Thoughts of Spring….

Thinking about taking photos when it’s –30 deg C is not the most appealing thing to think about Smile  For the last couple of weeks, it’s been down there.  Today, it was at –15 and it felt almost like T-shirt weather!!  Not really. but it was “less cold” anyway.  I decided t go out and about a bit today and grab some groceries and go snooping.  On my journey I stopped by my local London Drugs and stopped by the camera dept to see what was happening.    Lo and behold… there was a Fuji XF1 there and on sale no less.  Now.. the last thing I needed was yet another camera.  My initial intent was to get a flash for my D3200, but when I saw the XF1, I pretty well pulled the trigger on it.

Fuji XF!_sunlightFuji XF1

For starters, the XF1 is sort of like the shrunk down version of my X10, sort of.  Smaller and thinner, with the same EXR Sensor.  AND with the classic styling of the X series, just a gorgeous little unit.  They only had the demo, but I bought it anyway.  I simply had to have it in my hot little hands.  Once I took a few pics with it I knew I made a good choice.  This is going to be a nice addition for my daypack.  I even had a case for it at home to make it neater.

Now, for me, my commuting life has changed since I got this last contract.  I’m not in the downtown core anymore – if anything, I’m a fair ways south with a transit train and yet another bus.  About an hour one way heading down and longer on the way back.  With the weather being as cold as it has, taking photos, has been out of the equation for me.  Over and above being exhausted after work, it just hasn’t been there for me the last few weeks.  The XF1 will hopefully kick start my interest.  So…. I guess the question here – why would I want this one?  Well, between the classic styling, which is what attracted me to it, is that it’s also in the same class as my  X10 or my Panasonic LX7.  Larger sensor, though not as large as my Panasonic GX1 or Nikon 1 J1 and definitely not Micro Four Thirds like in my Nikon D3200.  Don’t get me wrong, the intent is still have a travel cam with me, but to also have one onther one there for the “other shots” that my travel cams can’t do quite as well.  Low light, macro work just to name a couple.  This one has an f1.8 lens which will give those blurred out background, bokke, I think it’s called. 

DSCF0053_edited

Being Fuji, it’s also going to give me those nice flesh tones – it also has the EXR sensor which I find has been handy more times than you can imagine.  Basically, I have a smaller X10 is what it amounts to.  I saw this as a very specific use camera – a more advanced camera for my daypack. 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t get that much of a chance to get out during the winter.  I also don’t make a point of going out all that much to do winter shots.  For me, it’s mostly indoor stuff. This last year, I’ve probably taken more photos of snow than any other year.  Social events, sure, camera is always handy.  Even with the cameras in my daypack, they don’t get pulled all that often.  Soon though – I was noticing on the bus ride home, that were a couple of shots where I could get a shot of the city skyline.  Something I’ve been trying to get for a long time. 

The other factor that comes into play, I’m thinking, is the type of work one does.  If one is fairly creative, but is caught in a world of analysis, like me… creative tends to go out the window unless you force yourself to be creative.  I don’t know if that statement made sense Smile  To me, creativity is a thing that comes naturally to a degree.  In photography, you “see” this shot and you figure out a way to get the shot based on your vision of it.  For many, in other fields, I’m thinking it’s very much the same pattern.  In my work as an analyst, I have to make sense of similar information coming from multiple sources or find new information in order to formulate some sort of plan.  I guess there’s some creativity there.  BUT depending on the contract, it’s also very brain intensive and winding down from that does take a while for me.  I don’t get out that much to see the landscapes, as much as I would like during the winter – my tendency is towards hot and sunny Smile  For me, this year anyway, it’s mostly been indoor stuff.  This current contract has been very brain intensive, so the purchase of the XF1, in one sense was a very good thing.

From a quality standpoint – in one sense, the XF1 fit a “gap” in my current armoury of cameras.  It gave me a very fast lens that I could stick in my daypack without adding weight to an already heavy pack.  Heck – I”m already carrying a second laptop with me as it is due to the type of work.  I needed a very fast machine for my wireframing work (it’s an application for prototyping user interfaces) plus some other graphic intensive things.  My ASUS Zenbook is a great machine for meetings, etc. but it doesn’t have the screen real estate for graphics, so I needed something with a bigger screen and faster and still light.  The machine I got was an Lenovo U530 – it’s classified as an ultrabook, but….  On my last contract, it was easy to pack either the Fuji X10 or Panasonic LX7, but this time around, they were a little heavier than I wanted. (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it Smile)  The nice thing about having units with fast lenses for me, is that when I do take photos, a lot was done during noon hours.  This time around, I’m in an industrial park and not even sure if my contract will last beyond the snow going away, but we’ll see.

Using the XF1 – well, in the first couple of days here, I’m in fairly familiar territory.  It’s very much like the menus that my X10 and F800 are.  My preferences in this class of camera have been towards both Fuji and Panasonic.  Why, you say?  I find that both of these units tend to give slightly richer greens and blues with less fiddling.  Usually just set up for the equivalent of a vivid setting and go for it.  No question on image quality for the things I do.  In the travel class, it all depends on what/where/when.  There, my preference is still the Panasonic ZS25, I’ll use any of them depending on what I’m doing at the time.  For my daypack, I keep the Nikon S9400 – it’s tiny, actually slim.  For weekend jaunting, it could be anything from any of the Panasonics to the Sony HX30 – it just depends on what I grab.  Don’t get me wrong – they all do well in this class.  If I move up into the Compact System area, it’s my Panasonic GX1 first and foremost – I LOVE this unit.  I also have a Nikon 1 J1 and it also has it’s place – if I need something where I need those quick shots (Summer BBQ’s, grandkids), where setup is not an option, this is the one.  This fall, I finally took the jump and bought a DSLR.  The one I got was the D3200 with the kit zoom – 18-55mm.  You know, I gave this one a loooonnnngg thought.  I could have easily jumped to either the D5200 or even the D7100, but I just couldn’t see myself using a DSLR enough to justify the bucks at this time.  Don’t get me wrong here – I probably will add either lenses or another body this year – it just depends….  At the other end of the spectrum, I still have some of my pointy shooties – a Panansonic SZ1 (though it’s not really a pointy shooty at 10x zoom), ZS15, and a couple of Nikons – S3000 and S3400.  My wife actually uses a Pentax Optio P70 a lot for her volunteer work, in conjunction with a Panasonic FZ50 (older unit – 12x zoom, semi DSLR type) as well as the ZS1 and SZ15 depending on what she needs.

Quite the array of units for our household, but you know, they all work well.  I know that many I’ve talked to, who are serious amateurs won’t even look at anything below a DSLR and I think that’s an error to a certain degree.  I keep hearing the argument about resolution and image quality all the time.  For me, it’s all about perspective and I think it’s very important to remember that.  I’m going to get a little mercenary here – all that high end gear isn’t going to do any good if you don’t have it with you, for starters!!!  I definitely agree that higher end gear can and does, in the right hands, produce stunning results that can easily dwarf what the other units can do, but to me, that’s rare.  You still need to get the shot.  To me, it’s about content – having a little grain isn’t that big of a deal.  In the world of digital today, it really is getting difficult to take a low quality pic.  Notice I said low quality – not a “good” pic Smile  You can have the best gear in the word, but if you can’t take a pic you can’t take a pic…. 

I took a sequence of photos over about 6 months of a building being demolished across from where I worked.  I took these every few days from 3 locations for the most part.  I couldn’t have done this with a DSLR even if I owned one.  Quite simply would have been too much of a hassle weight wise for me.  It might have been different if it was my job to do that but it wasn’t.   As I acquired various units, that building actually became a bit of test bed to test what the cameras could do.  To make it worse I had to take the shots from literally across the street, and many of them required some pretty big zooms.  A lot in the 10x to 20x area.  If I had a DSLR maybe, just maybe I might have been able to crop and preserve detail, but then again, in the end, it was a non-issue – my travel cams handled that without blinking Smile  I’ve had numerous times when I’ve been out doing some shopping and stopped take photos of houses that were for sale – again the wide angles that the travel cams had paid off.  I’ve had numerous times where I’ve had either the J1 or GX1 with me along with the travel cams and the travel cams were still used as the wide angles weren’t wide enough on the other units.  I could have perhaps purchased wider angle lenses for the GX1, but you know, for what they want for one of those, I could have got a couple of travel cams, and I did Smile

On my last contract, there were a lot of times when there were concerts on the streets, festivals close plus other events.  There were a bunch of co-workers there who were DLSR users – when they saw my pics, they were shocked at how quality they were coming from a “toy” camera.  Most important, I got the shots – to me, that was all that mattered.

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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