Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema: Blog http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog en-us Copyright 2017 Leigh Miller leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:06:00 GMT Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:06:00 GMT http://www.leighmiller.ca/img/s/v-5/u544495160-o555293696-50.jpg Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema: Blog http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog 120 80 Small Camera, Big Picture PT.4 | Fujifilm X-Pro2 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/small-camera-big-picture-pt-3-fujifilm-x-pro2 Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-Pro2 W/XF10-24mm F4 R OIS | ISO200 10MM F/10 1/210 sec


Moraine Lake is a short drive away from the more celebrated Lake Louise but well worth a visit. Get there as early as entry allows, it fills up fast with tourists and you will be fighting for a parking space and a clear shot of the lake. The distinctive colour is due to light refraction off the rock flour that's deposited from the glacial run-off.

It's really "that" colour...I didn't enhance it in anyway beyond raising the exposure and some minor colour correction.

For the shot I've used the Fujifilm Provia Film Simulation as my base for the editing.

This image is what I call a "One Shot Wonder"

It was a heavily overcast day and I was able to fit the entire scene within the dynamic range of my Fujifilm X-Pro2. In brighter conditions I might have had to use a Neutral Density Grad filter in order to tame the sky. As it was, a Polarizer would have helped to take some of the glare off the water. I could have also bracketed shots and blended the exposures later on....too much work though, I just wanted to enjoy the moment. It's an incredibly serene place to visit.

Screenshot


Post-Processing done in Adobe Lightroom CC for global adjustments & Photoshop CC for selective sharpening

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) adobe alberta canada fuji fujifilm fujifilm x-pro2 gear landscape mirrorless moraine lake photographer photography post processing provia travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/small-camera-big-picture-pt-3-fujifilm-x-pro2 Sat, 18 Nov 2017 04:03:19 GMT
Staying Motivated http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/staying-motivated


I recently shared a drink with an executive type on a flight. Really nice guy who had his head buried in a laptop screen full of numbers. After about an hour into the flight he looks over at me and asks about the photography mag I was reading. We got to talking and he pops the usual set of questions..."Can you actually make a living doing that" and "How do you stay motivated in a job like that". I shot the same question back at him...crickets. He did say the money...the money as a way of measuring progress/advancement but the passion for what he's doing is long gone. Now with a couple of kids in university and all the other trappings of life motivation is only about staying one step ahead of that avalanche.

The first question is easy but that second one I've avoided for a long time. I get asked that a lot and until now, never really had a satisfactory answer. I'm also not sure if people who ask aren't conflating motivation with inspiration which is easier. 

Inspiration comes easy...I'm pretty much in amazement at just about everything. Imagine if you woke up everyday like that.

I grew up in a small town. The four corners of my family's property was my entire world until age 7 when my folks decided to change the scenery. Our new digs gave me a severe case of sensory overload that's remained constant for over 35 years. 


Just to give you a small idea of what my year looks like...10-15 weddings, lot's of portraits, events and a good sprinkle of commercial assignments. Add to that a rising interest in video from my clients. A good percentage of that work is pretty cookie cutter stuff. Wash, Rinse and Repeat. While I do have some leeway to inject a little creative license from time to time I generally stick to the numbers.

Weddings and Lifestyle portraits are different. They can be fun and creatively engaging but make no mistake about it, it's lot's of work and by the end of the season I'm ready to move unto other things for awhile.

So how do I stay motivated?

I've never thought of myself as a good person to say much on the subject of motivation. I love waking up and catching a sunrise or dropping everything to watch the sun go down. I'll stay up late after everyone else goes to bed just to listen to the rain falling without any other human sounds. I'm naturally chatty...love meeting new people and discovering what they are all about especially if they are artists or craftsmen of some kind. I also don't look at work as something I have to do. Regardless of what job role I've had it's always been like my own business. I do it well and consistently and it provides me with a home full of creature comforts etc. I cannot recall a single time when I've woken up and thought "damn, I've gotta go to work".

I'm not sure if "luxury" is the right term but maybe the reason my motivation level stays fairly stable is due to the fact that i have my hands in a variety of things which aren't directly tied into my daily work. I enjoy Landscape & Macro Photography though those two genres don't contribute a lot to my bottom line. They feed my curiosity while helping me relax and enjoy nature. Maybe that's the key...having outlets other than your main interest/work.

BTW...I'm well aware that not everyone has the ability to develop those outlets for whatever reasons. This is just what works for me.

I struggle to explain it most of the time but I came armed with some good examples. Two people...different motivations.

EX. NO. 1

James Brown. Even if you don't dig his style of music check out the documentary "Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown". I believe it's showing on Netflix now even though that's not where I saw it originally. He's got a ton of nicknames (Mr. Dynamite, The God Father of Soul, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business...etc). He was also one of the first African-American entertainment millionaires. This was in the 60's when being African American wasn't automatically paired up with success and wealth. When asked by an interviewer what motivated him, Brown summed it up in one sentence.."I was hungry and I wanted to eat". Just that...survival. All those decades of screaming, shaking and grooving was so he didn't have to be that hungry kid abandoned by his parents. Money can be a powerful motivator.

EX. NO. 2

Gry Garness. This one hurts. I ponied up the cost of her workshop and plane/hotel ticket all the while thinking it better be worth it. It was. I learned more in a single day than a year of retouching on my own. I along with others in attendance felt her passion for photography and retouching but I didn't realize just how motivated she was until a few years back when she announced her cancer diagnosis. She's gone now but right up until then she laboured through pain and uncertainty to pour everything she knew about the business into a complete course. I still have that on my bookshelf. If you have ever been close to someone suffering from cancer it's real easy to understand just how committed and motivated she must have been to do that.

So the closest thing I can deliver to an answer is this...what motivates me is a challenge. As long as photography remains a challenge I'll probably never give it up. Everything has been painted, photographed, written about etc. so the challenge is to raise the bar with my own interpretation of the work. Here is the thing though, I don't think we are designed to be inspired or motivated all the time. For myself I can say that days, weeks sometimes months go by where I hardly touch my camera. I really believe you just have to roll with it. Everyone needs a break even if it's just to recharge and refocus. Put down the camera and do something else for awhile. I'm teaching myself the harmonica right now..five months in I can almost allow other people to hear me hack away at it.

Obviously if photography is your full time job the opportunity to just tune out isn't there. You have to pay those bills but it's not unlike my executive friend on the plane. He may not always be inspired but having a lot of people depending on you provides the motivation to power through.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) fuji fujifilm motivation photographer photography portrait travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/staying-motivated Sun, 12 Nov 2017 23:49:07 GMT
Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR | Review http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/fuji-xf80mm-f2-8-r-lm-ois-wr-review Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujinon XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens


It's been about a month since Fujifilm has launched the XF80mm Macro lens and I've gotten a production copy to work with for this review. For comparison purposes (for myself mostly) I'm including a mix of images from the Pre-Production lens as well. I can definitely see some refinement in the output of the production lens and it would be interesting if you might be able to spot the same.

One major change I've made isn't gear related. I've stopped sharpening Fujifilm RAW files in Adobe Lightroom CC. Although there are operational improvements to the application I'm still leaving a lot of "image quality" on the table in the sharpening area. My previous workflow got me close (globally) but at pixel peeping distance I still see a bit of smearing/waxing/squiggly worms. I'm convinced that this is limited to the way Lightroom sharpens. However, I didn't stray too far. Sharpening now takes place in Adobe Photoshop CC and you should definitely try this method:

  1. Export your RAW file image to Adobe Photoshop CC
  2. Click on the FILTER menu and select SHARPEN
  3. Click on UNSHARP MASK
  4. When the UNSHARP MASK dialogue box opens enter 150 for the AMOUNT, 1 for the RADIUS, and 1 for the THRESHOLD
  5. Click OK to return to the image

You can then review the image to see that it's to your satisfaction and maybe even mask it so that you can selectively apply the sharpening to the image. After years of trying different work-arounds to Lightroom this seems to be the best (for now).


For those who don't like to read long articles I'll give you a spoiler alert.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca This lens is amazing and I thought as much when the pre-production copy was in my possession. The focusing is fast and smooth..and very accurate. The colour and contrast is spot on and the output images whether RAW or JPEG are sharp and full of detail. If you are shooting JPEG in camera you have lot's of flexibility for making edits to the image and of course the imaging system will take care of vignetting, chromatic aberration etc. I have no complaints with the JPEG output. If you are shooting RAW, Adobe Lightroom CC also takes care of the previously mentioned items as the lens profile data is built in. Shooting RAW of course just gives you more editing options without making permanent changes to the file itself.

The image stabilisation works as advertised..really well. I've pulled off shots at 1/5 seconds (with practice) handheld and it seems to work well enough even on a tripod without turning it off. The water resistance definitely works. As I write this the rain is pouring down in my part of Canada cutting short my hike in cottage country but not before I got soaked to the skin. The lens...and camera are fine but my new Kanati-Print camo outfit is hanging over the heater.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca And here is what you are waiting for...it's sharp. Sharper than the pre-production copy. That may be a placebo effect messing with me but I do like the new images..there is more "bite" to the in-focus areas. Also the out of focus areas are definitely smoother. I'm not sure yet just how much of that is due to my new sharpening method but the pre-production copy could be a little busy in some shots. 

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

OOF shot of the city lights off my balcony at F2.8

Compared to the XF60mm F2.4 Macro...this is literally night and day. Faster focusing, Sharper to my eyes with improvements to the colour and contrast. I'm also seeing a big difference in the micro-contrast..fine hairs and textures are definitely being rendered better. The OOF areas are much smoother...the XF60mm Macro is busier. I'm keeping the XF60mm though. It's still a very nice lens in that focal length.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF60mm F2.4 R Macro | F4, 1/220, ISO200

Compared to the GF120 F4 MF Macro..wow. Almost identical in every way except the XF80mm focuses faster. After-all, there is less glass to move. The sharpness and organic image rendering of the medium format lens is right there in the XF80mm. Big praise because that GF120 lens sold me on the new system format. The colours aren't "hyper" or loud...very natural feel. 

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

GF120mm F4 R LM OIS WR | F4, 1/60, ISO100


Now for the rest of you...

Portraits are a big part of my work and I've been using macro lenses (telephoto) for that for years now. I just love the way a good macro lens renders skin texture and hair. Even stopped down with every wrinkle or other flaw revealed my clients prefer those images to ones shot with a regular telephoto lens. It's just an extra step to dumb unwanted texture down in editing but I prefer to start with a nice crisp image. It's very hard to create good details from a muddy image.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

F5.6, 1/80, ISO 800

The image above was shot in natural light at a higher ISO than I prefer for close-up shots but it works. The hair is well defined and her skin detail is amazing. I retouch most of my portraits but it was light in this case for a few blemishes. I didn't bother with the noise reduction at all.

XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR MacroXF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR MacroLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

My Balcony View of The City | F8, 30 sec, ISO 200

I usually don't use a macro lens for shooting long distances. Most are designed for close-up work but the XF80mm does a fine job. This was a long exposure so a tripod was used in concert with the built-in timer of my X-T2. The image is a near zero-adjustment RAW file which I first chose the PROVIA colour profile and sharpened in Adobe Photoshop.

XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR MacroXF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR MacroLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Lorenzo Marida Spitfire Pipe | F2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO200

In the image of my Spitfire pipe the focus at F2.8 was on the logo. I purposefully places some items around it to demonstrate how smooth the out of focus areas are on this production copy. This is another near zero-adjustment RAW file...just a little tweaking and sharpening.

XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR MacroXF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR MacroLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

F8, 1/50 sec, ISO200

I love watches and clocks...though I don't wear or carry one. I keep a box of old ratty ones in my closet to test lenses with. If I can feel the grit while looking at an image, the lens is a success. This particular shot is handheld at a shutter speed I wouldn't normally attempt with a macro lens without image stabilisation. Keep in mind...this is a 120mm effective lens. I've done other shots with this same setup but with addition of a tripod and they aren't any sharper at the point of focus. Super stable for handheld work.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Cropped | F5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO400

The dragonfly is an aggressively cropped image that I initially rejected. I just couldn't get close enough to the critter to fill the viewfinder and I hate cropping on macros (even though it's a fact of life). However when I took another look at 100% the fine details just jumped out at me. I cropped in to see if they would hold up on an 8X10 print...guess what, perfect print and I'm sure I can go larger.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

F2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO200

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

F3.6, 1/200 sec, ISO200

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

F8, 1/160 sec, ISO200

The above three (3) images were shot at low shutter speeds for moving subjects and at various apertures. The last image was actually shot, employing a tripod and stopped down to F8...all sharp. You can get away with a lot by combining a little patience with the built-in image stabilisation system. I should also mention that they are from the pre-production copy...I think the production unit is even better.

Summary

Forget about the promise of small, light lenses that the mirrorless revolution offered. Just about every single premium glass I've seen in the past three (3) years has been pretty hefty and the XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR is no different. That much exotic glass, plus the linear motors and stabilisation system adds up to a lot of tech that you can only miniaturize so much. I feel it in my gear bags..not gonna lie. It's nowhere near as heavy as my old DSLR kit but I thought we would be further along 5 years later.

That said, it's worth every penny for the sharpest lens in the Fujifilm lineup that does double duty for macro, portraits...etc. The OIS system has come a far way and it just works. Most of the time I don't even take notice of it even in low light. The build quality is definitely top-shelf. Nothing wiggles, nothing makes odd sounds while carrying it and the finish material feels great in hand. I'm a big fan of the wide focus ring which has just the right amount of dampening. The included lens shade is a nice touch.

The decision to buy this lens is really user driven. If you only do portraits then there are other (less expensive) lenses in similar focal lengths (XF90mm F2) which may suit you better. If like me you need the "extra"...close focusing, image stabilisation etc. this lens is now the only way to go.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) adobe close up photography fuji fuji xf80mm f2.8 r lm ois wr fujifilm fujinon gear macro mirrorless photographer photography x-photographer http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/fuji-xf80mm-f2-8-r-lm-ois-wr-review Sun, 05 Nov 2017 22:00:39 GMT
NYC Workshops and Gear Sell-Off! http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/nyc-workshops-and-gear-sell-off


Hello All!

I'm on the final leg of the last two workshops to close out 2017. It feels like I haven't been home much in the past couple of weeks but it's been a good time meeting many of you readers from this BLOG. I've been asked by the organizers of the San Francisco workshop to co-host an event in the lower east village area on the 17th of this month (November) and again in Mid December so if any one will be out that way give me a shout if you want to get together.

On another note, I'm lightening/slashing down my gear bag. The idea is to pass on the redundant items that I rarely, if ever use. I've found my Fujifilm gear to be very reliable and some of the cameras and lenses are just gathering dust.

Here is a quick summary...I may add other items later.

  1. Fujifilm X-T1 (excellent working order but the rubber on the grip will likely need to be replaced in a year or two) **SOLD**
  2. Fujifilm X-A1 (Excellent Condition) **SOLD**
  3. Fujinon XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS (Excellent Condition) **SOLD**
  4. Fujinon XF90mm F2 R LM WR (Excellent Condition) **SOLD**
  5. Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R (Excellent Condition) **SOLD**
  6. Fujinon XF35mm F1.4 R (A little worn but works great. The lens hood is a bit beat up)  **SOLD**

These items were professionally used and maintained, however as the years have gone by they were updated with other high-end Fujifilm gear (in some cases). I want everything I need from now on to fit in one bag as I've got lot's of travel coming up in 2018 with green-lit projects. One trip in particular will require everything in the bag to be weather resistant.

The X-T1 in particular is being updated to the X-T2 shortly as I'm finding the need for 4K Video getting more urgent. Otherwise it's been my daily driver from the moment it was introduced and the 16 MP sensor is just fantastic for my daily work.

Send me an email with the item you are interested in as the SUBJECT and I'll reply as soon as possible.

 

And done...thank you all. That was possibly the fastest I've ever sold off gear. Stay tuned for more.

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) fuji fujifilm gear olympus photographer travel workshop http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/11/nyc-workshops-and-gear-sell-off Wed, 01 Nov 2017 18:16:19 GMT
Video Gear under $50 | WORKFLOW http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/10/video-gear-under-50-workflow Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca


This is by far one of the best items I've been using in my video work and it doesn't even come close to the $50 mark. In fact the $28 Canadian I paid is tax and shipping included. Ladies and Gentlemen...the Purple Panda Lavalier Microphone.


Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca The Purple Panda Lav Mic is by far one of the cheapest/least expensive mics I've used...and I can say that it doesn't suck. The sound quality straight out of the mic is better than ok. If you add a little sweetening to it in post-processing it's hard for the untrained ear to tell the difference. I use mine for recording talking head projects such as interviews, speeches and voice-overs.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

It's all very versatile...connect it to your DSLR/Mirrorless camera, GoPro, Field Recorder etc.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

It comes with an alligator clip and pop foam, a nearly 10ft extension cord, TRS adapter and dead cat windscreen. Big value for the price point.

So back to how it sounds...I thought to do a voice-over sample but there are tons already available on YouTube. The shortcut version is that it stacks up very well to my Sennheiser Wireless Kit. In fact I kept it in my gear bag as a backup in case the wireless set ever failed...which it did recently. I won't so far as to say that the Purple Panda matches it for sound quality but they are not far apart considering the price difference. Also it's more durable than any other Lav mic I've used. After a year of use it was still going strong until someone knicked the cable on a sharp edge. 

One thing to note...this is not a powered mic and keep the TRS adapter handy. Some devices require it as in the case of a field recorder. You will have to enable "Plug-In" power or whatever your equivalent is to get it working.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless photographer photography post processing purple panda lavalier lapel microphone kit http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/10/video-gear-under-50-workflow Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:16:09 GMT
Post-Processing vs Workflow http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/10/post-processing-vs-workflow Hello all..sorry for the long pause from the previous post. I've been busy with a variety of projects, most of which are finally winding down especially wedding season. I've gotten a few emails about two terms I use frequently on this BLOG "Workflow & Post Processing" so I'm posting the answer here...maybe I should start a Frequently Asked Questions page.

First, those two terms are not mutually exclusive. Post Processing is a part of Workflow.

Workflow simply put are the steps you take to capture, store, edit and output an image. The same applies to video work as well. Post Processing is a fancy term that fits into the "editing" part of workflow.

For example..the image of Takakkaw Falls below.

Takakkaw Falls, British Columbia | Fujifilm X-Pro2 W/XF10-24mm F4 R OIS Wide Angle Zoom Lens

The Image on the left is what's called a "RAW" file. Think of it as a digital version of a negative from those old film cameras. In my case, the RAW file was taken with a Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera that was set to record minimal color, contrast and sharpening. I wanted the most neutral negative I could capture mainly because it was a heavily overcast day without any strong directional light. It definitely wasn't ideal for landscape photography that day but I was in a particular place for the first and possibly last time. You won't always get a "do-over" so you make the best of the situation. I knew that once I returned home the post-processing techniques I use would give me a good representative picture of what my eyes saw.

My "Workflow started the moment I selected the camera, lens, etc. right through to importing the images to my workstation..there are things that happen while I go off for a drink or two. Names, Keywords, Copyright, GPS information etc. Once the entire memory card has been imported the images are duplicated/backed up to my Network Attached Storage (NAS). By the time I return to the workstation there are two independent copies of my photoshoot, ready for the next step.

The "Post Processing" begins when editing with my software of choice which I've used to make global edits to the exposure, white balance and sharpening. I then used the Local Adjustment Brushes to independently edit the color and contrast. Compare the cloud detail in the sky, color of the trees, water and cliffs. Our eyes are amazing and I could see all of those features in great detail. The camera however, was likely to struggle with too many independent things to manage. Having said that, a fair amount of editing (Post Processing) can be done within a Fujifilm camera. You can make changes to color saturation, contrast, sharpening and then output to an internet friendly picture without ever importing to a computer. The limited tools work great for social media and same day printing if additional edit (advanced) are not needed.

Most workflows go the same way. Others take slight detours to account for backing up images, selecting keepers and discarding bad images etc. Post Processing is an individual thing and very personal. I've rarely found two photographers that think alike in that regard. We have different tolerances, tastes...that's what make our images different despite making a photo of the same subject.


NOTE: My software of choice is Adobe Lightroom CC, however the techniques work equally well with other mainstream applications which recognize the Fujifilm RAF file system.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) adobe editing fuji fujifilm mirrorless photography post-processing travel workflow http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/10/post-processing-vs-workflow Thu, 12 Oct 2017 14:38:49 GMT
Close-Up Photography Q and A http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/close-up-photography-q-and-a Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens (uncropped)Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens (uncropped)Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-T2 W/XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens


I've gotten lot's of emails about my post several days ago following the launch of the newest Fujifilm lens, the Fujinon XF80mm F2.8 Macro. I think rather than reply to each one I would just post a general set of answers here.

NOTE: The shot above of the Melanoplus Grasshopper is UNCROPPED (6000X4000). Editing was done in the Silkypix RAW FILE CONVERTER software which you can download from Fujifilm's website. 


Before we get to the Q&A from the XF80mm F2.8 post let me just pass on a few thoughts.

I appreciate the feedback, even the not so nice ones. My replies are sometimes late because as you can appreciate I'm always working one way or another whether it's client focused or my own personal projects. We grow as much from work as we do from play and I try to get equal amounts in whenever possible. The first thing I want readers to know is this: Don't consider anything I say here as a rule. Every single photographer I've ever met has his/her own way of making images. I've seen everything from DIY photography tools all the way to top dollar equipment.

Fuji X-T1 VS Fuji GFX 50SFuji X-T1 VS Fuji GFX 50SLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca It can probably go without saying that as a  Fujifilm X-Photographer I get to use some very fancy and expensive equipment. I also give a fair shake to the hobbyist/enthusiast level gear too because in my experience you can find some real "sleepers" like the XC16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS II lens that works great and cost very little by comparison.

Second, if someone quotes you photography rules, apply my advice: Listen, look and learn from people who's work you admire and/or are inspired by. That's how I learned. But those rules, BREAK THEM. It's the only way forward.

~

Q: Did you crop any of the images

A: Yep, absolutely. In some cases I cropped moderately for a more dramatic composition. You will find that cropping is a fact of life when shooting macro or wildlife images. Sometimes you can't get close enough to a subject for a variety of reasons...focal length, safety, or a restrictive minimal focusing distance of a particular lens. Also, in most cases wild animals and insects don't like us.

Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro LensFuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro LensLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca This reptile let me get fairly close but well outside the minimum focus range of the XF80mm F2.8. The other factor was that to get the shot I had to stand in thigh deep water with one foot on the slopes of a slippery rock. I wasn't very stable to push the shot much further. The finished image is cropped to 5096X3397, pretty moderate but just enough to get the composition just right.

Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro LensFuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro LensLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Then there are the interesting but not so friendly critters.

Get too close and they either escape or attack. Neither of those outcomes usually get's the shot. I've never personally met anyone who has been bitten by a dock spider and I don't want to be the first among my friends either. My respectful distance required a crop to 4770X3180.

Q: Did you use a tripod

A: Yes, but for very few shots. Many of these were taken in the full heat of Summer and the little critters were moving around quite a bit. I found it easier to just hand-hold which allowed me to contort into whatever position worked best for the composition. The XF80mm has a 5-stop image stabilisation system which helps quite a lot, however you still need a subject that is relatively static when shooting at slow shutter speeds. For subjects like food, jewelry etc. I definitely use a tripod though. I did film a fair bit with a second X-T2 camera and in that case I alternately employed a regular and video specific tripod.

Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro LensFuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro LensLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Q: What Apertures Do You Use

A: Depends on the subject and desired depth-of-field. Left to my own devices though, I prefer as wide an aperture F2.4/2.8/5.6 as I can get away with while keeping the parts of my composition that are important..in focus. I like blurred out backgrounds and bokeh while the subject remains very sharp and isolated. With close-up subjects you tend to stop down anywhere from F8-F16/22 in order to keep most of the subject in-focus. Sometimes even stopping down isn't enough or desirable. All lenses have a "sweet spot". That aperture where they exhibit their best qualities and going beyond that introduces softness to the images (diffraction). One way around this is to Focus Stack where you take a series of images at different distances along the subject, then use software such as Adobe Photoshop CC to stitch them together in a final photograph.

Q: Do you Shoot With Natural Light or Flash

A: Again it depends on the circumstances...my preference with wildlife and insects is natural light. If you are shooting at very small apertures (F10-22) or in low light conditions then using an artificial light source is a must even if the camera is set up on a tripod. Poor lighting usually results in a poor image.

Q: What Software Did You Use

A: For my general workflow I use Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC. They aren't perfect but for images displayed on the Internet or Mobile Devices it does a good job. For more exacting editing I default to the Silkypix software. It's slow, not very intuitive but once you learn your way around it your images will usually be a near copy of what you saw in the cameras' viewfinder right down to your Film Simulation of choice.

As with anything though...the final image is no small amount of technical execution and lot's of "art". We can both photograph the same subjects and end up with very different images because it all boils down to "art"..or taste.

Q: Which Lens Do You Prefer

A: Definitely the XF80mm F2.8 because of the Optical Image Stabiliser, Linear Motor focusing system and Weather Sealing.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Basically everything my older XF60mm F2.4 lens isn't. When photographing insects I prefer the longer focal length of the XF80mm over my XF60mm lens. It allows me to stay a respectful distance from certain subjects...and providing them with enough comfort to tolerate my presence.

The icing on top is the compatibility with Fujifilm's 1.4 and 2.0 teleconverters which make the lens even more useful.

Q: Which Camera Do You Prefer

A: Any of the ILC X-Series cameras will do just fine but you have significantly more resolution for cropping with the X-T2/XPro2 cameras. Then there is the much improved auto-focus system and expanded video features.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) adobe close up photography fuji fujifilm gear macro mirrorless photographer photography post processing retouching http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/close-up-photography-q-and-a Thu, 14 Sep 2017 04:10:00 GMT
Small Camera, Big Picture PT.3 | Fujifilm X-Pro2 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/small-camera-big-picture-pt-3-fujifilm-x-pro2 Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca


Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF60mm F2.4 R Macro | ISO200 F25.6 1/300 seconds

Handheld with the XF60mm macro lens...I don't stand still very often so when you see me fishing it means I'm totally relaxed. This was the second biggest fish I've caught off the dock at the cottage. I couldn't let the moment go without snapping a picture.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF60mm F2.4 R Macro | ISO200 F25.6 1/500 seconds

Small things amuse me. I admit it. This rusty bolt is a really good example of why everyone should have a macro lens in their bag. The applications are endless...small insects, products and portraits. My lens is very versatile. Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF35mm F2 R WR | ISO200 F2 1/680 seconds

I love sunsets but the only thing that will get me out of bed early when I don't have to work is a sunrise. A show like this one is rare in the city with all the smog, noise and light pollution.

Fuji X-Pro2 SampleFuji X-Pro2 Samplehttp://leighmiller.zenfolio.com

XF60mm F2.4 R Macro | ISO200 F2.8 1/18 seconds

Yup...I love watches and clocks. The intricate machinery are tailor made for a macro lens.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

XF60mm F2.4 R Macro | ISO200 F4 1/220 seconds

I'm pretty proud of this capture. I noticed this little guy hanging out on a wayward branch just taking in the sights. He wasn't too concerned about my presence but the branch was erratic, moved by the slightest wind. It took 30 tries and a little strategic focusing to get this shot.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless photographer photography post processing travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/small-camera-big-picture-pt-3-fujifilm-x-pro2 Mon, 11 Sep 2017 04:15:00 GMT
Nexto DI Card Batcher | Preview http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/nexto-di-card-batcher-preview Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

NEXTO DI (NCB20) Card Batcher

NEXTO DI showed off their newest product, the Card Batcher at NAB 2017 and it caught my eye as I'm always looking for ways to simplify my workflow on "volume" assignments. I contacted the company shortly after the show and they were good enough to send me a pre-production unit to test out. Now that the embargo period has expired I can share a short video I've made with my thoughts.

Firstly, the Card Batcher comes in two flavours. The Compact Flash and SD Card versions, and I'm using the latter. I no longer use cameras that require CF cards. My model features 8-slots which are compatible with a wide range of SD Card types and micro-sd.  If like me you have to backup multiple cards after events, this product is right up your alley. No more toting along your laptop if you want to travel light.

One application is weddings...I typically have 1 or 2 assistant photographers for big events who generate upwards of 1000 images each. That results in around 2-3 SD Memory Cards each to back up at the end of the night. I hate that part of it...when a wedding is over for me I want nothing more than to take off for home and fall into bed. Taking that additional time to backup all the cards is excruciating.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

NCB20 W/Western Digital USB External HDD

With the Card Batcher you simply populate the 8 slots, attach a USB external HDD and the AC Adapter/USB Power Bank and all the cards are copied into their own folders (configurable) on the external drive. Add a second drive with sufficient space and the Card batcher will make you an identical backup simultaneously. As they say...it isn't a backup unless it exists in three different places.

Once I get home the external HDD is attached to my workstation and left to import into Adobe Lightroom CC while I go get a drink..of whatever. It's really that simple and very reliable. I've shot just under 10,000 images between weddings and other assignments in the past month and I haven't had a single issue with the backup copies. The entire process is very easy and fast.

A few recommendations I will make to improve your experience though...

Use the fastest SD Memory Cards you can afford. While you are at it use a fast external HDD as well. I initially employed a Western Digital USB HDD...but when I switch to a Samsung T3 my copy speeds instantly improved.

For SD Memory Cards I use Toshiba's with a Read Speed of 260MB/s and Write Speed of 240MB/s. I have a few other brands that claim 300MB/s but as with anything electronic those are theoretical speeds at best.

Personally I would leave the AC Adapter at home and get a USB Power Bank. Anker's products have always been reliable and excellent performing for me. The overall build quality is very good and I didn't exactly treat it with kid gloves. It went into my camera bag like any other piece of gear without issue. The buttons are tight fitting with a positive feedback..nothing is loose or rattling. I kind of wish it had at least one USB-C port though...that's just the way the industry is moving and product manufacturers have to be proactive.

 Finally you can use the card Batcher strictly as a card reader back in your office. I've found the transfer speeds during import to Adobe Lightroom directly off the SD Cards to be no faster or slower than a single reader device. That's a good thing...most everything in my gear collection does double duty in some way.


NOTE

I am not compensated in any way by NEXTO DI to use/review this product. I contacted them myself after seeing the prototype shown at NAB 2017. I actually paid for the shipping cost to get it here from South Korea, and I'll have to pay to send it back now that my review has been completed. I have been offered the opportunity to review a final version of the product with updated firmware...which I'll definitely take them up on at some point in the near future.

Toshiba, Samsung and Anker were also mentioned, none of which I have any relationship with. These are items I use in my daily work and recommend them without reservation. P.S. They are also expensive...but quality and reliability usually are.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) card batcher gear nexto di photographer product review workflow http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/nexto-di-card-batcher-preview Sun, 10 Sep 2017 16:28:00 GMT
Filming With the Fujifilm X-T2 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/filming-with-the-fujifilm-x-t2 I recently had the opportunity to shoot with the all new Fujinon XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens from Fujifilm. Matter of fact we spent a lot of quality time together for much of August...prime Summertime action for insects and small critters. See my preview [HERE].

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-T2 W/XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Lens

Additionally I made a Behind The Scenes video of my setup in action, filmed with the Fujifilm X-T2. Fujifilm got downright serious with video on this camera. For the first time on any Fuji camera we now have 4K video. While I rarely output to 4K, the extra editing room it provides is invaluable on a 1080p timeline. That said, I filmed the entire project in 4K as that's what the assignment brief called for.

The sound was arranged/designed by a good friend of mine who in my opinion is the Picasso of audio. You name it, he can do it. I enjoined him to my project given the short timeframe with exception of the voice-over. I did that on  my iPhone and refined it in Audacity. Normally I would have done that on a Zoom H6 Field Recorder but I ran out of time to secure one for the deadline...should probably consider purchasing one given the increased attention to mirrorless video.

My Equipment List is as follows

  • Fujifilm X-T2 X 2 W/ Vertical Power Boost Grip
  • ST-1 Microphone (for ambient sound reference)
  • Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
  • Fujinon XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens
  • Fujifilm EF-X500 Flash X 2 (Master & Slave setup for off-camera flash use)
  • Manfrotto Tripod With Fluid Head
  • Generic Tabletop Dolly
  • Generic Travel Tripod
  • DJI Inspire 1 VER II
  • DJI Mavic Pro

Video Editing was done entirely in Final Cut Pro X on a 4K timeline though my output was 1080p for presentation on the BLOG.

Screenshot

The X-T2 has been on the market a long time (for the camera industry) and there are plenty of reviews out there that do a great job of highlighting the cameras' performance and merits. I tend of go my own way...particularly when it comes to shooting video on Fuji cameras. I was using the Booster Grip' which gives me access to the F-LOG profile but in practice I almost never use it. The whole reason I took to Fujifilm cameras was for the film simulations. I love the colors and contrast straight out of the camera. For this project I shot with the Provia film setting with some changes... 

  • -2 (H-Tone)
  • -2 (S-Tone)
  • -3 (Color)
  • -3 (Sharpness)

What this does is create a custom "FLAT" profile while retaining some of the Provia attributes, a great starting point if you aren't trying to match cameras from other manufacturers. Personally I've found that it plays nice with footage from my drones and Olympus cameras. I also rode the ISO dial from 200 to 1600 frequently to maintain  a shutter speed of 1/50 seconds. Roughly double the 24p video setting. On the occasional "rough" shot I used the FCPx stabilisation tool to smooth things out a bit.

The XF16-55mm lens was my goto for filming the general/b-roll stuff while the XF80mm was used for the close-up video. I had them mounted alternately on the tabletop dolly, tripod and video tripod for various clips. While I didn't use the audio recorded with the ST1 mic, I did use it for reference when  matching high fidelity SFX to the footage. If you are going to be filming extensively with the X-T2 get yourself an XF16-55mm lens. Don't even think twice about it. The sharpness, fast and silent focusing combined with the wide aperture makes it a natural choice for video. I used continuous focusing a fair bit and barely noticed the focusing noise.

Aside from the opening sequence I use DJI drones because they are the ultimate slider/fluid head. Once you master the controls to perform intricate movements you can make the drone do anything. Some of those panning/zooming movements were performed with the Mavic Pro which is infinitely handy due to the small size and ease of use. The big boy Inspire 1 is a Ferrari...you drive it fast and knock out those broad  strokes. Sadly I think it's feasibility is diminishing due to aggressive regulations here in Canada.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) filming fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless photographer photography post processing video http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/filming-with-the-fujifilm-x-t2 Fri, 08 Sep 2017 04:01:00 GMT
Fuji XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR | Preview http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/fuji-xf80mm-f2-8-r-lm-ois-wr-preview By now you have likely heard about this new lens from Fujifilm. I received a pre-production unit to work with for a few weeks...nothing fancy just my usual routine that the XF60mm F2.4 R Macro normally fills. I'm a country boy through and through so my down time isn't like most photographers. I head out chasing small critters and insects, anything that takes me out of the loop for a handful of hours. My macro lens also does double duty for my portrait and product photography because of the sharpness and image quality. While it serves me well, I've been waiting for the XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS Macro for a long time. In most cases with small animals and insects...appropriate amounts of distance keeps you safe while providing the animal with enough comfort so I can get the shot. At 122mm (35mm format) this new lens does just that while maintaining a fairly close focusing distance. Add the XF1.4 or 2.o teleconverters if you need to get even closer.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca It also has some nice features that aren't available on the XF60mm F2.4 R Macro, namely optical image stabilisation, linear motors for fast/quiet focusing and weather resistance. The first two items are big for me. In many cases I can't or don't want to use a tripod and now being able to handhold a shot stopped down is stellar. Focusing speed has been a priority for Fujifilm and they have certainly improved it tremendously with the new Linear Motor system. Combine that with all new auto-focus algorithms and you have a complete package that's perfect for macro photography.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/500

The weather resistance is something I've become accustomed to on Fuji's premium lenses.  I doubt I'll ever purchase another lens without that feature (see my previous blog post). While I don't expect to do much shooting in rain...snow, life happens I don't stop shooting because of inclement weather.

Keep in mind that this preview is based on a "Pre-Production" lens and while I didn't experience any issues with it, surely the final release version will be fine-tuned. Stay in touch for a full review once the retail versions become available.

My Setup

And now...the pictures: For the most part these images were shot hand-held. The image stabilisation is good for 5-stops according to Fuji and in practice I've found it very good. Insects rarely stay still long enough for me to run and get my tripod so I tested the lens by hand as much as possible.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/80

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/200

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/160

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F8 1/100

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/8

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/200

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F5.6 1/320

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 80mm F2.8 1/2000

 

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) fuji fujifilm fujinon xf80mm f2.8 r lm ois macro lens gear macro mirrorless photographer photography telephoto http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/fuji-xf80mm-f2-8-r-lm-ois-wr-preview Thu, 07 Sep 2017 10:37:18 GMT
Fuji XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Review | Long Term http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/fuji-xf16-55mm-f2-8-r-lm-wr-review-long-term XF16-55mm 1:2.8 R LM WRXF16-55mm 1:2.8 R LM WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-T2 W/XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR


This long-term review is well overdue...I started it months ago then suddenly got contracted to work on a handful of projects. I'm slowly catching up on my writing and now that my Summer weddings are done my time is a bit more free.

The XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR is the first of my two-lens working kit. It's matched with the XF50-140mm telephoto zoom and get's the lions share of use in my daily work because it covers just about everything. Pretty much all my photog buddies have a similar kit regardless of what brand they use. Always the same... 24-70 and 70-200mm or whatever the equivalents are in 35mm terms.

The basics that I like are as follows:

  • Constant F/2.8 aperture from 16 to 55mm (24-82.5mm/35mm effective focal lengths)
  • Linear Motor focusing system
  • Weather Resistance
  • Solid Build

It's not inexpensive, but professional level lenses rarely are. The premium you pay ensures that it will stand up to daily use without being too careful. This lens also sports an array of very fancy glass and coatings to correct, minimize and/or eliminate issues that might effect image quality. My copy has been in steady use for well over 2 years without any significant problems. I've replaced the lens hood twice because of various mishaps. They absorbed whatever impact I subjected them to and saved the front element. Far less expensive than damage to the lens itself if I hadn't attached them it.

For My Travel Photography

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 16mm F/5.6 1/1700

It's a good all-in-one lens and hasn't let me down. It's not as light compared to the XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens which is also weather resistant but the constant F/2.8 aperture and superior sharpness wins it for me. The focusing motor is also noticeably faster. When I'm in a location for the first and possibly last time, I don't want to miss a shot because my lens is taking it's sweet time to focus accurately.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 18mm F8 1/400

Klein Curacao is a small uninhabited island off the coast of Curacao. What was supposed to be a short, calm sail turned into an hour of getting beaten up by rogue waves due to high winds. I had my camera bag behind me to shield it from direct hits from the water...still got drenched. I was terrified to open it up and pretty much gave them up for dead. I started calculating the cost of replacing them minus the insurance amount. When we got to shore my worst fears were confirmed. Both camera bodies and all the lenses were very wet and crusted with salt. However, when I turned them on everything fired up just fine. After a half hour of cleaning I went for a walk around the island. Those same high winds converted the sand into tiny missiles which ended up in my eyes, ears, hair but not the camera. Score two for the weather resistance. I can definitely confirm that the feature isn't a gimmick. 7 months later everything is still working without a hint of what I put them through on that trip.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 26mm F8 1/550

I don't have the luxury of always shooting in the best light and the extra light gathering ability is very helpful. If you don't need it, you may find the XF18-55mm with Optical Image Stabilisation...and lower cost somewhat more attractive. I own both and I'll use the little brother lens whenever it makes practical sense to do so.

For My Weddings

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 49mm F2.8 1/400

Stellar...sharp, fast focusing and great color and contrast. Just your basic Swiss Army knife. I always shoot with it for much of the wedding, only breaking out the telephoto zoom if I can't get close enough to the action. I especially like it when the ceremony is over and everybody is taking a breather and just hanging out. I'll plant myself right in the middle of the space and rotate from the hips like a turret, capturing all the candid moments. During the ceremony I'll use the electronic shutter and turn off the auto-focus confirmation beep. Combine that with the smooth and very quiet focusing system and the entire capture from start to finish is as quiet as you can get it. Definitely quiet enough so that nobody notices at normal voice levels.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 49mm F5.6 1/200

It also allows me to get close enough to shoot "detail" shots. Not quite MACRO distances but decently close, filling the frame. The micro-contrast is very good and cropping in for composition still yields a very nicely defined image right at the point of focus (wide-open).

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 44mm F2.8 1/450

For Everything Else

Model RetouchModel RetouchLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 55mm F8 1/125

I've found it to be a very good studio lens. It performs well with static and moving subjects alike and it doesn't flare easily when I inadvertently get one of my strobes in the frame. Depending on your style of portraiture that may not be a positive thing. For close portraits I prefer 85mm or longer but group or environmental shots are well covered.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

4-Image Panorama Stitch | ISO 200 16mm F5.6 1/850

I usually screw on the XF10-24mm F4 R OIS for landscapes because it gives me more framing options but 16mm (24mm) is no slouch. You can capture a lot of real estate with this lens. In fact you can still get a hint of that exaggerated perspective if you are close enough to the subject like the wrecked yacht below.

ISO 200 16mm F8 1/850

Much has been made about the lack of image stabilisation on this lens. Frankly...I don't mind it. At F2.8 I can handhold it right down to about 1/20 seconds with fairly good results.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

ISO 200 35mm F2.8 1/125

I've been very happy with the lens and it's been a true workhorse. In case your not familiar with that term, for me it means a piece of gear that you flog daily, rain or shine. You don't always treat it well because you just don't have the luxury of that sometimes but despite the mistreatment is happily does it's job and gets out of your way every single time it's attached to the camera.

I'm just shy of 10K clicks with this lens...that's everything, weddings, portraits, products, food, travel, video, timelapse etc. Along the way it's been bumped, dropped, forgotten out in the cold overnight...left in the rain on another occasion for over an hour before I recalled it being out on the deck. Not even a single hiccup from the lens. I guess you could say I gave it a real stress test.

Speaking of video, it's become my go-to general purpose video lens. The F2.8 is just perfect for talking head segments and even product reviews where I want the background out of focus. The linear motors are very silent and easily falls below voice or music audio. Back in my X-Pro1 days I complained about the "Fuji Shuffle" that their first gen lenses would do. You could clearly hear it happening on video and it's hard to edit out. Most of the time I used manual focus but these days the continuous focusing is good enough that I want to use it. It really helps that this lens is near silent.

Brass Tacks!

This lens stays in my gear bag until Fujifilm comes out with a version 2 that's even better.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) adobe fuji fujifilm fujinon gear mirrorless photographer photography portrait post processing travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/fuji-xf16-55mm-f2-8-r-lm-wr-review-long-term Tue, 05 Sep 2017 23:19:35 GMT
Sunset over the Gulf Islands http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/sunset-over-the-gulf-islands Gulf IslandsGulf IslandsLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca


Fujifilm X-T1 W/XF10-24mm F4 R OIS Wide Angle Zoom | ISO 200 F9 1/400 sec

Boating season is likely drawing to a close for most people...the kiddies are headed back to school and vacations on the beaches in Canada is pretty much done. I personally love this time of year. The heat levels are way down, the annoying flying insects have started to retreat and we are usually inline to get some of the best sunsets as  Autumn creeps in.

This shot was taken over the Gulf Islands in British Columbia (Haro Strait).

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) british columbia fujifilm gulf islands ocean sunset travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/9/sunset-over-the-gulf-islands Mon, 04 Sep 2017 15:23:20 GMT
Small Camera, Big Picture PT.2 | Fujifilm X-Pro2 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/8/small-camera-big-picture-pt-2-fujifilm-x-pro2

Photolife Magazine June/July 2017 Edition


Full confession....after this picture was shot, my X-Pro2 went to sleep at the bottom of a lake. Total rookie mistake and I should have seen it coming. In fact I'm so embarrassed about it to this day that I've only recently told a couple of people. Funny thing...it travelled to two countries with very high waves and winds and it even survived a rain downpour or two. To lose it on a serene lake with barely a ripple kinda hurts.

Banff National ParkBanff National ParkLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Banff National Park | Fujifilm X-Pro2 W/XF10-24mm F4 R OIS Lens | ISO200 20mm F10 1/300 sec

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless photographer photography post processing travel http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/8/small-camera-big-picture-pt-2-fujifilm-x-pro2 Wed, 30 Aug 2017 21:22:42 GMT
Video Gear Under $50 | WORKFLOW http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/8/video-gear-under-50-workflow


I've been shooting video much more over the past couple of years as my client's needs evolve. I'm still primarily a "stills" guy but being too rigid means passing up great paying assignments. I'm also constantly looking at ways to "up" my production value and adding cinematic movement to an otherwise static sequence is a good place to start. You can do this with Video Fluid Heads and Sliders but expect to pay premium prices even for the most basic ones. When you get into the motorized/programmable territory you can spend your mortgage payments just on the low-end setups.

The included video starts off with a "Ken Burns Effect" for comparison. You can pull off a few of the movements completely in software. In this instance I used a 4K file from a Fujifilm X-T2 on a 1080p timeline...giving me plenty of room to crop for composition. Nothing on the software market will replace those pieces of equipment above though.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

I opt for the inexpensive and simple way...the $30'ish Tabletop Dolly.

These aren't a new concept and you can find them in a variety of styles and configurations. I made this particular one from parts left over from three different units that I've broken with near-constant use. In fact I have a good friend who makes his from scratch as needed and the applications are only limited by your imagination. The only real requirement is a smooth surface to run it on.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca You can mount just about any camera on them provided of course you pay attention to the centre of gravity/balance. The TOP image is about the largest camera setup I've ever mounted on one. The better made units will handle DSLR's but mirrorless, compact and action cameras work best. You may have to add a ball-head unit as I've done in this shot to help the lens clear the wheels for wide angle shots. It will also allow for more adjustments on the fly.

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca As you will likely be using these from "above", a camera with a flip, tilt and/or swivel will come in handy. In this image I have my Fujifilm X70 compact camera mounted on the dolly. The camera itself is sitting on a very cheap ball-head that I had from a worn out old tripod.

Some things you need to watch out for....

You can find these on Amazon pretty cheap but ensure that when it arrives that all of the wheels are 'round". I've gotten one or two with defects small enough to miss with the naked eye but show up pretty dramatically in post-production. Also get one with adjustable wheels so that you can go from a straight line to arcs, slow turns and circles.

Last, never leave these unattended with your expensive camera on it. I've had them roll away on a seemingly flat surface with the tiniest bit of encouragement from wind or vibrations.

Dolly - $30

Ball-Head (Light) - $20

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) dolly fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless olympus photographer photography post processing tabletop dolly video video production workflow http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/8/video-gear-under-50-workflow Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:57:59 GMT
Dynamic Range For Photographers http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/7/dynamic-range-for-photographers


Dynamic Range...

I get asked every now and then by budding photographers: "How do I make my camera take pictures like...."

When pressed they sometimes show me an image where it's either too dark or too light. Most of the time images are shot on a SmartPhone and occasionally an expensive camera. Why doesn't it take pictures that matches what they see through the viewfinder or on the LCD Screen. A perfectly good question but not so easily answered in a way that won't make their eyes gloss over as I explain. I've narrowed it down like this..Dynamic Range (for photographers) is the difference between the lightest and darkest area of a scene, such as a landscape. Our eyes are exceptionally good at "seeing", even the best cameras can't match them (yet). At the heart of a typical camera is a computer system stored with representations of many various scenes. In the instant it takes to frame, focus and press the shutter button it compares them against your composition and chooses what "it" thinks is the best way to capture the image.

The better cameras get it right more often than not but a challenging scene such as a dark foreground and bright background will almost always trip them up. As you get more comfortable with a camera you can "change" it's mind by making creative choices as to how you want the scene captured.

Rowing on The Bow RiverRowing on The Bow RiverBanff, AB

Fig. 2

In Fig. 2 above I was faced with a heavily back-lit scene. If I exposed for the foreground the background will be over-exposed (too bright). Exposing for the brightest areas of the image will render the foreground underexposed (too dark). Left to it's own devices  no pun intended) a camera will always try to pick a middle point which is ok for a snapshot but I have higher standards. This is where camera choice becomes critical. I exposed for the brightest part of the scene (bright sky) knowing that my camera had enough Dynamic Range to capture enough detail in the dark areas. In this case I was using a Fujifilm X-Pro2.

Rowing on The Bow RiverRowing on The Bow RiverBanff, AB

Fig. 3

Once I got home and loaded the RAW file into Adobe Lightroom CC, I raised the exposure level of the shadow areas in order to balance out the scene. This was exactly the way my eyes saw this composition..with a little bit of creative license here and there. Not all cameras are this capable in that regard so your mileage will vary.

Banff National ParkBanff National ParkLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fig. 4

Fig. 4 above is what I call a "one-shot-wonder" capture. It was mid-afternoon in Banff, Alberta and the sun was hot and in full-on shine. Typically I would employ a Neutral Density Filter (graduated) in order to tame the exposure of the sky. This time though I captured the entire scene with a slight amount of clipping in the highlights and selectively edited the exposure in Adobe Lightroom. It's not a perfect capture but I saved myself a whole lot of time and effort in getting it. I wasn't there specifically to shoot landscapes...in fact, I was in the middle of having lunch. Call it...a shot of opportunity.

The reason you can't do this as effectively with an image from a SmartPhone is because of the tiny sensors they contain. They simply do not have the kind of dynamic range essential to capturing images in difficult situations. That's not to say that you can't make great images with a SmartPhone...get creative. Shoot at a different time of day when the lighting is less harsh or employ it's HDR function.

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) adobe dynamic range fuji fujifilm gear mirrorless people photographer photography post processing http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/7/dynamic-range-for-photographers Sat, 22 Jul 2017 16:02:26 GMT
Medina | Travel Photography http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/medina-travel-photography Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Everything outside is changing so fast, but inside it's walls things stay the same...more or less. It's the little things that give away the modern influences..the latest iPhone, satellite dishes and occasional resident wearing western styled clothing. I'm going to geek-out a bit here, it reminded me of Star Wars where all of the races were super technologically advanced but they lived in dwellings resembling huts. Visit the medinas of Morocco before it changes too much but get a good pair of walking shoes. The narrow streets aren't car friendly.

Images shot on location in Essaouira and Marrakech with the Fujifilm X-T1, X-M1 and X100s. Editing was done in Adobe Lightroom CC.


Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca X100s ISO 3200X100s ISO 3200Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) Fuji Fujifilm Mirrorless Morocco Photography Travel photographer http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/medina-travel-photography Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:59:52 GMT
Small Camera, Big Pictures | Fujifilm X-Pro2 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/small-camera-big-pictures-fujifilm-x-pro2 Fujifilm X-Pro2Fujifilm X-Pro2

Fujifilm X-Pro2 W/XF60m F2.4 R Macro Lens


Images edited in with Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop CC and Nik Color Efex Pro4 


XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRXF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

 

http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com www.leighmiller.ca NR PortraitNR PortraitLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Banff National ParkBanff National ParkLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca XF35mm F2 R WRXF35mm F2 R WRLeigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

 

 

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) Fuji Fujifilm Fujifilm X-Pro2 Gear Mirrorless Photography Travel photographer http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/small-camera-big-pictures-fujifilm-x-pro2 Wed, 28 Jun 2017 02:39:19 GMT
What's Your Camera Of Choice? http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/whats-your-camera-of-choice GFX 50S, X-T1, X70, iPhone 6GFX 50S, X-T1, X70, iPhone 6Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm GFX 50S, X-T1, X70 and Apple iPhone


Do you like how I did that....dropping my iPhone into the image above with my regular cameras?

Apparently the camera market is stabilising. A CIPA report shows modest gains in sales volume that promises to look a little better than 2016, though not as good compared to 2015. The standout, mirrorless cameras are leading the charge on a percentage growth basis.

Told you so.

I stated that mirrorless cameras were the future...four years ago. I also took a lot of lumps for it, mostly from Full-Frame DSLR owners who swore that I wasn't a professional unless my gear bag held a Canon or Nikon camera. I found myself in an interesting situation this past weekend. Standing in a crowd of people watching the annual Pride parade in Toronto, I noticed this...after the jump.

Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Just as the Prime Minister of Canada (Justin Trudeau) walked by, I was immediately distracted by the number of Smartphones being held up. In case the image is too small for you to see clearly, I circled the most visible ones. In my immediate composition there was only one (1) compact camera, and one (1) Full-Frame DSLR, which was hung around the neck of the event photographer.

As I stood there counting the number of cell phones it reminded me of a conversation I had a few months back with someone I worked with in the corporate world...a lifetime ago it seems. He remarked how back then I always had a camera with me everywhere I went. It was a Canon EOS 1Ds at the time, which required a decent sized bag. Very noticeable at the office. As we chatted he asked what I was shooting with now and I pulled out my Fujifilm X70 from my pocket. He laughs and says..."still too big" as he held up his iPhone which he says "replaced his DSLR 3 years ago". 

I suspect most of the people in the parade crowd made a similar progression..which begs the question as to just who is suddenly buying compact/interchangeable lens cameras again.

Let me say on behalf of the professionals..iPhones don't cut it for us. When paying clients book us for an assignment they are buying a RESULT, not a service. That result is much less certain when we don't use cameras and lenses that are up to the task. That's not to say that Smartphones can't pull off some great shots, however in my experience those usually take place under controlled situations and ideal lighting. If you have ever worked a wedding then you also know that there is nothing controlled or ideal about them. It's more like controlled-chaos which demands photography gear and skill that can keep up.

Having said that...we are living through some interesting times in photography!

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) Fuji Fujifilm Gear Mirrorless Photography gear people photographer portrait http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/whats-your-camera-of-choice Tue, 27 Jun 2017 14:16:10 GMT
Fujifilm GFX 50S | Pride Toronto 2017 http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/fujifilm-gfx-50s-pride-toronto-2017 Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca


Images shot with the Fujifilm GFX 50S camera and GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR lens. See ongoing review [HERE]. Editing - Adobe Lightroom CC/Photoshop CC. Some images were either shot in JPEG mode OR Converted from RAW (IN-CAMERA) to JPEG for social media use.

Due to the overcast/rainy day I setup the camera to shoot between ISO 400-800 to keep a high enough shutter speed to freeze fast action. 


Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca Pride 2017Pride 2017Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca


 

 

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leightona.miller@gmail.com (Leigh Miller | Photo & Cinema) Fuji Fujifilm Fujifilm GFX 50S Gear LGBT Medium Format Mirrorless Photography Post Processing Pride Pride Toronto 2017 Street Street Photography adobe people photographer portrait http://www.leighmiller.ca/blog/2017/6/fujifilm-gfx-50s-pride-toronto-2017 Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:38:57 GMT