Fujifilm have a lens roadmap which they revise from time to time. One item on it that I’m interested in is the planned “super telephoto” lens, which was originally scheduled for this year, but has now slipped to late in 2015. Never mind, I can wait…
But just how super is this lens?I was thinking maybe 300mm, which would be more or less equivalent to a 450mm lens on a full frame camera. That would be nice. But perhaps not. They’ve put an image on Instagram of a mock-up of the lens. And a close look at the front shows it to be 140-400mm – that’s equivalent to 600mm on full-frame at the long end. Now it’s likely to be a wee bit heavy, but not as heavy as equivalent DSLR lenses. It’s also likely to be expensive, but I think it’ll be worth it….
And by the wonders of WordPress’s automagic embedding, here it is:
Having walked my legs off on Friday and Saturday, I felt the need for a more relaxed day today, so cancelled my one final planned Heritage Open Day visit, but as that was for somewhere that’s going to be open permanently (or so I understand), that wasn’t too much bother.
So, I’ve had a quiet day in – watched some TV, did the ironing and began to mentally prepare myself for going back to work tomorrow
A couple of photos for today. This beautifully carved Tyne River God is a feature of the Mining Institute library. He’s covered in more symbolism than a very symbolic thing, from the cloth (prosperity), corn (plenty), and more, with coal in his crown:
While I’m not planning to go into a lot of plot details, it’s likely that the random mutterings that follow will reveal some things you might prefer not to know if you haven’t seen the episode yet, so in my usual way, I’ll include this warning:
After the usual Frankie and Benny’s breakfast and the even more usual shopping, it was time for some more Heritage Open Day activity. After checking times and things, I decided to start with the most distant. I got the bus to Gateshead then walked north. I headed down Bottle Bank and along the riverside path, and kept going. My target was this:
Dunston Staithes is a huge timber structure (believed to be the biggest in western Europe). It was used to load coal onto ships, and is now a scheduled ancient monument. It’s been damaged by fire several times, but it’s now being restored. The plan is to make it fully accessible to the public, which is the kind of thing that makes me happy. Limited access to part of the structure had been announced for this weekend, and I didn’t want to miss it. But when I approached, at first I thought it wasn’t going to be open after all. My little brain had convinced me that it was the end nearer to Gateshead that was going to be open:
But no, the gates were closed. Oh – that cone on top isn’t part of the original design. It’s art, apparently. Well, thought I’d walk along and see the rest of it while I was there, and then I noticed people walking on the other end, which looks more like this:
The section behind those grey gates was open, and there’s a path sloping up on the other side that leads to the entrance to the massive upper deck. So far, the restoration work has got as far as the first blue gantry that you can see above. And it was a pleasure to walk along this piece of industrial history. Quite apart from the interest of the thing itself, and appreciating how much work has gone into making it safe (a lot of timber has had to be replaced), it also gives unique views along the river in both directions. The other thing is that while it’s visible from a long way up river, and is obviously large, you don’t really appreciate the scale of it until you actually get on that deck:
After a good wander over the Staithes, I walked up to the main road for a bus into Newcastle, then a bus to the Quayside, where I arrived at Trinity House just in time for a short guided tour. No photographs were allowed inside, but I did see this nice, if ineffective, sundial:
After that, I walked over the Swing Bridge and uphill towards the Gateshead Visitor Centre in the old St Mary’s Church to see the latest exhibition. I was passed by a suitably heritage-related vehicle on my way
I got out reasonably early today, as I had a Plan. It’s the annual Heritage Open Days weekend, which involves lots of places that aren’t normally open to the public opening their doors and letting people in to look around, or have a guided tour. Photography is generally encouraged, and it’s an opportunity to see some interesting things, and learn something about buildings you might never have seen otherwise.
There’s a helpful booklet listing things that are open in most of Tyne & Wear. I say most, because Gateshead council decided that this was something they could cut and so haven’t participated in organising or coordinating anything. Not a good choice, in my view, but never mind…
Anyway, I worked out a list of things to go to in Newcastle today, with further plans for tomorrow and Sunday. And remarkably, I got around all of today’s items. More photos will follow over the next few days, but I’ll include some samples here.
First stop was Central Square – a couple of large office buildings behind Newcastle station. The main attraction for me was this incredible atrium:
I arrived just in tie for the guided tour led by the Institute’s President, the splendidly named Bill Bell, who quite apart from having a wealth of knowledge about the building, mining, safety lamps and more, was quite fascinating to listen to.
I then moved on to St Nicholas’s Cathedral, where I had a short wait before having a tour of some of the many monuments and stained glass windows, including this modern piece, which replaced a window lost to blast damage in the second world war.
The outline is meant to represent a chalice, and to suggest the shape of a Spitfire.
Next stop was the rarely-seen Sallyport Tower. Indeed, it was nearly not seen, as whoever was supposed to tell somebody to open it didn’t. However, someone from the council was around, and after making some calls, let the public in.
I was rather taken with this notice board, which is quite old – it’s been a long time since Newcastle had such short phone numbers!
(And that’s a nice example of the X-T1 handling low light very well)
My next stop was going to be CastleGate, but as the next tour wasn’t for quite some time, I headed back to town for some lunch. I went to Garden Kitchen in Eldon Garden. I’d never been there, but I used to like one of its predecessors, so I thought it was time to give it a try. Good choice. I ordered a BLT and a refreshing fruit drink. The BLT was seriously good – the bacon was crisp, plentiful and if it wasn’t freshly cooked, was doing a remarkably good impression of it. The lettuce and tomato were likewise fresh and crisp. The bread was good solid white – farmhouse, I think. The cole slaw served in a little pot on the side made a good addition. I was so impressed I tweeted about it, and at the time of writing, it was still showing on their website:
After that, I had an indirect walk back to CastleGate, where I joined a large group for the tour of the building. It started life as the power station for Newcastle’s electric trams in the early 20th century, and has had various uses since. It’s currently owned by a church, who use it for their services and hire out rooms for functions, events and so on. There’s a lot of its original material still to be seen, including this lovely stained glass window, which can only be appreciated from inside the building.
Hmmm, up again today. Probably due to a slight lack of activity…
As i’ve got plans for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I got the washing done today, and only went out briefly to buy a table. A small one, I hasten to add. I don’t generally bring home large items of furniture on the bus. Details may be revealed at some point. Or not.
Another photo from Bishop Auckland today. This is a delightfully ornate bank:
I couldn’t decide on doing anything particularly interesting today, but I did need to go out to get some essential supplies: coffee beans. So I went into Newcastle, bought the magic beans and hand a general wander before popping over to the MetroCentre for a further wander before coming home.
Today’s photo is another one from Bishop Auckland. I’m informed that this is not an alien invader lurking on the viaduct, but actually some meteorological equipment which allows warnings to be given if it gets a bit too windy up there.
I’ll briefly mention the new Apple thingies before moving on to something that’s more interesting to me.
The iPhone 6 looks to be a reasonably predictable new version (new form factor, bigger, more storage at the top end of the range). I’ll have to wait until I’ve seen one in the metal and glass to be sure, but it looks a bit damn big to me. And the 6 Plus is, well, let’s just say that I am not the target market for a phone that big. I know a lot of people seem to like larger phones – Samsung and others have been doing very nicely selling such things, but it would be nice to have the option of something that will comfortably fit in a pocket. For instance, the Nokia Lumia 625 I have for work strikes me as a little bit bigger than I’d like…
Not really an issue for me, as I’m not due a new phone until next year at the earliest (and I’d have contractual reasons for maybe hanging on to my iPhone 5S for a bit longer).
The Apple Watch is, as I predicted, much more watch-like than a lot of anal-ysts were suggesting. The twisty-turny thing looks like an interesting approach to having a workable UI on something so small, and the range of straps shows a lot of thought has gone into making the watch into something people might actually want to wear. Battery life is going to be the big problem – it sounds like charging every night is going to be necessary, which means having to take yet another charger with you whenever you travel. I’m used to a watch that, while not particularly smart, doesn’t need charging at all.
But all that fades into irrelevance compared to the latest announcements from Fujifilm. Two shiny new (or newish) cameras have just been announced.
First, there’s the X100T – a successor to my lovely X100S, with all the enhancements you might expect (higher resolution, WiFi, etc) and some you wouldn’t (can be charged by a USB connection from a computer, for instance). In addition to the excellent leaf shutter, the X100T adds an electronic shutter with an impressive 1/32,000sec speed. Now that could be nice for taking wide-aperture shots in bright light. Interesting, and tempting.
And there’s a tweaked version of my also lovely X-T1 – this comes with a new finish (which looks pretty) and adds that higher shutter speed, an additional film simulation and other tweaks. All very nice, but the really nice bit is that the new features will be appearing in a firmware update for the existing X-T1 model by the end of the year. There’s a load more enhancements coming, many of which are in direct response to customer feedback.
This is why I really like Fujifilm – most manufacturers restrict firmware updates to fixing the most egregious bugs, with new features being rare. And once a new model comes out, the chances of its predecessor getting upgrades fade away quicker than a thing that fades away very quickly. But Fujifilm actually support their existing customers in a way that does a lot more to encourage loyalty.
Summary is that I’ll be severely tempted by the X-100T, and I’ll be keeping (and improving my X-T1), which seems about right.
 I believe they’re called that because they talk out of their bottoms a lot