Empires. The world has seen many empires come and go. No matter how powerful they were, they have all disappeared for various reasons and you can see the remains of them today if you willing to travel.
The tiny country of Cambodia in southeast Asia was home to one of humanity’s most powerful empires – the Khmers (802 to 1431 AD). They were ambitious people led by even more ambitious kings who wanted wanted to be worshiped by their subjects – so they declared themselves to be god kings. To demonstrate their status as such, they erected stone temples that were built on a massive scale – unlike anything one could imagine, even to this day. These temples dwarf most European cathedrals, even though the Khmers built them many centuries before. They were truly an advanced civilisation.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Siem Reap in northern Cambodia which is an experience I will never forget. The main reason for my visit was to see (and photograph) these magnificent structures – the other, to spend some time with the Cambodian people (still referred to as “Khmers”) who are some of the friendliest on the planet.
I spent a lot of time preparing for this trip as I was traveling a great distance and wanted to make sure I had everything I needed with me. The purpose of this article is to share my experience(s) so that photographers can prepare for their journey to this remarkable part of the world.
This article is in five sections: (more…)
I have been using the Fujifilm “X” system for just over two years. My foray into it was with the X100 in May of 2011, then I had the opportunity to test drive a pre-production X-Pro1 a few months later. Overall, I have enjoyed using this camera system – especially when traveling as it is lightweight and relatively compact. Knowing I can get “DSLR like” image quality in a small package has been great, to say the least.
One thing I have really missed when using this system is the longer prime lens focal lengths – or more accurately, the lack of them. With Fujifilm’s native prime lenses, the longest length is 60mm (90mm equivalent) and since I love using compression, I am eager to use longer glass. I know I could purchase an adapter to use with my long Nikon lenses, however, I am not into manual focus and prefer to use the native auto focus (AF) optics. That, plus my DSLR lenses are quite large.
In early June 2013, Fujifilm released their second XF zoom lens for the “X” system, namely the XF 55-200mm f/3.5~4.8 R LM OIS (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo). I was able to secure an early copy of this lens but hesitated publishing a review when I first purchased it. Why? Many of Fujifilm’s “X” photographers had posted sample images from pre-production copies on their blogs so there was no additional information that I could add at the time. My preference was to see how this lens performed over time and then try and form an opinion after extended use.
So, this article will outline my impressions of the lens after using it for client work over the past eight weeks.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is traveling. There are so many amazing places on this planet and I want to see as many of them as possible in my lifetime.
I frequently get asked, “Where are you going next?” – and my answers often leave people scratching their head. But one recent response did catch me off guard:
“You’re going … where?”
That is what I got when I told someone I was going to Greenland.
“Why the h*ll would you want to go there?”, they asked.
Why would I? Read on to find out…
Those people who know me best have frequently heard me say, “I do not want to have any regrets in life.” To many of you, that might be a strange way to begin a post on a photography blog.
Please allow me to explain why I have done so.
In mid 2012, Fujifilm released a lens roadmap for their X-Pro1/X-E1 mirrorless cameras. By the end of 2013, they planned to release a total of ten (10) lenses – which is a very ambitious number as this is a fairly new mirrorless system. In November 2012, they released the fourth lens on this roadmap, the excellent 18-55mm f/2.8~4 zoom. Their fifth lens, the Fujifilm (Fujinon) XF 14mm f/2.8 R (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo), is to be released at the end of January 2013.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to test a pre-production copy of this new prime to provide some feedback to Fujifilm. This article will discuss my experience with it plus provide you with some of my initial images taken with this lens.
In October 2012 when I had the opportunity to use a pre-production Fujifilm X-E1, I was asked by many of our readers if I could provide some feedback on the newly announced Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS zoom lens (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo). It was going be sold as the “kit” lens for the X-E1 or on its own for $US 699.99
It is the first zoom lens for the Fujifilm X camera system and unfortunately, I did not have a chance to use it as it was not available when I received the X-E1 for testing. At a trade show in Toronto later that month, I did have a very brief opportunity to use the 18-55mm at the Fujifilm booth, but I could only view the images on the camera’s rear LCD screen (and not a calibrated computer monitor) so I did not feel that I had sufficient data to present an informed opinion.
I really wanted to see how this lens performed – especially since I have been spoiled by the superb optical quality of the Fujifilm X prime lenses. But I was just going to have to wait a bit longer before I could get my hands on this new zoom lens.
As I was heading off for a much needed vacation in the Bahamas in December 2012, Fujifilm sent a production copy which I took with me on this trip. This is not an in depth review as I tend not to be a pixel peeper but I wanted to pass on my thoughts – plus, show you a few sample images.
It has been about a year since the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was announced – plus its little brother, the X-E1 has been on the market for about two months. It is no secret that I have enjoyed using Fujifilm’s new cameras and for travel, it is my main camera system.
One thing I have been looking forward to is the release of new lenses for this system. Fujifilm published a lens roadmap back in 2012 – plus a couple other photography vendors also announced plans to make “X mount” lenses for this system. One company to do this is Rokinon – you can also find them marketed under the name Bower. I am quite familiar with Rokinon optics – they are inexpensive but well made manual focus lenses.
Their first X mount lens is the 8mm f/2.8 fisheye (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo) which retails for about $US 300.00. I had the opportunity to use one for an extended period of time so the purpose of this very brief article is to document my findings plus show you a few sample images.
A few days ago, I published my thoughts about a pre-production X-E1 (click here to read it) that Fujifilm was kind enough to lend to me for a couple of weeks. Overall, it seems that most people who read my article were intrigued by this camera and quite a few people actually pre-ordered it.
Of course, there are some (a very small minority) who simply aren’t happy no matter what they see or read. There is no need to flame people in online forums or (anonymously) send inflammatory messages to me. That is such a waste of time and energy. My advice to them – if a camera makes you that unhappy, move on and find another one that you can enjoy. Life is just too short to get that worked up over a camera.
A number of people did ask me if I could provide some high ISO shots from the X-E1. I plan to do some more shooting with it over the next few days, but I wanted to give you a few images to look at before the weekend. So as promised, here are a few more images …
In one of the worst kept photography secrets this year, Fujifilm announced the X-E1 on September 6, 2012 – the second interchangeable lens camera that uses their newly developed “X” mount and corresponding lenses. For our regular readers, it is no secret that I absolutely love using my X-Pro1 which was announced in January of 2012. When Fujfilm let me know back in June that the X-Pro1 was about to get a little brother, I must say that I was intrigued and excited as it is great to see this line of cameras expand to include new products.
Fujifilm was kind enough to let me use a pre-production model of the X-E1 for the past week and I will have access to it for another week. The purpose of this article is let you know my initial impressions of the camera and to show you some images I have taken with it. This is by no means a complete technical review – I will leave that to websites like dpreview.com to explore all of the minutiae and fine details of the camera.
I am also assuming the reader has some familiarity with the X-Pro1.
For years I have been using off camera flash, no matter what camera I happened to own at the time. It produces beautiful lighting when used properly and helps you avoid that flat, “deer in the headlights” look with your images. David Hobby (Strobist), Zack Arias and Joe McNally (just to name a few) use off camera lighting all of the time (I know, I’ve seen them in action) and if you want to improve your flash photography, I recommend you do too.
I find myself using my X-Pro1 all of the time (and soon, the upcoming X-E1) and I have continued to use off camera flash. I had an unfortunate incident with my old Pocket Wizards (which were extremely reliable) which I used to trigger my remote speedlights and wanted to replace them – ideally with something smaller to match the compact size of the X-Pro1.
At first, I found some “el-cheapo” radio triggers on eBay. A number of people I know swear by them so I thought I would give them a try. They were quite small, however, I found them to be unreliable. They always seemed to stop working when I was at a client site (why, I do not know) and the transmitter gave up the ghost after a month of use. Perhaps I was unlucky and received a bad set, however, the last thing I want when doing paid client work is having equipment that I cannot rely on.
I was speaking to Billy of the Fuji Guys who showed me a tiny radio transmitter/receiver pair which he used with his X-Pro1: