When Weather Sealed Cameras Matter

49373852362_a93e1fea25_c

Cold Cargo – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

I’ve always felt that, for me, a weather sealed camera isn’t essential. It’s certainly a nice feature, but not something I just have to have. Cameras that aren’t weather sealed can handle the elements to an extent, and oftentimes there are easy steps to mitigate the weather conditions (such as an umbrella), so I haven’t found it to be a limiting factor to my photography. Yet, there have been times that having a weather sealed camera has allowed me to “get the shot” when I might not have otherwise.

Fujifilm has a few cameras with weather sealing. The X-T0, X-Pro, and X-H series are all weather sealed, while the X-T00, X-T000, X-A, X-M, XF, X-E, X100, and X00 series (am I missing any?) are not. I’ve owned a few of these non-weather-sealed cameras, and I’ve used them with success in conditions that might warrant weather sealing. Take a look at the pictures below:

29741037803_8a3d1260d3_c

Monte Cristo Mountain Snow – Monte Cristo Mountains, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

49125526887_fc86e72150_c

Out In The Cold – Cedar City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

38607571001_7aecf9983c_c

Umbrella Overpass – Edmonds, WA – Fujifilm X100F

33953518211_14ea2f6fcf_c

Dust In The Wind – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

The photographs above were all captured in conditions where a weather sealed camera would have been nice, but I got along just fine without it. The X-E1, X100F and X-T30, which are the cameras that I used for those pictures, are not weather sealed; despite that, I was able to get the picture that I wanted. I didn’t allow it limit my photography.

A weather sealed camera allows you to photograph with confidence in more extreme conditions, such as cold, rain, snow and dust. While non-weather-sealed cameras might get the job done, a weather sealed camera definitely will. Each time that I pushed the envelope on what my camera was designed to handle, it worked fine, but I worried about it. I hoped that I wasn’t ruining an expensive photographic tool.

There was one situation where I know that if I hadn’t used a weather sealed camera, I would have ruined the camera, or at least would have had to have it serviced. More likely, I wouldn’t have photographed at all, knowing that the camera couldn’t handle it, and I would have missed some great pictures. But I did have a weather sealed camera, and I have the shots that I wanted. Those pictures, which were captured on a windy day at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado using an X-Pro2, are below:

42769948535_3b2036238a_c

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

42769948315_f38cd740c5_c

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

41864550960_b88010e004_c

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

The conclusion is this: you don’t need a weather sealed camera until you do. Almost always your non-weather-sealed camera will suffice, especially if you take action to mitigate the conditions, but occasionally you might run into a situation where you really do need weather sealed gear. In those circumstances, you’ll either get the shot because of your camera, you’ll get the shot in spite of your camera (and you might find yourself in the market for a new one), or you won’t get the shot because of your camera. I do think those situations are rare for most people, and whether or not you have weather sealed gear is unimportant for most, but it’s sure nice to have it when you need it.

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.

41245482780_b4acc5b963_z

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

42392607164_6d3dac59e1_z

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

43055739851_118db5e076_z

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

29220033378_56c2516eb3_z

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

28212307777_73d9730da0_z

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

29220029918_799beb1b5d_z

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

41280855430_5669f1d1fa_z

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

29184082878_9f4934077a_z

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

42153906105_6afd31c085_z

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

43111114831_f3638db1cc_z

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

 

Distressing A Camera – Or, Making The Fujifilm X-E1 Sexy Again – Or, Am I Nuts?!

29205831118_e596bc81da_h

Distressed Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

A couple of months ago I ran across a message board post about a guy who distressed his Fujifilm X70 to make it look old. When I first saw it I thought that it looked cool, but you’d have to have a few screws loose to do that to your new camera. As the days went on I couldn’t get what this guy did to his X70 out of my mind. I was fascinated by the idea of distressing a modern camera to make it look old and worn.

One day, about a month after I had initially seen the distressed X70, I was photographing my wife as she was distressing some old dining chairs. My wife takes unwanted furniture and gives them new life, making them look “shabby-chic” or whatever the current term is for making something look old and worn but still really cool and interesting (she calls it “reloving”). She’s very good at it, and she gets a lot of compliments. I told her about the distressed X70 and showed her the pictures. She thought that it looked neat but it takes some guts to do that to a nice, new camera.

I began to contemplate how to do something like this myself, even as I contemplated my own sanity. They say that it’s a fine line between genius and crazy. Is this something that I should even try? After much back-and-forth in my mind I decided that this was indeed something that I was going to do it. I don’t distress furniture like my wife does (although I have helped her on occasion), but I have done some scale modelling and “weathered” things to make them appear old and well used. So I started to research. Is this a unique concept? Have others done it? How did they do it? What are some reasons why someone might do this?

I discovered that two other photographers did something similar to their X-Pro1 cameras. They took it a few steps further and I thought that the end result wasn’t as good as the X70. I also found out that Fujifilm distressed an X-Pro2 to simulate how it would look after years of heavy use, and they displayed it in Japan. Interestingly enough, the distressing treatment that was given to the X-Pro2 was similar to that given to the X70, so, not surprising, the results were strikingly similar.

Something else that I came across was a limited edition Leica M-P that was designed with the assistance of Lenny Kravitz. It’s a film camera that Leica introduced in 2003. The Lenny Kravitz model is made to look worn as if it had been heavily used for decades. Similarly, Pentax made a version of the MX-1 that was also designed to look old and worn, but it never went into production.

29205832198_5e01604e12_z

“Vintage” Fujifilm X-E1

There are collectors who will pay top dollar for certain models of vintage Leica cameras that are worn but functional. I discovered that sometimes these cameras are worth more beat up than in near-mint condition, and the more worn-looking the better.

Some interior decorators will dig through flea markets, estate sales and antique stores for old film cameras that appear well-used and worn. These cameras look interesting displayed on shelves and such. I found a couple of people who claim, if they can’t find a camera that looks worn enough, that they will add some distressing to make the cameras more visually interesting.

Something else that I discovered is that people will hide the fact that they have a nice camera when they travel, so that they might be less targeted by thieves. Typically this involves taping up the camera body with black tape to hide the make and model and make the camera seem less nice. They don’t want to appear to be carrying something worth thousands of dollars because it could draw the attention of crooks looking to make a quick dollar.

With all my research done, I knew what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and how to accomplish it. My intentions were to buy a used Fujifilm X-E1, which has the right “vintage rangefinder” look, and can be found for cheap yet is capable of excellent image quality, attach my Meike 35mm lens to it, and distress it to make look old and worn.

One reason why I would distress an X-E1 is that it looks neat. Displayed on a shelf, around my neck or as the subject of photographs, the camera looks very interesting. Someone told me, as I was doing some street photography, that they thought I had a 1960’s rangefinder. Another person said, “I bet that camera has some stories to tell!” The distressed X-E1 simply looks cool. It has much more character than any shiny new DSLR.

42330877614_57c664f72c_z

Distressed Fujifilm 

Another reason is that the camera appears less valuable to potential thieves. I feel like I’m less of a target. There have been times when walking the streets with my X-Pro2 or X100F that I feel like I’m being watched and even followed. Maybe I’m paranoid, as I’m not going into rough neighborhoods. But I have had my gear stolen before, in a high-end district of Scottsdale, Arizona, so perhaps I’m a little more suspicious and cautious than the average Joe. With the distressed X-E1, I feel like my camera is less attractive to somebody looking for something valuable to steal. And even if someone does take it, I didn’t pay a whole lot for it, and so it’s not as big of a deal than if someone took off with something I paid over a grand for.

A final reason why I would distress an X-E1 is that it was fun to do. As I mentioned before, I’ve done some scale modelling in the past. I found the process of distressing the camera to be similarly enjoyable. It was easy enough to do. I used fine-grit sandpaper to rough it up, using a heavier hand on the corners, edges and anywhere that someone might handle the camera more, such as knobs and where fingers would sit when holding it. I purchased a vintage strap and used rust-colored paint with a dry-brush technique to make it appear rusty (more rusty, actually, as it already had some natural rust).

The results are pretty convincing, I believe. This X-E1 looks like an old camera that has seen heavy use, and not something that’s fairly new. I wouldn’t have done this to a camera in mint condition. The one that I purchased had some obvious wear already, I just added some extra “wear” to what was naturally there. The Meike 35mm lens, which also looks like it came out of the 1960’s, received some distressing, as well, so that it matches the camera. I really love the way the camera and lens look together, but, perhaps more importantly, I love the images that they create together.

Some people might not appreciate what I did to this camera. I truly understand that it’s not for everyone. Some people might even say that it is inherently dishonest, which it is, but so are most people’s photographs. I’d rather create honest pictures with a dishonest camera than create dishonest pictures with an honest camera. I’m sure that this whole article is a bit polarizing, but when it comes down to it, it’s my camera and I can do whatever I want to it, and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. Still, I hope that some of you think that it turned out alright. I still haven’t completely decided which side of the genius/insanity line it falls on.

Below are some photographs of my distressed Fujifilm X-E1:

43049359911_2b572e3428_z

“Vintage” Modern Camera

42999579282_0ecb2b9522_z

Distressed Camera

42330872624_742f0c90ce_z

Distressed Camera Knobs

Below are some photographs that I’ve captured with my X-E1 and Meike 35mm lens:

42187555035_cd60c5661b_z

Blue Bird – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

41245553470_7f53cf909a_z

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

28187383307_2d46a7f02e_z

Urban Nature – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

28187378337_0c39a33670_z

Open Door – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

43015317932_5a963f0251_z

Elevated Walkway – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

43064746331_67548a4a7f_z

Chill – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

28197014897_9ca6e4725a_z

If It Fits – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

41254450200_50777e1541_z

Waiting At The Bus Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

43006192972_79e2d36bfa_z

Bus Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

42153921865_75e03ac72f_z

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

Click here to see more photographs.

Digital Is Disposable

42236821424_1626df0441_z

Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

Digital cameras are disposable.

Camera manufacturers introduce the replacement models, the next generation, about every two years on average. This isn’t always true–the X100T came out just one year after the X100S while the X-Pro2 came out four years after the X-Pro1–but, generally speaking, it’s true. Your new camera will be “last year’s model” soon enough.

It’s no surprise that photographers, on average, upgrade roughly every two years, as well. When that new model comes out, it’s very tempting to buy it. The new model is better in this way and that way–faster, more resolution, etc.–you know the song and dance. You might still keep your current camera as a “backup body” once the new one arrives in the mail, and it will mostly collect dust.

There are plenty of photographers who don’t buy new. They’ll wait awhile until they can get a good deal on a gently used camera. But it’s still the same story of “upgrading” every other year or so. They’re just a model behind what’s current.

There are some who keep their cameras for many years. There are plenty of photographers who happily use their five-year-old camera. A much smaller number happily use their ten-year-old camera. Almost nobody happily uses their fifteen-year-old camera, because the cheapest interchangeable-lens cameras today are more advanced and capable of better image quality than the best “pro” cameras of 2003. Digital technology changes quickly, and advancements have come at breakneck speed.

We’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. Digital technology is still advancing quickly and the cameras released in 2017 are better in every way to their counterparts released in 2012. But how much better do they need to be? If a camera already has more resolution than what most need, what does even more resolution do? If a camera is already quick enough for most photographers, how does a faster camera help? If a camera already has amazing high-ISO performance, do you really need a stop more? Yes, there are people who need more, but that’s a small percentage. Most photographers already had everything that they needed in cameras from years past, and all the advancements since then have just been overkill. Cameras are becoming better all the time, but they were already more than good enough before.

34490458291_bb3fd50512_z

Barn By The Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

I’m not suggesting that camera manufacturers should stop pushing forward. What I am suggesting is that this habit of upgrading to the latest camera model every couple of years is unnecessary. If you want to buy a new camera, go ahead and do it, I’m not trying to stop you. But I do want to make aware to the photographic community that many very good and highly capable cameras are being disposed simply because they’re several years old. I’m telling myself this just as much as I’m telling others, because I’ve been caught up in this routine just as much as the next guy.

My first “real” camera, a Canon AE-1, was over 20-years-old when I bought it. I used it for several years, and even at 25 it was still going strong. I sold it, and that’s one of my photographic regrets, because, even though it is around 40-years-old now, I’m sure someone out there is still capturing wonderful pictures with it. I have several film cameras on my shelf that I occasionally dust off, a couple of which are over 50-years-old, that still function properly and are still capable of capturing excellent pictures.

The idea of someone using a 50-year-old digital camera for anything remotely serious is laughable, and not just because a 50-year-old digital camera doesn’t exist, but because of the poor image quality and usability of the early models. Someday, though, the cameras manufactured today will be 50-years-old, and I can see some of them, if they’re still working, being used by photographers who want that “retro digital” feel. I don’t think too many cameras made before 2010 will ever be used at age 50 or even when they’re 20-year-old. A few of the higher-end models, perhaps, but by-and-large the technology just wasn’t there yet. However, the ones being made today, and even five to eight years ago, have advanced enough that they could still be used to capture quality photographs well into the future.

The Fujifilm X-E1 is not as good as the X-E3, but it is more than good enough for creating wonderful photographs. It is five-years-old, almost six, but it is still an excellent camera. You can find them for under $300 pretty easily because people have moved on. The X-E2 replaced it, and then the X-E2S came out a couple years later, and now the X-E3 is approaching the one year mark and there’s already talk about an X-E4. In the realm of digital cameras it might as well be 50-years-old because it is three and soon-to-be four models old. It’s archaic. It’s a has-been. It’s disposable.

I recently picked up an old X-E1 because they’re so cheap. I liked the one that I used to own, and I wish that I had kept it. I sold it to help fund the purchase of my X100F, which is another camera that I love. The X-E1, or “Sexy One” as it was nicknamed back in 2012, is still an excellent little camera, and for the price that it currently goes for, why wouldn’t you want one? It’s great for travel because of its size and weight, and if it gets stolen or damaged it’s not a huge deal because it didn’t cost much. It’s not as good as the cameras made in 2018, but it’s more than good enough to capture great pictures for years to come.

Digital cameras are disposable, or, perhaps they used to be. We’re at the point now, and have been for several years, where we can hold onto our cameras longer because they’re more than capable photographic tools. The latest and greatest cameras are wonderful, but, really, the advancements are mostly overkill stacked on top of overkill. Maybe it’s time to be content with what we have, myself included. Maybe it’s time to rediscover these wonderful “vintage” digital cameras, such as the original X100, the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. There was a time not very long ago when people raved over these models and stores had a hard time keeping them in stock. Now they go for a few hundred bucks on eBay.

Photoessay: Antelope Island State Park, Utah – Part 1: Fujifilm X-E1

32940277142_84d37dd88c_z

Bison In The Road – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

The Great Salt Lake in Utah is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River, the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere and the 33rd largest lake in the world. It’s massive! It can seem almost ocean-like, or perhaps more like a large ocean bay, but it is located far from any ocean. One difference between the Great Salt Lake and an ocean is that the lake is much saltier, and the only thing that lives in it is brine shrimp.

The largest island in the Great Salt Lake is Antelope Island, which is 15 miles long and five miles wide. The highest point, Frary Peak, is 6,594′, and is often snow-capped in the winter. It’s accessible by road via a causeway. Antelope Island is managed by the Utah State Park system.

Antelope Island seems like a world away from the Salt Lake City metro area, even though it is located very close to the city. It looks remote, and it must have been very remote before the road was built and the city grew. Interestingly enough, the oldest non-Native American structure in Utah is located on the island, an adobe ranch house built in 1848. The Fielding Garr Ranch was a working ranch from 1848 to 1981, and now the old ranch is open to the public for self-guided tours.

Wildlife abounds on Antelope Island, including buffalo, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, big horn sheep and many other animals. At one time it was believed that the bison herd on Antelope Island was the largest in America. There are a huge variety of birds that migrate across the area.

The water is often calm and the reflections can be incredible. There are sandy beaches. There are trails that curve across the rugged landscape. There is a unique beauty to Antelope Island that draws me back. It’s one of my favorite places to photograph. But it’s also disgusting! There’s a certain “rotten egg” smell that can be found near the shores. There are tons and tons of bugs, including biting no-see-ums, brine flies (that cover the shore like a thick cloud), mosquitoes, tons of spiders (venomous and non-venomous), among other things. It’s pretty common to see dead birds. There’s plenty to love and hate about this place. I try to look beyond the gross to see the beauty.

The photographs in this article were captured using a Fujifilm X-E1. It was my introduction to Fuji X cameras. I bought it used about two years ago and kept it for a year. I loved that camera and didn’t want to get rid of it, but I used the money from selling it to help pay for my Fujifilm X100F. Without the X-E1 this blog wouldn’t exist. Some of these photographs are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, many of them are not and were post-processed using Alien Skin Exposure and/or Nik Silver Efex.

Part 2 of this series will feature photographs captured at Antelope Island State Park using a Fujifilm X-A3. Part 3 will feature the X100F. And the final installment will feature the X-Pro2. Enjoy!

28670110532_0c097f43b1_z

Blue Umbrella At The Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

28148337494_813ea45290_z

The Vastness of the Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

28660690832_70da1df0fb_z

Red Buffalo At The Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

28698187901_48fae54398_z

Boys Playing In The Salt Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

28774936765_f2ed4ec756_z

Buffalo Hill – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32138607394_dbce1252b9_z

Area Closed For Bison – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32294787913_0a64a6c845_z

Island Buffalo – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32250862364_271ce9478d_z

Deer Statue – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32941884436_3dc614f5b9_z

Ice on Antelope Island – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32601497680_8491cc5360_z

Ice, Lake & Mountains – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32250803884_0aafa38fb0_z

Frary Peak Reflected – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32940237212_e482f81c66_z

Light Streaming Over Antelope Island – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32940235812_6a47760688_z

Wasatch Mountains From The Causeway – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

32168112823_e7904c05f8_z

Old Salty Stump – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

Part 2 – Fujifilm X-A3  Part 3 – Fujifilm X100F