Has Fujifilm’s Last Argument for Professional APS-C Been Crushed by Sony (and Others)?

The last argument for enthusiast and professional level APS-C bodies has been about the balance between size and performance. The best APS-C cameras have been able to provide 95% of the image quality and speed while taking up only 66% of the size and weight of a 35mm “full frame” body. With the introduction of Sony’s α7C, has that argument now been mooted? Has Fujifilm been left alone on the dance floor? Let’s be realistic: like megapixel counts, sensor size has become the latest dick matching spec. And just like the desire to compare dicks side by side, even if you win, you’re still in the closet. There are some tangible benefits to a larger sensor, no doubt, but does the beginner photographer actually benefit? There are also situations where the crop factor of the smaller sensor can benefit a potential owner and there’s also lens size to contend with. However, the former can be added as a software feature and the latter has been addressed long ago with simpler, more compact optical formulas.

First Use: Shimoda Designs Action X70 Backpack (Video)

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.

Comparison: RRS L-Bracket vs 3 Legged Thing Ellie for Fujifilm GFX 50S

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.

I Want to Be An Advocate, Not An Influencer

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."

The Pandemic Has Kept Me Quiet

While others have found the pandemic to be an opportunity to do more personal projects, and document them, I've found it has affected me a bit differently. My girlfriend is a neurotic RN, so I've had to respond a little differently and haven't had the free time to work on things like my journal or this blog. Now that things are starting to return to normal, I'm slowly starting to integrate all of the things I was doing before. Yet, just as I begin to get back to work, our streets have erupted in rightful protest. Others can and have done a better job in covering the protests, so I'll leave that subject alone until I have a fully formed commentary on the matter.

If there's one thing I prefer to do, it's to stop, listen and form a thoughtful opinion and avoid emotional "hot-takes," especially silly on a subject as important as racism in America.

How to: Power your GFX 50S or 50R with a Power Bank

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.

Fujifilm X-T4: A Confused Camera

When the X-H1 was introduced, it was described as a sibling lineup; specifically an approximately 60/40, video-weighted hybrid that also shot great stills. It had a larger body and grip, not just to facilitate the IBIS system, but to give it better balance with larger cinema lenses for owners seeking a capable video camera. The X-T series was defined to be exactly the opposite ratio; a stills-centric camera that also shot great video. However, like the odd inclusion of a factory adjustable leaf spring shutter switch on the X-H1, a feature that's more coveted by stills shooters, the X-T4 has also incorporated a couple of weirdly out of place features that betrays Fujifilm's original description of the X-T series being stills-focused.

Adapting GFX: Canon EF 135mm ƒ/2L USM

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...

Hey 3 Legged Thing! Why Can’t You Do This?

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."

DSLRs Won’t Die. Deal With It

Enough hyperbole. Mirrorless will not make DSLR cameras extinct the same way film remains extant despite digital.

The market for DSLRs will contract significantly, likely surrendering the entry-level, systems camera market to mirrorless, but enthusiast and high-end DSLRs will continue on because you will always have its supporters who will vote with their wallets.

Adapting GFX: Contributing Data

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.

Adapting GFX: Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 Art

This is the first in a series of posts on individual lenses adapted to the Fujifilm GFX 50S with the TechArt Pro EF-GFX adapter.

Fujifilm GFX 50S, firmware v3.30 (latest)
TechArt Pro EF-GFX, firmware v1.01 (latest)
Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 Art, firmware v2.02 (latest)

Summary:
Full compatibility: Autofocus, EXIF OK.
This lens shows a correctable vignette throughout the aperture range but is heavily affected by focus breathing. As the aperture shrinks, focus toward infinity causes the vignette to become harder and more pronounced. Despite this, it is easily cropped and corrected while maintaining 45mp or more.

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.

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.

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