Daily Archives: Sunday, 7th Feb 2016

Weight and Stuff Report – 7 February 2016

Up another wee bit today, which has been another of those inactive ones.

On a lighter[1] note, I can report that my annoying shoulder, while not actually back to normal, is less annoying than it has been,

Here’s a Tigger:

Winter Tigger

Winter Tigger

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/110s
Focal length: 55mm
ISO: 6400
Taken: 6 February, 2016

[1] Lighter? See what I did there?

Fujifilm 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens

I seem to have neglected to mention this lens previously. It must have been that I bought it when I was in low posting mode, or something like that.

To begin with, while I’d seen the specification and reviews, I’d pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to buy this lens any time soon. For a start, it was quite expensive, and while that f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range was tempting, it was a significantly smaller range than that of the 18-135mm that had been sitting on the X-T1 most of the time.

But then Fujifilm had one of their nice cashback offers – the offer of £75 back in my hand made it look a bit more attractive, but still a wee bit expensive. But then those nice Wex Photographic people made me an offer I found hard to refuse. For one day only, they were giving 10% off Fujifilm lenses. Ooooh. Well, at the time, the lens was selling for £749, which meant that combined with the cashback, I’d be getting near enough £150 off, which was enough to persuade me.

This is another of Fujifilm’s “red badge” lenses, like the 50-140mm. As far as I understand it, that means it’s a higher class of kit than their normal zooms, and given that those are rather good, that’s nice to know.

It’s got the usual Fujifilm quality about it – solid build, smooth focus and zoom rings and a nicely clicky aperture dial[1]. Unlike the 50-140mm, this one does extend when it’s zoomed, and it lacks the legendary Fujifilm optical image stabilisation, presumably on the grounds that this would have made an already large lens even bigger and heavier. But given the aperture and the ability to use high ISO and maintain image quality, it’s not as significant a loss as it might have been. Not so sure I’d want to use a longer lens without it, but at this range, it’s not so much of a problem.

Autofocus is generally nice and quick, and I’ve been happy with the relatively few images I’ve taken with it so far – here’s one I did earlier:

Crystal Tigger

Crystal Tigger

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed: 1/110s
Focal length: 55mm
ISO: 6400
Taken: 6 February, 2016

It’s become my standard walk-around lens, replacing the 18-135mm, and while I miss the longer zoom range, I enjoy being able to have a bit more control over depth of field at any zoom level.

Of course, the price has come down a bit since I bought it, but I still got a good deal.

[1] A thing I’ve come to love on Fujifilm lenses. It was quite a shock when I had to take a photo with a friend’s Canon to find it didn’t have one!


Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag

What? Another camera bag? Well, yes. You know how it is. You get a bag, it works well enough, but then something changes and it’s no longer quite right, and so you start looking again. I’d seen something about this bag before it went on sale (like all of Peak Design’s products, it started off on Kickstarter, which seems to work very well for them), but at the time I wasn’t really in the market for a new bag, so I didn’t take too much notice.

But since then, my lenses have grown, making my Lowepro Urban Reporter 250 no longer quite right. It’s still a good bag, and I suspect it’ll get some more use, but I wanted something that can handle the Fujifilm 50-140mm lens with the 1.4x teleconverter attached, and the forthcoming monster 100-400mm when that joins the collection. It also needs to deal with a laptop and the usual collection of chargers, cables, batteries, memory cards and so on.

Well, I spent a lot of time on this – there’s a load of videos on Peak Design’s YouTube channel showing the features of the bag in incredible detail, which led me to decide that I should get one. While the images above (which you’ll only see if you’re not running AdBlock) lead to Amazon, I bought mine from Wex, as they were slightly cheaper. Of course, I had to decide on a colour, and after some dithering opted for “classic tan” rather than “charcoal”.

The bag arrived in some nifty custom packaging, and looks very good indeed – nicely styled, with serious build quality. The internal dividers are much easier to rearrange than most I’ve seen, and their clever folding structure makes them more versatile than the usual kind. The assorted pockets had plenty of room for my spare batteries and memory cards and I was able to use the top zip to extract the X-T1 with the 16–55mm lens and the vertical battery grip attached. The magnetic clip on the front is a nice feature – much easier than the snap fasteners on the Lowepro.

So far, I think I like it. It’s nice to be able to reconfigure the strap for how you want to wear it – I found having it over my left shoulder with the bag behind me was quite comfortable for walking around, even with the X-T1 and a couple of heavier lenses. Rather than go into a load of detail here, I’ll point you at the source:

Peak Design Everyday Messenger – product page

Or you can watch this video, where Peak Design’s Art Viger explains how it all works. Possibly more detail than you’ve ever wanted to know about a bag, but it helped me decide to buy it:

Not the cheapest bag, but it feels nicely robust and should last a long time. And it does look pretty cool.

Peak Design Slide Lite Camera Strap

I mentioned in my post about the Fujifilm battery grip that I’d moved from a wrist strap to the more usual neck kind.

Well, what I actually went for was something a bit more flexible – like the wrist strap, it’s made by Peak Design and uses their innovative Anchor Link connectors. These are great – you can leave the little connectors permanently connected to each camera you use and attach the strap when you need it. So I can move a single strap between cameras without wrestling with the usual horrible connections, or change from the wrist strap to the neck strap in a moment. I can also move the strap connection from the main body of the X-T1 to the battery grip for the best balance, depending on what I’m doing at the time, as I’ve got Anchor Links attached to all three points.

There’s also a tripod plate which allows the strap to be used in sling mode – something I’ve tried previously, but found required too much adjustment to be all that useful to me.

If you want to wear your toys over one shoulder, there’s a nicely grippy section on the reverse side – the idea is you don’t use that when the camera is around your neck, and flip it over when you move to shoulder carrying.

The strap itself is made of good quality strong webbing material – seatbelt stuff, so it’s not likely to break any time soon. Length adjustment involves Peak’s well designed locking connectors – flip up the bar, pull strap to your preferred length and put the bar down again.

This is a well-made strap that offers enough options to suit most camera users. Compatibility with other Peak products makes it even more useful. Worth a try.

There is a heavier-duty model for bigger cameras – this particular one is aimed at users of CSCs and smaller DSLRs.

Fujifilm VG-XT1 Vertical Battery Grip for the X-T1

What’s this? Has Les had a funny turn and decided to make his relatively small and svelte[1] Fujifilm X-T1 bigger? Well, yes. Let me explain…

When I was using Canon DSLRs, I always shunned the idea of adding a vertical grip. I knew the reasons why you might want one – extra battery life and easier use of the camera in portrait orientation, but neither of those seemed particularly important to me. And when I switched to Fujifilm – first the X-E1, then the X-E2 and later the X-T1, I still didn’t really feel the need, despite the relatively poor battery life of my newer cameras.[2]

But having mangled my shoulder lately, I’ve been looking for ways to reduce any kind of strain at all – I’ve switched from the wrist straps I’ve been using for years to a more conventional neck strap, and after a bit of reading concluded that not twisting my hand around when shooting vertically might be a good idea. So I ordered one of these.

Fitting it is a simple operation – you remove a cover from the base of the camera to expose the contacts, and place it in the provided compartment on the top of the grip (nice touch, that – prevents losing it), remove a cover from the pins on top of the grip (nowhere to put that, though…) then line up the grip and screw it into the camera’s tripod socket.

While you don’t have to do this, it’s a good idea to insert one of your spare batteries in the compartment in the grip. The camera will then recognise that it has two batteries, and will display separate power levels for each of them. And it will use the battery in the grip before the internal one, so if you’re going to be out for a while and likely to get through several batteries, you can just keep changing the one in the grip rather than having to remove it to change the internal one. Nice.

Once it’s on, you’ve got a slightly larger camera, which actually feels more balanced when one of the heavier lenses is attached[3]. There’s a bar for attaching one end of your strap, which avoids it getting in the way in portrait mode.

The important bit is the replication of controls – there’s a shutter release, plus focus assist, AE-L and AF-L buttons, not to mention front and rear control dials. To avoid these getting pressed when you’re in landscape mode, there’s a lock switch around the shutter release (which caught me out the other day, when I was wondering why the buttons weren’t working  :duh: ).

In use, it feels a lot more comfortable in portrait mode, and I think it’ll be a permanent fixture on my X-T1.

[1] First use of that word on Losing it. Also probably the last, so make the most of it
[2] This is a general issue with compact system cameras, where around 300 shots it about all you can expect compared with 700 or more with most DSLRs
[3] Another reason for getting it!