The Black and the White

Tuesday 6 July 2021

The Online Photographer compares the Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 R WR to a Nikon SE.

The new version of the Fuji XF 27mm ƒ/2.8 R is 22.7 mm shorter than the Nikon SE and about the same diameter. It's also considerably lighter at 84g / 3 oz.

It also sports about the tiniest lens hood ever...almost comical-looking. And yet, who wants a giant hood on a small lens?

There are a few more differences. The Nikon SE has nine elements, and the Fujinon has seven. The XF 27mm has an aperture ring, and the 28mm SE doesn't (neither did the original Fuji 27mm). The Fuji costs $399 (although, as Fujiphiles know, Fuji has periodic sales), and Nikon says the SE will cost $299 when available.

I keep reading good things about the XF27mmF2.8 R LM WR lens, which makes me smile, but then I am reminded that the lens is sold out everywhere, and the smile turns to a frown. It's good that I didn't sell my XF27mmF2.8 lens and place my order when the XF27mmF2.8 R LM WR was announced.

I watched the most recent episode of Apple's TV series, Home Before Dark. The episode is titled "Dark Rooms". During an emotional outburst, the main character, Hilde, breaks the lens on her camera and borrows her grandpa's old-school film camera. There is a great learning moment with the whole family huddled around Hilde holding the film camera. Her dad, Matt, explains that with 35mm film, you take pictures by exposing the roll of film, then when the roll is finished, you drop the film off at the drug store, and two weeks later, you get photographic prints by which time you've forgotten why you took them. Later in the episode, her dad helps her develop the images in the darkroom he set up in the basement of their home.

I have not developed a 35mm colour film since 1989. I'm inspired by nostalgia to develop a roll of 35mm film myself. I've got a kit from Film Photography Project in my shopping cart, but I'm nervous about completing the purchase.

I'm worried about failing.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

"The discussion was 'what are we doing in the future in terms of engine', because we want to save costs, so we don't want to reinvent the wheel," [Toto] Wolff, who did not attend the summit but is protecting vested interests, told the FIA conference on Monday.

"We also want to have a relevant engine from 2025 to 2030, and we can't be old petrolheads with screaming engines when everybody expects us to be going electric.

"So these engines are still going to be fuelled [by zero-carbon fuels]. We are staying with the current V6 format, but the electric component is going to massively increase."

The FIA are increasingly aware that a sport primarily based on burning gas station amounts of fuel on a single weekend needs to adjust expectations for a world where the phrase internal combustion engine is increasingly seen in a negative light.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Over on 35hunter, Dan James asked:

Do you prefer manual or autofocus, and why?

One of the things I love about my Fuji X-T2 is how easy manual focusing can be when using the focus peaking feature. On the Fuji, focus peaking detects the edges of the highest contrast in the scene and highlights them in bright colours (red, blue, or white).

I can adapt almost any manual focus 35mm film-era lens to my Fuji X and never worry about focusing. The ability to use decades-old 35mm film lenses on my Fuji X-T2 brought me back to 35mm film photography after a nearly thirty-year hiatus.

The digital Fujinon lenses for the Fuji X-series also have a focus ring with an instant manual focus feature. Just grab the focus ring and turn. In the viewfinder (or LCD), a manual focus indicator shows the distance to the subject (in meters or feet ), which is useful when zone-focusing. There is also a manual focus assist feature. When activated, the camera zooms in digitally, filling the viewfinder/LCD with a section of the scene for more accurate focusing. There is a digital split image focusing feature, but I have never used it. When using manual 35mm lenses at their largest aperture, I tend to use focus peaking and the "move the body forward-back" technique.

I enjoy using manual and autofocus lenses, but I prefer autofocus.

Saturday 10 July 2021

Inspired by Steve Schwartzman's horsemint portraits post, I grabbed my Fuji X-T2, FotodioX adapter, and a 1980's era manual film lens, my Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 and headed outside to my garden.

I love this lens. It creates a beautiful buttery soft cinematic look perfect for a portrait photograph. My lens was part of a Minolta X-700 bundle I bought from a local amateur who had owned the lens and kit for over three decades.

The MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 is constructed almost entirely of metal1. It feels hefty compared to my Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens, especially with the weight of the FotodioX MD-FX adapter, but it was a reasonably lightweight lens (165g) for its time. My X-T2 has a crop factor of 1.52, so the 50mm is roughly a 76mm full-frame equivalent when adapted to my Fuji.

MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 adapted to Fuji X-T2
MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 adapted to Fuji X-T2 | Saturday 27 February, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back dual camera 6mm f/2 | 1120 sec at f/2.0 | ISO 80

Extirpation is when a plant or animal species ceases to exist in a chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere. In densely populated areas like New Jersey, all the large native predators like the wolf, bear, wolverine, and cougar have suffered extirpation, allowing herbivores such as white-tailed deer to reproduce unchecked except by hunting. White-tailed deer are a problem in New Jersey.

Several years ago, I planted some Hosta, which I translated from my brother's garden in Stamford, Connecticut. Over the years, the Hosta have colonised a good section of the tiny garden and provided a short-lived burst of flowers in the summer. They are short-lived because deer find them tasty. This year I used Deer Out to keep the deer at bay; however, I still lost some flowers. But I had enough left over for this experiment.

The lens, camera and FotodioX adapter's overall weight make precise manual focusing extremely tough to nail at f/1.7. I was also kneeling on the concrete in the driveway. I used focus peaking to get the image to where things appeared sharp and then rocked my body back and forth to hit the right spot, but this made the kneeling even more painful. I need to invest in some garden knee pads. I gave up and went inside for my RRS L-bracket and Manfrotto tripod.

With the camera firmly placed to frame the flowers, I used the focus peaking and focus-check features on my Fuji to dial in focus. I captured three frames, one each at f/1.7, f/2.8 and f/4.

Bokeh was nice and circular at f/1.7, but highlights in the background became hexagonal once I stopped the lens down. This lens has six non-rounded blades. Here are three examples of how the bokeh looks at f/1.7, f/2.8, and f/4. I skipped f/3.32.

The flower at f/1.7 has a dreamy look that I love, but the DOF is too shallow. The bokeh of the f/4 image is less soft and feels a bit muddy, but the DOF is better. That f/2.8 is the sweet spot with pleasing bokeh and just enough DOF.

While I prefer the f/1.7, I think I'll experiment using this lens at f/2.8 for a while.

Hosta Flower
Hosta Flower | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1500 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 200
Hosta Flower
Hosta Flower | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1280 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 200
Hosta Flower
Hosta Flower | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1125 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 200

I practised using the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 at f/2.8. First, at the Brick Farm Tavern and Sourland Mountain Spirits.

Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1700 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 200
Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1250 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400
Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1950 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 200

After cocktails, we drove to East Broad Street to order takeout at Tomatello's Latin Cuisine, a clever assemble of the word tomatillo and the owner's last name, Tello. We had a large order for Bhavna, Shaan and myself. While the restaurant prepared our food, we walked around East Broad Street and Seminary Avenue.

Broad Street, Hopewell | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1700 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400
Harley Davidson
Harley Davidson | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1500 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

East Broad Street is a popular location for showing off cars and motorbikes.

East Broad Street | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1125 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400
East Broad Street | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/2200 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400
East Broad Street | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1250 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400
Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1250 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 200
Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1750 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400
Flowers | Saturday 10 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1200 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

Sunday, 11 July, 2021

Lens-Artists Challenge – Black and White

This week, Anne Sandler hosts the Lens Artist Challenge #156. She has picked the topic of black and white.

I love the colour of colour photography. The colour reminds me of the vibrancy of life. In the West Indies, where I grew up, colour is everywhere. People paint their homes and shops in bright reds, greens, blues, pinks, yellow etc. When I was a child, the mode of public transportation was a large diesel truck with a wood cab mounted to the flatbed with the body painted in whimsical colours of the owner's choosing. The local fishing boats were similarly painted in a multitude of colours.

Bhavna is from India, and the women of that country wear vibrantly coloured saris and kurta pyjamas. There is even a festival, Holi, that celebrates colour.

I don't often photograph in black and white. Except for winter, almost all of my photography is colour photography. Why winter? It seems that people in the United States must dislike colour. How else to explain the drab colours of the cities and suburbs? How else to explain the beige and grey cookie-cutter homes that pepper the suburbs of the North Eastern United States? When I drive around New Jersey, especially in the winter, I often wonder why so very few think to paint some colour to their homes and shops front so that we could enjoy a break from the seemingly depressing days of winter when the trees have no leaves, the ground is covered in a mixture of dirt and snow, and the skies are cloudy all day.

two women playing in snow
Drew University, 1988 | Thursday 1 December, 1988 | Pentax P3 | SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2 | Kodak T-MAX 400

I have included examples of my black and white photographs from my early days as a student photographer to more recent ones photographed on my Fuji X-T2 and Minolta and Pentax 35mm film cameras. I remember back in the days shooting Ilford HP5 400, Kodak Tri-X Pan 400, and Kodak T-Max 400, but in the last two years, I have tried using film again after nearly a 30-year hiatus. The original Tri-X, T-MAX and Ilford are no longer available, but I could shoot modern versions of these films. I love Ilford HP5+ 400, but I have also exposed rolls of RPX 25 and RPX 100.

Wall Street Ferry, Manhattan, New York | Tuesday 11 February, 2020 | Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II | SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 | Ilford HP5+ 400
Molisana Deli, Witherspoon Street, Princeton, Rollei RPX 25 | Saturday 5 December 2020 | Minolta X-700 | MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 | Rollei RPX 25
Bridge Street, Lambertville, Ilford HP5+ 400
Bridge Street, Lambertville, Ilford HP5+ 400 | Sunday 9 February, 2020 | Pentax P3 | SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2 | f/5.6 | ISO 400

When I process digital images to black and white, I use some of the same tools Anne uses, but most often, it's a mixture of things. Sometimes, I use Silver EFX Pro, and sometimes I use in-camera film simulation recipes. Sometimes, I apply an Adobe Lightroom preset and tweak the image to my liking. I don't use one set method. I use whatever works to create the image I want. However, I get the best results when I shoot in B&W on my Fuji X-T2 using the ACROS film simulation, or I flip to B&W in Adobe Lightroom and edit the images using the Lightroom histogram exposure, shadows, highlight and whites slider.

Kiran | Sunday 5 June, 2011 | Nikon D40 | 35 mm f/1.8 | 1/1600 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 450
Wonder Bar,Asbury Park | Sunday 13 November, 2011 | NIKON D40 | 35 mm f/1.8 | 1160 sec at f/11 | ISO 200
Princeton School of Public and International Affairs | Monday 28 September, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm | 1250 sec at f/11 | ISO 250
Flowing Water
Flowing Water, Millstone River | Thursday 4 February, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 13 sec at f/20 | ISO 200
Kingston Mill House, Kingston | Thursday 4 February, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1/1600 sec at f/6.4 | ISO 400
Sunday 26 July, 2015 | Nikon D5100 | 35 mm f/1.8 | 180 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 800
Dandelion | Tuesday 2 May, 2017 | Nikon D5100 | 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55 mm | 1160 sec at f/11 | ISO 500
,Gifford Pinchot State Park | Saturday 20 May, 2017 | Nikon D5100 | 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56 mm | 1250 sec at f/4.8 | ISO 180
Battle of Princeton Enactment, Battlefield Park | Saturday 27 May, 2017 | Nikon D5100 | 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 22 mm | 1320 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 100
Diwalii Fireworks | Saturday 21 October, 2017 | Nikon D5100 | 35 mm f/1.8 | 1.0 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 100
Happy Birthday | Sunday 24 December, 2017 | FujiFilm X100F | 23 mm | 1240 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 12800

  1. The aperture ring is plastic. 
  2. Full click stops are at f/1.7, f/2.8, f/16 and f/22. Half-stop clicks are from f/2.8 through f/16. 


Alphie behind the screen door, stalking birds.

Over the years, I have owned more than a few cameras, though I was never a collector. Whenever a new camera sparked my interest, the old model was sold and the money put toward the new camera. Most often, the improvements were significant, and the old camera was quickly forgotten. However, recently I have gone on a buying spree, and I have collected too many cameras that I rarely use.

I am minimising my minimal legacy film camera collection. But I have a dilemma; shall I keep my X-700 or the XD-11 I bought on eBay last night? When the XD-11 arrives, I will have several film cameras; Pentax Spotmatic II, Pentax ES II, Pentax P3, Pentax P3n, Dad's Canon EOS Rebel 2000, Minolta X-700 and the Minolta XD-11. I think that's too many and I have already decided to sell the three older Pentax cameras - Spotmatic II, ESII and P3 - and keep the P3n but sell the Canon EOS Rebel 2000. It's the least desirable of the cameras.

But I enjoyed shooting the X-700 so much that I want to keep it. But I expect that I'll enjoy using the XD-11 as much as the X-700. I'm uncertain how to justify keeping both once the more capable XD-11 arrives. I want to keep them both, but I don't need three film cameras.

I’m not sure I’ve figured out my used camera spending sweet spot. I know that some of my purchases this year have left me feeling “anxious”. In retrospect, my Pentax Spotmatic II (US$80) and ES II (US$158) purchases seem ill-considered. I have used both cameras only a few times, with weight and ease of use being detractors.

I’ve had real joy using my Minolta X-700. Found on Facebook Marketplace and sold by the original owner who was excited to find out that we lived just minutes apart and hiked the same nature trials, I paid US$70 for the body, two lenses, a camera bag, and two Minolta flash units. I feel quite pleased with this purchase, and I use this camera often.

This month I bought a Pentax P3n ($35) and a Minolta XD-11 ($245). I’m already regretting both purchases; the P3n because I’m concerned I won’t use the camera as much, and the XD-11 feels like an indulgence. I’m hoping the XD-11 is even more fun to use than the X-700 but if it isn’t I’m prepared to shoot a few rolls and resell it. And I’ll probably shoot a few rolls in the P3n and sell that too.

I guess I know that I’ve fallen in love with the X-700, but we’re not yet exclusive, and I’m dating other cameras, looking for the one.

Submitted for the 100DaysToOffload project.