The end of an era, the start of another
This week marks the last week in my near vacant studio and the demise of The Studio at 46 West brand. Both the studio and brand have served me well, although admittedly many people told me that even with my window display and sign above the door, they never knew it was a photography studio. Live, learn and grow via experience. So now my business will become either Wally Kilburg Photography or Kilburg Photography but regardless, my website will always be wally.kilburg.com from now on. My new studio is set right now, barring any issues, to be in downtown still but up the hill on Lasalle St., east of Broadway (Rt. 25) and a few blocks south right at Benton St. Major upgrade folks! I have a parking area and the street parking is good for 3 hrs. Larger shooting space. Yay! Look for a grand opening and open house in June. I do have new, improved business cards and a new web site will follow. I'm plotting pushes on instagram and possibly Facebook but thats still in analysis. To say I have learned a lot is an understatement. I'm very proud that I established and grew my business without having to delve into work I didn't want to do, just to keep the doors open.
UPDATE: So it is that I WILL not be moving into a new studio as planned. I received word shortly after posting this that the negotiations between the seller and buyer fell through. My studio equipment is in effect in storage while I continue my search. I do have a large complement of equipment on hand at my home office to satisfy any location work.
With the move, and ever so slight branding change, I also changed up my equipment. I switched from being a majority Nikon shooter with my Fujifilm cameras backing me up to being ALL Fujifilm. A very tough call for me, especially with their new, sight unseen (at the time), medium format camera being a part of the plan. So my Nikon equipment was sold, and Fuji fully engaged. Why, some will ask? Well, Fuji has been innovating the market, they are producing cameras you use and not devices designed because technology lets you. Sure, they incorporate a lot of new tech, their film simulations, and color lead the pack. They continue to update their cameras with new firmware ALL THE TIME, which in some cases provide features and functions other manufacturers would call an upgrade. And then charge you for another camera. Fuji does this for free. Yeah, it makes me all mirrorless too, and THAT is scary but mirrorless provides goodness too. Being able to see what you get in terms of lighting, color balance and exposure while having a tilt screen for work matters to my tired eyes. This really came to light when I needed emergency surgery on my left eye and found using a viewfinder really difficult during recovery. So with the EVF and mirrorless, I have both. I will take the trade off and deal with the issues. Plus I have been using my Fuji X system for awhile anyway and my customers never noticed, I think the images are every bit as good as any other APS-C or full frame camera out there.
But their medium format camera held major interest for me. Medium format always has. It's just been so expensive and not being a "name" photographer and able to charge super stratospheric rates, I could only drool on my keyboards while looking at the Hasselblad and Phase One systems. Then, Hasselblad started it with announcement of their X1D - a smaller medium format 50mp sensor in a "smaller than DSLR", mirrorless body. And 2 lenses for it. Starting point of $12k for entry. I was intrigued since before this, $60k or thereabouts was the starting point for medium format. Fujifilm had been rumored to be toying with a medium format camera though...and sure enough a few months after the Hasselblad announcement, they announced the GFX 50s. Yessir, 51.4mp sensor in a newly designed mirrorless body with lots of features and a huge processor for getting those images Fuji is famous for. About the size of a full frame DSLR. Initial offering of three lenses with three more coming by 2018. Entry fee of just over $8k. Plus a tilt viewfinder (I want), a grip if you want and are used to it and some other cool accessories. A system. Fully planned. In that the GFX would share menu layouts and be so similar to what I was already using, and Fuji's reputation for firmware upgrades, and overall pleasing imaging, I made my mind up. It was now or never and the sale of my Nikon equipment would cover my GFX system and planned expansion of it.
So here it is. Fuji underestimated it's popularity and was way late in delivering orders.
As it was, I wanted the GF 32mm-64mm f/4 zoom since it gave me a better range of focal lengths I would use with this camera. But Fuji really underestimated the zoom's popularity and it could be another month before its available and possibly not even then! So I went with the 63mm f/2.8 which is a 50mm-ish full frame equivalent. It doesn't look like almost $9k, does it? Cameras never do.
I have very limited time shooting with it. I probably have more pictures of it than with it. But I have noted the images are very detailed and very clear. I can't think of a better way to describe it. Color is fantastic. Yet the post processing of GFX data are very different from processing X Trans sensor data. Big time. Here are some things I have noted already:
I'm less than thrilled with the black out of the viewfinder after a shot. I realize it takes a long time to write 51.4 megapixels of data to a SD card, but this does bug me. I think I will get used to it. I hope so. Auto focus is slow, not dramatically slow and about on par with earlier mirrorless AF systems. It really sucks in poor light but don't they all? The camera strap connection is important and the tried and true lug system in use since Lincoln posed for a portrait is missing. Instead Fuji developed a terrible protruding stud thingie you hook their strap (which sucks) on to. So, I had to do some McGyver'ing to get my Peak Design connectors on it securely. What a pain. In handling, the camera is actually light. About like a DSLR in size, its got a very angular shape and the grip while substantial, isn't that friendly to me. I personally have a tough time reaching and using the shutter button, especially for focusing with the half press. I plan to use back button focus so that will help but its still an odd feel to me. Buttons are all programmable, very very nice. They are well placed too. The camera looks and feels plastic like but thats the norm. It feels solid and its weather resistant. I think once I get past the black out thing, I'll be cruising. Expect to hear more about this camera as I get my new place up and running. I will be talking more about using it than tech stuff which makes it work.
Right now, I know it works well with my Profoto lights and my selection of speedlights. I do miss not having a studio to test it at. I sure picked the wrong time to buy into a new system. Ah, but May will here before you know it. I'll be dreading moving into Lasalle St. and setting things up. Time has a way of going super fast lately. In between now and then, I will be using the GFX where possible. Its not like the Nikon in being able to do double duty if needed, its a way more specialized, purposeful camera. It won't lend itself to being an everything camera but I knew that. It should excel at what I do have planned for it. More to follow amigos!