All posts by kf6ybl

I Switched to FujiFilm!

Seems like I start all of my posts this way –
“It’s been awhile since my last post”.  Sorry about that, I haven’t had much going on in the way of photography lately.

Part of my downtime can be attributed to my switching from M43 (Olympus and Panasonic) to FujiFilm.  I sold off just about all of my M43 gear, except my Olympus E-P3.  Unfortunately, this camera was just too old and not worth much, and I didn’t want to just give it away to the camera store, so I kept it.

What I ended up with is a pair of very nice Fuji’s, the X100T and the XT-1 with 18-135mm lens.  This post will mostly be about the XT-1.

Why did I do this?  First off, there was nothing wrong with my M43 gear.  It all performed quite well.  I was just looking for something, different.  It’s hard to quantify.  The Fuji’s have some advantages over the M43 gear.  One of the main things is the sensor, it’s an
APS-C sensor, making it larger than the M43’s sensor.  The Fuji’s are also much better at low light using high ISO’s.

One of the other reasons was that I needed to trim down the amount of equipment that I had.  There were times when we packed up our motorhome for a trip, and I loaded up 5 camera bags.  If I had it, it went in a bag and cluttered things up.  So, this was a good time to make a move.  I did a lot of research and the Fuji’s seem to rate quite well.  Following will be my impressions of the XT-1.  Please note – these are just my opinions based on my experience and usage.  Nothing scientific here.  I’m sure you can do a Google search and come up with plenty of that!

On Saturday (Feb. 4th), there was a Ham Radio event at the Palm Springs Air Museum.  I have a Ham Radio license, and have recently gotten more active.  The venue for this event happens to be a wonderful air museum.  The Palm Springs Air Museum is right next to the airport and has a beautiful back drop of San Jacinto Peak and the San Jacinto Mountain Range.  The weather was great, mostly clear blue skies and about 70 degrees.  There was some wind, but that’s to be expected with a storm heading into the area over the next couple of days.

I packed my XT-1 with 18-135mm lens in a small messenger bag and headed out.  There are several planes out in front of the museum, so I started off with an F-18.  The XT-1 feels very solid in my hands, like a precision instrument.  It’s just big enough to feel like I can get a good grip on it, but not so big that it’s a pain to carry around.   One of the things that I really liked about the Fuji’s is all of the external  controls.  There are quite a few dials on the body, and it saves you from having to constantly having to dive into the menus to make a change.

After I pulled the XT-1 out of the bag, I grabbed a couple of quick shots of the F-18.  Since I wasn’t used to the camera, I took a look at the results on the screen.  Oops!  I should have paid more attention to all of my settings.  I thought I was in Aperture Priority mode, but was actually in Manual mode.  I made the appropriate adjustments and fired off a couple more frames.  The results this time were better.  I needed to slow down and be much more methodical and deliberate than I was accustomed to when using my M43 gear.  I realized that I was still in the “getting to know you” phase with my new Fuji.  

The 18-135mm Fuji lens seems like a good choice for an all around, general purpose lens.  While it is a little larger than most of the M43 lens (physically, not in focal length), it wasn’t a burden to use in this setting.  One of the nice about this lens is that it’s stabilized.  I like the range of this zoom, it seems to cover most of what I need for most of what I do (landscapes, family gatherings, etc…).  If I need to go longer, I did keep my Panasonic FZ1000!

My time with the XT-1 was somewhat short, just a couple of hours, and some of that time was shared by wandering around the Ham Radio event.  Overall, I am more than pleased with the XT-1.  I’m looking forward to getting out and using it more.  I also have the Fuji X100T that needs some quality time.  I’ll write about that in another post.

Once I got home and downloaded the photos, I was happy with the results.  I found the images clean, with very little noise.  I shoot in both RAW + Jpeg, but have found that both file types require very little in the way of post processing.  I still enjoy giving my photos that personal touch, but they do quite well all by themselves.

Here are some of the photos from the Palm Spring Air Museum.  If you are in the area, check it out!

F-18 Hornet, Palm Springs Air Museum.
F-14 Tomcat, Palm Springs Air Museum
SBD Dauntless, F-8 Bearcat, TBM Avenger on the backside of the Palm Spring Air Museum
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Miss Josephine , Palm Springs Air Museum
P-51D, Bunny, Palm Springs Air Museum
F8 Bearcat, Palm Springs Air Museum
AT-6/SJN Texan, Palm Springs Air Musuem
Submarine Spitfire, Palm Springs Air Museum

 

That’s it for this post. Until next time – Happy Shooting!

Panasonic FZ1000, Landscape Camera Part 2

It’s been over a year since I last wrote about using the FZ1000 as a landscape camera.  And I’m happy to report that my opinion hasn’t changed, the FZ1000 is a great landscape camera!

This year, we spent 3 weeks in the Eastern Sierra.  In addition to fishing, photography and golf were on our list of activities.  I brought my Panasonic GX8 (with various lenses) and FZ1000.  One of the advantages of this camera combination is that they share the same battery.  I carry 4 batteries and 2 chargers and have had no problem running out of power with either camera.

Almost all of my photos begin as RAW files.  Sometimes I shoot both RAW and jpeg at the same time, especially when I want to use the FZ1000’s in camera black & white function.  The reason I shoot RAW is because I post process my photos.  This is my personal choice, and is something I enjoy doing, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.  If you’re one that doesn’t want to do post processing, or very limited processing, the jpegs from both the GX8 and FZ1000 are quite nice once you tweak some of the setting to your particular style.

Another benefit of using the Panasonic gear is I can get away with a much smaller/lighter tripod.  Both cameras are equipped with image stabilizers, but when the light is low, or for using long shutter speeds a tripod is necessary.  

And now for the photos:





I’ve had my FZ1000 for almost 2 years now. It has been without a doubt one of the most versatile cameras I have ever owned. There are times when I have to remember that I have a GX8 and need to use it because I will always reach for the FZ1000 automatically. Panasonic has recently release an updated version, the FZ2000/2500, but from some reports I have seen it isn’t a huge leap forward in image quality. It seems that it’s got additional features better suited for video, but the FZ1000 is still a match for it in the still photo department. That’s good to know because I don’t have any plans to move on. The FZ1000 is not only my go-to camera, but also my favorite!

Eastern Sierra RV Trip

Warning – This is another post that isn’t only about photography!  I’m going to mix the discussion up between photography and our annual Eastern Sierra Fall Color RV trip.

Several weeks ago my wife and I packed up 3 little dogs into our Southwind Class A motorhome and headed for the Eastern Sierra.  While it isn’t a difficult drive, we have been breaking it up into smaller chunks by spending a few days in the town of Bishop, California.  Bishop is located on the eastern side of the Sierra right along its base, and within easy driving distance of several lakes and streams.

There’s a nice campground on the north side of Bishop called Highlands RV Park.  It’s a paved RV park with trees, and a nice grass area for walking dogs.  It’s not fancy, but does have full hookups including 50 amp electrical service at each space.  We’ve been staying here for many years and have always found the park clean and the staff friendly.

After a few days in Bishop, we headed up Highway 395.  The long drive up the Sherwin Summit (about 7,000 feet with 6% grades) comes up very quickly once you’ve gotten out of Bishop.  Our Southwind “Goggins” isn’t going to win any races pulling a grade like this, especially since we are towing a Honda CRV, but the Workhorse chassis and big V8 continue to impress me!  In a little under 2 hours we were at our destination, Mono Vista RV Park in the town of Lee Vining.

From the road, Mono Vista RV Park has always intrigued me.  It’s a very pretty RV park with lots of very green grass, and large mature trees.  We’ve been wanting to try something different (we usually stay at a campground on the June Lake Loop) so we booked a site with Mono Vista for 2 weeks.

As far as the park is concerned, it’s very clean.  The spaces for RVs seemed wide enough that we weren’t stacked up on top of each other.  We were in the front row, pull through spot with full hookups, including 50 amp electrical service.

It’s not all sunshine and roses.  Just before we came up, my wife decided to check out some reviews of the park, and came away with some mixed feelings.  It seems that they have a reputation for being rude when quoting their rules to their park guests, especially regarding dogs.  One of their rules says that you CAN NOT leave your dog alone in your RV, at all.  They are also adamant about keeping your dog off of the grass areas around your RV.  There is a tiny area designated for dogs off to the north side of the park, and it connects to a trail that goes off into the bushes.

We love our dogs, and take them with us for rides and walks quite often.  But, we have left them in the RV (with the air/fans set and tv on) when we go fishing or out to dinner.  They don’t make any noise and have never been a problem.  In fact, they are better behaved than most peoples kids!  To be fair, I’m sure others have abused this rule and created problems.  What I don’t like is blanket rules for everyone because of a few idiots.  I didn’t like the feeling that I had to sneak around with my dogs for fear of getting caught on the grass or that I couldn’t go away for a few minutes without them.

Now don’t get the wrong impression.  Our 2 weeks at Mono Vista ended up being ok.  We worked within (and around) the rules and didn’t have any problems.  We were able to go fishing with and without the dogs, and it worked out quite well! Almost all of our fishing was done at Lundy Lake, which is within a relatively short drive from our camp. I think we will keep Mono Vista RV Park open as an option for future stays, but limit our time there to no more than 1 week.

And now let’s talk about photography!  Yes, I did actually spend some time trying to capture a few images.  There are a lot of options for fall colors in the area.  We were also much closer to Mono Lake than we had been in previous years so I was able to make a couple of visits to the Tufa.  I was also able to sit in on a Fall Color Photography presentation by Jeff Sullivan, a photographer that I follow on Google+, Flickr, and Facebook.  Jeff had his book “Photographing Southern California, Vol. 2” available and I picked up a copy.

I’m going to limit this discussion on photography to photos that I took with my LG-G4 phone.  There will be future posts where I share photos and info where I used my Panasonic GX8 and FZ1000, so please check back for updates.

I’ve been pleased with the quality of images coming from my phone.  When the light is good, the phone does quite well.  For post processing, I use an app called Snapseed.  Here are some examples:



After 2 weeks at Mono Vista, it was time to come down from the mountains for the final leg of our journey. One of our favorite campgrounds along the Scenic Byway of Highway 395 is near the little town of Lone Pine. The campground is called Boulder Creek, and is just a couple of miles south of Lone Pine, and sits at the base of the Eastern Sierra, Mt. Whitney, and the Alabama Hills. This campground has full hooks ups, a great store, club house, pool, etc…, along with a very friendly staff. They are also very dog friendly with lots of options for walking (with poopie-bags located throughout the park). What is really nice for your dogs is the completely gated dog park area, equipped with water, tables, and of course poopie-bags! And if you like military aircraft, the F-18’s from China Lake are usually buzzing about. This is a great RV park and definitely worth a look if you are in the area!

I didn’t do much in the way of photography for the 3 days we were camped at Boulder Creek, but there is a great little golf course nearby, the Mt. Whitney Golf Club. With wonderful views of the Eastern Sierra and Mt. Whitney, and almost always having the course to ourselves, we played 2 days in a row. We are much better at fishing than golf, but had fun (no need to add up the score and ruin the day).

That’s it for this post! Check back soon to see what kind of photos I was able to capture with my Panasonic GX8 and FZ1000!