One of the things I've said I'd never do, in the past, was self portraits. Some of this is pandemic related, but much of it is girlfriend related. She doesn't really care to move into a larger space and therefore torpedoes my every attempt to bring up the subject. Our current condo was supposed to be temporary; we've now been here for 8 years and long since outgrown it. I have no space to work.
For the past few years, I've been using my Gitzo Series 1 Mountaineer as my primary tripod. It served me well when my primary camera body was the Fujifilm X-T2, X-T3 and X-H1. Once I bought the GFX 50S to use alongside my X-H1, I became acutely aware of the tripod's shortcomings. The Gitzo Mountaineer Series 1 GT1542 is an excellent tripod. Combined with the lightweight Arca-Swiss p0 head, the tripod weighed in at just under 3 lbs and featured a very slim profile when folded down. The 25mm max leg diameter contributed to this slim profile, and while it works well with entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless camera bodies, the slim legs are just a bit too thin for a heavier, professional level body like the GFX 50S. Most people with a larger, heavier camera would be perfectly served with any Gitzo Series 1 tripod, as they only need it for single shots in adequate lighting. In my case, I use it primarily for landscape photography, astrophotography, night photography, etc... situations that require long exposures and/or multiple exposures for stacking, exposure blending or panoramas. This requires greater demands on my tripod as any movement between shots can ruin an exposure. It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to work with multiple, misaligned exposures in post-processing, thus a lighter-weight tripod can cause problems as any flexing will result in misalignment. While I haven't gotten rid of my Series 1 Gitzo, I recently bought a Gitzo GT3542 Series 3 Mountaineer.
As I specified in a previous blog post, it took me a long time to convince myself that this was a necessary accessory. I didn't want to buy it only to use part time because of the high price... the only way it would earn its worth is to make itself a nearly permanent part of my camera. Right off the bat, I find it to be exceptionally useful for my needs. I prefer using the EVF whenever possible and with the tilt and pan capability, along with the extra length, I can now use the EVF in more positions than ever before. Combined with the magnification, the EVF's display quality is much better than the rear LCD. That's not to say the rear LCD is bad, it's just that the EVF is that much better.
I finally bought it and it’s on its way. At $569, it was a hard sell, as I waited nearly a year before deciding its value overcame the price tag for me. The Fujifilm EVF-TL1 viewfinder tilt adapter for the GFX 50S and GFX 100 is attached between the removable electronic viewfinder and the camera body, allowing you to tilt the eyepiece up to 90⁰ upward to use the camera in a waist-level/chest-level viewfinder mode or pitched ±45⁰ when in portrait orientation. It gives the EVF far more versatility to be used in awkward positions where you'd normally have to resort to using the 2½-way rear LCD.
You may have heard that Fujifilm has opened the door slightly to third-parties regarding their APS-C based X-mount. It seems they've finally given in to both unrelenting pressure from their users and the reality of being able to fully flesh out their lens lineup with more niche lenses in a timely and profitable way. One example: poor sales of the $5995 XF 200mm ƒ/2 with 1.4x Teleconverter, a specialty prime designed for sports and wildlife photographers. It seems very few people "clamoring" for that sort of lens actually put their money where their mouths are and has made Fujifilm gun shy about serving up more high performance, expensive, niche lenses. However, the result is Fujifilm opening up X-mount to approved third parties...
I just read another article, this time from DPReview, comparing tripods and the author mentions paying attention to the load capacity so you can safely hang your bag from the hook for more stability.
CUT IT OUT!!! STOP HANGING YOUR BAGS FROM YOUR TRIPOD!!!
Read on for a better, safer way to stabilize your tripod.
So, it's barely Monday. It's a new moon. Comet Neowise is further down on the horizon. Jay and I are gonna camp at Stampede Pass, hoping to align the galactic core with Mt. Rainier and the west fork valley of the White River. Our last trip found ourselves literally behind the 8-ball, without a view of the summit, and under skies polluted with moonlight. Add to it the beginning of the work week, we're hoping we get the area to ourselves. Since we haven't scouted the location prior to today, we have no idea if Comet Neowise will be visible from our location and if there's anything interesting between us and it. I'll be bringing a 1200mm long setup just in case we do.
Back to gear... I got my 2 person tent and Shimoda Explore 40 back from Craig, a large version 2 camera unit from Shimoda and a 3 filter kit from PolarPro that integrates an ND and polarizer into a single body, allowing the combo to be used on wider angle lenses than previously. While that's the general benefit, the main goal was a set that fit my 23mm ƒ/4 lens and it's 82mm filter thread. The hope is the infrared response follows the same curve set by my Wine Country Cameras filter kit so I don't need to recreate presets for post processing. 10 days have elapsed and I've still yet to get any shots with these new filters. Initial impressions of these filters are on pause as I wait for an opportunity to really utilize them but even now I have a huge cartful of thoughts on them. The packaging alone spurred a thousand words but I wait so I can hopefully produce a measured reaction.
Today will be my first opportunity for an overnighter in the mountains near Mt. Rainier. During the extended offseason, I used the opportunity to upgrade most of my camping gear to reduce mass and improve efficiency. Much of this was forced as compensation for adding the larger, heavier Fujifilm GFX medium format camera system. The result of throwing money at the problem is an overnight kit that fits completely within my Action X70 backpack while still having 15-20 liters of space left over and weighing in below 20kg.
To demonstrate both the efficiency of my chosen gear and my packing skills, I made a short video of my unloading all of the camping gear from my backpack's expandable 35 liter cargo compartment.
I'll make this quick: this is the best middleweight backpack I've found for photography so far. It's not the fastest or most rugged, but it's the most versatile and comfortable. Let me explain.
A quick comparison between two products designed mostly to perform the same function. In case you're not familiar with an L-bracket, it's function is purely to allow rotation of your camera by 90 degrees while keeping it balanced on the X axis of your tripod. This is especially important for panoramas so the camera yaws directly over the center point rather than circumnavigating it, which alters the perspective enough to make stitching the result more difficult or even impossible.
While I often strayed away from repeatable testing to include a healthy amount of subjectivity, I'm now embracing my biases and forgoing all pretense of being "unbiased," and here's why: I have my skin, aka wallet, in the game. Unlike others who are receiving review units, renting, being gifted items to review or receiving some form of compensation, I'm reviewing stuff that I've actually bought. These are things I've intensely researched, bought, used, and intend to keep. Sometimes I buy purely out of objective needs, like my ND filters. Other times, I'm driven by subjective factors, like my choice to use Fujifilm bodies and lenses. Either way, my purchases are made based on a conclusion I've formed from equal parts objectivity and bias.
I am biased. My reviews are biased. I'm not justifying my purchases to anyone but I simply cannot claim to be unbiased when reviewing my own gear.
The goal of my reviews are to identify potential pitfalls to avoid the expense of experimentation. It's not my goal to tell you what to buy; my desire is to expose aspects of an item only an owner would notice. There can be things that you're blind to upon purchase, features and issues that can make or break it for you, and this jeopardy goes up exponentially as the price increases, especially if bought used.
This is my choice to be an advocate and to avoid being an "influencer."
As you may know, Fujifilm offers an AC adapter for the GFX series and it's priced at a whopping $97. However, there's another option for AC wall charging as long as you know the power specs.
A more versatile option is a power bank with pass through charging. You can power the GFX with the battery pack in the field while simultaneously charging the installed battery. When you’re near an outlet, you can also connect the power bank to AC power and continuously power the camera without depleting the power bank itself. By functioning as an AC wall adapter you won't need to buy a wall adapter specifically for the GFX while having all the benefits of a portable battery pack.
Despite white wall tests of the Canon EF 28mm and 135mm lenses showing acceptable levels of vignetting, my first real world use of them ended in failure.
Eye-AF works pretty well with this combination. Focus is slow, but it's able to find and lock onto an eye. Because of my experience with the X-T3, sometimes my expectations can be a bit skewed; face and eye detect on the 2018 X-T3 is quite good, especially on distant (small) faces as Fujifilm has improved by leaps and bounds in this area. How quickly I forget the GFX 50S is over a year and a half older, with an imaging processor based on the X-Processor 3 design in the X-T2 and not the current X-Processor 4. Combined with other hardware limitations, plus the fact that the latest firmware update was over a year ago, eye AF on the GFX 50S (or 50R, for that matter) cannot be expected to perform anywhere near that of my X-T3.
Since buying this head, I've quickly learned to love it, especially after buying the necessary hardware that allows me to invert it as needed. The smooth design, reliability and light weight has helped it find a permanent home atop my Gitzo GT1542 Mountaineer tripod, supplanting the GH1382QD ball head that came with it.