Creative Collective 025: Highs & Lows (Key)

Golden Palms – Goodyear, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – “High Key”

I pretty much know Fujifilm cameras backwards and forwards. I’ve got to admit, though, that there are a few features that I never⁠—or almost never⁠—use. I recently rediscovered two of these tools that I tried once, didn’t like the results, and so I never used them again… until now. I didn’t realize that I was actually missing out on something kind of cool! I’ve had a lot of fun with these over the last few days, and I bet some of you will, too⁠—and I also bet that you don’t use these features, and perhaps have never even tried them.

What are they? High Key and Low Key.

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Vintage Lens: Vivitar 135mm F/2.8

I picked up a vintage Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens at an antique store in Texas for $15. It was not well taken care of, with scratches on the glass and dust inside of it, but definitely still in usable condition. My copy of this lens is M42-mount, and I just so happen to have an M42-to-Fuji-X adapter that I’ve owned for several years now, which allows me to attach this lens to my Fujifilm X-E4.

Vivitar lenses are interesting because Vivitar didn’t actual make lenses. They contracted with other manufacturers (most you’ve probably never heard of, but a few you have) to produce lenses for them. My copy was made in 1978 by Komine (as indicated by the serial number), which has been regarded as one of the “better” Vivitar manufacturers. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of inconsistency with Vivitar lenses, but they’re generally regarded as decent, and sometimes good. My copy of the 135mm f/2.8 seems to be good, despite the wear.

One thing that’s surprising is how small the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens is despite its long telephoto reach. With the adapter attached to it, it’s still smaller than the Fujinon 90mm f/2. Fujifilm doesn’t have a prime lens that’s longer than the 90mm, except for the really big and expensive 200mm f/2, so the 135mm fills a gap in the Fujinon lineup. Really, Fujifilm should consider adding a prime lens that’s longer than 90mm, such as a 135mm f/2.8. Because of the crop-factor, this lens is full-frame equivalent to 202.5mm on my X-E4, which makes it great for wildlife or headshots, but challenging for other types of photography. Because of the focal length, unless your camera has IBIS, I recommend using a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 to ensure sharp photographs.

On my copy, the aperture ring, which has 1/2 stop clicks (that used to be common, but nowadays 1/3 intermediate stops are most common), works perfect, and the minimum aperture is f/22. The focus ring is smooth—a dream to use—and the minimum focus distance is about five feet.

The image quality produced by this lens is interesting. I’m not sure if it is the scratches and dust, or if it is simply the design of the lens, but there’s a slight “romantic softness” to the pictures. It seems to have slightly less micro-contrast compared to many of the lenses that I’ve used. It’s very reminiscent of what you get when you use a diffusion filter. I actually really like it, except for when the sun is near the frame, because the glare can be intense. I read that chromatic aberrations can be quite pronounced, but my copy doesn’t appear to be prone to it… or else the camera is automatically taking care of it behind the scenes.

I love going to antique stores and flea markets to find cheap treasures like the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens. It’s not for use all of the time, but this lens can be a lot of fun and highly rewarding⁠—I’m so glad that I found it and took a chance on it. For $15, I really couldn’t be happier⁠—probably the best $15 I’ve ever spent on photography!

Some pictures that I captured with the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens on my Fujifilm X-E4:

Urban Cycling – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600
Chevy Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Classic Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Green – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Concrete Steps – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Urbanscaped – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
High Rise – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
3 Lamps – Vernon, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Old House Roofline – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Ballyhoo – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Golden Lake – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 + Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Lake Sunset – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 + Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”

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New: Fuji X Weekly App Update!!

I just published an update to the Fuji X Weekly App! If your device didn’t update the App automatically, be sure to manually do so right now.

What’s in this update?

First is Search. You now have the ability to search for Film Simulation Recipes! This new feature allows you to search for recipes by name to more quickly locate the exact one that you are looking for. If you are a Fuji X Weekly App Patron, the search feature works in conjunction with Filter, so (for example) if you Filter By Camera, only those recipes compatible with your camera will appear when you Search. In other words, all App users get Search, but this feature is even better for Patrons. The ability to search for recipes is a significant improvement⁠—it definitely makes the App more user friendly. On Apple, simply scroll up (drag the recipe list down) and Search will appear towards the top. On Android, tap the magnify glass icon at the top-right and Search will appear.

Next is Random Recipe selector. Not sure which Film Simulation Recipe to use? Let the Fuji X Weekly App decide for you! Tap the crossing arrows icon at the top-right, and the App will randomly select one for you to use. The Random Recipe selector also works in conjunction with Filter, so even though it’s available to everyone, it’s even better if you are an App Patron. This fun new feature is addicting! If you’re in a photographic rut, this might help you get out of it. If there are a couple of you out photographing together, you can make a game out of it. I personally have really enjoyed using the Random Recipe selector, and I think you will, too!

Last but not least, the recipe parameter order has been improved. Unfortunately, the order of settings is different depending on your camera model, and even on the same model the order can be different within the IQ menu vs Custom Settings menu, so it’s not possible for it to be perfect; however, I do believe that the new order will make it a bit easier to program recipes into your camera.

This Fuji X Weekly App update is intended to make recipes easier to find and program, plus add a little fun to the experience. I hope that you find it useful and enjoyable!

Don’t have the Fuji X Weekly App? Download it today!

Not a Fuji X Weekly App Patron? Consider subscribing to unlock the best App experience! Within the App, tap the Gear icon, then select Become A Patron.

Next SOOC is Live this Thursday!

The next episode of SOOC will be live this Thursday, June 9th, at 10 AM Pacific Time, 1 PM Eastern! Please join us if you can⁠—it’s an interactive program, so the more who tune in and participate, the better the broadcast will be. Don’t forget, the PreShow begins 30 minutes before the show, so it’s great if you can arrive early. Don’t miss it!

In Season 02 Episode 04, we’ll conclude our discussion of the Fujicolor Superia 800 Film Simulation Recipe, and introduce the next recipe-of-the-month: Eterna Bleach Bypass. I’ve shot a little with both of these recipes over the last few weeks, and I’m super excited to see what you capture with them. Be sure to upload your pictures captured with the Fujicolor Superia 800 recipe (click here) by June 7th to be featured in the next episode!

For those who don’t know, SOOC is a monthly live video series, with each episode focused on a different Film Simulation Recipe. It is a collaboration between Tame Your Fujifilm (Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry) and Fuji X Weekly (Ritchie Roesch). SOOC is a fun and educational experience where we not only talk about Fujifilm camera settings, but also answer your questions and give tips and tricks. Basically, we’re trying to help you master your Fujifilm camera, with a focus on simplifying your photographic workflow.

Here are a few of the pictures I’ve captured recently using these recipes:

Lakeside House & Road – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Superia 800”
Purple Flowers by Lake – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Superia 800”
Red Flower Blooms – Allen, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Eterna Bleach Bypass”
Pigeons on the Patio – Allen, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Eterna Bleach Bypass”

Creative Collective 024: FXW Zine — Issue 07 — June 2022

The seventh issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!

What’s in the June issue? The cover story is Culleoka Kodachrome, which is a photography project that I undertook last month while in rural Texas using the Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe. There are a total of 28 photographs this month, including the cover image (above). I hope that you find it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring!

If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first six issues, too!

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Fujifilm Announced X-H2S + Lenses at X Summit Today

Body Shop – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600

There was a Fujifilm X Summit today? Guess I missed it.

I’m on a long road trip right now, and I was driving when the big announcements were made. That’s not entirely true. I was actually photographing an abandoned car garage in Childress, Texas, at that time. Originally a gas station built in 1940, this building spent its last active days as an auto body shop. I think it’s been abandoned for at least a couple of years. I suppose I could have tuned into the X Summit instead, but this was a better use of my time, as I prefer to invest in experiences over gear.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but Fujifilm announced the X-H2S. Everyone already knew this camera was going to be announced, and what exactly it is. Now it is all official. This is the first of two new “flagship” cameras that will come out later this year. If you need the fastest Fujifilm camera or the best video specs, this is the camera to buy. It’s intended to convince those who are unsatisfied with their current brand to consider Fujifilm instead. I’m not personally interested in this camera, and I already gave my opinions on it.

Ballyhoo – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”

Apparently Fujifilm will have two different X-Trans V sensors on their future models: the fast 26mp and the high-resolution 40mp options—the 40mp sensor will be the “normal” one. I wish that Fujifilm would focus on other advancements and improvements instead of resolution. And I’m not talking about autofocus speed, either. People complain about autofocus speed, but consider all of the amazing photographs (and movies) that were made well before autofocus even existed, and in its infancy, too. The X-E1’s autofocus is plenty capable, just so long as the photographer is capable. The autofocus on my X-E4 is amazing, yet some people think it’s not all that good. I’ve come to the conclusion that this complaining is just an excuse, and doesn’t have any true merit. Autofocus could improve by 400% and somebody would complain, because autofocus isn’t the real problem. And it’s definitely reached the point of diminishing returns, as it’s already well beyond what most people need for their photography.

Fujifilm announced two new zoom lenses, too: 18-120mm F/4 and 150-600mm f/5.6-f/8. I’m sure plenty will get excited for the 18-120mm for travel and the 150-600mm for wildlife, but I don’t have a desire for either. I suppose zooms just aren’t my thing. Fujifilm did add an 8mm f/3.5 and 30mm f/2.8 Macro to the roadmap, both of which seem like interesting lenses, but no date was given for when they’ll be released. More than anything, I’m excited for an M42-mount Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 that I found at an antique store for $15. It’s been so much fun to use, yet highly challenging. I’d like to see Fujifilm release a prime longer than 90mm (but less than 200mm)—that would be something to get excited for!

Vivitar 135mm – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X 400

I suppose that I should be more excited than I am at this moment. Maybe once my road trip is over and I’m all settled into my new home, I’ll feel a little more positive about these upcoming releases. I think it’s good to have options. This camera will serve many people very well. These two zooms will open up photographic possibilities for hundreds. That’s truly great! They’re just not for me, and that’s ok, because I don’t need new gear right now. What I “need” is to use what I have, which is what I’ve been doing, and the reason why the X Summit came and went and I didn’t notice.

Why even write this article? It’s 10 PM where I’m at right now. I’m spending the night in a cheap hotel. It kind of smells funny. I have to get up early in the morning and drive for a whole bunch of hours. I could be in bed, and maybe I should be. I’m writing this article because I’ve received a dozen or so messages from people wanting to know my opinions on today’s announcements. A lot has been said already by those on the internet, including those who were given a chance to use the preproduction models. I don’t think I have much to add. If something seems interesting to you, and you believe it might help with your photography (or videography), then by all means get your preorders in. But if you are on the fence, spend the money on experiences instead, and use the gear you already own as best as you can. That’s my advice. Now I’m off to bed.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Preorder the Fujifilm X-H2S at B&H
Preorder the Fujinon 18-120mm at B&H
Proeorder the Fujinon 150-600mm at B&H