Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 22: BIG WAVES WITH MAVIC 2 PRO - Long exposure aerials

Longtime blog readers will know that I've been an avid Aerial photographer for a number of years. My 1954 yellow Piper Super Cub aircraft in Belgium has played a big role in my more recent aerial photography.

I've been watching aerial drone photography from the side lines for a number of years and finally bit the bullet end of 2018 when I bought a DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

While for me there is clearly a place for using an actual airplane, there is also a place for using a drone (also called UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), for some other shots. Aircraft can be allowed to enter airspace where drones or not allowed. 

On the other hand, a Long exposure image like the one below is virtually impossible to take from a moving aircraft. Even from a helicopter this is not easy as your helicopter pilot will rarely be hovering at altitude but rather be moving at a slow speed. 

The stability of modern small drones like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is pretty impressive; as long the winds are not too strong one can quite easily shoot at shutter speeds of 1s or even slightly longer. Waves hitting the shoreline are a perfect subject for "Long Exposure" drone photography. 


Image details:
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro with PolarPro ND1000 filter
  • ISO 100, f5.6, 1 sec
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • DxO ColorEfex pro4 for optimal contrast
Although PolorPro is not a sponsor of the blog, but I've really happy with my PolarPro ND filter set, including the 10-stop ND1000 filter I used for the shot above. 

The fact that the Mavic 2 Pro is one of the first prosumer drones that has a variable aperture lens, makes it perfect to fine-tune the perfect long exposure time while in-flight under variable light conditions. 

More of my Aerial photography can be found here

Lastly, as an aircraft pilot myself, I would like to stress to fly drones responsibly. We still see far too many people that think they can fly wherever and as high as they like to. The sky is not only yours! Make sure to check local regulation and only fly certificated if that is what is needed.

Remember: "You can't stop the waves. But you can learn to surf" - Jon Kabt-Zinn

BJORN

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 21: THE POWER OF NATURE - Using Fujifilm X-T3 PRE-SHOT

Sometimes I hear photographers say, "gear doesn't matter, it is the photographer that makes the image". Although there is some truth to this, there are circumstances where gear does however matter.

A great example is when one wants to shoot night images of a thunderstorm when sitting in the back of an airliner at 35000ft. Yes one can shoot lightning using  a tripod on the ground, but from an airliner which is moving close to 1000km/h this becomes a different story... 

The Fujifilm X-T3 (and X-T30) has a new feature called "Pre-shot ES". I'm sure we have all been there, where we realize that we just missed the shot in high action photography; a fraction of a second too late. Like magic, it allows to get those shots that otherwise would be missed. How does it work? 

First the function is part of the high speed burst (CH) mode and only works with the Electronic Shutter (ES). In Pre-shot ES and when half pressing the camera continually stores the last 20 images in the buffer (not on the SD card). The moment one sees the image, the shutter is pressed full down as normal. The last 20 images, just before the shutter was pressed fully down, are then written to the SD card as well as those frames that are captured while pressing the shutter down. In selecting the final image, one can then use the image that just captured the right moment. 

This is exactly how I captured the image below of an active thunderstorm with the lightning bolt. I particularly like how the yellow of the city in the right side of the image, plays off the deep night blue sky lit by the lightning.


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF35mm f2 lens
  • ISO 6400, 1.8s, f 2.0, Manual focus
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development 
  • DxO ColorEfex pro 4 for optimal contrast 
When trying to capture "The decisive moment", the Pre-Shot ES function is really opening all kind of doors!

Both my Portfolio and my Galleries have a dedicated Aerial section. Please check them out by clicking on the links. 

Remember: "Stop trying to calm the storm. Calm yourself and the storm will pass" - Timber Hawkeye

BJORN



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 20: SUNRISE OVER THE MEDITERRANEAN

Making images pretty much on a daily basis, occasionally a portfolio worthy image slips through the nets. Such was the case with an image I shot in Nice, Côte d'Azur almost three months back... 

While on a 24hr layover in Nice, I woke up to an amazing sunrise in my hotel along the Promenade des Anglais. Just enough time to grab my camera and frame a few shots as the sun disk starting peeking about the horizon.


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T30 with the XF18-135 lens
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • DxO ColorEfex pro with Graduated Neutral density filter and Pro Contrast
I took the opportunity to rework my Nice, France gallery and replaced some of the older work with newer ones. Please check out the gallery here.

The image was shot with the new Fujifilm X-T30 with the XF18-135 lens; a great travel combo! Check out my review of the X-T30 here

Remember: "Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long you will miss them" - William Arthur Ward



Sunday, May 12, 2019

FIRST LOOK REVIEW: FUJIFILM XF16mm f2.8 R WR LENS

It was almost a year ago that Fujifilm put the new XF 16mm f2.8 lens on the "lens road map". Fujifilm is to my knowledge, one of the only camera and lens manufactures that keeps an online list of lenses (lens road map) that are planned, still in development but not formally launched. Generally new lenses start appearing about 12 to 18 months ahead of the official launch on the lens road map.


On Valentine's day 2019, Fujifilm announced the XF 16 f2.8 R WR lens, a brand-new weather sealed, compact wide angle prime.

The fine guys of Fujifilm Middle East were once again nice enough to lend me a production copy about three weeks back, for a "First Look review". Since then it didn't leave my XT-3 body and was used extensively in Bangkok, Hamburg, Madrid and of course in and around Dubai!

QUALITY / SIZE / WEIGHT / DESIGN
Great built quality is what one has come to expect from any Fujifilm XF lens and you will not be disappointed. Made in the Philippines versus Japan for the the 23mm, 35mm and 50mm f2.0 primes, I do not see or feel any difference between them. 


Built entirely out of metal it has an aperture ring (R in the lens name), which has the right amount of resistance. I would have liked to see a little bit of  a harder detent when it goes past f22 into A mode, but this is of course not a show stopper. 

The manual focus ring is small, especially for medium sized male hands; needless to say, this is needed to keep the form factor that small. Personally I don't see myself using manual focus much on this lens, as the Autofocus is one of the best (if not "the" best) of all Fujifilm lenses. More later.


Yes, this lens is indeed tiny. Compared to the XF 16 f1.4 lens, it is about half as tall and half as wide, making it a real compact wide-angle option. Size wise it really fits in well with the other compact f2.0 primes. 

It weighs in at only 155g, which is feather-light compared to 375g for the XF16 1.4. Available in black and silver, it should be available from the date this post goes live. 


Since the lens front element doesn't rotate on focussing, using a circular polarizer  or graduated Neutral Density (ND) filter on the 49mm filter treat, works well. 

Last but not least, the lens is weather sealed (WR - Weather Resistant) which allows you to shoot in the rain, snow, dust or sand as long as the camera body you use it on, is weather resistant as well; X-T1, X-T2, X-T3, X-Pro2, X-H1 all are.

LENSHOOD
The lens comes with a nice little petal shaped lens hood, made out of hard plastic which for me is the best looking and most functional lens hood provided with all of the Fujifilm lenses. Like the lens itself, its size is nice and small, keeping the form factor compact. It can be inverted for installation, but I never felt the need to do so.

AUTOFOCUS (AF)
Especially on the newer camera bodies, all of the recent Fujifilm lenses are blazingly fast when it comes to autofocus and this one might be the winner of them all... Given its small size, there is of course a limited amount of glass to be moved which always helps with AF. Beside the speed, the AF is also dead-on with absolutely no AF hunting (tested on X-T3 with 3.0 firmware). Like the other f2.0 lenses, autofocus is quiet and can barely be noticed. 

The lens focusses quite close at 17cm (compared to the 15cm on the f1.4 version).


IMAGE QUIALITY
First of all, my "First look reviews" are not meant to be a pixel peeping exercise; there are other blogs that do this much better. I'll limit myself to a quick look at overall sharpness, lens flare and chromatic aberration. 

Being small and nimble, the XF16 f2.8 does certainly not disappoint when it comes to image quality (IQ). It's much larger brother, XF16 f1.4, is often referred to as one of Fujfilm's best and sharpest lenses, so a direct comparison is not really fair. After all we are talking about a completely different price point for both lenses.

When stopped down all the way to f2.8, the corners are a little softer but start being sharp from f4 onwards. 

Below is the same image shot on a tripod, under the same light conditions and camera settings at f5.6. The XF16 f1.4 is on the left while the new f2.8 lens is on the right. The first one is the overall view, second left bottom corner at 100% zoom and the last one the center section at 100%. Click on the image for a full size view. The corner sharpness is still a little softer with the f2.8 lens while the center focus is identical for both lenses at f5.6. 




A lot of people don't realize that on a modern camera system, even when shooting RAW, the lens is digitally corrected in-camera for distortion and lens flaws. The distortion visible in both jpeg and RAW files is minimal for this wide-angle lens.

Lens flare is kept very well under control and was hard to trigger with the lens hood attached.   


When the conditions are right for it, and especially at close focus distance, you'll find some Spherical Aberration at wide-open or close to apertures (f2.8-3.2). 

Below is an illustration of this with a shot at f2.8 on the left and one at f4 where the effect is gone on the right. This is common for most wide-angle lenses under these conditions and even the XF16 f1.4 suffers from a little bit of Abberation at f1.4. Lastly, I want to highlight that this is only visible under some very specific conditions; it is not something I personally worry about!

   

Finally... below are some real life images I shot over the last three weeks. All shot handheld on the X-T3, with the majority being shot in jpeg.

 SAMPLE IMAGES

1/320, f11, ISO160

1/320, f8, ISO1250

1/640, f8, ISO200

1/320, f2.8, ISO2500

1/320, f6.4, ISO200

1/320, f6.4, ISO6400

1/150, f8, ISO6400

1/320, f8, ISO2000

1/320, f5.6, ISO1250

1/320, f11, ISO160

1/320, f5.6, ISO4000

1/18, f2.8, ISO800

1/700, f9, ISO160

1/500, f8, ISO160

1/320, f5.6, ISO1250

1/320, f8, ISO160

1/320, f8, ISO200
1/320, f11, ISO320
CONCLUSIONS
Blog-readers will know that I like to shoot Street/Travel photography with the XF23mm f2.0 compact prime. At times, I feel like shooting wider and then typically will take the XF16 f1.4 with me. It is however a much heavier and more conspicuous lens than the smaller lenses. 

When shooting street with a wide-angle (24mm full frame equivalent), one typically will be much closer to the main subject; the main reason where the  smaller lens comes in handy. 


Personally I would have loved to see a second version of the older 18mm f2 before this lens, but after having shot it exclusively for 3 weeks, I must say that there is really very little negative to write about this small compact wide-angle. 

I can see two main reasons why one might pick the XF16 f1.4 instead of the f2.8 version of the lens; the first one is for those shooting a lot of close-up images with a shallow depth of field. The second one is for those that shoot a lot hand-held at night and who might need the extra two stops of light. 

Lastly, even though there are a few instances where the larger XF16 f1.4 will perform slightly better, the 400,-USD price point of the f2.8 is hard to beat! And who says, that one can't have both! 

The above review can be shared on Social media and Blogs without prior approval, as long as credit to Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY (www.bjornmoerman.com) is given.  


BJORN








     

Monday, May 6, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 19: RAMADAN KAREEM - Sunset over Dubai mosque

Wishing all of my muslim friends a RAMADAN KAREEM! Today is the start of Ramadan; the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is observed by most Muslims all over the world as a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. 

Living in Dubai, Ramadan is always a period which has great photographic opportunities. 

In a lot of ways, photography is being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes one notices a scene which has the potential for a great image at a different time of the day. Such was the case when I saw an interesting line up between a mosque and the Burj Khalifa in the background. A few days ago, I went back to the location to shoot some images around sunset time.


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF 100-400 lens
  • 1/1000s, f 6.4, ISO 160, 218mm
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development
  • DxO ColorEfex Pro for optimal contrast + Brilliance and Warm filter
For more Architectural images from Dubai click here; images shot during the last few months of Ramadan, can be found here.



BJORN