Marco Secchi Blog

Photojournalist in Slovenia and Hungary

Archive for the ‘My Job’ Category

FUJIFILM XF100-400MM WR Lens Quick Review

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If you are the proud owner of a Fujifilm X-series camera and you’re looking for a super zoom lens, now you are in luck with the new XF 100-400mm. Thanks to some good friend I managed to briefly try one on my XT1  and on the new XPRO2

What is the  FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens? For those unfamiliar with the Fuji X terminology, this lens is a 400mm which on a cropped sensor equates to 600mm,  comes with optical image stabilization OIS that definitely  is handy to keep photos from being blurry due to camera shake. Finally “WR”  means that it is weather resistant, as several other Fuji lenses and the XT1 for example.

 

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR key features:

Uses 21 elements in 14 groups, and 5 extra-low dispersion elements and 1 super extra low dispersion elements
Rounded 9 blade aperture
1/3 EV (15 steps)
Water-repellent fluorine coating
Weather-sealed with 13 water and dust resistant seals at 12 points
Included lens hoods features a sliding window for accessing a polarizing filter and locking mechanism
Compatible the XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter (140-560mm F6.3-8 or 213-853mm in 35mm equivalent)
Compatible with optional lens plate (MLP-75XF) and optional ARCA SWISS tripods

I compare it with my 50-140 and  difference is 100-400 1,375 grams,  the 50-140, 1,093 grams.  The diameter is in keeping with the filter size, 50-140 – 72mm, 100-400 – 77mm.

The  side controls are: the focus limiting switch that allow you to choose full range or 5 meters to infinity.  The Program or Aperture Priority switch and finally the Optical Image Stabilization on and off switch.  Between the zoom ring and the aperture ring is the Lock switch for keeping the lens locked in the 100mm position.

I was surprised then when the lens extends out to 400mm it only grows slightly less than 2.5 inches!  

Comes with an amazing 5.0-stop image stabilization system and twin linear motors for speedy autofocus that makes it perfect for shooting fast-moving subjects. I was able to get a good percentage of sharp images with shutter speeds as long as 1/30th second at an effective focal lengths of 600mm handheld that is quite remarkable.

This lens is tack sharp.  I did not have the time to try it adding the Fuji’s XF 1.4X Teleconverter but was told that even with the teleconverter image sharpness is superb and there’s no appreciable drop in sharpness.

Let me state the obvious. This is a large lens and it seems clear that at Fuji at this stage they have no intention to make a full 35mm sensor camera. Having said that I think can fit anyway in the spot of my 50-140 inside my bag. It also felt quite light which helps maintain a decent balance with the X-T1 mounted as long as you properly support the lens by hand or with a monopod. Of course I would have loved to see it as a smaller lens but I am sure there are optical rules and I’m confident this was the smallest and lightest, Fujifilm could make this high quality telephoto! 

Pros:

  • Excellent sharpness 
  • Strong Image Stabilization
  • Excellent close focus distance
  • Long focus throw for precise manual focus adjustments
     

Once again, it is very hard to find negatives for this lens…probably the only issue is the fact that the lens-foot is not Arca-Swiss compatible from the start. But do I often use a tripod…???  No for the type of work I do. I see it more as an issue for other photographers

For sure there will be  the usual comments  ” Hey this lens is not sharp!”…. As I was saying you need a very good  handholding technique or a monopod that are anyway essential to get good results at 600mm effective focal length! 🙂

The Bokeh, quality of the out of focus areas, is nice and soft. Being not a very fast lens when it comes to maximum aperture, one could think it would be hard to throw the background out of focus. However because of the long focal length  the effect is very much present, even at f 5.6.

Lastly, will I be buying the new XF100-400? More than likely yes, is the short answer! I know that is a relative big and  heavy lens and goes against one of my primary reasons for switching from Nikon to Fujifilm, but I am sure I will need it and I have the feeling that after all it is still lighter than the Nikkor 70-200 I use to carry around every single day!

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by msecchi

February 17, 2016 at 10:36 am

Posted in My Job

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Fuji Xpro2 my take!

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Fujifilm X-Pro2

The most awaited upgraded premium camera finally arrives!

During the last couple of months I was lucky enough to try the Fuji X Pro 2 thanks to Fujifilm Slovenia! I used to own the original Xpro1 and I shoot on a daily bases with 2 Leica and I use 2 XT1 and  1 XE2 with an array of fuji lenses so was really looking forward to try this new gem.

The Fujifilm has released the long-awaited modern, advanced model, the Fuji Xpro2 compact system camera. It is one of the coolest, hippest and most desirable APS-C cameras available in the market today.

 

The details and Capability

The Fuji Xpro2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a Hybrid Viewfinder system that incorporates both electrical and optical viewfinders. It has an ultra advance image sensor, X-Trans III technology, for a remarkable image quality and sharpness similar to full-frame DSLRs: brand new 24.3 megapixels. It features a Hybrid AF system with 273 points, of which 77 are phase-detection and cover about 40% of the frame, while the rest is covered by contrast-detection areas for accurate focusing from edge-to-edge.

When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the sensor is delivering clean image quality with minimized noise value, along with a sensitivity range of ISO 12800 that can be expanded to ISO 51200. Besides benefitting the low-light performance, the sensor contributes to faster overall performance, including shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, AF speed of up to 0.06 seconds, start-up time of 0.4 seconds and shooting interval of 0.25 seconds. The mechanical shutter speed is up to 1/32,000 seconds, with an enhanced flash sync speed of about 1/250 seconds, and a new X-Processor Pro that brings extraordinary improved response time for superior performance. It simply delivers the best ever result from Fuji X-Series camera.

Body and Interface Design

Fuji Xpro2 has a robust, weather-resistant body to meet the unique needs of any professional photographer in a touch shooting area. Its chassis is made of four pieces of magnesium alloy, which are sealed with more than 60 points, making it a splash-proof, dust-proof and even capable of operating at low temperatures. Besides, it features two SD card slots for reliable video and image storage.

The exposure compensation dial, shutter speed dial and finder switching lever are milled from high quality aluminum for a comfortable feel and premium look. It also features water and dust resistance command dial on both the rear and front of the camera, plus a push function that are easy to use. Its design also includes various customizable function buttons together with a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD for live view shooting, image playback and menu navigation. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to share images wirelessly to mobile devices, or remotely control the camera from your Smartphone.

What I think

The X-Pro2 is something special, the performance and capabilities of the X-Pro2 make it my instant go-to camera during my travels. The X-Pro2 excels everywhere, the camera is starting to focus before I even decide to take the shot and with the speed, accuracy and amazing colour rendition I found all I had to do was focus my attention on composition. I do not need to shoot anymore in Raw I can simply use jpg.  Put simply the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is a joy to use, it is a phenomenal upgrade to an already superb camera.

The camera will officially be sold in the market in February 2016 for £1,349.00, so get ready for a new world of photography.

 

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This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

January 17, 2016 at 8:20 am

Christmas in Zagreb – Croatia

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Advent in Zagreb 

Zagreb, the Croatian capital, is beautiful year-round, but during the Advent it looks its best. Christmas trees, lights, decorations, delicious foods and beverages, along with joyful holiday goodness made Zagreb one of the best Christmas destinations in 2015 and due to the festive and welcoming atmosphere, it was also named Best Christmas Market 2015. Along with the festive, holiday mood, there are many activities that bring the Christmas spirit to Zagreb.

Advent on the Main Square

Surprise and suspense fill the air as the Advent calendar comes to life in Zagreb’s main square. Visitors enjoy the holiday spirit and take part in festive events including readings, concerts, lectures, workshops, performances, exhibitions, and light installations.

Advent on Zrinjevac

The city’s old music pavilion welcomes visitors to dance, sing, eat, shop, and enjoy their time amongst the cheerful decorations and jovial atmosphere. Talented artists make their beautiful, unique ornaments and souvenirs available. Hungry visitor can choose from many delicious Zagreb specialties, including fried apples, cabbage clothes, baked štrukle, as well as mulled wine and hot chocolate. Music fills the air, too. Waltzes, Christmas classics, and other musical treats are enjoyed by all.

 

Ban Josip Jelačić Square

Situated at the city’s main square, the open air stage hosts many unique festivities, including concerts, children’s performances, and cultural and art events.

Christmas Fair

Surrounding Jelačić Square, Zagreb’s artists and craftsmen offer traditional Croatian products. Shoppers are able to choose from colorful decorations, gingerbread hearts, cookies, jewelry, souvenirs, and a plethora of seasonal gifts.

Ice Park

Just like a Christmas fairy tale, the ice skating rink is home to skating, delicious foods and beverages, and joyful music events.

The Advent in Zagreb is a special event that is not to be missed. Join in as visitors stroll the city streets and sing, dance, eat, shop, and enjoy the festive entertainment in Croatia’s capital city.

Not to be Missed

  • A glass of Medica will put you in a good mood straight away.  Its Rakija made out of honey and spiced with propolis. Medica is a devil in disguise. It’s sweet, flows smoothly, and once you get going you don’t really stop until it’s too late. It has a certain jet lag effect as it can kick you long after you had your last one. 
  • Fritule  are aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon and orange zest, grape brandy  and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar or covered with chocolate. Like almost any home will have its bowl, there is probably no housewife, especially among older women, that doesn’t have her own recipe, the best in the world!

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

January 3, 2016 at 9:06 am

Posted in My Job, Travel

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On the obsession of Dept of Field

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English: DOF scale detail on a Nikon lens

I’m in a good mood generally, and not going to rant, but sometimes I get the impression that some photos have super shallow DOF because the photographer can get it, regardless of artistic value or purpose.That kinda reminds me of a friend of mine an excellent Scottish Musician that he told me  that an awful lot of (usually younger) players, seem to think that playing fast is an accomplishment worthy of wonder in itself.
It just isn’t music… as shallow DOF sometimes isn’t photography.

Consider the irony here. For most its history, among the greatest technical challenges of photography was obtaining even adequate depth of field. From extreme lens movements to big lights, tiny apertures, long exposures, and multiple flash pops, photographers bent over backwards simply to get enough of their subject into focus.

As is often the case, people tend to follow trend so if shallow DOF is “in” then masses are going to follow until something else takes it’s place. With more dof, one has to take more care “Arranging all those in-focus elements into coherent form”…….definetly adds to the challenge of the shot and I suppose brings out the additional skills of the photographer.

How did we go on before “fast lenses”……we either accepted the BG or simply didn’t take the shot!

These days, it’s that for “professional looking” photographs they should buy fast lenses and then use them at their widest apertures. I’ve begun hearing them criticize slower lenses and smaller sensors for their lack of “depth of field control.” That term once meant something more subtle  now it seems to have become merely shorthand for “Right, let’s see how shallow this thing can focus.” It’s all about blur, baby, blur!

Really low DoF does get tired quickly but a lot of portraits wouldn’t be the same without it. When looking through some sets of photos I can’t help but think “Yeah, alright, you have bought a 1.4 lens, I get it”

The current photography hobbyist obsession seems to regard minimal depth of field as a hallmark of a memorable image, some of us relics from the film age might argue pretty much the opposite. The richest photos the ones we return to again and again, seeing more each time most often work in layers. They show more rather than less, taking in the full spatial depth of our world rather than just one razor-thin slice of it.

Written by msecchi

August 8, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Creative Meditation

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I have blogged before about cretive bock or self confidence crisis…..and If you depend on your creativity for your living, then your most valuable piece of equipment is not your computer, smartphone, camera, or any other hi-tech gadget.
“In a modern company 70 to 80 percent of what people do is now done by way of their intellects. The critical means of production is small, gray, and weighs around 1.3 kilograms. It is the human brain.”

VENICE, ITALY - JUNE 21:  Whirling Dervishes of the Galata Mevlevi Ensemble,declared UNESCO World Heritage, perfom under the guidance of Sheikh Nail Kesova at Auditorium Candiani on June 21, 2011 in Venice, Italy. The whirling dance associated with Dervishes, is the practice of the Mevlevi Order in Turkey, and is part of a formal ceremony known as the Sema which is only one of the many Sufi ceremonies performed to try to reach religious ecstasy (Marco Secchi)

So what are you doing to maintain this precious resource? You probably give it plenty of stimulation – books, movies, music, nights out, interesting conversations with offbeat people.

What works for me is daily meditation. Every morning or early afternoon I spend 20 minutes sitting on a mat, focusing on the sensation of breathing, doing my best to be present and aware, and trying not to get tangled up in my thoughts. It makes all the difference for the rest of the day. And I’m convinced it makes me a better visual artist. I also listen every day to meditation music from my iPhone while I am moving around or shooting.

Meditation is a doorway between our inner and outer worlds. Between “reality” (the seemingly solid world that we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch) and an elusive “something else” we sense beneath, between and beyond what those five senses can grasp.

Meditation offers enormous benefits for everyone, and a set of particular benefits for those who are engaged in a creative activity like writing.

Focus. Concentration is essential to outstanding creative execution and performance. The simple act of focusing on your breathing day after day, will gradually improve your powers of concentration.

Patience. Meditation can be incredibly boring. For once in your life, you’re not trying to do anything or think anything, just sit there and pay attention to your immediate experience. And you will encounter all kinds of resistance to doing it. Zen priest Steve Hagen says, “If you can get past resistance to meditation, nothing else in life will be an obstacle.”

Calmness. At first, you’ll be surprised, maybe even horrified, to discover how busy your mind is – a non-stop stream of mental chatter. But if you stay with it, you should gradually find that your mind settles down as the months go by.

Clarity. Like calmness, this can be gradual and intermittent to begin with. But you are likely to notice moments and even periods of mental clarity, when you see things clearly and your mind is sharper than usual – which makes problem-solving and decision-making easier.

Creates conditions for Insight. You’ve probably had the experience of suddenly realizing the solution to a problem, even though you haven’t been consciously thinking of it. Or you may have experienced a moment of inspiration, when a new idea flashes into your mind unbidden. If you’re practicing meditation regularly, expect this to happen more often.

Perspective. When you spend time just being present and observing your breath, thoughts, feelings, and moment-to-moment experience, you start to realize how trivial most of our daily worries really are. Even in the midst of the daily grind, you can let go of the small stuff, and keep the big picture in view.

Getting Started

The kind of meditation I practice is a mixture of concentration (Samatha) and insight (Vipassana). Samatha practice is simply about focusing on your breathing, in order to develop concentration and calmness. It’s the best place to start, given how busy and unfocused our minds typically are. Vipassana is so simple it almost sounds like doing nothing at all – it’s about being very aware and present to your immediate experience, noticing your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the sounds and sights around you.

To learn how to get started, read the Introduction to Insight Meditation by the monks at Amaravati monastery.

Or you can try to listen to one of the Mantra and chant, The one below is westernized and commercialed version but the traditional has been one of my favorites for a long time, Here

Written by msecchi

August 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm

15 things +1 (I try) to avoid in Street Photography

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..I have specified I TRY  to avoid …. ….

  1. Using more than one lens per day for street photography.  I prefer a 35mm or occasionally a 50mm
  2. Checking the LCD screen after taking photos on the streets (Chimping)
  3. Letting criticism affect me negatively. Rather, I try to use it to empower me to find weaknesses in my work.
  4. Leaving the house without a camera
  5. Spending a lot of time looking at photos online ; rather I spend more time shooting
  6. Forgetting how lucky I am to be able to go out and take photos everyday
  7. Mixing my digital and film photos in a project
  8. Letting the number “likes” dictate whether a photo is good or not
  9. Taking a photo of someone on the streets without saying “thank you” or smiling at them
  10. Hesitating before taking a street photograph
  11. Shooting to please my critics
  12. Recommending lenses longer than 50mm for street photography
  13. Making excuses when a photo doesn’t work. It is shit end of the story
  14. Taking photos without emotion and without your heart
  15. Uploading photos online until letting it “marinate” for few weeks

+1.  Comparing myself to other photographers

Ponte degli Scalzi - Fismonger - Leica M2 35mm HP5+ 400 Asa

Ponte degli Scalzi – Fismonger – Leica M2 35mm HP5+ 400 Asa

Written by msecchi

June 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

How to Rescue a Wet Camera

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Scotland, Saltcoats 23rd November 2006 Extreme weather condition with strong gales and rain are battering the West Coast of Scotland NUJ recommended terms & conditions apply. Moral rights asserted under Copyright Designs & Patents Act 19

Scotland, Saltcoats 23rd November 2006 Extreme weather condition with strong gales and rain are battering the West Coast of Scotland NUJ recommended terms & conditions apply. Moral rights asserted under Copyright Designs & Patents Act 19

It has happened to me a couple of times covering bad weather in Scotland, to friends and colleagues, even a couple of days ago to one of my Venetian colleague.

Your precious camera meets the water…either in the form of a big splash or heavy torrential rain.

I have managed to recovered my cameras at least 2 times and I have strictly used the following method

  • As soon as it happen switch off the camera, remove the battery, remove memory card, I would say this is the most important action.
  • Do NOT turn the camera on  ever….you may risk to short circuit important parts
  • As soon as you can, make sure there are no traces of moisture visible on the camera.
  • Find a container big enough to hold the camera and a couple of bags or more of rice (Yes RICE)
  • can be a Tupperware container, half fill it with  rice  and then place the dead camera body on top of the rice with the mirror facing down.
  • pour more rice on top of the camera until it is completely covered with about 1 inch of rice above the top of the camera body
  • placed a tightly fitted lid on the container and place it a dry cupboard for at least  one week.

After about a week of drying out in the hermetically sealed rice box you should be able to switch on the camera and scroll through all the menus..,.. if this is the case I would place the camera again in the rice for 4 or 5 days  or leave it near but not too close to a radiator.

Written by msecchi

June 19, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Posted in My Job

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