After a very welcome few months of rare 'high' U.K. temperatures, the summer holidays dawned upon us and we were free to enjoy ourselves to the absolute in Italy. I can't express how much of a pleasure this trip was with my wife and two couples that we traveled with in parts of this wonderful country. Across two weeks we dined, sunshined, and Aperol'd our way through Milan, Lake Como, Florence, and Tuscany. As expected, the scenes, people, food and culture did not disappoint, greatly surpassing my expectations, and the daily doses of mozzarella and wine never grew tiresome.
In the interest of keeping things simple and reliable I packed my trusty X-T2 and XF35mm F2.
Between this combo or my X100F I have enjoyed traveling with minimal camera gear when enjoying local European trips, however, I must say that after about 1 week of enjoying my simple 50mm setup I realised that with longer trips (> 5 days) I should pack an extra lens or two. I certainly didn't need any extra lenses but at times I felt a little itch to break things up with a different perspective. That said, my go-to combo was a top performer as always, leaving me with memories for decades to come.
Whether you're old or new to FujiFilm the XF35mm F2 is a must have for all shooters.
Hope you enjoy 'em!
You know you're privileged when you start losing track of how many significant places you've traveled to for pleasure in less than a year. Well, we didn't exactly move to the U.K. for amazing pay rises or weather but it sure is incredible being so close to so many significant parts of the world that are accessible on the cheap, just like in this case with our ~4 day trip to Olhao, Portugal and it's surrounds.
On a whim some months ago we booked this one in so we could see Seu Jorge live in concert and enjoy a bit of sun and damn good food. We certainly got all that and more. Having gloriously good coffee, toasted sandwiches, and sunshine greet us each day was a blessing. The few days spent relaxing on beaches and even being able to drive across the boarder to Spain for dinner one evening was everything we needed. Sending an impromptu message to Adriano, drummer for Seu Jorge, that it'd be great to say hello, only to be given AAA passes and photo access was the most perfect icing on the cake, topped off with great 3am hangs with the man himself and his band. I have never received such a sincere embrace from a stranger and someone whose music has been there with me in so much of my adult life; he is a true gentleman and a star! Many, many thanks to the whole crew for welcoming us like family throughout the whole evening.
Olhao is a truly beautiful and humble part of the world that really helped me empty my head for a few days and look for new visual experiences. I have walked away hooked on the textures of its streets and architecture, and the reassuring message the less is more by having packed only my X-T2, XF35mm F2, and 3 batteries for 5 days. The only downside is that it has left me wanting more, but that's what those EasyJet price alerts are for!
Jeez... it's been too long between posts, and this is just one of about six posts or more that I need to get going since moving to the U.K. As you can expect, we've been traveling as much as we can (time and finances dependent) given our proximity to so many amazing places in relative arms reach, and after hearing how epic the Lake District was meant to be we set off with some friends during the early spring for a long weekend away.
For this trip I packed the ever awesome X-T2, along with the battery grip, XF16mm and the XF50-140 for that compressed landscape imagery. I'm not gonna rant on how much I love my Fujifilm kit, you know I do and the X-T2 has been an incredible travel and work companion on numerous occasions. To me it's become an almost 'modular' camera system with how you can adapt the kit to suit certain needs, whether it's street shooting, professional wedding photography, or getting out into the wilderness. When it comes to the streets its lean as with the XF35mm, and when I need beef the added battery grip and the XF50-140mm are a high performance combo.
Ok... I ranted. On to the snaps.
Cheers - Mathieu
I just have to say this outright. You folk here in the northern hemisphere, particularly out here in the U.K. are spoiled for good light, when it's out. Coming originally from Western Australia where the sun gives you about an hour each side of the day of pleasant light, it is such a dream with the sun sitting here around 45 degrees.
'Nuff of the whinge!
What's this new XF50 F2 WR all about?
It's a seemingly obscure focal length that doesn't have an older sibling with a wider aperture to usurp, and what kind of photographer would want it? Well, after shooting 1.25 weddings back in Australia with it and having a good few days on the streets of Oxford with it, I am damned impressed by it just as I still am with it's wider mate the XF35 F2, which is my go-to lens and has been since late 2015. It's a bit of a trip down memory lane, as it would be for many who've stuck a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera so a 76mm equivalent focal length really isn't that unfamiliar.
For this 'review' I have only included small 3000 pixel JPEGS using Chrome, +1 colour, +1 sharpness, and strong grain. Why did I do this? Because it's just bloody brilliant! I have shot backup JPEGs with strong gain for many months now and I simply lovely the images it helps to produce, particularly when shooting into light - I'll get into that more down the page though. I think it also shows for a lot of folk who like what I shoot that they can achieve this look with no post-editing. If you're really wanting RAW/RAF files leave a comment below and I'll get some going since I now have real internet here in the U.K.
Let's take a look at some bokeh samples.
I'm not one to go hunting for this kinda thing and honestly, I am not sure I have the best eye for what good bokeh is but oh well! As you can see though, at F2 this lens has really lovely focus fall off and beautiful smooth background with nice round balls. With a minimum focusing distance of 39cm you can certainly get nice and close with this lens, further exaggerating background blur in many circumstances. It really does an excellent job at focusing closely too, picking what you intend to shoot quickly and accurately.
How about the AF?
It's snappy! Well freakin' snappy! Just as I LOVE the XF35 F2 for it's efficiency this guy is exactly the same in my experience. It handles itself very well shooting into strong backlight, tracks sensationally in CF mode, acts silently and stealthily, and I simply can't fault it. It's also a joy to handle and weighs next to nothing (200g) which I barely noticed during wedding shoots. Remember though, I am shooting with an XT-2 so older cameras may not be so gracious with regards to performance.
But what about the XF56 F1.2?
It's a tough call. The ol' XF56 1.2 has that stupidly wide, light eating aperture that melts away out of focus areas, but it's also an 'old' Fujifilm lens that can be a bit sluggish and offers no Weather Resistance. In truth, during the second wedding I shot in Australia recently upon owning both lenses, I switched over to the F1.2 and didn't switch back to the XF50 F2 WR. Why? Because with the XT-2 and at times with boost mode engaged, I didn't have any issues with focusing, and I sure appreciated the images it produced at it's widest aperture. On the other side of it though, the XF50 F2 WR is way more comfortable for day to day use and is a snappier, discrete, crazy sharp and silent lens that represents the latest in Fujifilm's tech. I'll get to a comparison blog post some time soon!
Let's finish up with a little chat about the grain function on the XT-2.
I am really hooked on this little add-on for how it helps gradients appear to the human eye and how it reduces the obvious transitions in colour banding in bright scenes. I find it also helps to produce really pleasing flares as well, and overall gives me +50 hipster points in my day to day photography life. You be the judge! I just hope Adobe gets grain happening in Lightroom that looks this good.
Some final thoughts
Fujifilm have produced yet another sensational bit of gear that's of the highest quality and performs exceptionally, further reaffirming my decision many moons ago to get into the X-Series.
I'm not sure that the XF50mm F2 WR will stay in my kit, as it's so close in focal length to my XF56mm F1.2, which still holds the overall crown for preferred lens out of the two. I also much prefer a 50mm equivalent like the XF35mm F2 WR for street usage and day to day shooting, with the XF23mm F2 WR being the next lens I'd like to get and probably stick with.
Truly, you cannot fault this lens and if I were a newbie to Fujifilm I would grab it in a heartbeat with the XF23mm F2 WR to start my kit off, as they're exceptional lenses for the money that have character and handle wonderfully, whilst producing consistently gorgeous images. Try it out for yourself and you'll see what I mean with the XF50mm F2 WR.
Well, it's been a bit longer than I'd like between posts but that's to be expected when getting ready to move countries. We're currently 'in-transit' with our move from Melbourne, Australia to our new home in Oxfordshire, U.K. enjoying a unique winter in Denver, Colorado, and the copious amount of food that comes in an average serving of food over here. Lord help me!
During November we were lucky to have one of our dearest friends from Brasil join us again for some travels in Australia; our first visitor from there who isn't family! As a little show of appreciation for her efforts to get down to Oz and see us we decided it'd be nice to take her down to Tasmania for a few days, and it was also a good excuse for us to see more of this wonderful part of Australia.
You may have seen an older post of mine here when we previously visited the south and central parts of Tasmania for my 30th birthday, where my wife gifted me the lovely XF16mm F1.4 from her, my friends and family. This time around we focused on checking out some parts of the north of Tasmania up in Launceston, Cradle Mountain, and Meander, as well as a few other spots. If you're someone who loves airbnb and plan to stay in Tasmania some time I cannot recommend strongly enough that you stay with Bodhi and Martin in Meander. They're just wonderful people to stay with and their immense property is full of adventures, one which I will talk about below!
As usual the Fujifilm kit came along for the ride including my new XF50-140 (still not sure if it suits me) and a recent acquisition of a tilt-adapter with an old Helios 55 F2, among many other parts of my kit. The X-T2 perfromed flawlessly throughout my travels of course ;)
So, let's just take a moment here to talk about how awesome it was staying at Bodhi and Martin's property in Meander. Aside from providing a beautiful homestead, expansive property to explore, facilities like a dojo and sauna, Martin also gave us private tours with one particular tour of his preserved old growth forest. Many years ago the native forest that their property backed onto was set to be cleared for logging, then planting of fast-growth trees for further logging and pulping for paper. Martin purchased a large portion of the forest that is abundant in native ferns, blackwood trees, oaks, and many other native flora and fauna in order to prevent this. Champion!
One night my wife discussed with Martin how she wanted to see the glow worms in a cave that was unfortunately flooded earlier in the year. With a little discussion Martin gave us a ripper story (you can go visit him to hear it) of how he came across some glow worms on his property in the old growth forest! Quick snap, we were off for a tour and before we knew it 4 of us were inside of a very large old tree looking up to a population of glow worms at sunset. MIND BLOWN! Our friend Sara was even luckier, as she got to bring a local critter back with her in the form of a leach on her ankle that was nice and fat after a 3 hour feed on her. Good times!