Travel Diary Part Two: Streets of Manhattan

Streets of Manhattan (18)

I’m a European. Through and through. Even now I am sitting at a coffee house, tired from a sleepless night, my mind a little hazy. And yet, despite that, I am quietly remembering my favourite streets of my favourite city that I got to know with my favourite people, and that city, at least the loveliest part of it, is European down to last brick. It’s just outside that big window and it’s called Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. I love the narrow streets and tiny churches. I love how old, confusing and irrational the planning is, at least at first glance. I love its outright beauty and history, too, and how the only two means of transport that don’t seem out of place in those narrows streets are scooters and bicycles.

Imagine how strange it feels to also love what little of Manhattan I saw during my five day visit. For, in just about every single way, it’s the complete opposite of what I just described.

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Fuji 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS WR Initial Impressions

image 1

I’m Paolo and I have been a Fuji user for a little over a year now. Just like everyone else I was a DSLR shooter before but the weight got to me and I thought of trying unconventional brands. Started with the awesome but slow to “everything” X100 – that is before the firmware updates that made the X100 what it was supposed to be like, now. Anyway, that’s where my love and hate relationship with Fuji started. Well not really hate, it is such a strong word, more of frustrations which I have already gotten over with. I got my hands on a Fuji XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR this February in time to shoot the famous Cebu City’s Sinulog Festival “Pit Senor!”. Thank you Marie Dela Cruz of Fuji Philippines for letting me try one!

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The Perks of Switching Camera Systems

Fuji X-T1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1

The choice of the first camera system is an exciting one. Why would it not be? You get to pick the first camera to buy, the first lens, and you spend so much time reading reviews, forums and asking friends for advice. I know I did – some eight years ago, I was admiring such cameras as the Canon 30D and 40D, and was seriously eyeing the 400D which was then within the budget of a teenager me. Nikon D200 looked out of this world and the then-announced D300 was a camera of dreams. All of these models, now obsolete from a technological standpoint (much like the D700 I now own and love), were as desirable as any current equipment you can think of. Maybe even more so, since the refresh cycle was longer and digital photography in general not as widespread as it is today.

Yes, the choice of the first camera and lens is a very exciting one. But, inevitably and at some point, a different question arises for just about all of us, and one much less pleasant – should you stick with your first decision or is the grass truly greener somewhere else?

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Travel Diary Part One: First Flight

Ataturk Airport_Istanbul (8)

What little I saw of New York was as overwhelming as I thought it would be. And then some. But that is not where it all started for me, oh no. See, my dear readers, I have an embarrassing secret to tell you. For some of you, it will not be in any way special, whilst others will find it mildly amusing. Certainly, when one of the friendliest and most fun people I met in New York, a brilliant guy named Mark, heard me say it, his immediate response was – “I don’t know how to talk to you.” I laughed and for a while, he just stared at me in surprise. Wholeheartedly hoping the same fate will not strike you, here is the ever so slightly shocking truth – this trip was not only my first trip to New York. Or the US. Or somewhere to the West of Lithuania. It was also, among all these things, my first ever flight. In other words, my first ever big trip just happened to be to New York City, by plane, over eight thousand kilometers away from home – that’s five thousand miles – and every single bit of it, every moment, was new and special to me.

Oh my, the things I am about to write now…

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Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R Lens Announcement

Fujinon XF 16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR Lens on X-T1

We’ve known for a while that this lens was coming thanks to Fujifilm’s most recent lens roadmap. Some details were still under a question mark, though, and with the official announcement we finally know everything about the most recent – and one of the most expensive – Fujinon lens for X-mount mirrorless cameras, the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR.

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Latest Fujifilm Firmware Updates Now Available

Fujifilm X-T1 Front

As promised, Fujifilm has made the new firmware versions for some of its mirrorless cameras available starting today. For those who missed our previous article, the following cameras are eligible for the new firmware: Fujifilm X-T1 (both black and silver edition), X-E2, X-Pro1 and X-E1. It is important to note that all cameras receive slightly different updates with the X-T1 gaining the largest number of improvements and new features.

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Latest Fujifilm Firmware Updates

Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver_Front

Last month, Fujifilm announced firmware updates for several of its high-end X-mount compact system cameras. No less than four cameras will receive such attention from the famously generous (when it comes to updates) manufacturer come December the 18th – Fujifilm X-T1 (both black and silver versions, which should really not be treated as a separate release), Fujifilm X-E2 and even the now-already-quite-old X-Pro1 and X-E1. That said, it is not all good news, since the firmware updates are very different for X-T1 and the rest of the cameras.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless Cameras

Have you ever traveled to the shopping mall in search of a product, only to be met by dozens of similar options to choose between? Lowest-price vs best-value, long-lasting vs quick-acting, eco-friendly vs cost-effective: we are drowning in possibilities that years ago didn’t exist. Perhaps nowhere is the epidemic of choice more prevalent than in the digital camera world today. Since I began reviewing mirrorless cameras a couple of years ago with my partner Mathieu Gasquet, I’ve been surprised by just how many models exist for each brand. For instance, in the six years since mirrorless cameras first began to appear on the market, a total of thirty-six Micro Four Thirds system cameras and nineteen Sony E-mount cameras have been released, an astonishing number if you consider that new film cameras would be released only every two or three years.

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Fujifilm RAW and Lightroom: How Are Things as 2015 Nears?

B&W Image Sample

As good as X-Trans sensors are in terms of performance, most software makers have had some trouble with demosaicing the slightly unusual RAW files in the past. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has been noticeably trailing behind in this regard even back when version 5 was introduced, as I found out in the review. That’s not brilliant given that X-Trans has been around for, what, almost three years now? To be completely fair, the paint-like rendering isn’t as much of an issue in most cases as one might think, and yet I can’t help but wish Lightroom was able to render X-Trans RAW files at least as well as Fujifilm does with its in-camera conversion. After all, superior technical image quality is the whole point of RAW, and Lightroom should certainly deliver. So the question is – does it? Since the X-E2 has permanently taken residence in my camera bag and is now my second tool, if not quite the first one yet, I am very curious to see how my favorite RAW converter will perform.

Careful, now. I am about to get technical.

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A Week With X-E2: Thoughts on EVF

Fujifilm X-E2 Street Walk (24)

I pick up the camera and, for what feels like a hundredth time, get surprised by its low weight. It’s not what you’d call hollow, more like… tightly packed. There might be a couple of areas where you touch and feel mild disappointment – the control wheel at the back could be metal and the bottom, well, can’t help but wish it felt as cool (literally) and solid as the top of the camera – but only because the rest of it is just so pleasant to hold. It has quickly become a very natural size and shape – that Nikon body, though that much more secure in hand, feels almost unwieldy. It’s not, really, but also is when you compare it to the Fujifilm X-E2. And the dials – save for the aperture ring on the lens, but that is a separate subject – offer very good resistance. In the case of exposure compensation dial, when doing such time-critical types of photography as street, perhaps even a touch too good. It’s not that easy to turn with your thumb whilst holding the camera to your eye. And that is exactly what I am doing right now, bringing it to my eye as my subjects still don’t seem to have noticed me noticing them.

And then another thing happens for what feels like a hundredth time. I did not understand it at first, might not have even noticed my own reaction (since, more often than not, I can’t afford being surprised by something), but after relying so much on an optical viewfinder – be that of the rangefinder Kiev 4AM, my digital Nikon body or medium format Mamiya RZ67 – that EVF feels weird. It’s not bad weird, or good weird for that matter. Just… weird.

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