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!!!
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.
There are some drawbacks though. Uncannily enough, they’re the same as with the Canon EF 28mm ƒ/1.8 USM: slight vignette with a hard vignette at infinity focus. At ƒ/8, it isn’t very prevalent as you’ll see in the samples, easily corrected with a 5:4 crop that retains 48MP. However, as the aperture gets smaller, the vignette hardens, as you can see at ƒ/32, but still works at a 5:4 crop ratio. The lens works fine with a 3:2 crop at full sensor width and in 35mm crop mode, so you can choose what works best for you. Weirdly, the lens changes focus as you move in and out of playback mode on the GFX...
As soon as I realized how the upright on the Ellie interfered with my battery door, I was able to devise a cheap solution for manufacture: a small bracket that would accept the rails and to attach the upright with truncated rails, aka screws, forward of the current position. I proposed the question to @3leggedthing's Twitter account, only to get, "we can't design a specific bracket for every camera and configuration I'm afraid."
Here's one of the first things I do when I buy a new camera: Secure the screws that secure the tripod screw port on the bottom of your camera.
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.
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.