Waiting for spring...pondering...

I do need to get out more. I try but its not as possible as it used to be but thats not something for discussion right now. I am blessed with time to think, read and ponder though about whats possibly next for me and my family. I’m going to be a Grandpa this year. Thats something I have been waiting for, for like eons. So that occupies my thoughts, for both my wife and I as grandparents and for my son in becoming a Father. I’ve loved watching my son grow as a human being and a man over the years and I’m excited that he will have the experience to raise a child. Having a child doesn’t make you a parent anymore than having a stove makes you a cook. But in knowing him and his wife, I know their child will be in good hands. These kids will make great parents.

Other things I ponder besides this weekends forecast of The Great Snow, are travel and vacation plans for 2019. My wife does not travel as well as she did prior to her affliction so when I think of travel for anything its with some restrictions. I like to incorporate photography into my travel - imagine that - so our trips are considered with an eye towards worthy imagery. Not always but it is something I think about. And in thinking about that, I start to think about what sort of images I want to capture, locations throughout the land and what they offer; what haven’t I done that I can attempt? Thats leads to what cameras and lenses will work best and other logistical “things” about locations, lighting and what not. I like to think about landscapes, structures and local people as subjects for traveling so my camera selection revolves around those things.

When I think about those subjects, I always think about detail for landscapes and structure. I think about high dynamic range of a scene, I start channeling “Ansel Adams” and get these glorious thoughts of a picture which screams for a large capable sensor. Several years ago at it’s announcement, I bought into Fujifilm’s medium format hype, and spent a decent amount of money on the GFX 50s and a lens when it became available. I sold my full frame equipment on the promise of the coming lenses and improvements to the Fujifilm medium format system. Sure other medium format options exist, but even though those use the same sensor they cost 4x-6x more and their lenses are VERY expensive. So my “bargain” Fujifilm Medium format body and lens combo of $10k plus put medium format within my grasp. I wonder now, if I made a mistake in embracing the Fujifilm system as the system promised has become something else. This is a big ponder.

Now, this camera takes outstanding images, no question there. When I can use it, it is breathtaking. Fujifilm has developed 9 lenses since its inception and that is quite a few but numbers of offerings isn’t everything. And in developing the lenses, I started to wonder what the line of thinking was by the product engineers and who are they designing and making these lenses for? Fuifilm’s excellent X system, the smaller APS-C system, was also introduced from zero and lenses followed very quickly. Lenses that were in demand and useful. It became a well fleshed system quickly, a system I had no problem embracing and the range of glass was and is equal to anything out there from any manufacturer. I sort of just figured the GFX medium format system would follow that formula of success. But the last several lens creations leave me wondering if I shouldn’t just go back to full frame. Full frame design hasn’t stood still, I can get glass and cameras that come damn close to what the GFX50s can do. Fuji has teased a new GFX100 camera soon. I’m saving for that much more expensive but much more capable camera and its closer to what I envisioned in sensor and function from the start. This body alone will run $10k. I am now very hesitant because to date Fuji has only built 3 really useful across the board lenses for the system. Out of 9. So there are six head scratchers out there. Remember too that even though Fuji’s lenses are cheap for medium format glass, the least most expensive is $1700 priced up to $3300. Each. Ouch. But if you want to play, you need to pay. I knew that. I should add that these lenses are weather sealed and built like tanks plus they offer image quality and resolution off the charts. You are getting the very best available. Even the head scratchers are optically stellar. Close to engineering perfection.

But there is that nagging wonder about where the collective Fuji engineering head is at? To wit, one oddball lens that made me wonder is the GF 120mm f4 Macro. Its a “macro” but doesn’t focus close enough to offer a true macro specification of a 1:1 image ratio. It only gets 50% there. So its really just a close focusing 120mm lens equal to 98mm in a FF view. It is a stabilized lens but it needs to be cause its f/4 aperture puts it on the slow side. Why didn’t they just go 1:1 and make it the more exceptional and complete macro? This might be a good portrait lens but they also created the GF 110mm f2 which is 87mm FF equivalence of pure perfection for portraits, product work, etc. The 110mm is a winner and one that I own. Well embraced by the masses. But having it sort of means the 120mm is less useful, and many others think that way too. Fuji did add a 32-64mm zoom which is a VERY good zoom, with superb quality and images and they offered a 63mm 2.8 lens. All these where first introductions, a wonderful start. I bought my GFX50s with the 63mm since it was a “kit” lens and the only thing available. Its not junk but its not super useful and remains my least used lens of the four I own. Fuji built a GF 250mm f4 prime lens but that one should have been a full on 300mm offering. They built a $900 TC for it too, so if you wanted a MF telephoto approaching something useful having a 300mm base over a 250mm base got you close, especially with the TC. Those extra 50mm would have made a difference and I cannot believe the engineers couldn’t make it work in the same packaging but they went small. Why? A few days ago they announced a GF 100-200mm f5.6 zoom. Its a outstanding design effort and its product page talks about how technically challenging it was to create and build. Its lightweight and resolution are top notch. But the problem is it has no use. A 2x zoom? Super slow 2x zoom. And you can add that $900 TC and get a even slower 2x zoom. Its said this is a landscape photographer’s dream lens. Really? At wide open 5.6 you would need to shoot at close to 12,800 ISO and a shutter speed of 1/250th second to even make it work around here in all but full on bright sun, sometime in July. It is a stabilized lens to you could hand hold it down to around 1/30th I expect but with that kind of ISO setting, your pic is gonna look like crap. They said its an outdoors lens for nature and hikers. I don’t know many hikers looking to lug a medium format camera around. But in the woods I take pictures in, the overhead canopy makes it kinda dark on the ground where I am and again f/5.6 is so slow…

You get the picture. Yes, Fuji is building some excellent glass for the GFX system but its not useful glass and that just works against me forking over any more money for this system. So I’m left pondering what to do with this system and very guarded in investing anymore into it.

My other camera system is the Fujifilm X system and that is well stocked and very capable. I love that system and its my workhorse. Right now I am pondering how to buy the beyond excellent XF 200 f2 telephoto. I’m shooting more birds, deer and wildlife with an eye towards doing more of it since its one of the few things I can still do as I care for my wife. The 200/2 is built for this. It has no peer. Its expensive but actually less so than a Canon or Nikon equivalent. But my dilemma if it can be so called, is buy the 200 or buy the new GFX100 later this year? Yeah, given all thats going on in the world this isn’t really a dilemma but hey, this is me pondering so there is some “blue sky” involved here.

Other pondering items include trying to get back into camping but again, there are restrictions given my wife’s affliction. All is possible but there is a degree of work to make it happen and any undertaking is always 50/50 depending on her day to day well being. I do think I can get my bicycles active once more, at least for out the door local road rides. I’ve given up looking for a location for a studio but an odd thought crossed my mind about turning my existing house into a studio. Its a decent sized place with high ceilings, a staircase, good window light, ample parking and my wife and I use a quarter of it. I can turn the upstairs into our living space, except for the kitchen, and just use the downstairs and grounds around the house for photography. I may have some interesting tax considerations there as well. Definitely ponder material.

I also need to unload a lot of stuff. This is a constant ponder. I have motorcycles to sell, much to toss out and much to send to Goodwill. I mentioned this before in another blog post but this year will be the year of “lessening the load” and getting rid of a basement and two garages worth of stuff that is no longer used and for which I have no plans TO use.

But this post is long enough. Time to tie this one off and get to my day to day chores. I’ll hopefully have more to add and hope to get a post together with some pics and tips I have learned in shooting birds and making them come to my feeding station. Things I’m sure others know but I need to talk about something. And then there is Capture One for Fujifilm. There is a lot to say about that. Its all good too. Stay tuned and by all means stay safe.