Family Holiday Portraits: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Every November my wife, Amanda, asks me to take some family pictures for the Christmas card. Actually, for several years now she’s been wanting to hire a photographer to capture our annual holiday portraits. But, you know, I’m a photographer, and I’m also stubborn and cheap, so I usually tell her that I’ll take care of it, no need to hire anyone. I know that it’s a big challenge to be both in front of the camera and behind it at the same time, but I’ve done it before, so no big deal, right?

Amanda likes to pick the location and our clothes. Actually, location scouting is a joint venture; Amanda has an idea in her mind of what she wants, then I help her find it. Last year I photographed our family at Antelope Island State Park. The year before we went to downtown Ogden. This year she wanted a tree-lined road, and we found a good location not terribly far from our house. You wouldn’t know from the pictures that we were actually in the city, right behind a restaurant.

Everything was set, we were all dressed and ready to go, but I had already encountered a problem: one of my tripods was missing. I discovered in past photo sessions that I get the best results when using two cameras. I have a primary camera that I shoot using a remote, and I have a secondary camera offset to the side, which has the interval timer set to snap a random picture every five seconds. The primary camera captures the staged portraits, while the secondary camera captures the natural moments in-between. This setup has worked well for me, but without the second tripod it wasn’t going to happen. After much searching without success, I found some step-stools and books to stack onto each other to form a makeshift tripod, which was far from ideal but better than nothing.

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

Upon arriving at the photo-shoot location, I encountered another issue. The plan was for our family to be far away from the camera to make us smaller in the frame, but I discovered that the camera remote range was not large enough. I was too far away from the camera to remotely activate the shutter. After trying a few different things, and after much frustration, I settled on ditching the remote and using the camera’s interval timer, set to snap an exposure every three seconds. This is like spray-and-pray to the extreme. The wheels were beginning to come off, but we put on a smile and pressed forward.

I’m not a family portrait photographer. I’ve done it before a few times, but it’s really not my cup of tea. Trying to get everyone to look good simultaneously is nearly impossible. There’s inevitably always someone with a goofy look on their face. And even if you think an exposure looks good, one of the adults (usually but not always the wife) will find something insignificant to nitpick about. It seems like, as the photographer, you just can’t win. Maybe some of you have better experiences than me, but I just don’t find much joy in family portrait photography. Still, doing it myself is better than paying someone, I told myself.

In my family, the two youngest children, ages five and two, are the goofballs, and they also don’t follow instructions well, sometimes defiantly so. If you’re behind the camera, you can observe their behavior, and offer some words or bribes (candy works well) to get them to pose appropriately. When you are in front of the camera and not behind, it’s much more difficult to catch them in the act, and so you’ll get a bunch of shots where they don’t look good. The ten-year-old tries much too hard to smile, and often looks as unnatural and uncomfortable as possible. Only by telling funny jokes can you get him to loosen up. The 12-year-old thinks that she’s the boss of the other three, which sometimes causes unnecessary conflicts. The challenge is somehow getting all of this under control at just the right moment when the shutter clicks. And it’s clicking every three seconds one one camera and every five seconds on the other.

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Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

It’s actually a tiny miracle that any of the pictures turned out decent. The light was rapidly changing. At one point the sun found a place between the clouds and the trees, and put a bright hazy flare right through the middle of the frame (and not the good kind, either), and during this time someone walked through the scene. I couldn’t see this because I wasn’t behind the camera. As the sun got lower the temperature rapidly dropped, as did the spirits of those being photographed. It was all a mess, beginning to end. We did it anyway, determined to have a nice picture on the Christmas card. Afterwards we had some hot cocoa to warm us up.

The primary camera was a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens attached to it, set on a tripod. The secondary camera was a Fujifilm X-T20 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it, which was set on top of a stack of stools and books. I used the Provia film simulation, DR400, Grain Weak, Highlight 0, Shadow +1, AWB +1R & -2B, Color +2, Sharpening +2 and -4 NR on both cameras. This is a new recipe that I created for these pictures.

This article would not be complete if I didn’t share with you the outtakes. Below are the pictures that were failures, where things didn’t go as planned, and the pictures are far from the “good” photos that we had hoped to capture. These are the “bad” and “ugly” images that show what really happened during our family holiday portrait session; not what we wanted, but certainly real life.

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

Photoessay: November Arizona, Part 1: Color

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River & Rays – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

I love Arizona! It is perhaps the most beautiful state in America. Some might disagree with that sentiment, thinking that the desert is dull and brown, but I find it to be a colorful and diverse landscape. Others might consider California, Colorado or my current home state of Utah, or perhaps another state like Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, etc., to be more majestic, and they are each certainly majestic, but to me Arizona is at the top of the list, and my heart belongs there.

My family and I like to travel to Arizona whenever we can, which is usually once or twice each year. A few weeks ago we visited some family of ours in Phoenix, and of course I brought my Fujifilm X-T30 along, with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 attached to the front. I appreciate this setup for travel because it’s small and lightweight enough to not get in the way, yet can produce some stunning pictures. The film simulations I used were Velvia, Kodachrome 64, and “Classic Negative” (for Quit My Job). This wasn’t a photography trip, but as always I captured a number of pictures. I hope you enjoy!

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In It Together – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Gravel Road Above The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Above, City Below – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Saguaro Above Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Neighborhood – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lookout Mountain From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Phoenix From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Above The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Two Palms – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Palm Tree Bees – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Hill – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Red Barrel Cactus – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Foothills Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Warmth – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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The Desert – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Bright Spikes – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Palo Verde Sun – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Quit My Job – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lucy – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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New River Trail – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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New River – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Water Under The Bridge – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Falls & Foam – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Pigeons Over A Roof – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Part 2 coming soon!

See also:
Willow Beach, Arizona
McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, Arizona

Fujifilm Grain Settings

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Blue Winter Sky – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Many of my film simulation recipes call for faux grain, in order to achieve a more analog aesthetic. The picture above was captured using my Kodachrome 64 recipe, which requires Grain set to Weak. Fujifilm cameras with X-Trans III or IV sensors have a faux grain option, which can be set to Off, Weak or Strong (the X-Pro3 has additional grain options). The Acros film simulation has built-in grain that increases as the ISO increases. I have often said that X-Trans digital noise is also grain-like in appearance. But all of this is hard to see, especially when viewed at web sizes, so it can be tough to know exactly what the different settings are doing to pictures. I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the grain on Fujifilm cameras. For this post I used a Fujifilm X-T30.

Let’s take a closer look at Blue Winter Sky, the picture at the top of this article. Here are some crops:

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ISO 640, Grain Off.

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Grain Weak

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Grain Strong

You likely can see the grain in the bottom crop, which has Grain set to Strong, but the middle one with Grain set to Weak is a little more difficult to notice. It’s subtly there, but the difference between Grain Off and Grain Weak isn’t huge by any stretch, and you have to look very closely to find it. Even Grain Strong isn’t particularly obvious, but it’s certainly noticeable upon close inspection.

Let’s look at some massive crops from another picture:

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ISO 640, Grain Off

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Grain Weak

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Grain Strong

This example is a little bit deeper of a crop, and so it’s also a little easier to spot the differences in grain. Still, there’s not a huge distinction between Grain set to Off and Grain set to Weak. Grain set to Strong stands out from the others, but again it’s still not especially obvious.

Can you spot the difference between Grain set to Weak and Grain set to Strong in the two images below?

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

I think if you study the crops above long enough, you can see that the bottom one has a stronger grain, but just barely. It’s not obvious whatsoever, even when viewed this closely.

Can you spot the differences between the two crops below?

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The top image is ISO 400 with Grain set to Weak. The bottom is ISO 6400 with grain set to Strong. You could probably tell that the top image is slightly cleaner and crisper, but it is very subtle, and not something you’d ever notice without closely comparing crops side-by-side.

Now let’s take a look at some Acros crops. Can you spot the differences?

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

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ISO 6400, Grain Strong

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ISO 6400, Grain Weak

There’s not much to notice, but there’s (once again) a subtle difference between ISO 400 with Grain set to Weak and ISO 6400 with Grain set to Strong, and you’re not likely to spot it without closely comparing crops. In real life, nobody does that.

The conclusion is that the faux grain options on Fujifilm cameras aren’t especially obvious without a close study. Grain Strong stands out much more than Grain Weak, but neither are particularly noticeable without a close inspection. Even the difference between ISO 400 and ISO 6400 (with or without grain) isn’t all that big, especially if you aren’t viewing the pictures large. The more you crop, the more you zoom into the image, or the larger you print, the more you’ll notice the differences. For internet viewing, you’ll have a tough time even noticing. It’s perfectly fine to set Grain to Off if you don’t like it. I personally enjoy seeing the grain, even if it’s not immediately apparent, because I first learned photography in the film era and I love grain. I look forward to someday trying out the new grain options that Fujifilm has included on the X-Pro3, and I hope it’s added to the X-T30 via a firmware update, but in the meantime I’m happy to use the faux grain that’s currently available to me in my camera.

Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 + Fujifilm X-T30

Asahi Pentax Macro Takumar 50mm f4 Fujifilm XT30

Asahi Pentax Macro Takumar 50mm f4 Fujifilm XT30

I recently purchased an Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 lens from Fuji X Weekly reader Tony Reidsma. I love Takumar lenses! Generally speaking, they are super sharp and have great character. There’s something special about them. They are often quite affordable, so you can add a bunch of Takumar lenses to your collection without going broke.

Asahi was the original name of Pentax. Up until the mid-1970’s when they switched from M42 screw-mount to K-Mount, Pentax used the Asahi brand name for their lenses. Asahi called their lenses Takumar in honor of the founder’s brother, Takuma Kajiwara, who was a famous photographer and painter. Asahi Takumar lenses require an M42 to Fuji X adapter, which can be found for cheap, to attach them to your Fujifilm camera.

The Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 is, no surprise, a macro lens. It has a 1:2 magnification ratio, which is not as close up as some macro lenses. An earlier version of the lens (without SMC) does, in fact, have a 1:1 magnification ratio. This SMC Macro-Takumar has a similar close-focus capability as the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro, which is good-but-not-great.

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What I love about the Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 lens is that it’s very crisp. There’s some corner softness at f/4, but the lens is edge-to-edge super sharp at f/5.6 through f/11 (diffraction begins after f/11). I haven’t noticed much distortion, vignetting or chromatic aberrations. This lens has excellent contrast and controls flare very well. Bokeh is pretty nice, too. The lens is made of metal and feels very solid. It was a quality lens when it was new, and all of these decades later it is still a quality lens.

The Macro-Takumar is an all-manual lens. You’ll have to manually set the aperture and manually focus. The aperture ring on my lens is a little stiff, but otherwise works as it should. The focus ring is super smooth and accurate. Because it’s a macro lens, it takes a little effort to get from the close end to infinity, and the lens will actually focus just past infinity, which isn’t entirely unusual.

On the Fujifilm X-T30, because of the APS-C crop factor, the 50mm focal length is equivalent to 75mm. Essentially the Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4 is a mid-telephoto prime that’s very sharp but with a maximum aperture of only f/4, which isn’t especially fast. It doubles as a macro lens, and it’s quite good at that, just as long as you’re not trying to get really close, as the magnification ratio isn’t particularly impressive. There are certainly shortcomings with this lens, but it has the “it factor” when it comes to image quality, producing especially lovely pictures. If you find this lens for a good price, be sure to buy it, because it’s worth having around. The technical specs of this Macro-Takumar lens won’t knock your socks off, but the images that it produces very well could.

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Micro Christmas Lights – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Christmas Berries – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Amanda’s Eyes – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Citrus Ladder (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Country Barn (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Highway Sunset – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Sierra Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Old Truck & Old House (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Two Horses Monochrome (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

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Speedy Super Chief (N Scale Model) – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4

See also:
Industar 69
Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm

Lens Review: Fujinon XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II

Fujifilm Fujinon 50-230mm Lens Review Blog

Fujifilm’s Fujinon Super EBC XC 50mm-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II lens is a budget telephoto zoom option for X series cameras. It has 13 elements in 10 groups with seven rounded blades and a maximum aperture of f/22. This lens accepts 58mm filters. Because of the APS-C crop factor, it has a full-frame focal-length equivalence of 75-345mm. The only Fujifilm lens that has a longer focal length is the Fujinon 100-400mm, which retails for about four times as much.

The Fujinon 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II is mostly made of plastic. It doesn’t feel especially sturdy, like it would probably break if it took a big fall, but it’s super lightweight at about .8 pounds. This lens is fairly small, at between 4.4″ and 7″ depending on the focal length. For how telephoto this lens is, it’s impressive how light and small they were able to make it!

There’s no aperture ring, which is expected since it’s an XC series lens, but a bummer because the aperture ring is something that I appreciate about Fujinon lenses. There’s no doubt that this is a cheap lens when you look at the body. Manual focus is electronic and pretty good overall. Auto-focus, which is very quiet, isn’t especially quick, but it’s also not super slow. I would say that it’s sufficiently snappy for most purposes, and probably too slow for quickly moving subjects.

The lens has a maximum aperture of f/4.5 at 50mm and f/6.7 at 230mm, and variously in-between at other focal lengths. That’s not especially large, which means this isn’t a good lens for working in dim light or trying to achieve shallow depths of field. The close focus distance isn’t bad, though, so if you use the largest aperture at the closest focus distance you can get a nice out-of-focus background. When you do, bokeh is decent enough, but not particularly great.

The Fujinon 50-230mm lens is equipped with optical image stabilization, which Fujifilm claims will give you four stops extra. The math calculation I learned many years ago for achieving sharp hand-held pictures is the shutter speed should not go any slower than the focal length. That means, using good technique, you would expect to get a sharp hand-held image at 50mm with a shutter speed of 1/60, and at 230mm you should not go slower than 1/250. While Fujifilm says you get four stops extra because of the image stabilization, the reality is that you don’t, and even three stops might be pushing it. I would avoid going slower than 1/30 at 50mm and 1/125 at 230mm, although you may be able to get a little slower than that if you hold the camera really steady. The optical image stabilization is a nice addition, though, especially considering that the maximum aperture of this lens isn’t especially large.

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There’s pretty much no distortion on the Fujinon 50-230mm lens. There’s a tiny amount of vignetting when wide open, especially at the further focal lengths, but that goes away as you stop down. I haven’t noticed any chromatic aberrations. Lens flare is well controlled. There’s very little negative to say about the optics.

This lens is surprisingly sharp for how cheap it is. It’s not as sharp as a typical Fujinon prime lens, and that’s to be expected, but it is more crisp than I thought it would be, especially considering that it’s a budget series lens. It’s better than many budget zooms I have used from other brands. While it comes across as cheap on the outside, the glass on this lens is clearly Fujinon, and it delivers the image quality that you’ve come to expect from that brand name. Sharpness is a highlight of this lens!

The Fujinon 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II lens is lightweight and sharp and optically sound. With an MSRP of $400, it’s cheap, and some corners were cut to make it cheap, but none of that relates to image quality, which is excellent. It’s easy to recommend this lens. If you are a sports or wildlife photographer, you might find some aspects of it to be frustrating, such as focus speed and maximum aperture, and you should consider the 50-140mm or 100-400mm instead. Otherwise, this is an excellent addition to your Fujifilm X glass collection.

You can buy the Fujinon Super EBC XC 50mm-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II lens here:
B&H   Amazon

These are affiliate links, which, when you purchase something using them, I get a small kickback. It doesn’t cost you anything, yet it helps to financially support this website. I would never ask you to purchase something that you don’t want, but if you found this article helpful and are planning to buy this lens, using my links to do so helps me tremendously. Thank you for your support!

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using the Fujinon 50mm-230mm lens:

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Clouds Around Timpanogos – Heber City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Brush Strokes Over The Great Salt Lake – Antelope Is. SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Pollution – Antelope Is. SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Snow Cap – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Full Moon Over Cold Ridge – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Cold Bicyclist – Antelope Is. SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Garage Door – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Frosted Hill – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Peeking Peak – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 50-230mm

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Autumn & Winter – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 50-230mm

See also: Fujifilm Gear

2019 Fujifilm Gift Giving Guide

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I get asked frequently for my opinions on Fujifilm cameras. Many people are seeking advice on what to buy. Tomorrow is December 1, and the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. This article is intended for those wishing to gift a camera and are searching for tips on what to choose. My hope is that there’s some helpful advice here as you camera shop for your loved ones.

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

First Camera

If you are shopping for someone’s first interchange-lens camera, let’s say a teenage kid or spouse, I would recommend the Fujifilm X-T100. This is a low-budget entry-level model that is still very capable and will deliver high-quality pictures. You get a surprisingly large bang for a surprisingly few bucks. As of this writing, the Fujifilm X-T100 with a 15-45mm lens is only $400, which is an incredible bargain.

Fujifilm X-T100 w/15-45mm lens:   B&H   Amazon

Vlog Camera

Suppose that you are shopping for an aspiring vlogger. Maybe this person has been using their phone to do so, but is ready to upgrade to a more serious camera. My top recommendation is the Fujifilm X-A7. This camera is similar in a lot of ways to the X-T100 mentioned above, but with better video capabilities and an articulating rear-screen that makes it a better choice for vlogging. The Fujifilm X-A7 with a 15-45mm lens has an MSRP of $700.

Fujifilm X-A7 w/15-45mm lens:   B&H   Amazon

Good Camera

My wife wanted a camera. She had a Canon point-and-shoot, a GoPro, and her iPhone, but she wanted something better, something more capable, something good. She wanted a camera that could capture high-quality stills and video. So I bought her a Fujifilm X-T20, which has been my top recommended Fujifilm camera for over a year. This camera is a step up from the X-T100. It could be used as a vlogging camera, although the X-A7 might be a better choice for that. Because it’s not the latest model, it’s priced very well, and as of this writing the Fujifilm X-T20 with a 16-50mm lens is only $600, which is an amazing deal!

Fujifilm X-T20 w/16-50mm lens:   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T20 w/18-55mm lens:   B&H   Amazon

Second Camera

If you are shopping for someone who already has a Fujifilm camera and they’ve been hinting that they want a second camera body, you have several good options. The Fujifilm X-T3, which is at the high end, is currently $1,300, and the Fujifilm X-T30, which is mid-tier, is currently $800. The Fujifilm X-E3, which is also mid-tier, but doesn’t have the latest sensor and processor (yet is still great), is currently only $500. No matter if you have a large or small budget, you’ve got some good camera bodies to choose from.

Fujifilm X-T3 (Body Only):   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T30 (Body Only):   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-E3 (Body Only):   B&H   Amazon

Fun Camera

Those wanting to gift a camera that’ll be super fun for the receiving photographer have two great choices: the Fujifilm X100F or the Fujifilm XF10. Both of these are fixed-lens cameras that are an absolute joy to use, especially the X100F, which might be my personal all-time favorite camera. These are great for travel or street photography or even snapshots of the kids. The Fujifilm X100F is currently $1,100 while the Fujifilm XF10 is currently $450.

Fujifilm X100F:  B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm XF10:   B&H   Amazon

Has-It-All Camera

If you are camera shopping for the photographer who already has it all, the one camera that they might not have is the brand-new Fujifilm X-Pro3. This is a unique camera that delivers a unique experience. It’s the most expensive camera on this list with an MSRP of $1,800. Another option is the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite Edition, which comes with a lens and is currently discounted at only $1,600.

Fujifilm X-Pro3 (Body Only):  B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite w/23mm f/2 lens:   B&H   Amazon

Kid Camera

For those with kids who have been begging for a camera, the one that I highly recommend is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. This is the camera that I got my daughter when she wanted one for Christmas, and she’s absolutely loved it! She’s had so much fun with it, and the “magic” of instant film is the same today as it was back when Polaroids were all the rage when I was young. Best of all, it’s super cheap.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9:   B&H   Amazon

Photoessay: Monochrome Sun Rays Over Willow Beach, Arizona

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Rays Over Colorado River – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Along U.S. Highway 93, about 12 miles south of the Hoover Dam, there’s a scenic view pullout, which offers tremendous views of desert mountains and canyons and a glimpse of the Colorado River at Willow Beach. This is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s easy to drive right on past this spot, as I have done many times before. Those who do stop here are rewarded with an incredible vista. It’s not the Grand Canyon, but it’s like a small glimpse of the Grand Canyon. It’s a quintessential Arizona landscape. Actually, you can see both Arizona and Nevada, as the river marks the boundary between the two states.

When I was at this scenic pullout last week, there was a storm passing through, which provided a dramatic sky with streaking light rays from the peeking sun. It was an amazing sight, yet short lived. I had my Fujifilm X-T30 with me, alternating between a Fujinon 35mm f/2 and a Fujinon 90mm f/2 attached to the front. A more wide-angle lens might have been nice, but these are the two lenses that I had with me. I captured a number of frames, then the great light disappeared as quickly as it had come.

Because I had a camera with me, and I decided to stop, I was able to witness and record this beautiful moment. Many cars zoomed down the highway, perhaps witnessing the scene quickly from behind their windows, or perhaps not noticing it at all, and only a few stopped. I’m thankful that I was one of the few who stopped, and what a great reward I was given for doing so. Sometimes the journey is the destination, especially if you are a photographer.

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Light Streaming – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Light & Mesa – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Shining Down – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Pouring Light Over Desert – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Dramatic Desert Sky – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Rays Over The Desert – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Rays Over Willow Beach – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Awesome Fujifilm X Deals!

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Blog

There are some really great deals on certain Fujifilm cameras right now. These aren’t necessarily “Black Friday” deals, but they are certainly great for holiday shopping or if you’ve been eyeing one of these for awhile. I want to bring special attention to the Graphite X-Pro2 with the Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens, which has been deeply discounted, and you’re not likely going to find it for cheaper. Need a second camera body? The X-T20 and X-E3 are dirt cheap right now. The X-T100 is at a rock-bottom price. It’s what I would gift to a family member who has been asking for a camera. Heck, for the price, I might pick one up for myself!

This post contains an affiliate link, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my link.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 (Body Only) $1,300   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite w/23mm f/2 lens $1,600   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-T20 (Body Only) $500 – $550   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T20 w/16-50mm lens $600   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T20 w/18-55mm lens $800   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-E3 (Body Only) $500   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-E3 w/23mm f/2 lens $750   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-E3 w/18-55mm lens $800   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-T100 (Body Only) $350   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T100 w/15-45mm lens $400   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-T3 (Body Only) $1,300   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T3 w/18-55mm lens $1,700   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T3 w/56mm f/1.2 lens $2,000   B&H

Fujifilm X-T30 w/15-45mm lens $850   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T30 w/18-55mm lens $1,100   B&H   Amazon

See also: Fujifilm Gear

Is Fujifilm’s Autofocus Any Good?

Captured with a Fujifilm X-T30.

Fujifilm’s autofocus is inferior, apparently. There’s been a buzz on the web lately about autofocus. There have been several tests recently comparing the autofocus capabilities of different camera brands and models, and Fujifilm hasn’t come out on top, and sometimes they’ve come in last place. There’s been a lot of negativity towards Fujifilm in response to these articles, and I want to talk about that.

I have no problem whatsoever with these articles. There’s always something, no matter how hard one tries, that someone points out as unfair in these type of tests. It’s the nature of it, and it’s nearly impossible to be completely fair and unbiased. There’s always something that you didn’t consider, there’s always an apples-to-oranges situation, and somebody will undoubtably point it out. I think it’s important to understand this, as taking these types of articles with a small grain of salt will alleviate some of the frustration that comes with them. In other words, don’t take them as gospel, even though they mean well and might contain useful information.

When I started out in photography, autofocus existed, but many cameras (mine included) didn’t have it, and autofocus wasn’t very good on those cameras that did have it. The best autofocus systems of 20 years ago are embarrassing when compared to those found today. That’s not surprising as technology advances quickly. The best autofocus systems of 10 years ago aren’t as good as the “worst” found in any of those cameras that were recently tested. Sony, Canon, Nikon or Fujifilm, it doesn’t matter which one “wins” and which one is rated last, as they are all great! No one could imagine 20 years ago that autofocus would become as good as it is today, and the autofocus found on “pro” cameras 10 years ago aren’t as good as some “entry level” cameras today. Context is key.

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Captured with a Fujifilm X100F.

It’s easy to get caught up in the results of autofocus tests, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter in practical use. Just because one camera did slightly better than another doesn’t mean that you’ll “get the shot” with one camera and not another. You’ll either get it with both or you’ll miss it with both, because the skill and vision of the photographer is far more important than the technical capabilities of the camera in hand, especially when the differences are so narrow. Cameras are tools, and one tool might work a little better for you than another, but they’ll all capable of getting the job done just so long as the photographer is also capable. One camera over another won’t make you a better photographer.

I don’t doubt that Sony’s autofocus is superior to Fujifilm’s. They’ve been working at it a heck of a lot longer, so they should be. What I argue is that it doesn’t matter, or if it does matter, it matters very, very little. Those saying that Fujifilm desperately needs to “catch up” or else are speaking hyperbole. A lot of the reactions I have seen have been overreactions. Instead of celebrating just how far autofocus has improved, people seem to be far more concerned about being ranked number one. Trust me on this: it doesn’t matter one bit. Fujifilm has made significant progress, and they’re continuing to do so. Autofocus on X-Trans II cameras is plenty quick and capable for most people and circumstances, yet it doesn’t compare to X-Trans IV. There comes a point where the improvements are more “gee whiz” than anything practical. It’s great for the marketing department, but is it something you’ll even notice? Will it really make a difference to your photography?

To answer the question in the title of this article, Fujifilm’s autofocus is indeed good. Very good, in fact! It’s more than capable, just as long as you are as well. So don’t worry so much where Fujifilm (or any brand) ranks compared to another in some test. It’s not important. Creating art is important, and you can use any camera to do that.

Review: Fujifilm X-Pro2 – Is It Still Relevant?

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Blog

The new Fujifilm X-Pro3 will be released on November 29, and there’s a lot of buzz around it, but what about the X-Pro2? Is it still relevant? Is it a camera that you should consider? Is it a good option even though it has the old sensor and processor? I hope to answer those questions in this review.

The X-Pro2 was released way back in March of 2016. It replaced the X-Pro1, which was the very first X-Trans sensor camera by Fujifilm. The X-Pro2 was the first camera to have the 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor. The X-H1, X-T2, X-T20, X-E3 and X100F would later share this same sensor and processor. The 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor, which is the same sensor found in the upcoming X-Pro3, was introduced with the X-T3 in September of 2018. The X-Trans III sensor inside the X-Pro2 is almost four-years-old, and perhaps a year out-of-date, but is it still good?

The main advantage of the fourth generation sensor over the third generation is heat. The new sensor runs cooler, which means it can be pushed further. It’s quicker, and the processor can be asked to do more. There’s very little image-quality difference between the two sensors. Pictures captured with the X-Pro3 won’t look much different than those captured with the X-Pro2. But the older camera won’t be as quick, especially regarding auto-focus, and it has fewer features. The X-Pro3 is loaded with new tools, which may or may not be useful to you. Even though the X-Pro2 isn’t as quick or feature-rich, it’s still sufficiently quick and feature-rich for most photographers.

The X-Pro line isn’t about quickness anyway. It’s about having a solid quality camera that’s a joy to use. It feels good to have in your hand and to hold to your eye. It’s something to take to the city and wait for just the right light and moment. It’s a photographer’s tool. And what a great tool it is!

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Fujifilm blog Fujinon 23mm f/2 Lens

Something that I appreciate about the X-Pro2 is that it’s weather-sealed. Pair it with a weather-sealed lens, and you can use it in situations that you wouldn’t dare take another camera. For me that was the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, where the winds were whipping the sand, which pelted my skin. The X-Pro2 handled it like a champ, and I was able to “get the shot” that I was after.

Another thing that I really appreciate about the camera is the viewfinder. The X-Pro2 has a unique hybrid viewfinder that can be used electronically or optically. It’s a part of the experience of the camera. The X-Pro line isn’t about test charts or stat sheets, it’s about the user experience. Fujifilm calls it “pursuing pure photography” with “a body design that maximizes practicality.” While the X-Pro2 offers identical image quality and similar features to the X-T2 (and, really, the X-T20), what sets it apart is the experience of it, and the great viewfinder is a big part of that.

Even though the X-Trans III sensor is almost four-years-old now, it doesn’t come across as “old” in practical use. It offers more than enough resolution, dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities for most people and situations. The X-Pro2 is plenty quick and feature-rich to warrant consideration. It wasn’t designed to be your typical “throw-away” digital camera, which you own for perhaps two years, and then unload on eBay at a bargain basement price when the latest model is released. The X-Pro2 was intended as a camera that you keep for years. It’s a camera that you’ll still want to have around when it’s ten years old, and if it still has some clicks left in the shutter, perhaps longer.

The X-Pro2 is a beautiful camera! I think the only camera that’s better-looking in the Fujifilm lineup is the X100F, and only by a little. Fujifilm got the design right, and it’s cameras like this that have given Fujifilm a great reputation. Strangers will ask you about the camera around your neck, and fellow photographers will comment to you about the beautiful design. There’s a certain pride in owning one.

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I don’t want to dive deeply into the technical aspects of this camera. I’m not going to share stat sheets or show massive crops comparing the image quality to other cameras. You can readily find that information on the web. What I want to offer is my opinion of the X-Pro2. Is it a good camera to buy?

If you are in the market for a camera and are considering the X-Pro2, but you are unsure because it’s not the latest-and-greatest, I want to help you. You will love it! But with the caveat that the X-Pro series isn’t for everyone. If you are the type of person who has to have the newest, fastest and greatest, this might not be the best camera for you. If you find yourself constantly searching the internet for side-by-side crops to compare the tiny differences between cameras, this one might not be for you. If you are the person who buys a new camera every year, you might want to consider something else. If you’re the kind of person who likes to capture pictures at your own pace and in your own way, and you appreciate the way Fujifilm cameras render images, then the X-Pro2 might very well be a good choice. If you are after an experience that’s different from your typical digital camera, something with an analogue soul perhaps, the X-Pro2 is something you should strongly consider. It’s a great camera, even in 2019, and I’m sure still in 2026, and while it’s not for everyone, I do believe that most people would appreciate it.

You can buy the Fujifilm X-Pro2 here:  B&H  Amazon

These are affiliate links, which, when you purchase something using them, I get a small kickback. It doesn’t cost you anything, yet it helps to financially support this website. I would never ask you to purchase something that you don’t want, but if you found this article helpful and are planning to buy this camera, using my links to do so helps me tremendously. Thank you for your support!

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs from my Fujifilm X-Pro2:

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Jacob’s Ladder – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Passerby – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Storm Over San Luis Valley – Alamosa, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Old Truck & Mt. Lindsey – Fort Garland, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Clouds Around Timpanogos – Heber City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Bells & Crosses – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Needle’s Eye Night – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Night Sky Over Needles Highway – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mount Rushmore NM, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Drummond Ranch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Red Leaves In The Forest – Wasatch Mountain SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Green & Blue Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Wasatch Spring – South Weber, UT – X-Pro2

See also: Fujifilm Gear