Two and half years with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1

Welcome to a blog post about my experiences with a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1 and X-mount lenses while traveling through 10 countries between September 2014 and July 2015. This is not a hands-on review – there are already tons of reviews online, and, both the X-Pro1 and X-E1 have already been replaced by the X-Pro2 and X-E2 respectively.

For the past 10 or so years, I have been a hard core Nikon gear user – with two full frame DSLR’s (D-700’s) and a range of lenses from ultra wide angle to 400mm. From experience, I always travel with a 3 to 5 lenses (or more) and when on extended travel, or to challenging environmental conditions – I always bring two cameras; one as a backup in case one is dropped, or malfunctions, and also the flexibility of a wide angle lens on one camera and a telephoto lens on the other camera. A year off work to travel changed all that.  The size and weight of even one DSLR and a range of lenses was too much, even carrying a single D700 with a 50mm lens is bulky and heavy – and does not allow the creativity of different lenses, or a second camera. There was simply no way that I could carry my normal camera gear for 10 months international travel.  Bottom line – I needed a smaller and lighter camera with near SLR capability.

 

Approximately 8 months before the start of my year off work, I started to look really closely at the developments in mirror-less technology.

My basic criteria included:
1) Small size and light weight.  I don’t want to look like a pro photographer with a couple of DSLR’s dangling from my neck. My goal was to be able to carry all my camera gear in a non-descript messenger bag.

2) Ability for inter-changeable lenses.

3) I needed a system that would provide excellent image quality.

After a lot of research at mirror-less system Olympus, Sony, and Fujifilm, I settled on the Fujifilm. At the time, the Fujifilm choices were between the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. I bought an X-Pro1 for the electronic and optical viewfinder, and since I did not have previous experience with electronic-type viewfinder.  The X-Pro1 with the large buttons and dials has the look of a vintage rangefinder film camera.  Still wanting a second camera as a backup – the other logical choices was the X-E1. The X-E1 is smaller and lighter than the X-Pro1 and doesn’t have the optical viewfinder. Both cameras use the same “X-Trans” CMOS sensor – so image quality is identical. The two cameras do have slightly different ergonomics – with practice I would learn how to automatically adjust the buttons and dials on each without removing my eye from the viewfinder.  

 

With the X-Pro1, and X-E1 my lenses included the XF 14mm, XF 18-55mm, and XF 55-200mm, which all fit easily into my Timbuktoo shoulder bag. All this gear (camera and lenses) was less bulk, and weighed significantly less than my Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm land and 70-200 VR1 lens.

 

During the 10 months of travel, we experienced high humidity in Thailand and Cambodia, dusty and hot conditions in Western Australia, experienced cold temperatures on the mountains of Nepal, were blasted by sand storms in Dubai, snowed on in Turkey, and chilled on the damp beaches of Normandy (France), and in Holland. The X-Pro1 and X-E1 and my and X-mount lenses performed without problem – mostly. The X-E1 had a hate relationship with the XF 14mm, the rear LCD screen would flicker and then the camera would lock up. Only after pulling out the battery would the camera cooperate – until you pressed the shutter – and then it would lock up again.  I didn’t have any problems with any other lenses. Mysteriously, the problem was “cured” after dropping the camera on the street. The X-E1 worked fine (even with the XF 14mm lens), though the XF 18-55mm lens didn’t fare so well (it has since been repaired by Fuji Canada).

 

Now, almost 15 months after starting the year-long journey and nearly two and half years since I bought them, both the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are showing signs of wear and tear. There are small dents, and in some areas the black paint is worn off. There are a couple of flakes of dust on the sensor, even some inside the lenses  – nothing major. The cameras and lenses are still working well. During the travels, they were not ‘babied’ – simply dropped into the messenger bag, lens caps were never used, and even at times, the lenses were changed in less than ideal conditions. I have taken tens of thousands of images X-Pro1 and X-E1, and by now can speak comfortably about the positives and negatives.

Like most cameras, the X-Pro1 and X-E1 do have little quirks that could be annoying. My only major negative comment is the slow focusing. Actually, focus speed sucks.  Do remember that focus speed has been significantly improved in X-Pro2 and X-E2.

Other quirks are the all-too-easily turned exposure compensation dial, and the fly-by wire Fuji XF lenses that do not remain set to a specific focus distance after the camera has been turned off and back on again.  

 

  • I do like the large buttons and dials for adjusting the aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation.
  • I also like that the X-Pro and X-E1 are small and compact, and do not spook or intimidate the subjects as much as a large DSLR, giving me more freedom and access than if I had a large DSLR around my neck.
  • I bought the X-Pro1 for the electronic and optical viewfinder originally thinking that I would not get used to the electronic viewfinder. Instead, I hardly ever the optical viewfinder, only in low light situations.
  • I also really like the fact that the eyepiece is not centered as in DSLR (and X-T1). Instead, the viewfinder is on the left side of the camera. My nose is not squashed against LCD screen.  My right eye in viewfinder, left eye is not blocked – and can view the scene.
  • I also like that the cameras look retro, or old-school. Many people have asked me if the camera was an old range-finder type film camera, or a Leica M9 !. Although the Fuji’s do use the Fuji-X lens mount, with adapters I can attach old film camera lenses (M39 and M42 lens mount) along with Pentax, Canon and Nikon lenses.  While in Holland,  I bought a couple of old manual focus russian lens (Industar, and Helios). Their optics are not nearly as good as the Fuji-X lenses, though they do have a unique look.
  • I also like the build quality, image quality and weight of the Fuji-X lenses – especially the 14mm, 35mm and 55-200mm.
  • I love the quality of the images. Even though though the X-Pro1 and X-1 are now several years old, compared to newer cameras, the quality of the images is still amazing. Images straight out of the camera are sharp with bold vibrant colors.

 

So – will I sell my DSLR camera gear ?

The Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 are unique cameras, and not necessarily for everyone.

There are some things that the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 simply do not do well. As any artist knows, it is a matter of using the right tool for the job. Photographing things that move quickly; children, wildlife or trains – are easy with a large DSLR, and is a challenge for the X-Pro1 and X-E1. The X-Pro1 and X-E1 are great for static subjects, or where you need a lightweight and more discreet camera for street and travel photography. Back at home, I can use my X-Pro1 and X-E1 for studio work, with my (for Nikon) Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 controllers.

Finally, my experience is biased, since I have not yet tested the newer X-Pro2, X-E2 or the X-T1.  

 

In Ottawa: Russian with Love (Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 and Russian lenses)

 

I am visiting Ottawa for a couple of days. I feel bit like a spy – Wait don’t call the RCMP just yet !. What ever you do – Don’t call me Igor Gouzenko. It is actually just my camera gear I am using – a couple of Russian camera lenses on my Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1.

Yes, Fuji does make some really awesome lenses for their X-Series cameras including the ones that I own; Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS, Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R Super EBC, and the XF 55–200 mm f/3.5–4.8.

For this trip, I am going nostalgic. I grew up in Ottawa, and lived there for many years. This short visit is also somewhat nostalgic, in that I am vising many of my old favorite places. Back when I lived here, I used manual focus lenses (autofucus was still in its infancy), so going manual focus for this trip isn’t out of line.

So – on my Fuji X-Pro, and Fuji X-E1 I have a L39-FX adapter for the Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 lens, and a M42-FX adapter for the Industar 50-2 f/3.5 50mm, and Helios-44-2 58 f/2.0 lens. Oh – I know what you are thinking – Why not stick with the Awesome Fuji lenses ! – They are small, light and Autofocus !.

The old Russian lenses are fun to play with, they are cheap, and they are not optically perfect. There are imperfections in the glass that give the lenses a unique look. It is also so much fun to just play ;>

DSCF5375Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

SHSA5440Industar 55mm f/2.8 on Fujifilm X-Pro1

SHSA5444Industar 55mm f/2.8 on Fujifilm X-Pro1

DSCF5378Industar 50-2 f/3.5, on Fujifilm X-E1

DSCF5382Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

DSCF5384Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

DSCF5390Industar 50-2 f/3.5 on Fujifilm X-E1

SHSA5454Industar 55mm f/2.8 on Fujifilm X-Pro1

Dynamic Amsterdam

One of the disadvantages of photography is that it is a snapshot in time based on the shutter speed. As photographers, we can choose freeze time by using a very fast shutter speed, or slow down time by using a slow shutter speed.
This is a composite image, of three sets of three photos (slow, medium and fast shutter speed ie: HDR) all combined together into one.

 

Why ?. The advantage of combining image is to record the static (non-moving objects) and the blur of objects that moved based on the the speed of movement.

 
All photos taken with a Fuji X-E1 and XF14mm, at various shutter speeds with a Hoya 8xND and Hoya Polarizer, and processed in PhotoMatrixPro. Click on any image in the gallery to see it bigger, click on the small black arrows to scroll to the next image.

 

Why I bought a Fuji-X

I am often asked by friends and family for suggestions for a new camera. It usually comes up in a conversation like this….”I am going on a trip to (town/country), and need a new camera…What should I buy ?”.

Even with two cameras and three lenses, it is less-than half the size and weight of my Nikon photography gear. I like to travel light.
Even with two cameras and three lenses, it is less-than half the size and weight of my Nikon photography gear. I like to travel light.

My answer is always -it depends on what you want to do with it, and what your expectations are. Basically, it boils down to the camera that meets your criteria for size, weight, cost, features and complexity. In its simplest form, a camera is a tool, and it has often be said ‘use the right tool for the job’. The same can be said for photography….’use the right camera for the job’.

My criteria for a new camera included; small-size, low weight, travel camera, at reasonable cost, and one more criteria–

“It Feels Right”

It is a criteria that goes right to your gut, and it isn’t something I can clearly define. Visualize it as wearing the right pants this morning, you had the right amount of milk and sugar in your coffee this morning.

It is abstract, and not something that can be easily defined or described by dollars, size, weight, or any numerical value. It is not hotter or colder, wetter or drier. Instead, consider it as something that you enjoy using…“It Feels Right”. The flipside, if it does not Feel Right – then, chances are, you wont be having fun, and won’t do it, or use it again.

Ask yourself – would Oscar-Claude Monet have painted Water Lilies, using paint brushes, or paint that did not “Feel Right” ?.

Would Henri Cartier-Bresson have used a camera or lens that did not Feel Right

So – Does the Fuji-X Feel Right for you ?.

You decide: check out the features, assess how it performs, check the lenses, pixel-peep the quality of the images, feel the ergonomics, fiddle with the menus. How do you feel when you use it ?. Does it Feel Right to you ?

My criteria for a new camera for 10 months of traveling included a small, light weight interchangable lens camera, that can perform in low light, and produce good quality images, and of course: Feels Right. To decide, I went to my local camera store and played with different cameras, then found the one that simply ‘Feels Right’. It may or may not have been the most cost effective, highest resolution, most megapixels, most popular, or voted ‘best’ camera. It was simply chosen because it ”Feels Right”.

I selected the Fujifilm X-Pro. From the start, the X-Pro feels solid, the overall ergonomics of the camera felt great, and the position and shape of the the dials (shutter speed, exposure compensation and aperture ring on the lens) felt so natural in my hand (improved with the accessory hand grip). Adjusting the shutter speed is easily done by turning the dial between two fingers, and adjusting the exposure compensation is easy by sliding your thumb. All adjustments can be done without removing your eye from the eyepiece. There is no program, or specialized scene mode – manual, automatic, shutter priority, or aperture priority. So simple. Compared to my Nikon D700, the size and weight of the X-Pro is almost negligible, it’s awesome for travel. An added benefit of the small size, is the discreteness of the camera and the ability to really get in close and mingle with the subjects, without being too obtrusive is a really positive.

Although the X-Pro is not technically a ‘rangefinder’ camera, feels like one and takes some getting used to. The optical viewfinder was what lead me to the X-Pro in the first place. The frame lines let me see what is coming into the frame. It works awesome with wide and normal field of view lenses, but after I bought the Fuji XF 55-200mm lens differences in parallax made it impossible to get the camera to focus on the desired location. With the flick of a small lever on the front of the camera, it changes to an electronic viewfinder that corrects for parallax and shows the exact field of view. A couple of months later, I also purchased a Fujifilm X-E1 as a back-up to the X-Pro, and with the added advantage of having a wide angle lens on one camera and a telephoto lens on the other camera. Both the X-Pro and X-E1 can use the same lenses, have the same battery, and same charger. Having spent quality time with both the X-E1/X-Pro, it is often hard to tell which camera I am using – the performance and the external controls are almost the same. Externally, the X-E1 is physically smaller and it has a tiny pop up TTL flash, and only has an electronic viewfinder. As both the X-Pro and X-E1 have electronic viewfinders – you would expect them to be the same – Not. When I wear sunglasses, the view in the electronic viewfinder of the X-Pro (in landscape orientation) is completely black, whereas in portrait orientation the image is viewable. With the X-E1 (and wearing sunglasses) the view is normal in both landscape and portrait orientation. Why ??. So, fortunately, the X-Pro has an optical view finder that I can use wearing sunglasses, and fortunately, the electronic viewfinder on the X-E1 displays correctly. Both the X-Pro and X-E1 have a +/-2EV exposure compensation dial on the top-right corner that is easily rotated off ‘0’ when handling the camera out of the camera bag. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass, though, on the positive side, it is easy to rotate with my thumb without removing my eye from the viewfinder.

One other feature that won me over to the Fuji-X cameras are the small, light very fast, high quality Fuji-X lenses, and the shallow sensor to flange distance that with appropriate adapters allows other lenses to be used. I’ve got adapters for Nikon, Canon and Leica-R, and someday, might even try a Leica-M and Contax-G lens. With adapters, all lenses are manual focus, which isn’t too bad using focus peaking, though a ‘green dot’ focus confirmation as in the Nikon D700 would make focus-verification easier. Autofocus in Fujifilm X-Pro and X-E1 are good enough for most situations, but not known to be super fast (Note – autofocus in the X-E2 and X-T1 are apparently much faster). I never use ‘Continuous AF’, which literally means continuous focus, and runs continuously even when the shutter button has not been pressed.

Finally, the Quality of the images – this is where using a X-Pro/X-E1 “Feels Right”. Both the Fujifilm X-Pro and X-E1 cameras use the same APS-C X-Trans sensor resulting in fantastic colors and detail, and the images are completely usable and noise images free up to 6400 ISO – which is better than my full frame Nikon D700 DSLR.

As a travel camera, my X-Pro and X-E1 have performed near flawlessly, through humid jungles of Thailand, high altitude mountain treks in Nepal, in the hot and dry Australian outback, dropped in sand on a beach in Turkey, and my camera bag has been thrown aboard buses, trucks, trains, rickshaw, and on the roof of taxis (not even tied down). The weirdest glitch is between the X-E1 and 14mm, they are simply not compatible !. With the 14mm lens, the X-E1 camera locks up, the LCD goes black and flashes. When the camera is turned on/off it repeats. I removed the battery, upgraded the firmware on both lens and body, no effect. I just plan to not use 14mm on X-E1 !.

Unfortunately, just before publishing this post, the Fuji XF 18-55mm lens broke !. For some reason the lens, when attached to the camera, the error message on the camera LCD says “Lens Control Error”. After contacting Fuji, and confirming that the lens is still under warranty, although is has to be sent back to the country of purchase – which for me is Canada. So – for this lens to be repaired under Warranty, it has to be sent to Canada, at my expense, then sent back to me – currently traveling in Europe (again at my expense). Shipping the lens across the Atlantic Ocean – twice, is going to add probably more than half the value of the lens !. Surely, a large, International company like Fuji – can work something out with it international partners so that the stupidity of sending a lens back and forth across from Europe to Canada then back to Europe can be avoided….maybe someday !.

 

SHSB9944

Both cameras are now showing some wear and tear. There is black paint scuffed off from the corners exposing the shiny grey metal and a few small dents. Consider this cosmetic wear as creases on a farmers hands – they show life !. At times, during my travels, I confess to having camera envy, seeing other tourists carrying Nikon D4s, D800/810, Canon 5dMkIII, or Leica M9. It could be me, carrying my two D700’s, a 17-35mm lens (or the 14-24mm), and a 70-200mm but that would be 15 kg of camera gear instead, of my Fujifilm gear (two bodies and three lenses) weighing only 6 kg (with the camera bag). Then I remembered that the X-Pro/X-E1 is a very capable camera and there is a lot of appeal traveling with a smaller, travel-friendly camera with high image quality as opposed to hauling around a lot of heavy gear. All the more energy to enjoy my surroundings !.

Bottom line – the Fujifilm X-Pro and X-E1 “Feels Right”, and is the Right tool to suit my photography needs.

My camera is Black – but not a Black Box

My camera is Black – but not a Black Box

During the past few months, I’ve travelled from Canada to Thailand, Australia, Nepal and Turkey by airplane. As we all know, large commercial airplanes have ‘black boxes’ that record the parameters of flight such as altitude, engine performance and pilot conversations.

In many ways, my camera is also a black box. It records the parameters of the photo – shutter speed, aperture, time and date. However, unlike airplane black boxes, the camera does not record my conversation while composing the photo. Not that I talk out loud while composing a photo – Imagine for a moment that the camera could record my mental conversations, thoughts, and envision for what I am seeing in the scene in front of me. 

Steve to camera – ‘I am taking this picture because…’

Steve to camera – ‘Lets slow down the shutter speed to blur the people walking by…’

Steve to camera – ‘What if I moved a bit to the left…’

Steve to camera – ‘Lets see what happens if we add +1 exposure to reduce the backlight …’

Steve to camera – ‘What if I…’

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

This collection of images were taken at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (the capital the United Arab Emirates). Architecturally stunning and large enough to accommodate 40,000 worshippers, the mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007. There are 82 roof-top domes, more than 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers, and contains marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. Photo technique: All photos were taken handheld (tripods are not allowed), with the camera braced against a wall or column. Three long exposure photos (-1, 0, +1 exposure) were combined to ghost the other visitors. Photos combined in PhotoMatrix Pro. Fuji X-E1 with XF 18-55mm lens.

Click on an photo to make it larger, and use the arrows to move to the next photo.

 

 

 

Rush Hour in Kathmandu

In Kathmandu (Nepal) it is always ‘rush hour’; bicycles, bicycle-rickshaws, motorcycles, three-wheeled tuktuks, cars, vans, buses and trucks or all shapes and sizes are constantly honking as they weave between each other, passing on the inside lane, passing on the outside lane, and occasionally sharing the lane with on-coming traffic. Add pedestrians, farm tractors, two-wheeled tractors and wandering cows – and it all gets real interesting.  There seem to be no traffic rules, or they are simply ignored. The vans photographed below, had were packed with up to 30 people – far beyond their recommended occupancy limit, and were excessively overloaded

This is a small selection of traffic related photos taken at sunset in Kathmandu, February 20, 2015. Click on the first thumbnail and it will enlarge. Form there you can scroll through the larger images to see the whole collection.

All photos taken with a Fuji X-E1 with XF 14mm, or Fuji X-PRO1 with XF 55-200mm.

 

 

 

 

After the strong (7.8) earthquake that struck the Kathmandu Valley on April 25, 2015 and the many aftershocks, many of the modern and historic buildings and roads shown in these photos have been extensively damaged or destroyed, and thousands of deaths and injuries.

 

 

Day 56: Beautiful Bangkok – in black & white and color.

Three days in Bangkok is definitely not enough. Add in some serious jet-lag after a flight from Toronto (Canada) to Abu Dhabi (UAE), then onward to Bangkok.

Wow – Bangkok is absolutely amazing. We only saw a tiny part of the City, and what we saw is so diverse and sensory stimulating; sight, smell, taste, sounds and touch.

The tiny part of Bangkok that we experienced was the Pranakorn district, and we explored Khao san Road and the cultural sites in the Rattanakosin area including The Grand Palace, The Temple of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), The Royal Ground,  The Democracy Monument and the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

The next post will have photos from Wat Pho, ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’.

All photos taken with a Fuji X-series X-Pro1 with Fuji 18-35mm, or Fuji X-series X-E1 with Fuji 14mm lens. Some of the photos are in black  & white, and some are in color,  with notes below.

SHSA8600
A typical food stall on a side street in Bangkok. On the original color photo, the sun was shining through a blue tarp causing the man’s skin to have a blue tinge. In color, the blue tinge was unacceptable and the image could not be used. Converted to black and white the blue tinge is gone, and the photo is quite usable.
SHSA8604-2
A small side street in Pranakorn district.
SHSA8626-2
Good luck trying to cross the Prachathipatai Road, and remember to look Right – then Left (opposite from North America).
SHSB7512-2
Authentic Pad Thai at a food stall on Khao san Road, in central Bangkok. In former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market, and had now become a “backpacker ghetto”; with cheap accommodation, tour buses depot, many pubs and bars, and small shops that sell everything from handcrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, pirated music on DVDs, and second-hand books. At night, the streets turn into bars and music is played, food hawkers sell barbecued fish, insects, and other exotic snacks.
SHSB7513
One of the many food stalls on Khao san Road
SHSB8929-2
Fish in bags at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest weekend markets and contains more than 15,000 booths selling goods ranging from Amulets, antiques, art, books, collectibles, clothes, food shops, furniture, handicrafts, home décor, household appliances, and pets. We saw many species of exotic birds, squirrels, and large turtles selling for 60,000BHT.
SHSB8931-2
Pet food ?? at the Chatuchak Weekend Market
SHSB8941-2
Delicious home-made Thai food at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Food stalls are an orgy of color, which can sometimes look good in black in white, though how would you tell the food apart if they were all shades of grey ?.
SHSB8943
Boy selling ducks at Chatuchak Weekend Market. The original color version of this photo was had a overwhelming range of color, all of which was too distracting to the story – a boy selling ducks at the market.
SHSB8982
I am not sure what the sign says. Any one read Thai ?
SHSB8993-2
Pan fried Quail eggs at a food stall in the Chatuchak Weekend Market
SHSB9029-2
Inside view of the chaos inside the huge Chatuchak Weekend Market
SHSA8823-2
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.
SHSB8916-2
View from the ‘Bearing’ BTS station
SHSB9118-2
Above ground BTS track, and MBK Shopping Center in the distance. There wasn’t much color in the original photo – shades of bleck grey concrete. In black and white, the tones, and shades are more powerful.
SHSA8646
‘Old and New’. Wooden Wat (Temple) from several 100 years ago, with a modern structure (apartment building). In black and white, the orange-red-gold colors on the temple are now the same shade as the more modern, and drab colored building in the background.
SHSA8819
Traditional Thai show. Not sure that the show was about ??
SHSA8889-2
Boat taxi. In many ways, similar to a city bus on a scheduled route, though speeding through the canals and the fee collector wears a life jacket and a helmet.
SHSB9091-2
A busy street in Central Bangkok. I love the colors of the cars and taxis; bright pink, and bright yellow. This photo would also look Ok in black and white, showing the range of shades of gray, though in color the insane colors of the cars would be lost.
SHSB9110-3
A fancy building in downtown Bangkok – Of course, the ‘Anti-Money Laundering Office’.

SHSB7492

Day 55: Wat Pho (‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’)

The Wat Pho or “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” is the largest and oldest wat (temple) complex in Bangkok, and it houses more than 1,000 Buddha images that were moved from abandoned temples in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai by order of King Rama I. Wat Pho, officially named Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram is one of the six temples in Thailand that are of the highest grade of the first class Royal temples.

The temple is renowned for the enormous gold plated Reclining Buddha image that was built during the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 51) and represents the passing of the Buddha into final Nirvana after death. The Reclining Buddha, is 46 meters long and 15 meters high and is the largest Buddha image in Thailand. Constructed out of plaster around a brick core, the reclining Buddha is decorated with gold leaf and his eyes and foot soles are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

The Buddha’s feet are 5 metres long and are divided into 108 arranged panels, each exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories.

There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Visitors drop coins in to each of these bowls in belief that this will bring good fortune, and to help the monks maintain the wat. The sound of these falling coins is quite distinctive and can be heard throughout the temple.

Now – on to the photos.

SHSA8706-9
Side view of the Reclining Buddha

SHSA8709-54   SHSA8713 SHSA8714-24 SHSA8724 SHSA8737

 

SHSA8710

Yes, All the photos are in black & white. Why ?

1) The color versions of the photos do not show the stark beauty of the gold plated Reclining Buddha image or the intricate paintings on the walls. You simply have to go there yourself, and don’t simply look at on-line photos. In black and white – you have to use your imagination.

2) The photo are also in black and white because there were so many jack-asses inside the temple, photographing the Buddha  using the flash on their cameras. Flash-Flash-Flash…..and more Flash, Flash, Flash…..on and on. This is really disturbing – and for me really the flash really destroys the moment of appreciating the Reclining Buddha.  How can appreciate the beauty, when the other tourists beside are taking a bunch of photos, and each time the flash reflects off the golden Buddha and blinds you !.

So – end of my Rant. Other tourists, don’t be a jack-ass, and try to be considerate of others !.

Metabones Speedbooster – Leica-R Lenses on Nikon and Fuji-X Cameras

Testing out Leica R 19mm f/2.8 (version 1) and Leica R 35mm f/2.8 lenses on a Nikon D700 and Fuji-X cameras (X-E1 and X-PRO1)

On the Fuji-X cameras, I also compared the Leica R Elmarit (19mm and 35mm) with a regular adapter (a simple tube with the appropriate lens mounts), and with a Metabones Speedbooster. The Metabones Speedbooster is a unique adapter that uses the full image circle of a full frame lens on a cropped sensor (APS-C) as used on the Fuji-X series. I won’t get into the specifics about the Speedbooster since there are tons of website and blogs describing how it works.

Note: There is no Metabones Speedbooster Leica R to Fuji-X adapter. The Leica R lenses were modified with a Leitax (Leica-R to Nikon) adapter. See www.leitax.com/leica-lens-for-nikon-cameras.html for more info on the Leitax adapter. Although Leitax does make Leica-R to Fuji-X, I used the Leitax (Leica R to Nikon G) adapter to allow the Leica R lenses to be used on my Nikon D700.

These images illustrate the different ‘looks’ with different cameras, and the different field of view between the different adapters.

Since the settings on my X-PRO1 and X-E1 differ, I have included sample photos from both. None of the images have been edited, other than default setting in Lightroom.

Compare Leica R 19mm f/2.8 (Manual Focus)

From left to right Leica 19mm on Nikon D700, Fuji X-PRO1, and Fuji X-E1. Both X-PRO1 and X-E1 had the regular adapter. See info below. Click on the image to Enlarge.

 

Leica-R 19mm on X-PRO1 with regular adapter (left), and Metabones Speedbooster (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.

 

Leica-R 19mm on X-E1 with Metabones Speedbooster (left) and regular adapter (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.

Compare Leica R 35mm f/2.8 (Manual Focus)

From left to right Leica 35mm on Nikon D700, Fuji X-PRO1, and Fuji X-E1. Click on the image to Enlarge.
Leica-R 35mm on X-E1 with Metabones Speedbooster (left) and XPRO1 with Metabones Speedbooster (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.
Leica-R 35mm on X-PRO1 with regular adapter (left) and X-E1 with regular adapter (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.

 

Compare Fuji-X 35mm f/1.4 on X-PRO1 and X-E1 (Auto Focus)

Fuji-X 35mm f/1.4 on X-PRO1 (left) and on X-E1 (right). Click to Enlarge.

Compared to using the Leica R lenses on a Fuji-X camera, the Fuji-X 35mm f/1.4 definitely has the auto focus advantage. Will I keep using manual focus Leica R lenses on the X-PRO1, and X-E1 ?. Even with the zoom function on the ‘M’ setting, it is still a challenge to focus and I certainly don’t recommend using a manual focus lens on a Fuji-X camera if the subject is moving.  Using Leica R lenses on the Nikon D700 is much easier thanks to the super large view finder and also has focus confirmation making manual focus relatively easy.

Reviewing the photos taken with the regular adapter and the Metabones Speedbooster, the images appear sharper and have more contrast with the Speedbooster. The Metabones Speedbooster isn’t cheap, then again, neither are Leica R lenses, so you get what you pay for.  According to the previous owner, the Speedbooster that I purchased was defective since it did not focus at infinity, and it would have cost too much $ to send the Speedbooster back to have it adjusted.  There is a real easy fix to the infinity problem with Metabones Speedboosters.

1) Loosen the small screw on the rear of the adapter.  2) Take note where the lens element is in its rotation. 3) Turn the lens element to move it closer or further from the film plane. 4) Tighten the screw. 5) Check infinity focus. 6) Repeat until happy.

17628b17b36fb81e3280b585f61828Photo and instructions from

fredfred27 November 2013 (http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/5770/metabones-lens-speed-booster-adapter-focal-reducer/p25)

See also the instructions on the Metabones webpage (http://www.metabones.com/article/of/infinity-adjustment-speed-booster-only)

Although not shown here, I’ve also been testing the Metabones Speedbooster with my other Leitax adapted Leica-R lenses, including the 19mm f/2.8 Elmarit Version 1, 35mm f/2.8 Elmarit (version ?), Leica 80-20mm f/4 ROM, 90mm f/2.0 Summicron, and 135mm f/2.8 Elmarit.   All work fine, and are easy to focus. The 35mm Elmarit did have a problem with infinity focus that was not related to the screw adjustment in the Speedbooster, instead, a small metal flange in the lens was hitting the glass on the Speedbooster. Having taken the back end off the Leica-R lenses swap out the original Leica-R lens mount and attaching a Leitax Nikon lens mount it was an easy task to once again open up the back of the Leica-35mm lens and wrap up the lens with tape and tissue, then carefully file down the small piece of metal flange. The while process only took a few minutes.

Will I keep the Metabones Speedbooster ?, right now I am undecided.