Monday, October 24, 2016

How Did The Fuji X-T2 Perform On A 15-Day Road Trip?

Early morning dappled light on a birch with toadstools and orange fern (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 48.5mm; 1/40th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
Looking at the internet and You Tube, there are about 723,000 reviews of the new Fuji X-T2 out there.  So, I won't repeat what everyone else has already said but I wanted to give you my thoughts after using the camera for "my" ultimate test, a long road trip.  I didn't set out to test the camera, but use it as I normally would use any camera during an extensive road trip.

If you don't want to read this entire tome, very simply, the camera performed flawlessly (unlike the photographer at times! LOL). No lockups, no let downs, no unwanted surprises. It just did what it is supposed to do—every time.   The image quality is what I expected (based on my experience with the X-T1) and my expectations are very high.  I sold all of my Nikon and Olympus gear and, with the X-T2 in my arsenal of photographic tools, I don't and won't miss them nor do I anticipate needing them in the future.  In other words, you won't be able to pry this camera out of my hands for the foreseeable future.  I need no other camera for my work.  Your mileage may vary, as they say...

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a Fuji fan boy, I'm a photographer. (if you want to see more of my work, look at my website,  I've posted a new gallery with many of my just completed New England road trip images.  I will be culling them additionally in the next few weeks an leaving only the "keepers" online.)  I've owned and used Nikon, Canon and Leica 35mm camera as well as Pentax, Mamiay and Plaubel Makina medium format cameras, and large format camera systems over the many years I've passionately photographed, both personally and professionally. I'm a "generalist" photographer and photograph in a variety of genres.  I need and use the tools that "fit" me best and the ones that get the job done that I need done.  I am not endorsed by anyone nor do I receive anything free from anyone.  There is no advertising on my blog or website.  I'm not a Fuji X-Photographer.  I love photography and have felt this way since 1970.  That being written, I'm going to gush a bit about what Fuji has given us.

One thing we have to remember.  Great camera bodies in and of themselves are pretty useless without great lenses and accessories to go with them.  That is the beauty of what Fuji has given us—a combination of well thought out and engineered camera bodies to use along with lenses that leave nothing to be desired, when it comes to image quality.

Now, to go on...  I want to relay what worked well and what didn't work well for me in using my six week old Fuji X-T2.  I have made over 2700 exposures so far under a variety of conditions, from bright sunlight to dark interiors, from landscapes to people to fast moving objects such as locomotives/trains and birds in flight.  I've used the camera from the lowest ISO to ISO 6400.  I've used several film simulations, including Acros, as well as RAW.

The Way Forward; Birch Forest Path (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 54.1mm; 1/140th sec. @ f/11; ISO 500
As far as image quality is concerned, I have nothing but praise.  Everything everyone is writing and saying about the X-T2's image quality as being excellent, I have to agree. For the past several years, along with my Fuji X-T1, I've been using a 36mp Nikon D810 and, before that, a 36mp Nikon D800E as well as an Olympus E-M1 and I miss nothing when it comes to image quality with my X-T2. But wait!   You really can't compare 36mp full frame to 24mp APS-C sensor sizes, but I say you can.  Except for certain extreme applications, I haven't found a practical difference in image quality. You may disagree, but your disagreement has to be in the context of extreme enlargements, extremely low light, etc.  Not the 99% of the situations in which each of use X-T2 owners use our cameras.  For practical purposes, the Fuji X-T2 gives me the same (actually better) focusing ability, same image quality and same versatility as my full frame Nikon cameras did.  That is a string statement, but that is my opinion.  Again, your opinion may not be the same as mine, but your photography might not be the same as mine.

I have now sold all of my Nikon and Olympus gear because—drum roll please—I don't need them anymore.  The X-T2 gives me the quality, both technical and visual, I need for stock and personal work and I really see no reason to anticipate buying some other camera in the foreseeable future (unless I just want to play with a certain one and/or test one). The X-T2 satisfies all of my image quality demands—and for stock photography, the demands are high.  When it comes to image quality, It lacks nothing that I need when I professionally or personally photograph.  These statements are huge for me as I was one who never thought 35mm, even Leica, produced images with the qualities I wanted.  The X-T2 is that good, in my book.

The camera never let me down from the brightest sunlit, blue sky day to the dark interior of a locomotive roundhouse photographing black steam locomotives under very marginal light.  I have absolutely no complaints.  The 24mp sensor, as I have written many times over the past few years, is my sweet spot for my stock photography and my stock agency, as well as their partner stock agencies, seem to love the quality of the image files.  I specifically asked an editor to look at the files to ensure they met their professional needs and the editor was very happy with the files I sent.

The X-T2 handles and feels almost identical to the X-T1.  If you have an X-T1, you will not notice much, if any difference.  Even though the camera is slightly larger, it feels just the same.  I love how it feels in my hands.  It fits my hands perfectly.  Being an old-timer, the feel and controls are a throwback to my 35mm film camera days.  It is the type of camera that comes second nature to me.  I really enjoy using this camera body because of how well it fits my hand and how the controls are laid out.  I want to pick it up and use it over any other camera I own.

The controls on the X-T2 are slightly different from the X-T1.  However, if you are used to an X-T1, there is no learning curve.  The way Fuji laid out the controls, from the Shutter Dial to the ISO Dial to the Aperture Dial on the lenses, is perfect.  Fuji gave us 8 function buttons to program and that should meet almost all photographers' needs.  I didn't need any transition time and there were no surprises when first picking up the camera.

Most controls are just fine but there are a couple of comments about others that are really niggles, nothing major, but I think could be improved.  The feature I like the most is the Focus Point Selector, or "joystick" as most have come to call it.  That one feature, to me, makes a world of difference when out making photographs.  I tend to adjust my focus point often and the "joystick" fits right under my right thumb.  Both ISO and the Shutter Speed dials are taller and have a different locking mechanism.  I find the extra height an improvement but I've had issues with the locking mechanism.  Nothing about how it is designed or implemented, just my use of it. I find that if I don't lock the ISO dial, it can easily be moved by bumping it or when putting my camera in or taking it out of my bag.  I now remember to lock it each time.  Not a camera problem, but an operator problem. It comes down to getting me used to the new system.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Maine (from JPEG)  (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm lens @ 16mm; 1/250th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
The Shutter Speed dial is not as accidentally moved, but I now lock that as well. The 4-way pad has a better feel than on the X-T1.  They now have a better "click" to them but I wish their height from the flat plane of the body was just a bit higher.  It is higher than the X-T1, but not quite high enough for me to easily find without taking my eye from the viewfinder.  On my X-T1, I placed Sugru in the shape of the 4-way curved buttons to raise their height above the plane of the body, but since I now move the focus point with the "joystick," I don't think I will need to do that with this camera.

The AE-L and AF-L buttons, the function button next to the Exposure Compensation Button and the function button on the front of the camera also don't rise above the plane of the camera body enough for my liking.  They are the same as was in the X-T1, so I stuck a little round ball of Sugru on each to raise them up a bit.  You wouldn't believe how much of an improvement that is for me when actively photographing and using one of my fingers or thumb to find and push one of those buttons without taking my eye away from the viewfinder.  A little height increase made a big difference for me.  In case you are wondering, the Sugru can be taken off easily without leaving any marks on the buttons.

The viewfinder is just as good if not better than the EVF in the X-T1.  I really enjoying using it and will not go back to a DSLR with an optical viewfinder.  Looking through an EVF still is a bit funky when photographing a fully backlit subject with bright sky in the image. You have to get used to the "look" of the EVF in that situation as the contrast looks a bit strange to me. Also, at 8 fps, there is minimal blackout, not totally eliminated, but certainly workable without losing the position of your subject as you pan with it.  I've photographed several trains coming at me at about 80 mph at a slight diagonal and tracked them easily.  Same with my tests with birds in flight.  No complaints with the EVF.

Lily Pads in Dappled Morning Sunlight (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 119.2mm; 1/450th sec. @ f/8; ISO 400
I did have one issue with the EVF that I didn't expect.  This is an operator issue, not camera issue.  At the "0" brightness level, which is default, I found myself underexposing many of my images.  I normally expose by checking my histogram in the EVF with the camera to my eye, but sometimes I just look at the brightness of the image in the EVF if I want a JPEG ready to go right out of the camera. "Expose to the Right" (ETTR) versus optimum image brightness for SOOC JPEG use.  There is a difference in optimum exposure and optimum "look" right out of the camera.  Optimum exposure is going to produce an image that is too bright SOOC.  I didn't have this issue with the X-T1, but the X-T2's viewfinder is somewhat different.  I'm now experimenting with lowering the brightness of the EVF to -1 or -2 to see if that lower brightness will cause me to reflexively give more exposure when looking at the image rather than just the histogram. I'll let you know in the near future.  Preliminary tests show it seems to be working for me.

The menus are quite comprehensive, easy to read and easy to set up your camera and use.  You won't have to delve into your menus often while out photographing since almost all of the functions you may want to change can be found in the Q-menu or can be set on the function buttons.  That is nice.  The menu structure seems logical to me and I can find things easily, if necessary.  I have one niggle.  I don't like having to go deep into the menu to reformat my memory cards.  According to the User's Manual, there is a way to press two buttons to reformat the cards, but I can't seem to get it to work. However, I'm persistent and I'm going to figure it out.  Additionally, after formatting card 1, it would be nice if the menu returned to the same screen so one can easily and quickly format memory card 2, instead of defaulting back to the "My Menu" logo when one wants to format a second card.  Now, one has to go through the entire deep dive a second time to format the second card. 

Also, I wish any function button could be programmed for every function but it can't. There are some controls that are not included. This stuff is just personal preference stuff.

Hunter Brook Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 71.5mm; 1.8 sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
The Booster Grip was a worthwhile purchase for me.  I find myself using it when I have the 16-55mm f/2.8, 50-140mm f/2.8 or 100-400 f/3.5-5.6 lens attached. It gives the camera a bit of extra weight to nicely balance the heaviness of the lenses.  It is not necessary for balance, but I like it.  Of course, the main reason for buying it is to get the "boost" mode for fast focusing and a higher rate of frames per second.  In those cases, the "boost" mode provides excellence in focusing and the high frames per second rate.

The film simulations continue to be excellent and I don't hesitate to engage any of them for what I believe is an appropriate use.  I normally use Provia.  I like shadow detail so my standard Provia settings include brightening the shadows and increasing contrast in the highlights.  It works well for me.  The Acros is a nice improvement in the monochrome setting as it seems to give a bit more micro-contrast to the images.  Although I like the new Acros setting (it seems to have a bit more overall and micro contrast than the monochrome simulation) and will use it when I need a JPEG out of the camera, I find converting RAW color images into black and white is much more versatile as I can control the luminance and tonality of each individual color much more effectively.  I will probably continue to practice that when I want black and white images.

(If you want to shoot only JPEGs but simulate all of the flexibility one finds in a RAW file, set your film simulation to Pro Neg S, your highlights and shadows as low as they can be set, -2, your sharpness to -4 and your noise reduction to -4.  That will give you a pretty low contrast, relatively unsharp and potentially noisy file, but one that can be fully exploited. You can add contrast but you can't recover shadow detail and lost highlights if your contrast is too high.  You can sharpen an image in your image editing software but you can't "unsharpen" it if already sharpened in the camera.  You can add sophisticated noise reduction but you can't add back the subtle detail that in-camera noise reduction may have removed while reducing noise.  You get my point.  To maximize flexibility, turn every JPEG setting down as far as you can in-camera.)

Only three images for bracketing.  Still a problem.  Not a problem when on a tripod but if you are handholding the camera, it is an issue as the only way to get around this limitation is to take three images, adjust the exposure compensation dial, then take three more images, which will then give you several additional EVs of exposure.  There has to be some technical reasons that goes along with bracketing only three film simulations, three white balance settings, etc. as to why Fuji can't give us more.  On a tripod, it isn't an issue unless your subject is moving.

Focusing.  What can I say?  I can find no fault, only praise, for the improvements made in single as well as continuous focusing with the X-T2.  The focusing is fast and dead on with all of my lenses.  I've used several of the focus tracking settings in the menu.  I've used wide-tracking with great success.  I've used large focusing points and small focusing points. The camera seems to just lock on and stay locked on moving subjects, no matter which ones I photograph.  My hit rate for keeping focus on moving subjects is close to 100%.  That is a big improvement even over my Nikon D810.  I'm sure it doesn't work well in some circumstances, but I haven't found those circumstances in my photography yet.  I will keep pushing the envelope, however, to determine the focusing systems limitations.

Dodge Pickup and Lobster Pots, Bernard, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 40.1mm; 1/950th sec. @ f/8; ISO 400
I've already used the vertical tilt on the LCD.  For my photography, it will be useful, either for vertically oriented photographs with the camera very low or high over my head.  I like it better than swinging out the LCD to the side, as many cameras now do.  It keeps the camera more compact and I find looking at the LCD easier when directly behind the camera rather than to the side.  It is easier for me to get the horizon correct as well as compose exactly as I desire.

I have found that I have slightly changed the method in which I photograph now.  In the past, I almost always used aperture priority, daylight white balance (just for a standard reference as I almost always shoot RAW) and carefully set my ISO for the lowest setting while still achieving the shutter speed I need.  I don't necessarily do that anymore.

When I'm using a tripod, I continue to set the camera as above, except I use auto white balance.  When handholding the camera, I'm now utilize the camera slightly differently.  I now am setting the camera on auto ISO as well, manually setting my shutter speed and aperture to where I want the depth of field to be and what shutter speed I need, then fine tune exposure with the exposure compensation dial.  The difference is, with my kinds of photography using the Fuji X-T2, I don't really worry about ISO anymore and the correct depth of field and shutter speed are more important than ISO to a given situation.  I couldn't do this with my Nikons or Olympus cameras.

In regards to the conversion of RAW files in Lightroom, I no longer see any issues.  No more smudged or smeared greens and no creation of false content, in the way of small, black outlines around hard items such as a pebbly surface, are seen.  I no longer see a need to augment my RAW conversions with another RAW editor.  That is excellent news!  If you are still seeing issues, maybe I need to look closer than 100% on my monitor.  Let me know.

Nubble (Cape Neddick) Lighthouse, York, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16.5mm + Polarizing Filter; 1.2 sec. @ f/4; ISO 200
Since I write this blog and include images in each post, I find the in-camera RAW converter to be of real value.  When traveling, if I don't have my laptop, maybe only my iPad, I can convert a RAW file into a JPEG with the adjustments I need to make for posting.  I have experimented with the in-camera raw converter extensively and I find it versatile a worthwhile feature when needed.

That is about all I can report at this time.  I will continue to use the X-T2 whenever I photograph and I will periodically report back as to my findings, good and bad.  I have an upcoming road trip planned for some fall foliage nature photography.  After the trip, I'll give you some more of my insight into this new photographic tool.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fuji X-T2, A Second Very Useful Feature That Has Largely Gone Unnoticed

Jordan Pond in Early Morning Light, Acadia National Park, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16mm + 10 stop ND filter + polarizing filter; 30 sec. @ f/16; ISO 200
I was able to see, compose and autofocus this image in the EVF, which required 30 seconds of exposure, quite well.
I've discovered another feature in my X-T2 that will prove very useful for landscape photographers, astro photographers and those who may wish to make images over time with very dark neutral density filters.

Try this.  Attach a 10-stop neutral density filter to your lens then turn on the camera and look through it.  You will see your subject.  Not only will you see your subject, the camera will autofocus quite well.  Amazing!

As I was out making landscape exposures on my recent New England road trip, I was using a 10 stop neutral density filter, and sometimes that filter in conjunction with a polarizing filer, giving 11.5 stops of light reduction and, surprise, I could see my image in the viewfinder AND autofocus the image!  That is something I could never do with my digital SLR.  I remember having to set up the camera and compose the image, then attach the ND filter as I couldn't see my subject through it.

With the X-T2, due to the amplification of the incoming light by the EVF, although somewhat dark, I could easily compose, focus and press the shutter with the filters attached rather than compose and focus, then attach the filters, as I had to do with my Nikons.  The beauty is that there is no danger of accidentally changing focus or composition when trying to attach the filters before exposing the image.

Surprisingly, the camera autofocused quite well and accurately without hunting and hesitation.  It wasn't as fast as in bright daylight, but it autofocused in far less than a second.  A nice bonus.

Another great function of mirrorless cameras with large, well made electronic viewfinders.

This camera keeps getting better and better...

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fuji X-T2, A New Very Useful Feature That Has Largely Gone Unnoticed

Twins (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 48.5mm; 1/160th sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 200
In reading the User's Manual for my new Fuji X-T2 (yes, it is a good idea to actually read your gear's user's manual!) I discovered a feature that I believe will become very useful to me and maybe to you as well.  It is a feature that was not available on the X-T1.

This new feature is the "Copy" feature that is available on the top of the second page of the "Playback" menu.  What does it do? The "Copy" feature allows you to copy the images from one memory card to another—in either direction—from card 1 to card 2 or from card 2 to card 1. This can now be done on the X-T2 because of the dual card slots.  Here is how I will use it.

If I'm on a trip and I am restricted as to what I can bring with me, I now have a safety feature in making sure I don't accidentally lose my images.  If I have not, or cannot, take my laptop and the two USB 3.0 bus powered portable hard drives with which I normally travel and to which I normally copy my images for backup, I can use the camera's "Copy" feature to give me the same insurance that my images are backed up sufficiently and won't be lost.  I normally have 8-10 extra memory cards with me at all times (over prepared, maybe?) anyway, so I already have sufficient means in which to back up my files.

If I'm photographing locally and am only out for the day, I will set my card slots on the X-T2 for "sequential," in other words, when one card fills the camera automatically starts writing to the second card.  That also can be done from 1 to 2 or from 2 to 1. However, if I'm on a road trip and am away from home, I normally set my second card as a "backup" card, writing to both cards simultaneously so I have an automatic backup to the images recorded on card 1.  To extend this one more level, I can now take the second card out of my camera, utilized the "Copy" feature and copy all of my images from card 1 to the card I just inserted.  That gives me three copies while in the field.

If I want to reformat the card that normally resides in slot 1 to use again (usually my newest and fastest card), I can take another card and copy to that one as well.  I like to have three copies of my images, all kept in different places, to feel as though there is no danger of losing them.

How fast is the "Copy" feature.  It depends upon which cards you are using as well as the electronics in the camera.  But with a Lexar 2000X card in slot 1 and a Sandisk Extreme Pro cards, rated at 280mb/sec. in slot 2, I was able to copy 136 RAW (losslessly compressed) + 136 JPEG FINE images in 126 seconds to another card in-camera.  (Don't forget to format the card to which you are copying your images in your camera before you execute the copy command.)  That works out to 2.15 images per second.  I can live with that in the field or on a trip.  Fast enough, so to speak, for me.

This feature is extraordinarily useful in the field and I intend on using it when necessary. It is a lot easier to carry several extra SDXC cards with you instead of a laptop, extra hard drives or even one of the small, portable external hard drives that allow you to directly load your images into it without a computer.

Just passing on more good things about the X-T2.  The more I use it the better it gets.  I do suggest reading your User's Manual if you haven't already done so as there are gems in there that go unnoticed which can be very useful to you as a photographer.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lost Images; Lessons Learned

Southeast Harbor, Maine (click to enlarge)
One of the "lost" images, reproduced from the JPEG
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 33.2mm; 1/750th sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
Trouble!  With a capital T!  You know the feeling when you are looking for certain images and you can't find them anywhere.  You know how it feels in your stomach when asking yourself, "what happened to those photographs?"  

As I was editing my images from a recent New England road trip, I was looking for some images I made in a specific location of some specific subjects.  I couldn't find them—anywhere—in my Lightroom catalog, on my laptop, on my 2 backup hard drives and certainly not on my memory cards since the images I was looking for were taken a couple of weeks and several hundred photos ago.  He is my story with some background.

On my recent 15 day road trip I practiced my usual image management system.  My established system consists of setting my camera for RAW + JPEG and using two memory cards in the camera with the second card serving as a backup.  At the end of each day, I import my images into my travel catalog in LIghtroom CC in my laptop, then back up the day's images to two USB 3.0 bus powered 1TB hard drives.  I then keep one backup hard drive with the computer in a backpack and the other hard drive elsewhere so all copies of my images are not in the same place.  Only then, when I have three copies of my images saved in two different physical locations do I reformat my memory cards.  Sounds pretty comprehensive.  I found a flaw.  Let me explain.

Southeast Harbor, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 55mm; 1/600th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
Cropped final image from the "lost" JPEG
The manner in which I catalog my images using LIghtroom CC is by location.  For example, the images I recently made in Maine would be filed under Maine, then a sub-folder for the place in Maine such as Acadia National Park, then a sub-folder for the year (2016), then a sub-folder for the date the images were made (09-28).  That way I can find images based upon first where I made them but I can also search by year and date.  It sounds complicated but it is not as Lightroom creates all of the sub-folders automatically except for the top two tiers (Maine and Acadia National Park, in this example).

Here is the flaw.  If I shoot photos in several locations in one day, I will make multiple imports.  Why?  Because I extensively keyword all of my images for stock purposes.  Part of the keywording is location as clients want to search by location when searching keywords for certain types of images they may want to license. For example, if I make images in Acadia National Park (continuing with the Maine example), Bass Harbor, Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor all in one day, I will make four different imports, each by their location.  As I import the photos from each location, I keyword them.  It is easier for me to keyword all images from a specific location all together rather than go back and individually keyword images later.  However.....

Typical scene in a small Maine Harbor (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 26.6mm; 1/800th sec. @ f/9; ISO 200
Another of the "missing" images I was able to recover
I found as I was going through my images from this last road trip that I couldn't find images I made on the the 28th of September in Southeast Harbor, Maine.  They were not in my Lightroom catalog in my laptop, either backup hard drive nor on my desktop Lightroom catalog.  It became evident that, as I was importing images from several locations that night, either I overlooked and/or forgot to import the images from Southeast Harbor, Maine. That has never happened before.  But there is a first for everything so I need to come up with a strategy for ensuring that this particular mistake doesn't happen again.

Here is what I have decided to do in the future.  I now will initially copy all of my images from the camera's memory card to a folder on my computer, then after all images are successfully copied to my computer will I import them by location into Lightroom from that folder.  This insures that all of my images are now copied onto my computer (either laptop or desktop) and I will leave them there until a future time, after the editing process so that I know that I've imported every one of them. That should negate the issue of feeblemindedness that I sometimes practice at my advancing age.  Hopefully!  LOL

Tools of the Lobster Trade (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens; Cropped from "lost" JPEG
There were only about 20 images, none outstanding but still licensable for stock purposes, but I knew that a few of them were interesting and I was lamenting losing them.  I started to wonder if possibly the images could still be recovered from my memory card even though I had used it extensively over 5 subsequent days, made over 1000 additional images AND reformatted that card at least 7 times since I made the missing images.  The answer turns out to be YES! There IS a happy ending to this story.  I was able to find the JPEGS (I couldn't recover the RAW images but Fuji's JPEGS are so good that it really doesn't impact image quality in this case) and all look very, very good.  I will be able to work with them just fine.

I realize that when one reformats a memory card, the reformatting doesn't erase the contents, just the "table of contents" so it appears the card is empty and the space can be over written with new content.  I was counting on that methodology to see if my images could be recovered.  But I also knew I made many, many images and the area where the lost images resided on the card could have been one of those areas which had been overwritten.  The card in question is a Lexar 2000X 64gb UHS II SDXC card, which works very well in my X-T1 and X-T2.

What image recovery program did I use?  I used a copy of Lexar's Image Rescue 5, which a free copy was included for download with the last Lexar card I had purchased.  I am impressed, to say the least.  In fact, the software recovered 1745 images!  Hard to believe but I'm convinced this software (Lexar) and this card (Lexar) work very well together.

Lesson learned:  Not only does one have to have a comprehensive plan to manage one's images, but it is also important to look for flaws and unintended consequences in one's plan, then ensure you check and double check your procedure before moving on.

In this particular story, there is a happy ending!  Thank you Lexar!

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Road Trip; Part VII, The Wrap Up

White Lake, Adirondack Park, New York (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 140mm; 1/60th sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 400
You know the iconic images of autumn in New England showing the small, white clapboard church surrounded by the countryside full of colorful leaves?  You know the scene.  You've seen them in every image of New England which is taken in the fall.  Well, I wanted to get just one of those but never saw a white, clapboard church that had any color but green around it!  Oh well...

The road trip continues and comes to an end due to Hurricane Matthew.  More on that later.
First Congregational Church, Woodstock, Vermont (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 22mm; 1/680th sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
We drove into Vermont and made a stop in Woodstock.  I'd always heard of Woodstock, Vermont, the quaint small New England town with a variety of shops, general store, churches and slow flowing river. As are many other small, New England towns, Woodstock is full of charm.  Just as I expected.  Not getting my iconic fall foliage photograph of a white New England clapboard church, I did photograph one in Woodstock, albeit with a deep, blue sky in the background.  We also visited Billings Farm and Museum, truly a wonderfully interesting place.

After some time in Woodstock, we traveled to Burlington and Lake Champlain, where we spent the night.  I had been to Burlington before, on business, but it was nice to see it and its surrounds in a leisurely way.  We spent time walking in the downtown just window shopping and enjoying the day.

Billings Farm, Woodstock, Vermont (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 28.3mm; 1/1400th sec. @ f/3.6; ISO 200
As our trip progressed, we decided to drive through the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and I'm glad we did.  Again, we found unbelievable color all across Route 28. The drive was relaxing.  There were almost no other cars on the road.  We traveled through small towns, passed many lakes and looked in awe at every turn as the reds, oranges and yellows just got brighter and more colorful. We spent most of one day driving across the Adirondacks and I wish we had budgeted more time to spend there.  I made some satisfying images and would liked to have wandered more of the back roads of the area.  It would have been nice to stay somewhere in the Adirondacks and catch that really early morning light.  Also, it wasn't on our route, but I would like to have seen Seranac Lake and Lake Placid.  I've seen them in Public Broadcasting documentaries but that doesn't compare to visiting them directly.

Seventh Lake, Adirondack Park, NY (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 42.7mm; 1/50th sec. @ f/11; ISO 800

After thoroughly enjoying our drive through the Adirondacks, we drove south to spend the night in Ithaca, NY.  That would be a staging point for us to visit Watkins Glen and Watkins Glen State Park as well as a visit with my friend, Mike Johnston "The Online Photographer" the next day.
Chairs, Blue Mountain Lake, NY (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 55mm; 1/180th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
I just happened to spot this as I was driving by.  Then the parallel rippled wave, caused by the wind, appeared
making this scene a bit more interesting.  It was a very dull and foggy day and you can see the tops of the trees obscured
by the fog in the background.
Watkins Glen State Park has, if I remember correctly, has 19 waterfalls to which you can walk. However, the cost of seeing all of them cost is climbing up over 800 steps.  We didn't do all of them, but we climbed and I photographed for a couple of hours.  I enjoyed the unique scenery, gorges and waterfalls of the park.  Truly a special place.  Overall, the people of Upstate New York have some wonderful natural areas.

Falls, Watkins Glen State Park, NY (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 25.7mm; 5 sec. @ f/9; ISO 200
We next drove over to see Mike Johnston.  I first started following Mike when he was the editor of Darkroom Techniques Magazine.  It must be more than 20 years ago now.  I've always enjoyed Mike's writing and his thought processes.  His mind works a bit differently than mine and I appreciate him sometimes approaching a subject from a different point of view than my mind works.  We had a nice long conversation in Mike's kitchen, then a tour of his home and some playtime in the back yard for hos two dogs, Butters and LuLu.  Mike offered to drive us to a wonderful lunch in nearby Penn Yan.  Good choice.  Afterward, we went to a Mennonite farmer's market to buy a few things and I saw some of the nicest examples of vegetables and fruit that I have seen in a long time.  
Intimate Landscape, Watkins Glen State Park, NY (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 38.8mm; 2 sec. @ f/16; ISO 200
Finally, we went back to Mike's home and we soon had to depart.  Thank you Mike for your hospitality, conversation, friendship and especially, your writing.  I know thousands around the world enjoy his blog.  I highly recommend "The Online Photographer" for a variety of photographic related items, including the occasional print and book sale.  Mike, to me, is at the heart of the photographic writing industry due to his extensive knowledge, superb writing and thoughtful discourse.  Of course, Mike never writes about billiards!

Now about the hurricane.  We live in southeastern Virginia and were watching Hurricane Matthew's predicted path in our hotel room in the evenings.  The doggone thing kept changing and we were a bit worried about our home.  It had been raining in our hometown almost everyday for the past two weeks and the ground was saturated.  If even moderate winds and more rains came, I was afraid trees would easily blow over.  During Hurricane Isabel in 2003, it did exactly that.  We lost two trees but luckily didn't hit our home.  Each night we talked it over as to where we would go the next day or just head home to protect our property.  The path of the hurricane seemed to change every day.  Finally, I made a command decision just to go home.  So, we left Mike Johnston's home at just after 4 p.m., drove straight home and arrived at 1:09 a.m.  I was glad to get home and I surprised myself by not being tired after being awake for 18 hours and driving over 500 miles.
Mike Johnston, The Online Photographer, at TOP World Headquarters (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 35mm f/2 lens; 1/75th sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
Sorry to quickly wrap up this road trip, but 7 episodes is plenty.  We drove a total of 2718 miles over 16 days.  I made 2722 images (you can double that if you count RAW + JPEGs), saw and experienced some amazing places in New England.  I think what will stick with me the most is the visual aspect of the trip.  That is expected since I am a photographer. The colors of the red of the trees in New Hampshire, western Maine and all across the Adirondack Mountains on Route 28 were like none I've ever seen before.  I want to keep those memories of awe and wonder which reinforce my notion of how unbelievable Mother Nature can be.  I'll continue never to take my environment for granted.

I'll soon be leaving for a week in Great Smoky Mountain National Park for some more wandering and photography.  I'm excited about that road trip as well.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Road Trip; Part VI

Birch, Rock and Orange Leaves, New Hampshire (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 55mm; 1/280th sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 200
After 7 days in and around Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island our time to move on arrived. Our plan was to drive across Maine on Route 3 to Augusta, Route 11 and several other small roads to Route 302 and continue west over to North Conway, New Hampshire. My rule is no interstate highways if I can avoid them.  It was on this cross-Maine route that we saw our first real taste of fall foliage.  It was spotty, but where we did see it, it was intense and grabbed our attention.  Also, it turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive!

North Conway, NH is a typical tourist town with an outlet mall, lots of small retail stores as well as chain store, lots of restaurants and hotels.  Why did I pick North Conway to stay?  It was a Saturday in the autumn in New England and I knew traffic would be heavy with the leaf peepers so I wanted to base our activities for a couple of days in a place where my wife would have plenty to do.  The idea was to stay off the roads, for the most part, for the weekend, then head west on Monday when the weekenders were back at work. Except for some city traffic on Saturday, we had a pleasant two days basing our activities out of North Conway.

On Saturday afternoon, we checked out the area then drove to Cathedral Ledge to watch the rock climbers.  We tried to visit Diana's Baths, which is close by, but it was very crowded and parking along the roadside was at a premium.  We left the hotel early Sunday morning and drove north on Route 16. We wanted to drive to the top of Mt. Washington on its Auto Road.  There is a sign warning potential drivers that if one are afraid of heights, narrow roads with steep dropoffs and no guardrails, don't proceed.  We proceeded anyway.  About halfway to the top of Mt. Washington fog closed in which caused a visibility problem but, on the other hand, we couldn't see how far we would fall if I accidentally drove off the road and careened down the mountainside!  Pros and cons.  Additionally, the paved road ended and we found ourselves driving, for a time, on a somewhat wet dirt and gravel road.  Very interesting drive!

River and Foliage (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 len @ 71.5mm; 1/2.3 se. @ f/11; ISO 400
At the top of Mt. Washington it was completely fogged in, cold and a steady 10 mph breeze caused everything to get wet.  It felt like a gentle horizontal rain except the rain was fog.  There were about 50 people at the top, some even taking selfies with nothing but a foggy background.  On the way up the mountain as well as on the way back down, I stopped several times to make some images of what I felt were interesting and colorful subjects, mainly alpine vegetation.  I would refer the images as "intimate landscapes" since one couldn't see more than 50 feet so there was no possibility of the "grand landscape" that would be available on a clear day from high up on a mountain.

After returning to the bottom of the mountain, I found a creek surrounded by trees with colorful leaves, large expanses of water smoothed rock and interesting compositions, so I spent about a half hour or more making several images.  On my way back up to the car, I noticed across Route 16 where I had parked that there were several compositions that included white birch trees, gray, sharp-edged rocks and other trees of various color.  So, across the road I went to spend some time there as well.  I was pleased with some of the images I made and felt fortunate to find them so close to the roadway.

Alpine vegetation, Mt. Washington, New Hampshire (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 21.3mm ; 1/80th sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 400
We ended up making a large loop north, west, then south and east back to North Conway that day.  There were parts of that drive that were absolutely gorgeous.  I've never seen leaves as brightly colored as I saw in western Maine and eastern New Hampshire.  It was almost as though someone had plugged them into an electrical outlet and turned on the power.  Some of the leaves looked fluourescent pink!  The reds were spectacular.  They were the brightest reds I have even seen on leaves.  We have nothing to compare to the intense colors in Virginia.  Our reds are much darker and more subtle.  The colors are something I won't forget.

I found an interesting phenomenon when editing my photos of the highly saturated leaves. The leaves were so saturated, the Fuji's X-Trans sensor, set for Provia + RAW and with no additional color added in the menu, couldn't handle the level of saturation as the images came out of the camera. They leaves were just blown out with color, not brightness, and one couldn't see detail in the leaves due to oversaturation. I had to turn the saturation for the reds down a bit to recover detail in the red leaves.  Interesting.  I"ve seen detail lost when using the Nikons in the past when turning up saturation too high, but never have seen it lost right out of the camera.  I can imagine using the Velvia preset would have made it much worse.  

Creek, New Hampshire (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 35.3mm; 10 sec. @ f/11; ISO 400
On Monday, we headed west on the Kancamagus Highway toward Vermont.  Equally beautiful as the day before, we enjoyed the intensely colorful fall foliage at every turn. Monday was a pleasant drive as we had the road to ourselves almost the entire drive.

When we left New Hampshire, we were headed to Woodstock Vermont.  I always wanted to see the quaint little town of Woodstock, based upon its reputation.

One more road trip tome, then back to other topics.  Thanks for coming to my site.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Road Trip; Part V

Hunter Brook Beach in Acadia National Park (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 140mm; 1/3 sec. @ f/16 + 6X ND filter; ISO 200
This beach was unique in the aspect that it was all rounded rocks and pebbles, unlike the typical rocky shore of Maine

The New England road trip continues and it just gets better and better!  The combination of my wife and I together enjoying our exploration to many new and interesting places, the cooler and drier weather (I'm not a hot weather person), the emerging fall color and the Fuji gear all make this trip a joy.

Our time in and around Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park has come to an end.  I made some nice images (my opinion, of course) and we enjoyed our time in Maine.  We now drive west to spend a few days in New Hampshire and the area of the White Mountains.

Lobster Pots and Buildings, Bernard, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 27.4mm; 1/60th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
The X-T2 is working very well for me.  I am enjoying using it.  The camera's controls and menus allow me to change settings and not break my concentration on making images. However, I have identified a couple of nits to pick.  Just minor things that could easily be fixed, in my opinion, but may not even be a concern for others. The one that has my attention is the diopter adjustment dial.  Either as I place the camera in my bag or as I am using it, the diopter adjustment wheel is often moved from the position to which I set it.  It is a bit startling to look though a viewfinder, half-press the shutter button to autofocus and nothing seems to come into sharp focus!  The first time it happened I thought it may be my eyes (I did have a bit of an eye problem earlier this year which resulted in blur) but then I realize the diopter adjustment has moved.  Nikon has a nice system that Fuji might emulate.  To adjust the diopter on my last two Nikon cameras one pulls out the knurled knob, turns it to the appropriate position, then pushes it back in where it locks.  Very simple and elegant.  No worries about unexpected changes which could result in missed images if one is working fast.

We ate well all week.  We enjoyed some fine meals in several local restaurants on the island.  Paddy's, Galyn's, Side Street Cafe, West Street Cafe, The Asticou Inn (where we had some lovely popovers and strawberry jam) and could not seem to walk by Mt. Desert Ice Cream whenever we passed it.  Either location.

On to photography.

Bernard, Maine Lobster Pot Floats (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16mm; 1/70th sec. @ f/11; ISO 400
I like the light in Acadia.  Early morning light is clear, warm and enveloping.  As the morning progresses the light retains its lovely quality.  I don't know if it is because it is the fall time of the year when days are shorter and the humidity is down, thus giving what I call a "purer" light (less atmospheric moisture the less water vapor affects the various color light waves and the more pure the light) or it is that way all of the time.  I just know I like its quality.  The issue is shooting with auto white balance and the camera wanting to neurtralize that warm light.  Set your camera on the daylight setting and it will stay warm.

Boats moored in harbor between Tremont and Bernard, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 17.6mm; 1/480th sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
Another thing I like about Acadia and the region is the diversity of subject matter.  Even though I live very close to the coast in Virginia, the scenery, industries, historical structures are much different than ours. 

If you plan on photographing nature in Acadia, I am told August is peak month for visitors so you might want to go, as we did, in September.  Also, start early in the morning as people flock to the park after 9 a.m.

However, as much as I enjoyed time photographing nature, the ocean and shorelines and the other treats Acadia provides to us photographers, I enjoyed photographing the myriad of man-made subjects that equally caught my interest.  I loved photographing around the buildings, boats and infrastructure that supports the fishing and lobster industry.  Lobster pots, old weathered buildings, boats in harbors, a lighthouse or two, rows of coiled ropes, colorful lobster pot floats attached to walls, etc., all are interesting fodder for the observant photographer.  One just has to get out, got down back roads, side streets, out onto docks (asking permission of course) and use the vision you were given to turn just about any scene into an interesting photograph.  There were interesting photographs everywhere I turned.

Reeds and Lily Pads in the Tarn outside of Bar Harbor, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 63.4mm; 1/210th sec. @ f/11; ISO 400
Also, I would recommend visiting, along with Acadia National Park, Bass Harbor, Tremont, Southwest Harbor, Southeast Harbor, Bar Harbor, Thuya Gardens, Cadillac Mountain and the hiking trails through the Park.  That list doesn't include all of the small towns and harbors south of Acadia that are just as beautiful.  

The lens I used most in Acadia and surrounds was the 16-55mm f/2.8.  Second to that was the 50-140mm f/2.8.  On occasion I used the 10-24mm f/4 lens when I needed the expansive field of view and, when my friends climbed the Precipice Trail, I pulled out the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 + 1.4x tele-converter. But the 16-55 is the "bread and butter" lens for sure.  The focal lengths cover 85% of my work, the lens is sharp even wide open and it is not too big or heavy to carry with me at all times.

Bar Harbor Harbor (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 140mm + 1.4x tele-converter; 1/320th sec. @ f/11; ISO 400
Finally, Acadia is the type of place in which you must return over and over to get a deep appreciation of all it has to offer.  Seven days there can't do justice to its potential.  It is the kind of place that I think would grow on me as I felt "at home", relaxed, calm, and serene in its surrounds.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16mm; 1/220th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
I had to make a tourist type image of an iconic Maine lighthouse.  Wrong light, wrong time of day
but good location.  It was a real challenge climbing down on these rocks with camera and tripod to make this image.
Next entry I will have some narrative and images from New Hampshire.  Come back and see what I found.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy! 

Dennis A. Mook 

All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.