I want it. I found out this morning that I can make self timer stay on after turning the camera off - well done giving me a choice. Also, I'd been using the rear dial or fingering the screen to magnify made images in playback to check focus - turns out that again, a press of the rear dial goes straight to full magnified view, and back - so again I have a choice - do I want to zoom in on an image or jump to max. for checking focus.

The quick menu has a button on the rear grip, and although there are complaints on the net about accidentally pressing it - that has not been a problem for me and I much prefer this access combined with the touch screen for changing settings.

This, combined with the electronic first curtain, and the tilting lcd when in vertical framing makes this the best camera I have used so far. That the images are of superb quality using my Pentax lenses makes the whole thing fly.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Blur Tool In Photoshop

Photoshop has a  number of blur tools available, and while the example above takes things pretty far, used more subtly the tools can be very helpful.

I find that field blur (in Blur Gallery) within the Filters Menu is the most natural look, also giving me some control over where the blur is most strongly applied.

That said, I always duplicate the image layer and apply blurring to the copy layer, then apply a black or white mask (usually black) and then paint back in the degree of effect exactly where I want it.

Occasionally, field blur will produce an unatractive blur and adding some gaussian blur will lower the contrast of the blurred area.

Very occasionally I'll blur the entire image, then paint back in sharpness as I did here with the face of the brass figure.

By the way, the image of the barrel hoops used just a tad of field blur in the upper left and right corners. The area was already out of focus but still a bit distracting and I helped it a long a tad. That's the kind of subtle blur that I think is more useful more often and subtle enough to not disturb.

Elbow Canyon

Fuji GFX 50s More Impressions

I almost returned the Fuji, thinking that something like the A7Rii would be almost the same quality with a lot more versatility, but wandering around the back yard taking snaps, I couldn't believe how easy the camera was to use with a manual focus lens that didn't even have the f stops connected or automatic. The back dial falls right to thumb and pressing immediately goes into magnified view for quick and accurate focus, aided with focus peaking if you want. I've had focus peaking before but this was better, more accurate, more selective, more useful.

I was out today, making a series of vertical images on tripod, and having the LCD tilt while the camera is vertical is so darn nice. The 300 is so much sharper on the Fuji, presumably because of the electronic first curtain.

I do find it annoying that the self timer cancels when the camera is turned of or turns itself off - but a remote would solve that problem and be better anyway.

From wandering around the back yard - have been meaning to shoot these hoops for a year now.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Big Hill Springs Road

Ice formations had almost all gone and what was left didn't photograph well. This image I saw on the road into the park.

Fuji GFX 50s Low Light Focusing

Was curious to see just how much light it takes to do the focusing so set up in the basement, some daylight coming in, on a very dull day. Focused on the upper unpainted hinge at f3.5 without any difficulty. Light level was such that the exposure was ISO 100, f 11 and 20 seconds exposure.

I know from experience that the vast majority (98+%) of the images I make are at less than 30 seconds so I conclude that focusing will not be a deal breaker.

I just tried focusing at f11 (a lot less light - actually less than 1/8 as much light) and the screen goes a little grainy but not bad, and focusing even with the greater depth of field and slow cycling of the image, and the noise was not a problem. I used a magnifying glass on the magnified image and that really didn't work at this low level and large depth of field. I opened the lens again to 3.5 and retried focusing the magnified image with my magnifying glass in hand - and that worked fine and felt more secure than without the magnifying glass - slightly noisy screen notwithstanding.

Bottom line: I don't think manual focusing will be an issue under 30 seconds, f4 for the focusing and ISO 100. No idea what it would be like for photographing star trails  - not something I've ever done.

OF course, the image recorded isn't noisy, just the screen and viewfinder, and only under this low light.

Can't tell about autofocus as none of my lenses are autofocus on the adapter anyway and even those that are for the Pentax, are almost always focused manually in the kind of work I do.

I hope that the 32-64 lens turns out to be sharp, and that in a year or so they will add something like a 64-128, and a 128-256 or thereabouts high quality zooms. Pentax has an old 80-160 which is reputed to be very good, and a 150-300 which isn't, more's the pity as on full frame, my 70-200 is my most used lens.

Fuji GFX 50s

For the last three years I have been happily using my Pentax 645Z, with a collection of used lenses (other than buying the 25 mm.) and have largely been happy with the arrangement. The corners of the 25 weren't perfect but for what it is, pretty decent, and very wide. I tended use the 35 more often, and I have the 75, 120 (my favourite lens) 200 and 300.

I did have two issues. Shutter shake from faster than 1 second to slower than 1/250 made use of the 300 very problematic, solved on the fast end by raising the ISO, and at the low end by shooting in dark places. A neutral density filter was an option but outdoors and with any wind and this long lens, I feared camera movement anyway.

Then I heard about the upcoming Fuji GFX - it had electronic first curtain (the Pentax doesn't) and the tilt and swing LCD would be very nice (why do manufacturers think we don't take vertical pictures?) and that lifting and swinging viewfinder extension, well that would be the cream on the cake.

I put my name down, and have had the camera for a week now. I ordered the just announced Pentax 645 to Fuji G adapter from Fotodiox and it arrived on Tuesday this week, so I can take pictures for the last two days.

My observations so far:


The 300 is a very sharp lens and works perfectly with the Fuji
The 120 is great and will remain my most used lens
The 75 seems to be fine but awaits more serious testing
The 35 isn't great with significant softening in the corners even though excellent over more than half the image.

The camera feels very nice and use is fairly intuitive. There's a my menu but so far I don't see that i can add card formatting to it - the single biggest use - on every shoot - damn.

The LCD screen is very nice, and tilts and swings, even better it's a good touch screen with good response and easy tapping to enlarge for focusing. One of the frustrations I had with the pentax was enlarging to focus, then very very slowly scrolling over to the corner where the thing I needed to focus on happened to be, especially when doing focus blending. With the Fuji I scoot around the image at will. If I want to enlarge the centre, I just press in on the rear dial - awesome.

I'm not wild about the small exposure scale on the far left of the viewfinder. It isn't always visible with my glasses and is quite small.

One thing I quickly came up against is that the refresh rate on the viewfinder and LCD slows dramatically in low light, making magnified focusing hand held impractical, and even tripod focusing less than ideal. This could turn out to be a deal breaker.

With the entirely mechanical Fotodiox adapter, you lose lens information and f stop. The latter isn't an issue if you happen to be looking down on the camera so can set the f stop by eye, but if the camera is at eye level, you can't see the f stops and will have to remember how many clicks to what f stop. I'll make a chart and learn - on the 35 it was five clicks to f11. For the kind of work I do, it doesn't seem to be a big issue to open the lens to focus, close to shoot.

Looks like if I keep the camera,  I will need to get the 32-64 lens. Testing the Fuji lenses for use with focus bracketing will need to be ok, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't a lot sharper in the corners than the Pentax 35. I should say though that checking sharpness at 100% on screen isn't really fair. I made a corner print from what would be a 50 inch wide print and it's very respectable. So maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the 35 - I'd never had any issues with it in real photography.

The importance of sharpness is inversely proportional to how interesting the image is. Test images are the most boring so need to be near perfect, boring landscapes in poor light, not well composed and not that interesting in the first place need to be bloody marvelous and I've been happy with images made on micro 4/3 because it was an interesting photograph.

So, do I need something like the Fuj GFX 50s - hell no, do I really like most of it, sure do, can I justify it - probably not - but it's cheaper than a sports car, or a mistress, or going to Iceland. Now, if I could take this camera to Iceland...