You get what you pay for

Ironically, for someone who once wrote about the need to label things to help my understanding I don’t like to label myself photographically. I am just a photographer. If pushed very hard however I would probably own to being a landscape photographer. As a landscape photographer I understand the need to balance the tonal ranges between, for example, sky and land. There are various ways but being rather old school my preferred, but not my sole, approach is graduated neutral density filters, ND Grads for short.

© Dave Whenham
DJI Mavic Pro with Neewer ND Grey filter

It wasn’t a big surprise then that now I have the basics of this drone photography lark under my belt my thoughts should turn to the subject of how to control tonal range in my drone images.  I’ve tried the exposure-bracketing feature on the drone which works reasonably well but there is still that hankering to get it right “in-camera”. So I started to think about and look out for ND Grads for my Mavic Pro. Unlike a tripod-based DSLR I cannot change filters mid-flight with the drone; it has to be brought down, landed and powered off in order to attach or swap out a filter.  In addition, owing to the size and build of the drone lens it is not possible to vary the positioning of the graduation – just as with a screw-in filter for your traditional camera the position of the graduation is a given. So, using filters on the drone has to be a considered option.

Whilst looking on the internet I found a third party set of three different ND grads (grey, blue, orange) for £40. I found no review for them online, apart from amazon.com reviews which I rarely trust these days, however reviews of the company’s ND and polariser filters elsewhere on the ‘net were reasonably positive so I marked them as a “maybe”.

I then found a set by Chinese company Neewer for just £11. I’ve used Neewer products before and found them reliable rather than spectacular so figured I’d chance my £11 on a set which duly arrived the following day from that well-known international online retailer beginning with A. But how did they fare?

© Dave Whenham
Not the best light but at least it was “real-world” light!

I put the drone in the air with no filter attached then brought it back down to fit the ND grey filter. This is best done with the drone powered off and the gimbal lock in place. I then returned the drone to the air and endeavoured to take exactly the same image (I didn’t do too bad) to use as a comparison. Back home I converted both RAW (DNG) files in Adobe Camera Raw applying the same basic adjustments. The results are shown in segments 1 and 3 above. There is a noticeable grey cast in the image taken with the filter attached but this was easily removed as can be seen in segment 2 and I was left with a well-balanced shot.

But does the filter make a lot of difference? As can be seen above the filter definitely darkened the sky but looking closely at the image and the bottom half of the frame does appear a little bit darker too. To test this I left the filter on and took a third image, with no sky to see what happened.

© Dave Whenham

I was expecting the top half to be darker than the lower half but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I took several other test shots too and came to the conclusion that the filter was having minimal effect on the image in terms of changing tonal range.

The blue graduated filter did definitely add a blueish tint to the upper half of the frame but again did very little beyond this to darken the tones in the sky relative to the lower half of the frame.

© Dave Whenham
Neewer Blue ND Graduated filter

So, you get what you pay for in life I guess and for me based on this mornings experience these filters do not function as well as they might especially in terms of their prime purpose – that of reducing the tonal range in the image. However, I will try them out on another day when the sun is shining brightly and the tonal range is larger to see if it was the light not playing nicely this morning.

Will I be trying the £40 set? I’m not sure yet – I think I need to do some more research and see what other peoples experiences have been (assuming I can filter out the dubious “paid for” reviews on amazon).  The lens of the Mavic is very small however and I’m starting to think that there just isn’t enough real estate to allow the graduation to work as I’d like.

The jury is out as they say and I need to investigate further before parting with any more money!

Samyang 12mm and SRB Elite

You may have noticed that in my “Going Back” series I’m exclusively using the 12mm Samyang on either the Fuji X-T20 or the full-spectrum X-T1 with a single ND graduated filter in the bag for use when required. That ND grad is from the SRB Elite range which I wrote about briefly in Aparil 2017. So, an ideal time to update the post.

© Dave Whenham
Samyang 12mm with SRB Elite holder and ND graduated filter

At the time I said:

So long as the filter holder is ABSOLUTELY square then there is no vignetting visible in the viewfinder. When the filter holder is turned even slightly off-true then there is a little bit of vignetting but I sense that it would be very easily corrected in post.

Looking at the RAW files on the computer there is a tiny amount of corner vignetting visible, more so with the lens wide open than stopped down but it is nothing to be majorly concerned about in my view – if needs be I might frame a fraction wider than I need and crop in later.

Caveat: I’ve not properly tested this “in the field”; this was a “quick and dirty” visual inspection stood in my front garden pointing the camera at a bright blue sky

Well, having now used the combination over the last three days I can report that my initial findings were spot on. I’ve mainly been shooting at f8 and with care I’ve not encountered any problems. Trying to change orientation quickly and realign the filter can be problematic, and I have several darkened corners for my troubles, but so far when I’ve taken time to line the holder up properly and check the corners of my frame I’ve not had any major problems.

© Dave Whenham
Top left and bottom right (hidden by shadow) show what happens when the filter holder is not aligned exactly.

My original thoughts, that I would use the Lee 100mm filter system for any extended outings with the Samyang 12mm lens hold true. I’m cautious however about using the full sized graduated ND filters as the small surface area of the Fuji-X lenses means that the larger graduation on the bigger filters can be problematic.

Had I chosen any of my Fuji-X fit  lenses other than the Samyang 12mm then this brief review would I suspect have had no reservations as I’ve found that the build quality of the SRB Elite system is very good and it is very easy to use. The circular polariser screws into the centre of the filter holder (as does the ten-stop ND filter)  and having played with it a bit more I’m finding it easy to fit and remove now I’ve got the knack. 

© Dave Whenham
Wells-Next-the-Sea

Incidentally, I mentioned before some reservations with using the ten-stop ND filter with ND grads. Well, I have made a very quick experiment this evening and by opening the lens up to f2 and fitting the 10-stop Elite filter I can see enough of the image on the Fuji X-T20s EVF and LCD screen to align a graduated filter. Given the depth of field with this lens when its closed down to f11 focusing is not really an issue but as a matter of course I would focus before adding filters anyway and the focus ring is firm enough to stay put when changing apertures.

© Dave Whenham
Samyang 12mm lens with SRB Elite polariser

All in all I think the SRB Elite range is an affordable alternative to some of the more expensive filter systems on the market which I can use without reservation with my Fuji kit and with care it can even be used with the ultra-wide Fuji-fit Samyang 12mm.

Bluebells & Nikon musings

I’ve taken several thousand images in the last month or so and looking back, if we exclude drone shots, all but around thirty were shot with one of my Fuji cameras. This morning then, when I decided to go and visit the bluebells, I consciously took the Nikon DSLR. I have to confess I almost popped the Fuji bag into the car as well but was strong and went out sans-Fuji.

© Dave Whenham
Nikon D800E Nikkor 14-24 @ 24mm.

I took the Nikon body, three lenses (14-24, 24-70 and 70-200), spare battery and a couple of filters. The first thing I noticed was the bag I needed was three times bigger than the one I’ve been using (with two Fuji bodies, four lenses and filters etc) and the second was the weight. Arriving at the car park and walking the short distance uphill to the woods I really noticed the weight. Now to be fair I would usually use a backpack with the Nikon gear so the large shoulder bag was always going to feel slightly less comfortable.

© Dave Whenham
Nikon D800E Nikkor 14-24 at 16mm.

The lack of use showed very quickly once I’d got the camera on a tripod but happily muscle memory returned very quickly and I was soon shooting happily and intuitively. I even got the 14-24 f2.8 lens out for a spin too, something I haven’t done for a very long time it seems.  After those first five fumbling minutes I settled quickly into the old rhythm and it’s fair to say thoroughly enjoyed the hour in the woods with just the Nikon and its “Holy Trinity” of lenses.

© Dave Whenham
Nikon D800E Nikkor 70-200 at 105mm.

The 70-200 is probably my favourite of these three lenses especially for landscapes. Indeed, the 14-24, which I bought for landscape work, rarely gets used for those purposes these days as I’ve slowly adopted a more intimate approach to landscape shooting. I still shoot wider scenes but generally the wider end of the 24-70 lens gives me everything I need. When I sold my Canon gear, accumulated over twenty years or more, and moved to Nikon I was not in a position to replicate the system item for item. I needed therefore to carefully consider my purchases and ended up buying the three lenses already mentioned along with the D800E and D7100 bodies and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. To be fair this has proved to be more than adequate and although I have added a 300mm f4 to the mix I generally only travel with the two bodies and four lenses I originally purchased.

© Dave Whenham
Nikon D800E Nikkor 14-24 at 24mm.

Looking at the images I took with the 14-24 this morning, apart from the ones of the tree canopy all the others are at 24mm which perhaps illustrates the point very well. For a day out I could manage nicely with just the 24-70 and 70-200 lenses in the bag.  Where I use the 14-24 mostly I think is for urban shoots; but not street photography as it’s rather an eye-catching piece of glass.

© Dave Whenham
Nikon D800E Nikkor 70-200 at 200mm.

Incidentally, you may have noticed that there is just a hint of the titular bluebells in these images. Two reasons, partly I was late going out so the sun was higher in the sky than I’d have liked but mainly because the bluebells themselves are only just starting to appear. It seems that the weather has put everything back a bit and it may be another week or so before the bluebells appear in the dense patches I enjoyed last year. When they do the macro lens will join the kit bag in place of the 14-24 as I have a few more creative ideas I want to try when the conditions are right.

© Dave Whenham
Nikon D800E Nikkor 70-200 at 122mm.

One thing that always surprises me almost is when I get the D800E files up on my computer screen. At 36mp from a full frame sensor they are much bigger than the 24mp files from the Fuji X-T20 or the 16mp files from the X100t and X-T1 crop-sensor cameras. The detail is immense and each time I look at a well-exposed, properly focused and sharp image its as if I am seeing the detail for the first time all over again. It’s one of the reasons why I cannot yet relinquish my Nikon system despite the huge weight difference compared to my Fuji kit. For example, I can carry the 24mp Fuji X-T20 with three lenses covering 12mm-200mm (18mm-300mm in full-frame terms) along with the infrared-converted X-T1, spare batteries and filters and fit all these in my smallest backpack, a Camlink sling bag measuring just 40 x 24 x 23.5cm.  Despite this, for as long as I am physically able to carry the Nikon gear I shall be keeping it!

As for the bluebells, I will return to this spot regularly over the coming weeks. For an overcast or misty day the perfect time will be around sunrise or just after at this time of the year, which means leaving the house at 5:45am. On a bright day I suspect that later in the day, around teatime or even towards sunset, will work best but I’ve yet to test this theory. The only issue with an evening shoot is a practical one; I park in the carpark of a local restaurant and whilst they have no objections first thing in the morning I can see them being less happy when I’m taking up a space that could be used by a paying diner! I shall take a drive down one evening though to test this theory out properly and investigate alternative parking.

Downsizing?

I’m still not fit enough to yomp around woodland or moorland but I’m taking more interest in life, am much more active and have even started thinking again; or that half-baked process that passes for thought in my universe.

6 frames stitched in PS.Tripod mounted
A six-frame panorama

Today I’m ruminating on gear. Not surprising as I recently had to close down and empty my darkroom so it could be used as a bedroom for the ever growing tribe of grand children living at Whenham Towers. Room has been found in the spare (or guest as my wife calls it) bedroom but not as much room as I enjoyed in my, now ex, darkroom. So, it appears that I’m in the process of down-sizing as I believe the modern term for having a good clear out is nowadays. I’ve already carted one black bag of rubbish, or at least newly-categorised-as-rubbish, to the local tip but still have too much for the available space. I know it’s procrastinating but I’ve stored two boxes of stuff under the desk rather than sort it out. It won’t fool the Boss forever but until she does spot it I can put off the inevitable for just a bit longer (if I’m being realistic she’s already spotted it but is waiting to see if I sort it of my own volition).

© Dave Whenham
Jusst the camera and a lens – nothing from the many boxes of odds and ends I possess was used in making this simple image.

But why procrastinate? Cerebrally I know that much of it will never be used again, at least not by me, nor will it be of much use to others. I have a huge box of Cokin filters for instance that I once gave away to a fellow photographer. Eighteen months later, convinced of the value of on-camera filtration, he upgraded to Lee filters and returned them! Not only that he’d added to the collection too in those eighteen months so the box floweth over.

The trouble is that in the past I’ve been too quick to declare items no longer required and then subsequently regretted it. The most obvious example was the 1000+ vinyl LPs, some of which I sold and some of which I gave away when I no longer had room for a turntable.  I was lucky that around fifty of my absolute favourite LPs went to a good friend who when he heard I’d bought a new turntable kindly returned them to me. But I still have nightmares about the other 950+ which represented my teens and early twenties more acutely than any diary or even photograph could.

© Dave Whenham
Buckstones Edge – I’m looking forward to yomping around this location again soon.

It’s not just personal possessions I’ve hoarded in the past. When we moved up north I left behind a collection of left over timber that would have filled a skip, indeed probably did fill a skip (I left it for the new owners with a note saying that I hoped it would be of use. The three biscuit tins laden with screws, nails and nuts and bolts made it on to the removal lorry and are still sitting on the shelf where I placed them sixteen-plus years ago upon moving into this house.

But I digress, I’m supposed to be talking about photography gear or at least my aversion to throwing out or passing on anything. I think the biggest problem is that some, a very small some it has to be said, of these accumulated items have proved useful at times. Take the two tripod heads from cheapo tripods. When the legs inevitably collapsed I salvaged the heads, themselves cheapo pieces of kit, and put them away “just in case”. Last week these came in very handy as makeshift flash stands when playing with the SplashArt kit. Small enough to sit in the midst of everything, robust enough to hold the flash unit and not likely to be over taxed in the process.

© Dave Whenham
Two hoarded tripod heads DID come in useful in the making of this image.

I wasn’t sure where this blog post was going when I started, and I’m not sure where it’s got to now I’m almost finished but one thing I do know is that the boxes still need sorting and it’s only a matter of time before senior management get on my case!

Waiting for the Light …

[spoiler alert]

… that doesn’t come.

An unscripted video filmed and shot at Buckstones on Marsden Moor a couple of days ago. It’s all new material but if I’m honest none of what I captured that day is likely to feature in a “best of” compilation, unless it’s the best of the worst!

I chose to record the voiceover totally spontaneously because I wanted to see if the narration sounded more natural as a result. I think it does. It also has a consistency from being recorded in one “take” although I must remember to stop turning my head away from the lav mic to retain a consistent volume. I’ve tried to adjust as necessary but getting it totally right at the time would have given a better result.

With the light not playing ball it was a bit of a let-down photographically. However, it was an excellent learning exercise as I wanted to ensure that everything (apart from titles and music) was produced from the one visit. So stills, video, drone footage and time-lapse sequences were all shot that morning. The voiceover was recorded stood next to the tripod, so some of the ambient background noise was picked up underneath the narration so to speak. Even the shots of the Pluto Trigger and Turnspro were created on location.

I also got to ramble about two pieces of kit that I have acquired in the last eighteen months and had cause to regret not taking a hat. The newest purchase, just last week, is a Turnspro for rotating the camera during a time-lapse (or even a video shot) and the other is the Pluto Trigger which I’ve had a long while now.

Pluto Trigger
https://www.turnspro.com

Intro/Outro Music: “Easy Lemon” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Fuji X-T1 vertical battery grip

(C) Dave Whenham
Image captured with Fuji X-T20 and 55-200 lens, manually focused with lens wide open 

Not a review of the Fuji X-T1 vertical battery grip as such but a brief update as it is pertinent to my evolving experience with the Fuji system. The X-T1 has gradually evolved into my main “serious” camera and I have previously commented on the button placement of the AF-L button which I use for back button focusing. No need to rehash the benefits but suffice to say I’ve found the placement a little too far too the right of the camera for intuitively finding it without looking at the camera. A £12 after market grip with built in Arca Swiss trIpod plate made some positive difference to the overall handling experience but had no impact on my ability to find the AF-L button instinctively.

i have always resisted the vertical battery grips for the Fujis, partly due to the price but largely because I bought into the system for its smaller form factor and lighter weight. I am however well aware of the benefits of vertical grips using them on both my Nikon bodies and indeed have used them on every DSLR I’ve owned over the years. I had the opportunity to purchase a mint condition Fuji grip however for an excellent price this week and on an impulse (no doubt GAS fuelled) bought it. It’s arrived this morning and I have to say it’s exceeded my expectations.

Taking off the grip this morning I was still a little unsure if I’d done the right thing as it made a very big difference to holding the camera, especially when not taking pictures.  That the vertical grip is well made will surprise no one and it fitted smoothly and easily. It looks like an integral part of the camera when in place being of the same finish as the X-T1 body. With the extra battery installed it adds surprisingly little to the perceived weight of the camera too. With the 55-200 attached to the body the grip adds that extra bulk which makes the whole set up feel more balanced in the hand.

I’ve just been in the garden shooting both horizontal and vertical format images to get a feel for how well it handles and it is a joy to use. The additional height means that when shooting horizontally the base of the camera nestles into the pad at the base of my thumb making it feel more secure despite the loss of the additional grip on the front of the body supplied by the metal grip I had been using. It doesn’t change the experience of looking for the AF-L button with my thumb as that is still impeded by the built in thumb rest on the camera body.

Vertically though is a different story. The AF-L button on the grip is perfectly placed for my thumb to rest on it whilst my forefinger rests on the shutter button built into the top (end?)  of the vertical grip. This is how I wish the main body was set up. Where the Focus Assist button sits on the main body would have been perfect for the AF-L button and given that, for me at least, the Focus Assist button is only used occasionally and then when looking at the camera, I do feel it could have very easily been swapped. Alas that function cannot be reassigned to another button.

So there we have it. The vertical grip adds extra stability to the body in my hands and makes shooting vertically so much easier. In vertical format back button focusing works like a charm and for the nominal extra weight is a much appreciated improvement. I say “perceived” and “nominal” with regard to weight by the way simply because rather than weigh everything I prefer to focus on what is important which is how the camera feels in my hand and not how far the needle goes around on my kitchen scales.

Which lens is your least used?

Which lens in your kit bag do you use least? Your photo software may well tell you but for me it was an easy question to answer without the aid of the computer when I was asked it on Saturday last. Without a doubt it is the Fuji 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 R LM OIS XF Fujinon Lens.

(C) Dave Whenham
All images Fuji X-T1 and 55-200 lens

So, I set out this morning with the Fuji X-T1 in the bag sporting said 55-200 intending to have a play with this combination after I’d taken some images with the new X-T20 that I was intending to test. Except that’s not how things worked out. I did take a few shots with the new camera but it spent most of its time in the bag with the X-T1/55-200 glued to the tripod and hogging the limelight.

When asked I couldn’t explain why the 55-200 rarely saw the light of day particularly when you consider that the Nikon 70-200 is one of my most used full frame lenses. Having looked at the RAW files this evening though it will be a fixture moving forwards.

 

SRB’s Elite Filter System

After having introduced the Elite system in my blog post on 21st March I did not as hoped get the chance for a proper play with the new system the following weekend. Indeed, I am still waiting!

However, it might be worth sharing a few initial thoughts until I do get a chance to test it properly. With a two week school holiday starting last night the chances of me getting the time anytime soon have evaporated!

© Dave Whenham
Clarence Dock, Leeds – Fuji X-T1, 23mm prime lens and Elite 10 stop ND filter

Build quality is good, it feels robust in the hand and will be more than capable of taking  everyday knocks and bumps. Fitting (screwing) the polariser or ten-stop ND filter into the central part of the holder was slightly tricky until I realised there are two knurled lugs with need to be held whilst screwing the filter in to stop the inner thread rotating. Initially a little fiddly I quickly got the hang of it although I think I will fail miserably at the task with gloves on so it might be a little more problematic in really cold weather. That said the arrangement does seal the holder and filter nicely and I had no irritating internal reflections to deal with. It is not an arrangement for speedy removal of these circular filters though, at least not for me, but in reality how often do we need to “urgently” remove a filter?

© Dave Whenham
Leeds Waterfront, Fuji X100T and polariser

The polariser worked well, and with the usual caveats about not using polarisers on extreme wide angle lenses, I found that being able to clip the filter holder on and off very quickly meant that I used it more than I might have done with a traditional screw-in filter attached directly to the lens. I left the adapter ring on the front of the lens, the polariser was screwed into the holder and when not in use I dropped it in my jacket pocket. As my reader will know I do not do technical reviews, there are plenty of those here on t’web, but assess kit from a practical perspective; how usable have I found it. On this count the polariser worked well, combined with ND graduated filters nicely and from a practicality perspective scored well. The image files look good to me and I will definitely be using this combination on my travels.

© Dave Whenham
Fuji X-T1, 23mm lens and Elite 10-stop ND filter

The 10 stop ND filter works well too and as expected from the reviews I was not unhappy with the colour rendition of this filter. Definitely a warmer colour cast compared to my Lee Big Stopper but I was happy to leave Auto White Balance set and tweak during RAW conversion. Popping the filter holder off to set up and focus the composition was easy and it was then simply a matter of popping it on before taking the shot; no gently easing it down and hoping the gaskets line up with the holder as with the square filter. A very pleasant user experience.

There is a “but” coming however. You sensed that I’m sure! The slightly problematic moment came when I decided to try to tame the extremely bright upper part of the frame with a soft ND grad. Not easy when the ten-stop ND filter is attached – and if you unscrew the ND filter to line up the graduated filter you need to remove the graduated to replace the screw-in filter.  Perhaps I have missed something obvious here (and if I have please tell me) but it was frustrating to say the least. On the day I went out it was very sunny, in fact I had to work around harsh sunlight for most of the afternoon, and I was ably to see, dimly, on the Fuji’s live-screen view and line the graduated filter up reasonably well but not with confidence. On another day when the sun was perhaps not quite as bright I strongly suspect I might have had even bigger problems.

So with that in mind, and bearing in mind this was a quick test on an afternoon when I was mainly using the X100T to take street photographs so not using the filters extensively, how was my initial impression shaped by using the filters? Well, still very positive; it is well-made, well-priced and functions as it should. The niggle about lining up graduated filters when using the ten-stop screw-in filter may or may not be a deal breaker, only time will tell, but as an affordable and efficient entry to the world of filter systems it was a solid purchase.

Postscript:

I had a query this week regarding vignetting with this system on a 12mm Samyang lens. I’ve just quickly put the Samyang on a Fuji X-T1 body to check. So long as the filter holder is ABSOLUTELY square then there is no vignetting visible in the viewfinder. When the filter holder is turned even slightly off-true then there is a little bit of vignetting but I sense that it would be very easily corrected in post. Looking at the RAW files on the computer there is a tiny amount of corner vignetting visible, more so with the lens wide open than stopped down but it is nothing to be majorly concerned about in my view – if needs be I might frame a fraction wider than I need and crop in later. Caveat: I’ve not properly tested this “in the field”; this was a “quick and dirty” visual inspection stood in my front garden pointing the camera at a bright blue sky

If I was taking the Samyang 12mm out for “serious” landscape work I’d take the Lee 100mm filters to use with it.  HOWEVER if you want to travel light then based on this very quick and very subjective and un-scientific test the SRB kit should work well I think. I will certainly not have a problem carrying and using the Samyang/SRB filter combination for urban work when I’m travelling with just what I can fit in my pockets or a very small bag; I use a Fujinon 23mm f2 prime for urban shooting on the Fuji X-T1 with the 12mm in my pocket “just in case”.

The Elite

© Dave Whenham
Elite filter system – from SRB Photographic

After yesterdays musings on internal reflections I stumbled across an advert for SRB Photographic’s Elite filter system.  What makes this system unique to my eyes is the way it deals with the polariser which instead of being bolted onto the front of the holder, as with the Lee system, is screwed into the holder itself.  By doing so it does not allow any light to seep between the adapter ring and the holder.  This also keeps the filter slots of the holder empty to use up to two other filters at the same time. It’s a new concept for me, no doubt others have done the same, but it makes absolute sense. SRB also offer a ten-stop ND filter which also screws into the filter holder,  meaning there is no need for this long exposure filter to use a gasket.

It takes the standard “P” or 85mm square filters, some of which which I do have lurking in my cupboard unused and almost forgotten and as these are larger than the Lee Seven5 filters I’m hoping to largely eradicate the vignetting problem on the 12mm Samyang too.

Looking at online reviews, such as this one from Amateur Photographer magazine, SRB’s ten stop filters have received a largely positive response. The slightly warmer colour cast does not bother me too much as I personally dislike the strong cool cast from the Lee series and in any event shooting RAW means I can tweak this if needed. I could also take a custom white balance at the time if I intended relying on the jpeg files.

So impressed with the concept and with the service I received I’ve ordered the ND filter today along with adapter rings for a couple of my other lenses and I hope to give it a good try-out over the weekend.

Watch this space!

Back button options

IMG_0130

In a previous post I mentioned that the diminutive size of the XT1 was making back button focusing problematic. I thought then and still do think, that with time the necessary muscle memory will develop, but I’m still working on that. As a long term DSLR user (Canon 5D MkIII and Nikon D800E – both now sold) I am very used to the larger form factor and adapting to the smaller Fujis has been a challenge.  Not insurmountable of course but it is probably the biggest challenge for me as I move to embrace the mirrorless revolution.

The third party grip arrived yesterday and as predicted has helped a little but not completely so it’s going to be a case of practice, practice and more practice on that score. As an aside, the £18 front grip from China is well made, fits well and doesn’t look out of place on the camera body.

However, I have found another possible solution buried in the camera manual. What? The camera manual? Who reads those? OK, not me if I’m honest, I stumbled across this whilst idly watching  a YouTube video. It turns out that it is possible to swap the functionality of the AE-L and AF-L buttons meaning that focus can be moved to the AE-L button. I’ve tried it and it works, and best of all it’s an easy change in the main menu.

I’ve kept it “up my sleeve” as the saying goes whilst I continue trying to train myself to use the AF-L button as this is the most intuitive for me but it’s good to know there’s another option available if needed.