In Retrospect: Don’t Let Some Know-it-all Sway You From Upgrading

It's been 3 years since I've gotten back into photography and I wanted to reflect on what I've learned in that time. This is just the first of a few items I'll be touching upon. I wish I'd bought the right camera the first time. I want to address the abundance of Youtubers who often, and loudly, try to talk their viewers out of upgrading their equipment. The line often goes, "instead of upgrading your gear, thinking it will make your photos better, invest that money into education," and then they rattle off the names of affiliated Youtubers who sell online education courses on photography. Realize that this recent trend is wholly self-serving and not in your interest. There are of course those who are so affected by marketing that they believe a new camera will improve their photography but either can't see, or won't admit, that their results are from a personal, and not a technological, deficiency. However, those types are far fewer than these Youtubers would have you believe. More importantly, if you value education, I implore you to seek out a reputable photographer that teaches photographic techniques rather than some nobody whose only reputation is a trail of instagram posts. Just because they charge for their videos doesn't mean they're credible; in fact, your local camera store or public library are 2 places where free, or low cost, but highly valuable sources of education is offered on photography.

35mm “Full Frame” Lenses on the GFX: An Introduction

As I have alluded to in a burst of recent posts, I am planning to generate a small database of lenses for use on the Fujifilm GFX series. Here's my chance for an introduction to give my rationale and to lay the foundation of this endeavor. I'd like to break this down into three "Y's." Let's begin with a personal "why": I'm choosing to use Sigma lenses to obtain focal lengths and apertures not currently offered in the GF lens lineup. Fujifilm's lineup is sparse at best, and apertures wider than ƒ/2 aren't represented. It's not that I'm a bokeh whore; it's that I need more light gathering for astrophotography and Fujifilm's widest lens, a 23mm, has a maximum aperture of ƒ/4 and that's just not going to work without a star tracker due to the sensor's 51MP resolution. I'm hoping to print a few of these so what counts for "sharp" on the web doesn't work at 20" print sizes. Other benefits: 35mm lenses are much cheaper, especially used prices, and these lenses mostly have direct focusing units unlike the "fly by wire" systems used on Fujifilm lenses. The GFX system just isn't mature enough to have grown both a complete lens lineup or a diverse used lens market.

Gear Reviews On Youtube: “Sponsorships,” Brand Awareness and How Not All Payments Are in Cash and They All Lie to You About It

You're familiar with how they all begin: "this video is sponsored by Squarespace." Ok, well, after that, they then feed you the next line, almost all of it verbatim, "I am not sponsored by (insert brand here). They have not paid me to do this review or told me what to say about it. This review is entirely my own and they don't know I'm making this video. I was/was not provided a sample for the purposes of this review. I am not biased in any way so you can trust what I'm about to say about this product." What they don't mention, obviously, is if they had to return that "review unit." But if you pay close attention, you may catch them using the product in later videos, especially if they were especially laudatory in their review. At least they weren't paid, right? Wrong. Payment is simply one form of compensation. That "review unit" usually comes along with an email that says, "you don't need to send this back to us." Simply put, the item itself is payment. Just because you didn't get to choose the item, the form of compensation or were given a special title associating you with their brand doesn't mean you weren't paid. They paid you with product and exclaiming otherwise is a flat out lie by Youtubers who persistently try to claim otherwise. Rarely are these items cameras and lenses; they're usually "soft goods" or accessories, like bags, lens filter kits, etc. that would likely get damaged during a thorough review period or whose cost of manufacture and/or retail price is so low that the cost of return, reconditioning and resale would consume all or more of the potential profit.

A Free Education is Worth Exactly What You Paid For It

There's a certain couple on Youtube that talks a lot about photography and tends to harp on the value of education also pushes their "free" photography education courses online. You may even begin to believe some of their rhetoric or have heard some of their misinformation floating around. Mind you, much of the technical information they love to claim they're proficient in and knowledgeable about is shit. They'll contradict themselves within the span of 5 minutes. One example is their belief that "professional" lenses on a smaller sensor, like APS-C, will perform worse in sharpness because said lens isn't tuned for the sensor size, yet will then claim that some lenses on 35mm are so sharp, you get the ability to crop the image in closer than other lenses. Realize that these two things are a contradiction and a sharper lens will never give a sensor of fixed resolution higher resolution, perceived or otherwise. How do I know this? Simple physics and geometry. Let me explain:

Nobody Makes the Perfect Bag, Part 2 (Shimoda Designs + Peak Design)

As I've made clear in a previous post, nobody makes the perfect bag. It's a fools errand because "perfect" is subjective and what works for one is completely inadequate for another. However, the more modular a bag is, the better chance for it to become all things to all people by allowing all people to adorn it with all things to meet their needs. Looking further into this idea, especially since Peak Design's recent release of a fully redesigned bag lineup dubbed "v2," I've realized Peak Design is great at making accessories that meet the needs of most people but wrap it all up in bags that don't. Take their 45L Travel Backpack... it converts into a duffel with a forward facing, wide-mouth, zip opening. It's really not great for anything but a duffel bag that turns into a half-assed backpack for longer distance carry, especially for outdoors. However, for camera carry within, they've created camera cubes with efficient padding, mindful access port placement, an abundance of attachment points and durable exterior skin sufficient enough to be used on its own. A quick check of the external dimensions gave me an idea as the camera cube is nearly spot on with the dimensions of Shimoda Designs' large Integrated Camera Unit (ICU) for Explore and Action X backpacks.

Why I Bought a Fujifilm GFX

I'm obviously not a professional photographer. Now, some may take that to mean an enthusiast has no need for a "professional level" camera, but that is entirely untrue, even on a general level. What the GFX offers is resolution. 50.1 megapixels of it. What I offer my camera is a crippled body, unable to get the most from any camera body. I can not hike as far, climb as high or go as long as an average photographer. I also cannot drive due to the medications I need to operate from day to day. Because of that, the GFX's resolution returns to me an ability lost by my inability to drive: repeatability.

Me and Film Photography

With the recent resurgence in film, I've begun to lust after shooting film again. Maybe I'm romanticizing the days when film was the only option but I Long for it just the same. The main driving factor behind my recent purchase of a Fujifilm GFX-50S was a desire to slow down my photographic process; medium format digital requires me to be more deliberate in my photography with its slow focusing, slow shooting and high resolution demanding an extremely stable platform for the best results. Something else that has the same demands? Film.

Quick Take: Shimoda Designs Action X70 Camera Backpack

Usually, Kickstarter is a collection of scams and bad ideas for internet virgins to be separated from their money. Sometimes, if you know what you're doing, it's a source for good deals. In this case, Shimoda Designs has established itself as a reliable maker of durable, action oriented camera backpacks. Shimoda decided to use Kickstarter as a "group buy" for their new line of Action X backpacks and mine managed to arrive just after Xmas.

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