Fuji Magazines

In the past few months, we’ve been fortunate to see the release of two new magazines, each tailored to our camera make of choice, and both of extremely high quality.

Fuji X Passion

Most recently, I received the inaugural issue of FujiXPassion, a magazine dedicated to sharing inspiration by presenting the work of other photographers. As soon as I opened my copy, I knew it was going to be good. The authors have clearly gone to great lengths to ensure the photography looks its best on the matte, premium stock they’re printed on. The shadow detail preserved in the rocks of the first image, for example, is astounding. Folks who enjoy printed work will be very pleased with the quality here.

Included alongside the images are in-depth Q&A’s with each photographer. You’ll read stories about how the artists got started in photography and often, as you might expect, why they switched from DSLRs to Fuji.

The magazine, which is really verging on book territory, ships in a plastic bag, which is then enclosed in a hard cardboard sleeve, so you can be sure your copy will arrive undamaged.1

FujiLove Magazine

June’s issue is the third of Tomash’s latest Fuji related endeavour, FujiLove magazine. Its format is more of a traditional rag, and so far, the content has been excellent. It contains interviews, photographic essays, gear impressions, tips and tricks, and even user-submitted images of monthly assignments given out by Tomash.

Everything I’ve read in this magazine has totally resonated at best, and felt hugely familiar at worst. It’s fantastic to have this kind of content written by real users of the camera gear we use.

FujiLove is delivered digitally, has an incredible roster of contributors already, and at the cost of large latté, it’s a steal.


  1. Fuji X Passion has an affiliate program, but I am not a member. ↩︎

Photo Storage

I’ve been pushing up against the limits of the internal storage in my MacBook for far too long now. The lack of free space on my boot volume was starting to make my MacBook slower, and resulted in files having to be shuffled to smaller external storage.

I’ve been doing almost as much agonizing over my storage challenges as I have trying to decide what gear to bring on my African adventure. My trip will also leave me with even less space available, so storage is a problem that has to be solved soon. Here’s my thought process.

NAS vs. DAS

The choice is between a NAS (Network Attached Storage) or a DAS (Direct Attached Storage). I like the idea of being able to access my files from anywhere in the house (or world, for that matter), and I really don’t like plugging external hard drives into my MacBook, especially when I’m sitting on a couch, or just want to be mobile.

I’ve been hearing all kinds of good things about Synology products, and almost bought their DiskStation DS716+ → with a third party RAM upgrade, but decided that if I was going to get a NAS, it should have more than 2 bays.1 At the time of my research, Synology didn’t have a unit with 4 or more bays that I was interested in, and being a bit uncertain of how a NAS would impact my workflow, I decided to look at direct storage again.

I had settled on a Promise Pegasus2 R2+ →,2 but I was still struggling with two key aspects:

  1. External RAID arrays are expensive, considering the functionality you can get for similar money with a NAS.
  2. Too many options for direct storage ship with drives pre-installed, and they don’t make information about the manufacturer or the quality of those drives readily available, and if they’re from a less reliable manufacturer, you’re out of luck.

There are diskless options, but to get an enclosure I liked, I was sort of stuck, and without the markup the enclosure manufacturers get on drives, I could end up spending more on the same amount of storage.

Synology to the Rescue

As luck would have it, Synology announced their new DiskStation DS916+ →, which is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. Better still, the cost for 12TB in Synology’s latest 4-bay NAS is only $20 more than a Promise 8TB Storage Array →. More storage (or equal storage with RAID 5), and way more functionality for $20 more. I’ve since done a bunch more research and a NAS is looking more and more like the way to go.

What I’d Lose

Network attached storage is slower, there’s no getting around that for now. It’s going to hit me particularly hard as the aging MacBook Pro I’m still working on is 802.11n. I have an upgrade planned within the next 6 months, however. I’m also looking into ways of getting more Ethernet access in my home.

Because of the (potentially temporary) slowdown, I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my workflow, setting up more of an archival strategy with my asset management. Once photos have been dealt with, they’ll move off my local storage, and onto the NAS.

I’ll also lose automatic remote backup of my storage solution by opting for a NAS. Backblaze will happily accept whatever files are on any direct attached storage you have hooked up to your computer, but a NAS is off limits without some trickery that I’m not interested in, will cost me more money, and is apparently flakey at best. I’ll likely sign up for CrashPlan on the NAS, and perhaps move my entire cloud backup to them unless Backblaze figures out a way to support NAS (not holding my breath on that).

What I’d Gain

I won’t regale you with the many, many benefits of a Synology, but on the photo side of things, it looks like I’ll be able to log into my NAS while on vacation and upload my RAFs for an on-the-fly backup strategy, provided I don’t blow through anyone’s bandwidth limits. Backups while on vacation has been a bit of a concern. In the past, I’ve pretty much just shot pics until my cards were full, then tucked them away somewhere safe, and hoped for the best. I’ve been fortunate up until now, and always made it home from vacations with my photos, but this is not a good strategy. It would be pretty upsetting to visit a game park at the beginning of my trip, then somehow lose the photos towards the end.

I’ll need to give the NAS backup strategy a try before I go to see just how realistic it is. It will be dependant on the speed my my internet connections.

Conclusion

I went ahead and ordered myself a DS916+ with 8GB of RAM along with four 3GB HGST Deskstar drives,→ which Backblaze reports as consistently having the lowest failure rates.3 I missed ordering when the DS916+ was first in stock, but I’ll be sure to report back on how these things can work in a photographer’s workflow if there’s interest.

  1. I would set my NAS up as RAID 5 to give myself a one drive failure tolerance. ↩︎
  2. I decided to go with a 2-drive array to save some money with the intention of getting a NAS in the future.

    I also would have considered something from OMC, but I’ve had a couple not so good experiences with their products in the past so I’m hesitant to try them again.

  3. Fun fact, Promise Technology use Toshiba hard drives in their arrays. They have pretty low failure rates, but it's still 3× as many as HGST. ↩︎

Inspiration: Riley Joseph

Today, Riley Joseph published the latest in his series of “Photo Stories,” titled “Palm Springs.” I’ve always enjoyed Riley’s restrained processing style, and the consistency of his eye has been getting better since I first started following him way back when I got my first X Series camera, the X100S. He did more gear-oriented posts back then, but I enjoy the more photographically-focused content just as much.

Riley‘s always captured great photos—nuanced detail missed by the casual observer, clever compositions, and precise timing—but after a few redesigns of his site, he seems to have hit a new stride, and his work has reached new levels. Or maybe he just got around to posting it, I’m not sure.

Anyhow, with Palm Springs, it’s not just how well he captured the time warp of the area he visited, it’s also the presentation. The balance of text and images is just right for me, and I found it wonderfully compelling. I really felt like I was there with him, seeing through time, so to speak, and he was reminiscing about a shared experience. It is indeed, storytelling.

Check out Palm Springs, and Riley’s other Photo Stories.

Palm Springs, Riley Joseph

Palm Springs, Riley Joseph

Paml Springs, Riley Joseph

Paml Springs, Riley Joseph

Palm Springs, Riley Joseph

Palm Springs, Riley Joseph

Deal: Big X-Series Lens Sale

If you haven’t already heard, Fuji has another big sale happening on just about all their lenses. A couple standouts are the XF 14mm f/2.8 for $499 (save $400), and the XF 16mm f/1.4 WR for $699 (save $300).

On the long end, you can get an XF 1.4 Teleconverter for $100 if you pair it with either the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 or XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6.

And of course, B&H has all the same deals as well. Get ’em while the gettin’s good.

JPEG is My Friend

This fantastic piece from Lee Varis starts with a refrain many of us have heard, Fuji’s JPEGs are great, but then quickly moves into some excellent examples that demonstrate how. It’s a must read or watch (I watched), and it’s nice to see Astia get some love.

My only caution might be on layering a JPEG over a RAF. You’ll want to be mindful of Fuji’s in-camera corrections, depending on which lens you have mounted. Another approach might be to shoot with Film Simulation bracketing and use one of the colour Film Simulations for the layering. Cool effect either way.

Prepping for South Africa, Part 2

The response to my Prepping for South Africa post has been incredible. No other blog post on Fuji vs. Fuji has generated so much thoughtful feedback so quickly. I really appreciate it all, and as I catch up on my email, I am seriously rethinking my gear selection yet again. Here’s the latest.

XF 100-400mm

Well, readers are decidedly in favour of me bringing the XF 100-400mm. Tweets, Facebook Messages and emails all say bring it. This prompted me to do a bit of my own reading about the lens, which lead me to this fantastic piece by Daniel J. Cox about mirrorless telephoto zooms. Fuji has an awfully impressive showing.

I certainly won’t mind the chance to do a little testing of my own with a lens like this, but I want to do what’s best for the trip, first and foremost. So, the current plan is to see how things fit once my Airport Essentials arrives. That should help determine just how many zoom lenses I’m going to bring.

XF 50-140mm

Now of course I’m asking myself if I really need the XF 50-140mm f/2.8. In some ways, it could be indispensable. The faster aperture might do wonders during dawn and dusk game park drives. But it’s another big telephoto lens with at least some overlap (depending on which teleconverters I have mounted) to haul around.

It could also necessitate yet another body thanks to…

The Wide Angle

Given how close we could get, there’s no way I can go on a game drive with 50mm being my widest focal length.

Readers also reaffirmed what my research indicates, dust will be a real problem when driving along the dirt roads in the game park, so lens changes are almost certainly going to be impossible. That got me thinking about a lens I don’t think about very often, the XF 16-55mm f/2.8.

One of my big summer comparisons is going to be this lens pitted against primes in its range, but it might just be the perfect companion to one of, if not both of the big zooms. Standard focal range, weather and dust resistant, 77mm filter thread. Suddenly a lens I wasn’t even looking at before is in the running. This trip could be an all red badge affair.

Minimal or Maximal

In truth, when I bought the XF 16-55mm f/2.8, it was with the intention of using it almost exclusively as a travel lens. Visions of trudging through the rainy lakes, dales, and moors of England came to mind. My sole reason for not considering it at first was my desire to travel with as little gear as possible. I wanted to minimize.

I’m now in danger of bringing way more gear than I was hoping. Here are some contending options:

Original Kit

Bodies: X-Pro2, X-T1
Lenses: XF 16mm f/1.4 WR*, XF 35mm f/2 WR, XF 50-140mm f/2.8*

Minimal Zoom Kit

Bodies: X-Pro2, X-T1
Lenses: XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, XF 16-55mm f/2.8*, XF 100-400mm*

I would have a really hard time leaving the XF 35mm f/2 WR behind, and probably won’t, but it’s covered by the XF 16-55mm f/2.8.

Maximal Zoom or “All The Things” Kit

Bodies: X-Pro2, X-T1, another X-T1 or X70/X100T
Lenses: XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, XF 16-55mm f/2.8*, XF 35mm f/2 WR XF 50-140mm f/2.8* XF 100-400mm*

Ugh. I really don’t want to have to do this, but if I had both the telephotos along, I feel I would almost have to bring a third body of some kind along to cover the wide end.

Going X70 has the added benefit of my wife having an “adorable little Fuji” at her disposal, but there could be a risk of dust contamination during the game drives, and it means another set of charger/batteries to bring.

Going with a third interchangeable body means I have to actually get a third, weather sealed body. That presents its own set of issues (WAF, space in the bag, batteries, WAF, etc.)

*Denotes gear I’ll bring on the game drives.

Thanks!

Thanks again so much to everyone who wrote, tweeted and messaged me their feedback. It’s been immensely helpful, and I’ll be sure to post more as I continue to sort this out. I’m hyper aware that this is an awesome problem to have, but the struggle is real, and it continues. More to come.

Another Metal Hood

In addition to the 2x Teleconverter, Fuji also quietly added another metal hood add-on accessory, this time for the XF 23mm f/1.4, the Lens Hood LH-XF23. I don’t know about you, but I’m perpetually in “persuit of premium quality to multiply the pleasure of ownership.”

Truthfully, I do really like the metal hood for the XF 16mm f/1.4 WR. It’s noticeably heavier than the plastic hood that comes with the lens, but significantly more compact when ready for use. A worthwhile trade off in my opinion. The hood that ships with the XF 23mm f/1.4 is also much too large for me to ever want to attach it to my lens.

I think we can expect this trend to continue from now on. It’s shame because these hoods aren’t cheap, but they’re so much nicer.

One Wide Angle Remaining

The XF 14mm f/2.8 comes to mind as being the next lens due for a new metal hood. As I’ve mentioned, the plastic hood for the XF 14mm f/2.8 is a clone of the hood for the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4, which leads me to believe it hasn’t been terribly well optimized for the former, since it was released after the kit zoom.

Fujifilm XF 2X Teleconverter Announced

Well isn’t this fortunate. Fuji has officially announced their XF 2X Teleconverter.

From Fuji:

The “FUJINON TELECONVERTER XF2X TC WR” is a high-performance teleconverter capable of multiplying the focal length of mounted lenses by two.

This gives the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 and effective focal length of 100-280mm f/5.6, or 152 to 427mm in 35mm equivalence, and the XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 reaches all the way out to 200-800mm f/9-11, which is 305 to 1,219mm in 35mm.

That quite a bit of a slow down in aperture, but over 1,200mm of reach is going to be tough to resist.

No Phase Detection

Also worth noting, we lose Phase Detection on the XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 altogether with the XF 2X TC attached thanks to the reduction in aperture. That could pose a bit of a problem for things like early morning game park drives or bird photography outings when higher ISOs are already common. It will be interesting to see how this lens performs with the TCs attached.

Size and Weight

That extra reach also means extra size and weight with the new 2x weighing in at 170g, or 40g more than the 1.4x and measures twice as long at 30.2mm. I’ll be getting close to maxing out the height of my bag already, so be mindful of your max carry size before you place any preorders.

Edit: Jonas Rask already has one of his typically epic reviews up for the XF2X TC. Man, that guy is on fire these days.