You Already Have The Right Photography Gear

HikingLWI don’t always practice what I preach, so believe me when I say I can relate to your gear issues. I’ll give you an example. As you may know, my first passion was the guitar, and when I’m not out shooting photos, editing photos or writing about photography, one of the things I love to do is play music, write songs and and record myself.

Over the years, I’ve collected a hearty stockpile of 6-strings, as well as as enough audio gear to track, mix and produce an entire catalog of albums. However, I really don’t have that many finished songs done. I’ve got lots of ideas, but relatively few of them have made it all the way to the end of the tunnel.

Even though I have all of this stuff, instead of sitting down and actually being creative, I often find myself obsessing over the next piece of gear that I need. There always seems to be “one new thing” which would make all the difference in my sound or my songwriting ability. It might be a new pedal, a software plugin, a microphone, a preamp, a recording app for the iPad, sometimes even a brand new guitar.

Of course, is this REALLY going to make me a better musician? Hardly. Is this REALLY going to make me produce better music? No. Is it going to make me magically get over my own internal creative barriers? Not a chance.

What’s going to make the biggest difference in my songwriting is if I sit my ass down and start playing, coming with new ideas and laying down tracks, even if they’re not perfect. In other words, I need to practice and get comfortable experimenting and making use of the gear I already have.

I wholeheartedly buy into the notion that limitation enhances creativity. When you whittle down your choices to just a few essential items, whether they be cameras, lenses, guitars or mixing plugins, you’re inherently forced to make due with what you have. Less brain power is expended on trying to make choices about your gear, which leaves more that can be used for creativity and execution.

While I’m not nearly as prone to this with photography as I am with music, I still get caught up in the excitement of technology and I sometimes have to remind myself to focus less on the hardware and focus more on the process.

I know that I talk a lot about photography gear on this site, but my honest guess is that no matter what camera gear you own, whether it’s made by Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica or Fuji, you already have the right equipment to make great photos. You just need to get outside and put it to use. Nothing will make you a better photographer than spending time sketching with your camera, practicing with the settings and experimenting with composition.

Gear doesn’t make you better. Practice does.

That said, gear is definitely fun, and if you decide you do need more of it, please consider shopping through the links here on the site. That helps me out and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Thanks for reading. Now get out there and start shooting! :)

Awesome New Photography Gear – September 2014

_DSF8386There’s a lot going on in the photography world this month. Photokina has just gotten underway and almost everyone has introduced new products to feature at the giant, bi-annual trade show. Some of this stuff is pretty impressive and worth checking out if you’re an outdoor, action or travel photographer. In case I don’t get a chance to do more thorough reviews, I’ll do a quick run down so that you know what you can look forward to in the weeks ahead.

Nikon D750 Full Frame DSLR

nikon-d750-dslr-camera-01

Just on the heels of the new hot rodded 36 MP

D810 camera, which now shoots at 5 fps, Nikon has just announced the brand new full frame D750, and for many shooters, especially D700 users, it’s the camera they’ve been waiting for.

Positioned just above the D610, the D750 is a lightweight, compact full frame DSLR with a 24.3 MP CMOS FX sensor that features a 51-point AF system (finally!!!) and a max frame rate of 6.5 frames per second.

Even though Nikon has yet to come out with a truly viable mirrorless camera, they’ve nonetheless been watching the competition. They’ve borrowed a couple of popular features to throw on the D750, such as built-in Wi-fi that lets you share and capture images remotely, and a vari-angle tilt screen.

While it’s still a DSLR, the D750 is built with a carbon fiber front and an allow back, which makes it just about as small and light as the D610, which makes it a solid outdoor adventure camera. Not word on how durable it is compared to the D710, but considering that carbon fiber mountain bikes are built to be crashed, my guess is that they D750 will be adequately tough for most users.

The D750 will be $2,399 and it’s slated to hit shelves on September 23. You can preorder yours here. You can check it out a Nikon’s website here.

Nikon-D750-allow-carbon-fiber-body

Fuji XF 50-140 f/2.8 Weather Resistant Lens

Most pro shooters depend on their fast tele lenses, which is the main reason that some photographers haven’t fully embraced mirrorless systems yet. Until now, there hasn’t been a viable equivalent to the trusty Nikon and Canon 70-200 f/2.8.

Fuji has just announced their XF 50-140 f/2.8 OIS WR lens. It’s designed to be exactly that. It’s fast, pro quality glass, it has Fuji’s killer 5-stop OIS image stabilization system, and it even features a similar weather resistant design that’s found on the impressive XF 18-135 WR lens.

With an equivalent focal length range of 76-213mm, the new XF 50-140 has a Triple Linear AF Motor,  5 ED elements, a tripod collar, and an internal zoom mechanism, which means it doesn’t change length when you zoom in and out like the other Fuji XF zoom lenses.

Given the surprising sharpness of the slower 18-135 lens, I have full confidence the this will be an awesome lens that has incredible quality and sharpness. It will obviously be on the heavier side for a mirrorless lens, but it will still be lighter and smaller than any other pro 70-200 2.8 DSRL lens. I’m hoping to try this one out as soon as it’s available, and I’ll let you know what I think as soon as I have one in hand.

The XF 50-140 f/2.8 lens will cost $1.599 and it’s slated to be released later this fall. You can preorder one here, or you can check out the specs on Fujifilm’s site here.

Fujifilm X100T

Also from Fuji, the latest incarnation of the X100. This time, the new X100T. The X100T features many of the same specs as the previous version, including a 16MP X-Trans II sensor, but it has some new features as well.

The new X100 has an even better advanced hybrid viewfinder with an electronic rangefinder feature that allows accurate manual focusing in real time. It also has a silent electronic shutter mode that offers speeds up to 1-32,000 second, which means you’re able to shoot shallow depths of field even in bright sunlight.

On the front of the cameras is a new 1/3 stop aperture ring, a new command dial, and 7 Fn buttons, just like we see on the X-T1. Fuji has also introduced a new film simulation called “Classic Chrome,” which is essentially a replication of Kodachrome. This will be introduced into the rest of the X Camera line with a firmware update to come later this year.

The X100 is a true modern classic and for good reason. I’m honestly surprised I don’t have one of my own yet. The new X100T is slated to hit the shelves in November, but your can preorder one here, or check out the specs on Fuji’s website.

Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 Lens for Sony

The new Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is one of the most preordered lenses right now, and for good reason. If you’re a Sony user, this looks like absolutely killer glass.

Made for full frame Sony mirrorless cameras, and compatible with APS-C E Mount cameras as well, the Zeiss FE 16-35 gives constant aperture and stunning sharpness throughout he wide angle to normal range.

With OSS image stabilization and a relatively fast f/4 maximum aperture, this lens looks to be a very solid tool for low light and a variety of outdoor and travel situations.

It has 3 ED elements, it remains a constant size through the zoom range, and the filter threads do not rotate when you’re focusing or zooming the lens. What more can be said. It’s a reasonably priced Zeiss lens. It’s no wonder it’s a huge hit.

The Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens will be released on November 18. You can preorder yours here.

Shooting Action with the Fuji 18-135mm lens

Learn Photography Online with the Pros

_DSF8424-2Summer leaves town in a real hurry as soon as September hits Alaska. As much as I hate to see the warm weather and long days depart for the year, fall does mean the start of cyclocross season, so that’s a tradeoff I’ll take with excitement.

During the past couple years, it’s been lots of fun to both race in and photograph the Arctic Cross series here in Anchorage, and I’ve been especially looking forward to this fall because it’s my first season to shoot cyclocross with the Fuji X-T1 camera.

This past week, I shot with only the new XF 18-135mm weather sealed lens, and while I would have preferred using a faster f/2.8 telephoto zoom for long shots inside the dark forest, Fuji’s high ISO performance is pretty darn good, so the speed loss is not as big of an issue as it could be. Shooting wide angle makes it even less of an issue. That said, I’m very curious to try out the new XF 50-140mm f/2.8 lens that’s just been announced.

_DSF8494

Cyclocross is indeed a fast action sport that offers a diverse number of perspectives and compositional opportunities. For that reason, I was very curious about how well the X-T1 and 18-135 lens would do with regards to autofocus performance.

As with my previous tests using the 18-135mm lens, I found it to be more than capable enough to acquire and track the bikers. The very lightweight linear motor that’s built into the 18-135 makes it one of the fastest focusing lenses in the Fuji lineup, so if there was a limitation here, it wasn’t AF, it was lens speed, as I mentioned above. That said, limitations are a great spark for creativity. You may not always have the perfect gear, but you can take what you have and run with it in whatever direction works best.

All of these were shot as straight JPEGS, and as much as I like the Fuji colors, I really love the black and white film simulations. I think they’re perfect for subjects like this; BW seems to impart a timeless quality, and it certainly has more grit, especially when you crank the ISO way up. (Most of these were shot at ISO 1600 and higher.) You can check out more photos from this week’s race here.

_DSF8620_DSF8423_DSF8663_DSF8486_DSF8652

 

 

20 Instagram Photographers That Will Change The Way You See The World

DogsInstagram

I’m proud to be featured this week within an amazing group of image makers. Branding and social media coach Jane Ellen wrote a post called 20 Instagram Accounts Of Photographers That Will Change The Way You See The World and stuck me in … Continue reading

Hiking on the Lake George Glacier, Alaska

_DSF8335

In my next life, I might decide to be a glacieologist. I’m awed by the overwhelming magnitude of these immense rivers of ice and the sheer power they have to carve out entire mountain ranges. Of course, they do all this in … Continue reading

Full Review of the Fuji XF 18-135mm Weather Sealed Lens

_DSF7743_C1a

A few weeks ago, I posted a first look review of the new XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS WR lens, which is Fujifilm’s first weather resistant lens. Although it can be used on any X-Series camera body, the 18-135 was designed in conjunction with the … Continue reading