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.
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.
Where the Sigma 85/1.4 is a home run, the 35/1.4 is a bit of a mixed bag. For most people, it should be fine. For some, like me, it's borderline acceptable. For those few, it will be unacceptable. In 35mm crop mode, it works just fine, but for any other mode, it will require a bit of cropping and correction. At wide open, there is a bit more smearing in the extreme corners that sharpen up by ƒ/4 to 5.6.
The Sigma 85mm seems to cover all of the imaging sensor with no hard vignetting. Fitment of a Wine Country Cameras 100mm filter holder does cause some very light vignetting at the extremes but is easily correctable. Image quality at the extreme corners and edges is a bit compromised at wide open but shapes up when stopped down to ƒ/4.
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...
Widening out to an approximate 22mm in 35mm format terms, the Canon EF 28mm ƒ/1.8 USM does show some hard vignetting that is never fully resolved. It’s very, very slight and occurs at ƒ/4 and smaller at infinity focus. Vignetting is prevalent fully open, mostly disappearing by ƒ/4 at close focus distances. If the vignetting is a problem for you, the EF 28mm ƒ/2.8 IS might be a better bet but isn’t on Canon’s list of preferred lenses for the 5DSR, so it may or may not resolve well on a 50MP sensor.
After spending a few weeks with the Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 Art, I've come to realize maybe Sigma lenses aren't the solution for me. At least the 50mm has a very short focus throw, making manual focus a tedious process, even with focus aids like focus peaking and focus zoom. Autofocus is just too unreliable and slow to depend on for all occasions, making manual focus capability a priority.
One thing I quickly discovered is the intrusion of the lens hood when adapting 35mm lenses onto the medium format GFX. Since the 50mm Sigma casts an image circle closer to 40mm, it's going to pick up more of what's on the periphery of the field of view; in this case it's the lens hood.... Continue Reading →
If you'd like to contribute your findings, please include lens specifics (brand, focal length, maximum aperture, lens version, firmware version, and if it's weather sealed or stabilized), adapter used, and camera used. Full sensor sample shots without the lens hood (JPEG, 2000x1500 pixel minimum) needs to be of a white or gray background at the widest aperture at both minimum and infinity focus, repeating this at ƒ/8 and at minimum aperture, be it ƒ/22 or ƒ/32.