Tag Archives: first impressions

Fujifilm GFX 100 The Landscape Camera Of My Dreams

Hosta
Hosta – Closer
Hosta – Closest (93%)

Recently, I sold off quite a bit of my camera equipment that I don’t really use any longer, and managed to purchase the Fujifilm GFX100. I’d really wanted to purchase the GFX100s, but that thing is on backorder probably until 2022 (just kidding – sort of).

This morning, I took the GFX100 out for a spin around the yard. I’d already gotten it all set up, but had not actually taken any photos with it. I’m heading out to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument next week and figured I’d better do some test runs to make sure I understand how to get most of what I want from the camera.

After my 15 minutes outside, I must say I am totally blown away with the results. Editing was minimal – just some light/dark adjust and a little increased color saturation. I didn’t use sharpening for any of these images. I’m still learning and during this upcoming trip will fine-tune things (hopefully). I’d like it all to be “camera ready” for my big trip in a few months to Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite national parks.

The photos above are of a hosta plant. With that last image, I tried to crop it at 100 percent but I’m apparently not that good with cropping ratios. I managed to get to 93 percent crop and the photo looks as if I’d captured it with my Sony mirrorless – it looks that awesome even at such a crop. This makes me think it’s a landscape photographer’s dream – at least, this landscape photographer’s dream.

So, a few first impressions here:

I turned off the focus point beep so it wouldn’t be intrusive. However, I guess I didn’t turn off any noise regarding the shutter click (still learning the menu system). That said, the shutter click noise is quiet (to me), which is nice.

The menu system is pretty easy to understand – far easier than the Sony menu system but not quite as intuitive as the Canon menu system. Still, it’s easy. There’s just a lot of menu items to go through in order to find what you want (like the command for formatting the memory card).

There are dual memory card slots. I must say, the door to the slots feels kind of flimsy – as if it might snap off if I am not careful.

An acquaintance of mine who has had this camera for far longer than I, told me that attaching and removing the lens was “backward” to his Nikon. That, of course, means it’s just like my canon, which for me, is easy. So, no problems there.

The GFX 100 does not have that mode dial that my other cameras have. I miss that, but it was definitely not a deal breaker for me. I see the GFX 100s has the mode dial. And, speaking of modes, I am a total manual settings person, but I have to tell you, trying to figure out how to set the camera to manual took me quite a while to figure out, even with the instructions. You’re given a few choices for programming the front command dial (I chose ISO) and a few choices for programming the rear command dial (I chose shutter speed) then to make it completely manual, you simply twist the aperture ring on the lens to choose your aperture.

The top LCD is always on, even when the camera itself is off. I don’t know how much of a drain that puts on the batteries, but the juice to keep that LCD on has to come from somewhere, right? The LCD itself is nice and clear and easy to read.

The rear LCD is a moveable one, but, if you have the camera on a tripod and it’s low to the ground, and you’ve got the LCD flipped so you can look down to see what the camera sees, that viewfinder sticks out and actually hides a good portion of the rear LCD. Sigh.

I’ve read about everybody complaining about the joy stick. There’s a 4-way controller in the rear, and that’s what you use to move and select your focus points, among other things.

I turned off the touch screen because it tends to make selections for me when I am wearing the camera around my neck and it bumps into my clothing. I’ve done the same thing with my Sonys.

A number of photographers don’t much care for the “clunkiness” or show reaction time to the camera. Sure, this camera is not a Sony Alpha 1 in terms of speed, that’s for sure. But the resolution and resulting images make up for that, where I am concerned.

While this camera is “boxier” than my Sonys, it still feels way lighter than my former Canon 1DX and 1DX Mk II. I have small hands and it fits my hands pretty well.

The colors do tend to be understated, but – as reviewer Ken Rockwell says – that’s because this camera was made more for “people, fashion, and product photos.” So I’ve had to bump up the colors during the editing stage. Not a big deal for me. I have read about quite a few photographers getting this and the GFX 100s for landscape and I wonder if Fujifilm realized this would be a game changer for that aspect of photography. If they didn’t before, I’ll bet they know it now.

This camera uses two batteries, so I had to remember to order two spares. These batteries are supposed to last a long time for a full day’s shooting, but I always like to carry spares around.

This morning, as I was walking around with the camera around my neck (which is how I carry it when I remove it from the tripod), I realized I needed to put that vertical shutter button on lock, because it kept bumping against me as I walked and clicking that shutter.

I have an l-bracket for this camera. Actually, I use l-brackets for all of my cameras because it makes it so much easier for both horizontal and vertical shots. It was difficult to find an available l-bracket but I managed to snag a used one on KEH.com.

This is not a camera with a fast fps (remember “people, fashion, and product photos”), so it’s not anything a wildlife photographer would be using much. But for those of you landscape photographers out there who use a tripod (or, well, ok, use the burst method of handholding, which I sometimes do), then this will blow you away with the image quality.

There is in-camera image stabilization, but I keep that off since I use a tripod mostly. However, even with handholding, I keep the IS off because I’m using the burst method (aka “spray and pray”) which generally means at least one image out of the series of contiuous shutter clicks will be nice and clear. Sure, that uses up space on the memory cards, but that’s why you should always have extra cards handy, so you don’t have to waste time going back and deleting previous images to make room for new images.

There are all sorts of other pros and cons that I’ve read about things I haven’t actually needed or wanted to utilize – yet – and this post is just a sort of “first look” review. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts about this camera once I return from my Mount St. Helens trip. That’s when it will get much more of a workout.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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The Pentax 645Z Non-Scientific First Impressions

Becky At The Refuge

Self-Portrait taken with the 55mm lens at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

I believe I mentioned  in a recent post that I’d sold my firstborn (ok, I don’t have kids so that’s not entirely true – I sold someone else’s firstborn – just kidding) to purchase a new Pentax 645z medium format body and a couple of used lenses (the 55mm and the 28-45mm zoom).  I haven’t really gotten out with it, much; this camera is sort of like saving the “good” silverware for use at that special dinner party.  Also, I currently live in a part of Texas that is totally blah when it comes to scenic landscapes, especially in the summer. Hey, I was born in Montana and also lived in Washington State, so I tend to measure everything else by those yardsticks.  I did, however, need to get the camera set up and start learning how to use it so I wouldn’t be wasting valuable sunrise or sunset time fumbling around the controls during its use while on vacation.

I’ve got several reasons for adding this camera to my Canon family:

  • I’ve wanted to follow in my father’s photographic footsteps.  After all, Dad is the person who instilled in me the love of photography.  Back in the day, when the family lived in Montana, Dad would take his Mamiya medium format film camera and drive up to Glacier National Park or maybe Big Mountain in Whitefish to spend the day capturing the scenery.  One of my bucket list goals is to get up to Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana, and photograph the snow ghosts in black & white with my new medium format camera, like Dad did.
  • It’s been a great desire of mine to try out medium format for landscapes as I love the dynamic range capture ability of medium formats.  To see the sensor of a medium format camera compared to the sensor of a full-frame camera is always an eye-opener.  Sure, I could rent a medium format, but I figured that for the price of repeated renting (basically to take along for each and every one of my vacations), I might as well just buy the camera outright for use for the rest of my life (fingers crossed that I at least live long enough to justify the price of camera and lenses).
  • I’m really interested in comparing the 645z to the Canon 5DSR

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE my Canons.  I love Canon glass and I love my 1DX and 5DSRs.  That won’t change.  The Pentax 645z is like the rich aunt coming to live with the family, promising to buy a new house of the family’s choice, for the family’s use in perpetuity.

Why did I choose the Pentax 645z, a camera that’s been around since 2014, as opposed to the new Hasselblad X1D-50c mirrorless or the Fuji GFS 50S mirrorless?

  • Price – I wanted a new, not used, camera body. That was non-negotiable. On the BH Photo site, the Pentax lists at $6,996.95, the Hasselblad sells for $8,995.00 and the Fuji sells for a comparable $6,499.95.
  • Online reviews and sample images; I used Flickr.com a lot for sample image review.  I must admit that the images are all comparable, so I knew that whichever medium format camera I chose would produce great pics.
  • Established quality and reliability.  The Pentax is a great brand and it’s been around long enough to have established its quality and reliability with users (a Pentax was my first SLR purchase when I entered high school, eons ago).  Hasselblad – well, that goes without saying, and I did consider purchasing this camera except that it is more expensive and the wide-angle landscape lens I wanted to pair with the camera (Hasselblad XCD 30mmHasselblad XCD 30mm) has been on backorder forever.  The Fuji looked interesting, but it’s brand-spankin’ new, I’ve never used a Fuji before (nor have I ever used a mirrorless, actually) and it didn’t have enough reviews or images to change my mind away from the Pentax.  It’s also easier, at this point, to find used Pentax lenses from places like KEH and Lensauthority.
  • AF fine-tune adjustment (aka micro focus adjustment).  This was the major deal breaker for me (aside from price).  I wanted the camera to have some sort of AF fine-tune adjustment in its menu.  I don’t care that lenses are supposed to focus perfectly with all cameras of the same brand – they don’t.  I have had to use micro-focus adjustment on every single one of my Canon L-lenses to make sure they focus correctly between all of my Canon models.  I read that legacy lenses for the Pentax (like the 55mm lens I own) have front/back focus issues and need to be adjusted.  In all my research, I never found out if the Hasselblad or the Fuji had the ability to fine-tune focus.

Below are my first thoughts of the camera right out of the box and after a couple of very short photo sessions:  a morning session at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and a session at my DIY studio in my apartment.

Out of the box:

  • Without any lens attached, it’s actually as light as my 5DSR and definitely lighter than my 1DX.  It feels like that to me, anyway.  The heaviness comes from the lenses. That 28-45mm zoom lens I have is a freakin’ tank!  The 55mm lens, on the other hand, is light as a feather.  Ok, allow me to amend this:  any lens affixed to the Pentax after hefting the camera with the 28-45mm zoom attached would feel light as a feather.
  • The Pentax 645z body is sort of “boxy” compared to my Canon’s, but I love the grip – it’s a deeper grip which allows my small arthritic fingers to get a better handle on the camera.
  • This camera has a built-in remote receiver, so I don’t have to attach a wireless receiver to the hot shoe or any other internal attachment point like I do my Canons.  Plus, the Pentax wireless remote sender is cheaper than the ones purchased for my Canons (naturally, it must be purchased separately, because – well – they want to make all the money they can off of you in terms of accessories).  That said, after use for all the self-portraits, I can say the Pentax wireless remote is definitely less sensitive and much slower than my Canon wireless remotes.  I can hold my Canon remote sender behind my back or on the floor (pushing the button with a toe) and the Canon picks it up.  Not so with the Pentax remote sender/receiver setup.
  • Cameras of different brands will, of course, have their buttons located in different positions, those buttons will represent slightly different uses, and even the way a lens is attached to the camera body will be different.  So, I continue to have a bit of a learning curve.
  • Both of my lenses (55mm and 28-45mm) needed to be AF fine-tuned.  Easy enough, except here’s the kicker:  unlike each of my Canon cameras, which allow for, and keeps in the camera’s memory, each of the settings for the wide-angle as well as the telephoto portion of a zoom, the Pentax 645z does not do that.  Oh, it does remember the AF fine-tune settings for each separate lens, but when it comes to fine-tuning the AF of a zoom lens, it only remembers the last setting entered for that lens.  So, I must remember the separate settings for the 28mm focal length and the 45mm focal length, then re-adjust in the camera depending upon which focal length I choose to use for a shot.  Oh well, memorization is good for the aging brain, right?  It just takes a little more time to set and then re-set focus adjustment for focal lengths, so it’s good I am photographing only landscapes and not wildlife or sports.Speaking of which, I did not purchase this camera for sports or other action shots.  I only wanted this camera for landscape and portrait imagery.  Good thing, because the Pentax 645z has a speed of 3 fps (frames per second) as opposed to my Canon 5DSR (5 fps) or 1DX (12-14 fps).
  • All of my Canons sport L-brackets.  I love those things because it allows easy setup on the tripod for vertical or horizontal shots.  Initially, the closest thing I found to an L-bracket for my Pentax 645z was to purchase two separate quick-release plates from Really Right Stuff (RRS), which I did.  Each plate is $55.00.  Another, later, search dug up camera plates for this camera as sold from KES (Kirk Enterprise Solutions).

Regarding quality, I LOVE the results from this camera.  Below are some landscape and studio self-portraits captured using each of the focal lengths on my lenses.  The dynamic range is amazing, as is the ability to crop to 100% and still get awesome resolution.

Sunrise On Big Sough

Sunrise over Big Slough in Brazoia National Wildlife Refuge (28-45mm zoom at the 28mm focal length)

Boardwalk Over Big Slough

The boardwalk over Big Slough at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (28mm focal length cropped)

Boardwalk Over Big Slough

The boardwalk over Big Slough at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (28-45mm zoom lens at the 45mm focal length)

The Brazoria NWR trip was the very first time I’d used this camera and lenses, and of  course I’d forgotten the AF adjustment settings for the zoom lens focal lengths. So I messed around with the adjustment there at the refuge, not really knowing if I’d applied the right settings (I had not). Thankfully, these zoom lens shots still look pretty good, as long as you don’t zoom in 100% on those two black-bellied whistling ducks perched on the railing way in the background.

Becky At The 55mm Perspective

Taken with the 55mm lens

Becky At the 45mm Perspective

Taken with the 28-45mm zoom at the 45mm focal length

Becky In Her Studio

Taken with the 28-45mm zoom lens at the 28mm focal length with the top and sides cropped.

Becky And Her Backdrop

Taken with the 28-45mm zoom lens at the 28mm focal length with the camera and tripod moved much closer to the subject and the top and a bit of the sides cropped off.

These self-portraits were all edited with some very minor sharpening applied.  The 100% crop below of the second image in the series above shot using the 45mm focal length, however, is the original with no sharpening applied.

IMG0257_100 pct crop

I’ll be taking this camera and the lenses (as well as my Canons)  along for my Mt. Rainier National Park and Glacier National Park trips this year.  I am super-excited about this and will, of course, share my thoughts and images here.  I especially want to see just how well this medium format camera does with high-ISO environments, like night photography and other general low-light conditions.

 

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Filed under Equipment, HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens, Pentax 645z, Pentax Lens, Pentax-D FA 645 55mm f/2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW Lens