Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Days 5 & 6

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East North East – Lusk, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2

The final two days of the road trip to South Dakota involved packing up the trailer and driving home. It was stormy and at times the wind was blowing hard, which meant a lot of white knuckles as I tried to stay on the road. Needles to say, I didn’t capture a whole lot of photographs! I did manage to get a little photography in here and there, which are the pictures you see here.

The Black Hills turned out to be more beautiful and interesting than I had imagined. I felt like I could have stayed several days longer to really experience the place. While Mount Rushmore was a slight let-down, the rest exceeded all expectations. If you’ve never been you’ll have to be sure to someday go.

You might have noticed that I didn’t capture a single photograph using my Fujifilm X100F. All of the photographs in this series were captured using my X-Pro2 (unedited camera-made JPEGs, by the way). The reason for this is that my wife was using the X100F on this trip. Now she has her own camera, an X-T20, so I have my X100F back.

You may have also noticed that I used the Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens a lot on this trip. I learned photography with a nifty-fifty, and for a long time that’s all I had. So having a 50mm (equivalent) focal length lens was a nice change of pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Meike lens, while far from perfect, is well worth the small price it goes for.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series. I know that viewing other people’s photographs of someplace is never the same as going yourself and creating your own images. But I hope that this inspires you to get out on your own road trip, camera in hand, to see the wonderful world that’s around you.

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Wyoming Thunderstorm – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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On Track To Rain – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Storm Over Orin – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Unleaded Sky – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Fingernail Moon – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Always Moving Ahead – Rawlins, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Trucks, Stopped – Rawlins, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

 

 

10 More Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm f/1.7 Photographs

Yesterday I published an article about the Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm that I distressed to make it appear old and worn, like a well-used 1960’s rangefinder. I included 10 photographs in that article captured with that camera and lens. I’ve been using the X-E1 a lot over the last two weeks because it’s been a lot of fun to shoot with, so I have a bunch of pictures that I wanted to share, but I didn’t want to make that article any longer than it already was.

Below you will find 10 more images that I captured with the X-E1 and Meike lens combination. Of the 20 photographs (ten in each post), 12 of them are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, while eight of them are camera-made JPEGs that received some editing using the RNI Films app.

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Lost Baby Shoe – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Coffee Shop Light – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Table Vase – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Roses On A Table – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Last Light On A Picture Frame – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Evening Johanna – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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American Pyro Trailer – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Fake Potted Plants – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Coffee Shop Shakers – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Espresso Shot Glasses – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

 

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 3, Part 1 – Mount Rushmore

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Four Fathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  

On the morning of the third day of our South Dakota trip, which was the first full day in the Black Hills, after breakfast, we headed out to see Mount Rushmore National Monument. This is an iconic landmark of America. The heads of four quintessential presidents were carved into the rocks: George Washington, the first president and Revolutionary War general, on the far left, Thomas Jefferson, the third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, on the middle-left, Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president and Rough Rider, on the middle-right, and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president and slavery abolisher, on the far right.

Gutzon Borglum is the sculptor who, along with his team of over 400 people, carved Mount Rushmore, which is an incredible work of art. The work began in 1927 and finished in 1941. It was mostly carved by careful use of dynamite. Borglum was a renown artist even before Mount Rushmore, but this is certainly his biggest and best known accomplishment.

When we arrived we were surprised to learn that our National Parks Pass didn’t do us any good. There is a “parking fee” (but no entrance fee), and they offer no discount for those who have an annual pass. The parking garage, which resembles something you’d find at a large airport or downtown, is a big expense, I’m sure, so I certainly understand the need to charge money to park. I just think that, if you have an annual pass, they should give a discount of some sort.

The way that this monument is set up is you traverse a walkway towards the sculpture, with things on your right and left as you make your way down. It kind of feels like much of it was an afterthought instead of integrated design. Still, it’s laid out in such a way that you could choose to get as much out of it as you want. Except, when we were there, half of the trail and the Sculptor’s Studio were closed. Still, we found the museum to be interesting enough.

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Mount Rushmore Monochrome – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Our ten-year-old and eight-year-old kids did the Junior Ranger program. This is a great way for them to not only learn about the park, but to be engaged and excited about it. Afterwards, once they had completed the requirements, they were sworn in as Junior Rangers and received a badge. This was a highlight of the trip for them.

The four heads are very large, but it is difficult to really appreciate the scale from the main viewing area. There is a trail that takes you closer, and it isn’t until you reach the end that you can better appreciate the size of the carvings. After we left the park we decided that Mount Rushmore was a neat place to see, but mildly disappointing. On the other hand, it made us want to watch the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, which takes place, in part, at Mount Rushmore.

One takeaway from visiting this place is that photography is a lot like sculpting. Borglum’s job wasn’t all that much different from yours and mine, except the tools are different. He removed all of the stone that wasn’t Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. What was left was his great work of art. When you and I compose, our job is to remove everything that doesn’t belong so that what we are left with is the strongest image possible. Often less is more.

The photographs in this article, which are all camera-made JPEGs, were captured using a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens attached to it. I really like this camera-lens combination, and I thought it was a good choice for the location. One of the things that I appreciate about my X100F is the simplicity and restriction of one-camera and one-lens, and I found that not changing lenses on the X-Pro2 while at a location provides a similar experience.

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Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Heads Up – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George Washington – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental Proportions – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Junior Oath – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Getting Ranger Badges – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Junior Rangers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Making Connections – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Along For The Ride – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Josh, Joy, Jon & Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Amanda, Johanna & Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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American Heroes – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Avenue of Flags – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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State & Federal – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Umbrella of Liberty – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Lens Review: Meike 35mm f/1.7 for Fujifilm


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Meike 35mm f/1.7

I had a birthday a few weeks ago. I also had an Amazon gift card. So I browsed Amazon for something to buy myself in celebration of becoming older. I was looking through Fujifilm accessories when I stumbled across a cheap $90 prime lens, the Meike 35mm f/1.7. A prime lens for less than $100? I added it to the cart, proceeded to the checkout and submitted the order.

And I immediately regretted it.

I mean, I’m older and supposedly wiser. What kind of piece-of-junk lens am I going to get for so little money? It will, most assuredly, be poorly made with subpar optics and I’ll never use it. I had wasted my money, no doubt about it, I thought. I should have purchased something else. Oh, well. The order had already been placed.

A couple of days later a package arrived at my door. Inside was a box that contained the Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens that I had ordered. I opened it up with low expectations. It felt plenty hefty, though, and not lightweight like something made from cheap plastic. I removed the lens from the box and it looked and felt solidly built, mostly made of metal. My senses were telling me that I had ordered a vintage lens from the film era, perhaps the 1960’s, and not a brand-new lens made for digital cameras.

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Meike 35mm on Fujifilm X-Pro2

The Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens looked good and seemed like a quality item, but what about the optics? Was it going to perform well? Why was it so darn cheap?

I attached it to my Fujifilm X-Pro2 and immediately noticed a quirk. The aperture ring is smooth and doesn’t click at the different f-stops. That’s a little odd. I have a Helios 44-2 lens that has two aperture rings, one that clicks and one that’s smooth, and so it’s not a new concept, but it is an unusual choice.

Another quirk is that the spaces in-between the f-stops, marked by numbers on the lens, are far apart when the aperture is large and close together when the aperture is small. For example, it takes quite a turn to get from f/1.7 to f/2 but going from f/8 all the way to f/22 is a tiny turn, and trying to stop on f/11 or f/16 is a tough task.

This is a manual focus lens and the focus ring is smooth. It seems to have the right amount of give, not too firm and not too loose. There is a focus distance scale on the lens, something that is too often missing today. The front element doesn’t rotate and it has 49mm threads.

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Meike 35mm on Fujifilm X-Pro2 with coffee

I was shocked when I reviewed some frames that I had captured with the Meike 35mm lens on my X-Pro2 and saw how crisp they were. It’s sharp. Very sharp, in fact! I would expect this sharpness out of a lens that costs much more, but not out of budget glass. From the perspective of creating crisp images, this lens is right up there with the best. And it looks good attached to the X-Pro2.

I was then shocked by the amount of vignetting and the soft corners when using a large aperture. This is why the lens is so cheap. When wide open the Meike 35mm is almost unusable. I say almost because you could use the flaws as an artistic tool to give your images character. Things noticeably improve at f/2, but it’s still pronounced. By f/2.8 I would say that the vignetting and soft corners are minimal enough that you could live with them, but they don’t fully go away until f/8. Apertures smaller than f/8 suffer from diffraction. There is a small amount of chromatic aberrations that can be found when the aperture is f/4 and larger, but overall it’s well controlled. There’s a fairly pronounced pincushion distortion, which you’ll notice if you photograph a brick wall.

Bokeh, which is the quality of the out-of-focus area of an image, looks very good with this lens. When wide open there is a slight swirly effect, similar to the Helios 44-2 but less pronounced. When the aperture is large the subject separates nicely from the background.

The Meike 35mm f/1.7 is an excellent budget standard prime lens option for your Fujifilm camera. It’s all manual, which I like but some people might not. It has lots of character, something that’s often missing from modern lenses. It certainly has plenty of flaws and there is a reason why it’s cheap, but overall it performs much better than the price point would indicate. Even if the MSRP was $150 (instead of $90) it would still be an intriguing option. If you don’t already own a standard prime lens for your Fujifilm camera, this is one that you should consider, and, because it’s very inexpensive, it should fit into everyone’s budget.

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Conoco – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 35mm

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Sinclair – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Big Cookie, Little Girl – Custer, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Camping Face – Custer, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Campfire – Custer, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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White Flower Blossoms – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Green Hills Under Grey Sky – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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State & Federal Symbols – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Mount Rushmore Monochrome – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Ominous – Custer, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Flowers & Rail – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Getting Ranger Badges – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

See also: Fujinon XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens review

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

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