Sunday, June 3, 2018

My first outing with the Fuji X-H1

A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and traded in my Fuji X-T2 for the new Fuji X-H1. I had mixed feeling about this because the X-T2 was one of my favorite cameras of all time, and I wasn't sure I wouldn't be losing some of my favorite features. My reason for the swap was that I wanted to move more into shooting film, and the X-H1 seemed like it would be my best bet for the same reason that its sibling, the X-T2 had endeared itself to me as a camera for shooting stills.

I had fooled around with the X-H1 around the house, trying to familiarize myself with some of the video capabilities. One thing I noticed right away was how good the IBIS was for steadying the camera during filming. In most situation I didn't even need to use my gimbel. Right away I knew that this was going to be a game changer for me. I could make impromptu changes from shooting stills to shooting video with nothing more than the turn of a selector dial on the camera.

Yesterday,  I decided to take the X-H1 on an exploring mission to the Green Cay Wetlands Nature Preserve. My timing wasn't the best because I arrived there around noon, but this was just a test mission and I knew that to switching to primarily black and white photography I would still be able to capture some dramatic landscapes with the thunder clouds in the sky.

We are now moving into my favorite time for photographing in Florida. The summer is thunderstorm season, bringing with it a heavy coverage of large cumulus clouds. Photographing nature in Florida means also photographing the weather. The physical landscape is flat and, in large expanses, also wet. In Florida the weather combines with the terrain to deliver an ever-evolving landscape that can be every bit as breath-taking, and dramatic as the Rocky Mountains. I have been waiting for June to arrive to begin photographing in the Everglades. Yesterday, was just a get-acquainted run to see how the camera and I would get along, and it didn't take me long to realize I was about to enter into a new camera love affair.

My lens kit consisted of three Fuji zooms: I had the do-it-all Fuji 18-135mm zoom to cover the middle focal lengths, and the Fuji 100-400mm zoom to cover the telephoto ranges because Green Cay is known for its abundant wildlife. For the shorter side of covering sweeping landscapes, I went with the Fuji 10-24mm wide angle zoom.

For my black and white conversion I tried something different. Usually, with a Fuji camera I opt for the Acros film simulation with the red filter to deliver the dark skies. But this time I decided to use the new black and white conversions that are part of the new Photoshop CC 2018. These conversions provide many variations, some of which cover differing intensities of darkening the blues even more than the Acros-R simulation. 

There were plenty of dead trees sticking up from the wetlands to serve as perches for the wildlife. Green Cay is a preserve with over a mile of walkways through the wetlands. This made it quite easy to position yourself for most shots. The only thing I didn't like about this type of shooting was that it didn't allow me to get a very low angle where I would have liked. For the shot above and the one below, I was easily able to position myself to position the birds against the brightest part of the clouds for contrast.

When I was packing my gear, I thought the 100-400mm zoom would have been sufficient for the wildlife. After all, 400mm is equivalent to 600mm in full frame, and that is a very long focal length. Next time, however, I am going to pack one of my telextenders in case I have to reach out even further. The bird shot above was done with the zoom at 400mm and cropped some in post-processing. There were quite a few time I would have liked something even longer -- and this will give even more of a work-out for the IBIS in the X-H1.

By the end of my time in the preserve the clouds began to turn ominous, and I decided to pack it in and return another time before the heavens opened up. I deemed the outing a completely successful trial run with the X-H1. I was able to switch over to capture some spontaneous videos simply by rotating the drive selector knob. I had already pre-programed the camera to my video settings so I was good to go in just a second or two.

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