Weekly Photo Project, Week 25

It’s very hard to believe that I’m almost halfway done with this project! I haven’t missed a single day yet, although only by the skin of my teeth. That was true this week, as I barely made it on more than one day. While I did capture a couple decent pictures, this overall wasn’t a particularly productive photographic period. Moving forward I need to ensure that I’m dedicating myself more to this effort.

Monday, January 7, 2019

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Succulent & Blue Bird – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

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Morning Mountain White – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

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Floral – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Kodak Slides – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Waiting At The Night Intersection – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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Wasatch Ridge Clouds – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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Clouds Surround The Peak – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Week 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Incredibly Cheap & Easy Photography Hacks

In the video above I share seven simple and inexpensive (or free!) photography tips and tricks. Feel free to use them, and if you like the video be sure to share it so that others can learn the tricks, too.

Here are the seven hacks in the video:
– mini string lights for foreground bokeh (click here for the mini string lights)
colored page markers for light leaks (click here for the page markers)
– crumpled tin foil bokeh background
– coffee sleeve lens hood
faux wood ceramic tiles for worn wood setting
– backwards mount macro lens (click here for the adapter)
shift the white balance

You’ll notice that I included links above to Amazon where you can see and purchase some of the items that I used in the video. I am an Amazon Affiliate partner (so that I can improve the Fuji X Weekly experience), but I did this more so that you can see the actual product used than for you to go buy something (the items are under $10 each, so I don’t expect the links to be particularly financially beneficial). Perhaps doing this is helpful to someone.

I hope that you appreciate the video and find it useful! It was fun to make, and I hope to do many more videos over the coming days, weeks and months. If you like it, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you don’t miss anything!

Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome – A Film Simulation Showdown

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I have two very similar film simulation recipes that both produce results quite close to their namesake slide films: Kodachrome II and Ektachrome 100SW. Even though the settings are nearly the same, the looks that they produce are quite different. As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the old “Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome” debate from the days of film. There were people who preferred one over the other for various reasons. Kodachrome was more iconic. Ektachrome had more variations. Despite the fact that they were both color transparencies made by the same company, I could probably write a long article about the differences between the two films, but this blog is about Fujifilm X cameras and not Kodak film stocks.

What I wanted to do here is compare the two film simulation recipes side by side. I will show them both, and you can decide which is best for you. It’s kind of a revival of the old debate, but with a modern twist. Kodachrome or Ektachrome? You get to decide which is the better film simulation recipe!

Take a look at the pictures below:

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Welcome to Ogden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Kodachrome II”

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Winter Mountain – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Kodachrome II”

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Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Pueblo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 “Kodachrome II”

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View From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Kodachrome II”

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

What I like about the Kodachrome II recipe is that it produces a vintage color look that reminds me of the images found on the pages of old magazines, such as National Geographic and Arizona Highways. As I look through my grandparent’s old slide collection (which I have at home), I can see this look in their old photographs from 50 or so years ago. It’s such a fantastic recipe for Fujifilm X cameras, and I just love it!

What I like about the Ektachrome 100SW recipe is that it produces a color look that reminds me of some images that I have captured with the actual film. The film was good for western landscapes or any situation where you needed some color saturation with a warm color cast. It wasn’t around for very long because it was only marginally commercially successful, but it was one of the better variations of Ektachrome film in my opinion.

What do you think, Kodachrome or Ektachrome? Let me know in the comments which film simulation recipe you like best!

When Does ISO Matter?

Modern cameras have amazing high-ISO capabilities. Back in the days of film, ISO 400 was considered high-ISO by many (including Fujifilm, who designated all their ISO 400 films with the letter “H” for high-speed), and ISO 1600 was ultra-high-ISO, used only out of absolute necessity or by the brave who wanted a certain gritty look. Nowadays some photographers don’t even think of ISO 1600 as a high-ISO setting, and don’t think twice about using it. For many, high-ISO doesn’t really begin until ISO 3200, and ultra-high-ISO doesn’t begin until you go above ISO 6400. It’s really unbelievable!

The real question is this: when does ISO matter? Since modern cameras make such good-looking images at incredibly high sensitivities, when should you start considering image quality degradation? When is a certain ISO setting too high? That’s what I want to answer.

Of course, since this is the Fuji X Weekly blog, I’m discussing Fujifilm X cameras, specifically X-Trans III. This won’t apply 100% to other cameras, but it’s still relevant to some degree no matter the camera make and model. If you are reading this with another camera in mind, take everything said here with a small grain of salt.

I did a little experiment just to better understand all of this ISO stuff. I already knew the answer from experience even before beginning the experiment, but I wanted to see if my instincts matched reality. I captured a few sets of identical pictures, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from a Fujifilm X-T20, using ISO 400 and ISO 6400. I made sure that all of the settings were the same between the identical pictures except for ISO and shutter speed. This isn’t 100% scientific, but it’s a controlled-enough test to draw some conclusions about ISO capabilities.

Here are the original pictures:

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ISO 6400

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ISO 400 – my Velvia recipe

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ISO 6400

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ISO 6400

There’s not a lot that can be learned by looking at the above images, other than when viewing images on the web the ISO doesn’t matter whatsoever because it’s incredibly difficult to spot the differences even when comparing side-by-side. In real life nobody does side-by-side comparisons, that’s pretty much an internet-only thing, so it would be impossible to tell if a picture was captured using a low-ISO or high-ISO just by looking at it on your screen. We need to look much closer to really gain anything from this test. Below are some crops from the above images.

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ISO 400

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ISO 6400

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ISO 400

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ISO 6400

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ISO 400

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ISO 6400

If you study the color crops carefully, you’ll notice that the ISO 400 images are cleaner, sharper and have just a hair more dynamic range, but the differences are quite small and subtle. You really have to look carefully to find them. With the black-and-white image, the differences are even less obvious, and I actually prefer the ISO 6400 version, as it seems to have a more film-like quality. Looking at the crops clarifies things a little, but what kind of conclusions can we really draw?

My opinion with regards to color photography and ISO is this: if I’m printing smaller than 16″ x 24″ or displaying the pictures on the web, I don’t find any practical difference between base ISO and ISO 6400. Even ISO 12800 can be acceptable, especially if I’m not going to print the picture. If I’m going to print 16″ x 24″ or larger, a lower ISO is better, preferably less than ISO 3200, but it’s not a big deal to use up to ISO 6400. The ISO that I select does not make a huge difference to the outcome of the image, so I don’t worry a whole lot about it. Put more simply, if I print large, it’s preferable but not critical that I use a lower ISO, and if I don’t print large it doesn’t matter at all.

My opinion with regards to black-and-white photography and ISO is this: the ISO doesn’t matter much at all no matter how large I’m printing, and I often prefer (just by a little) high-ISO over low-ISO because it looks more analog. I freely use without hesitation any ISO up to 12800. Thanks to the Acros film simulation, Fujifilm X cameras are some of the best monochrome cameras on the market, and with that film simulation, often times the higher the ISO the better.

These are, of course, my opinions, and not everyone is going to agree with them, and that’s perfectly alright. Find what works for you. Use a higher ISO or lower ISO if that’s what you need for your pictures, because, after all, they’re your pictures. I’m not here to judge your camera setting choices, only to offer mine, which I’m hoping is helpful to some of you. I hope that this article makes sense and clarifies some things regarding high-ISO on Fujifilm X cameras.

Below is a video that I made on this topic:

Weekly Photo Project, Week 24

I had a couple of photographically productive days this week, plus a bunch that were not. Still, I managed to capture at least one image each day, which is the goal of this project. I’m still working on the quality side of things. I don’t want to capture a thoughtless snapshot just to have an image, which I’ve done several times since I started this 365 challenge. I want each day to be represented by a good picture, which I’m attempting to do better at. I still have plenty of room for improvement. I hope that you enjoy these pictures!

Monday, December 31, 2018

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Blowing Snow At Sunset – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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Frary Fence – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

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Winter Horse – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Thursday, January 3, 2019

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Candy – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Friday, January 4, 2019

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Snow Capped Mountain Evening – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Saturday, January 5, 2019

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Remembering Spring – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Sunday, January 6, 2019

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Potted Succulent – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Week 23  Week 25

Introducing the Fuji X Weekly Vlog!

My wife has been telling me for awhile now that I should be on YouTube. She’s completely right about that! Almost two billion people worldwide watch YouTube videos regularly, and about one billion hours of YouTube video content is watched daily. YouTube is the #2 search engine, only behind Google. More than half of YouTube views are on a phone, tablet or other mobile device. There are a ton of statistics which demonstrate that those under the age of 50 are spending a lot of time watching YouTube videos, and about half of those videos are uploaded by people and not companies. There’s a massive audience I’m missing by avoiding YouTube!

I like to joke that I have a face for radio and a voice for print. That’s all in fun, but the truth is that I don’t have the eccentric personality to be a video star. I’m just a regular Joe. I don’t look or sound the part, and so I prefer not to be a video guy. I like to write and I’m pretty good at it. Even though I hunt-and-peck, I’m comfortable and happy typing out paragraphs. I like that I can lay out my thoughts in a clear and organized manor, and it’s easy to change the words if I didn’t communicate something well. I will continue to write the Fuji X Weekly blog because I love doing this!

When it comes to photography, there’s a lot of long-winded content on YouTube. Most videos exceed five minutes, many exceed 10 minutes and some seem to go on forever! That’s good sometimes, but what I often prefer, and I figures others might feel the same way, is content that’s short and to the point. I often don’t have time for ramblings. I feel that there is a need for quality photography-related videos that are under two minutes long, that get right to the point and concisely explain things. That’s my vision for the Fuji X Weekly vlog. I want to produce short videos that are mobile device friendly, that are interesting yet informative, and, perhaps most importantly, don’t feature me rambling on.

I just started the Fuji X Weekly vlog a couple of days ago. I think it will be a good companion to the Fuji X Weekly blog. I hope that it will reach some new people, perhaps some folks who wouldn’t normally go to an “old-fashioned” blog, but would definitely look at a video. I hope that it’s a fresh way to view my content, pictures and ideas. I’ve made three videos so far, which I’ve included below. Feel free to like and share them. Please subscribe so that you don’t miss anything! I appreciate any feedback that you have. Hopefully it just gets better and better as time goes on, because I’m very new to this whole video-making stuff. I hope that you enjoy!

Fujifilm Acros Film Simulation Recipes

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Taos Tourist – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X100F “Agfa Scala”

Acros is one of the most popular film simulations available on Fujifilm X-Trans cameras. It looks incredibly similar to the black-and-white film that it was named after. In fact, in my opinion, it produces the most film-like results of any settings on any camera! It’s easy to see the draw to the analog-esque results produced by the Acros film simulation.

I love Acros and I have used it as the base for a bunch of different film simulation recipes. It’s possible to achieve a number of different interesting looks straight out of camera by adjusting the settings. I plan to create even more film simulation recipes using Acros in the coming months. As I do, I will add them to this article.

Below you will find all of my different film simulation recipes that I have created that use Acros. If you haven’t tried them all, I personally invite you to do so and see which are your favorites! My personal favorite is Tri-X Push-Process, but they each have their own usefulness and charm. Let me know in the comments which recipe you like most!

Even though the different recipes say X100F and X-Pro2, they are completely compatible with any Fujifilm X-Trans III or IV camera. For example, you don’t have to use the X100F recipes exclusively on the X100F. You can use any of my recipes on any X-Trans III camera.

Original Acros

Acros Push-Process

Agfa Scala

Ilford HP5 Plus

Tri-X Push Process

My Fujifilm X Camera Lens Recommendations, Part 2: Third Party

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Part 1: Fujinon

I listed my recommended Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm X cameras in Part 1. In this second segment I will give my recommendations for third party lenses. Like in the previous article, I will be focusing on what I’ve actually used, because I prefer to talk about what I have experience with. My opinions are based off of my own use of these different lenses.

Let’s jump right in!

Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 NCS CS

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Salt & Stars – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm

The 12mm f/2 NCS CS ultra-wide-angle lens, which is sold under both the Rokinon and Samyang brands (it’s the exact same lens), is a great manual focus lens. It’s sharp with surprisingly little distortion and few flaws. Since it is so cheap, it’s a great budget-friendly alternative to the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, or even a companion to it. Not everyone needs a lens as wide-angle as this one, but it’s a fantastic option for those who do. If you need something ultra-wide for astrophotography or dramatic landscapes, this is a must-have lens!

Meike 35mm f/1.7

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mount Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

The Meike 35mm f/1.7 is a “nifty-fifty” standard prime lens on Fujifilm X cameras, and if you don’t mind an all-manual lens, this is a great budget-friendly option. In fact, it’s probably the best $80 you’ll ever spend on new camera gear! It’s not without flaws, though. You can read my review of the lens here. For the cheap price, I wouldn’t be afraid to try the Meike 28mm f/2.8 or the Meike 50mm f/2, either. In fact, you could buy all three for less than the cost of one Fujinon lens! The 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 is a good alternative, which I reviewed here. I’ve never tried the 7artisans 35mm f/1.2, which is an intriguing option but a little more expensive.

There are, of course, plenty of other third-party lenses, of which I’ve tried zero. I know that the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 II is highly regarded, yet it’s also on the expensive side of things. The Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 and Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 are two lenses that I’ve seen highly recommended by others, and, based on my experience with their 12mm lens, I’d definitely believe it. However, I don’t want to spend much time on lenses that I have no experience with. Instead, let me offer one other alternative: vintage lenses.

You can typically buy old film lenses for very little money. Since most people don’t shoot film any longer, these lenses are cheap, yet many of them are exceptionally good in quality. You will need an adapter to mount them to your Fujifilm X camera, since they’ll have a different mount. Just make sure you know which mount the lens is so that you buy the right adapter. Thankfully most adapters are pretty inexpensive. Below is a video that I made on this topic.

Current Fujifilm X Camera Deals

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There are a number of great Fujifilm camera deals currently on Amazon. I wanted to pass these along in case anyone is interested in these cameras. As always, if you use my links to purchase something it helps to support this website.

Fujifilm X-H1 with grip is only $1,300!

Fujifilm X-E3 is $700.

Fujifilm X-T3 is $1,400.

Fujifilm X-T2 is $1,100.

Fujifilm X-T20 with 18-55mm lens is $1,000.

All of these are good deals, but the X-H1 and X-T2 stand out as the two best bargains, and I think it’s because of how well the X-T3 has been selling. The X-T20 is my top recommended camera, and it’s a good price with the 18-55mm lens. The X-E3 is pretty inexpensive, and it’s a very tempting option.