Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Review

I’ve always believed that an all-around zoom lens is a must for all photographers. Yes, generally, a prime lens is the better quality lens but, for maximum flexibility, a standard zoom is a must in my opinion.

This is because there are times when you can’t move close enough to your subject if you are using a wide prime lens. There are also those times when you don’t have enough room to move back when you have a telephoto prime lens. And, let’s say you both have a wide and a prime lenses, there are times however when changing your lens is less than ideal. Examples for each case are: say, you are in a zoo - you can’t walk up to a lion to photograph it when you have a wide prime; or, you are in a room with your friends and you want to get everybody in the shot for a group photo - if you are using a long prime lens, you just won’t have enough space to move back; and, finally, when it is especially windy outside, or when you are on a beach, or when it’s raining - you don’t want to remove the lens from your camera body else dirt or sand or water might get in your camera!

The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens is an ideal all-around lens. Yes, the name is a mouthful... The 18mm end (on an APSC sensor, this is equivalent to 27mm) is wide enough for street and landscape photography and the 55mm end (equivalent to 82.5mm) is long enough for portraitures and for moderate zooms.

When the wife and I went to Tokyo, Japan last year for a short trip, this lens was the only one I brought with me. It was the only lens that I needed.

The lens is sharp and it focuses quickly (paired with a Fujifim X-T20). It is lightweight yet feels premium in the hand. You can adjust the aperture manually via 1/3 stops. There is no marking on the aperture ring however - you will only be able to tell what aperture you are in if you look at either the back display or through the electronic viewfinder. The lens has image stabilization up to four stops so, theoretically, you can shoot with a shutter speed as slow as 1/8 of a second. I have tried it. It works!

There are a couple of switches on the body of the lens:  
  • the Optical Image Stabilization on/off switch
  • the aperture mode switch (whether you want to be at full auto or at aperture priority)
It cannot get any simpler!

As I’ve said, I believe that this is a perfect all-around lens. If a Fujifilm camera owner gets to have only one lens, I feel that this should be it. You can take it when you travel. You can photograph your family and friends with it. You can take landscape photos. You can do sports photography with it. And, as for me, I can use it to cover events!

The photos produced by this lens are sharp and the focusing speed is fast. And it comes in a lightweight body.

This lens is the perfect travel lens!

Oh, special tip, when I cover events, I don’t use the f/2.8 aperture setting. I don’t want to be “surprised” when I go towards the long end of the lens where the maximum aperture will be f/4. I just use a maximum of f/4 whether I’m in the wide end or the narrow end so that, all things being equal, my shutter speed will be constant also. Only the ISO will change depending on the scenery.

The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS is Highly Recommended!

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Ten Things that are Cheaper than the iPhone Xs Max

Now that the iPhone Xs Max pricing is out in the Philippines (it is pronounced 10 s Max), we can now compare several things that are actually cheaper than its maxed out version.

My pride and joy bike and its accessories: a Ridley Fenix 2017 model with a Shimano 105 groupset, XTR pedals and Continental four-season tires. I have Fizik MTB shoes, Lezyne head unit, Wahoo speed and cadence sensor and heart rate sensor. I also use an Insta360 One camera attached to a Gorillapod.

10 pairs of ON shoes. I reviewed one actually here.

Four GoPro 7 - the digital image stabilization for this one, according to early reviewers, is sick! One even said you don’t need a gimbal anymore!

Bathtub - yeah, one of the leisures of life

The new Fujifilm X-T3, a quantum leap from the still wonderful X-T2. Review in the works...

Six Oakley jawbreaker (on sale for around 12,000 pesos).

65-inch LED Sony TV powered by Android!

2-in-1 washing machine - yeah, I get a kick out of checking out washing machines.

Buffet dinner (900/person) where you can invite 94 of your friends!

Down payment to a new compact car plus five months payment!

Yeah… the iPhone Xs Max will probably sell in the millions… I’m actually planning to get one… :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The ON Cloudsurfer Shoes!

The ON Cloudsurfer is my first ON shoes.

When my previous running shoes reached more than 500km of roads ran, I decided to look for an alternative pair. I chanced upon the ON line of shoes in my neighborhood sports equipment store while I was on the hunt. The sole of their shoes looked so different and so appealing that I decided to try out about five pairs.

Regarding those pairs that I didn’t buy, I found that those shoes were too narrow for my feet. I was hoping that, since ON makes shoes for athletes, then most of the shoes in their line up would have provisions for swollen feet (swollen because of all the running). But, no, only one pair in the entire ON lineup in the store I was in had a nice fit on my, ehem, feet.

That was the ON Cloudsurfer.

My criteria for running shoes are very simple:

  1. It should feel good when worn and while I’m running (of course!)
  2. It should look really good

The ON Cloudsurfer manages to tick both criteria.

The shoes are so light that it feels like you are not wearing anything at all. Compared to my training shoes, the Cloudsurfer feels like it is at least 150g lighter. Also, the design of the rubber sole is different from anything I have ever used before. The cushioning is perfect for runs shorter than 16km. The upper is made up of breathable material that my feet didn’t heat up on said middle distance runs. Considering that I wear thick socks when I run, that last thing was a big plus.

This same upper is also made up a quick-dry materials: I was caught in the rain while running, but, the day after, the shoes were already dry and ready to go.

The shoes felt “springy”, if you can imagine such a thing. It seems as if I can feel the reaction force of the ground back every time my feet goes into contact with it. For me, this makes my runs more efficient as the energy, or so I believe, is returned to my feet.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but with these shoes, I feel that I’m prevented from running the “heel-to-toe” way. My feet always seem to land flat on the ground, the so-called neutral foot strike! For me, this is a good thing!

Also, with this pair of shoes, I feel that the ground contact time between my feet and the ground are lessened, thus reducing the chances for injury.

I just have a couple of issues with the ON Cloudsurfer.

One, the shoe laces are too thin. Maybe it’s designed like that so that it will be lighter. But, I think thicker laces would have been better. Also, I took the shoes running for a half-marathon and I felt a niggling on the side of my knee two-thirds of the way. I think this pair of shoes is not really designed for long distance runs.

But all-in-all, I would highly recommend this pair of shoes to anyone who are looking for a better alternative. This pair of shoes should be enough for anyone who wants to try out running for the first time, or for those who are not satisfied with their current race shoes.

The ON Cloudsurfer, again, is highly recommended.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Fujifilm XT-20

Some time ago, I wrote about falling in love with the Fujifilm X T20. However, back then, I just based my assessment on a The Verge article and my own experience of handling the camera inside a store for a whole 15 minutes or so. However, after using the camera for several months now, even taking it outside the country, I am ready to give my assessment of the camera and whether or not it is worth falling in love with.

This is my long term review of the Fujifilm X T20.

When I first held the T20, it seemed as if the camera fits into my hands like a glove. I instinctively knew where my fingers would go. It’s as if I have held the camera for a long time already. The buttons and dials, for me, are laid out where they should be. It seemed as if there is no misplaced thing on it.

The T20 is also very well-made. It is light enough for your everyday use but it doesn’t feel cheap. The dials are not loose, nor is the battery and SD card door. When you turn a knob, it gives a very satisfying click every time.

But all these things, it being well-made, it being good looking, it conveying love at first sight, mean nothing at all if it does not make wonderful photos. And I must say, in this regard, the Fujifilm X T20 really shines! The T20 has an APS-C size sensor but the camera produces really clean images even at high ISOs. Photos are crisp and, as with other Fujifilm cameras I have used, the saturation of the photos right out of the camera are well-suited for my taste. I really love the processing that Fujifilm cameras make.

And the photos made are so good I do not even bother to shoot in RAW. Just JPEGs for me all the way. It’s smaller in size and can easily be transferred to my iPad or iPhone and shared right away. No post processing needed. Well, except maybe to crop the photos and/or to level the photos. The photos made by this camera are really so good that they are shareable right away.

And boy have I shot with this camera. I photographed my friends playing badminton and I was able to convey the intensity of the game. Ok, it wasn’t an intense game, just a friendly game, but anyway, I was able to catch up with my friends’ movements with this camera. We are not pro athletes and I am not a pro sports photographer but, in a pinch, even pros would be able to use this camera for high-speed, high-intensity games.

I took the camera to Singapore and Japan and, because it is a light camera compared to DSLRs, that, walking around different places wasn’t much of a chore. Also, since the entire system is lighter compared to DSLRs, you can bring a couple more lenses and still you won’t be hampered by the weight of your camera gear. Actually, I plan to get a 23mm f/2 lens (34.5mm full frame equivalent) for my street photography. Also, because the camera is small, people on the streets won’t mind you as much. Compared to my DSLR, when I shot with the T20, I was able to shoot street scenes more inconspicuously. Shooting from the hip is much easier with this camera, especially with the flip screen.

I photographed fireworks with the T20 and I was very much impressed with the photos it produced. Despite the long exposure time, there wasn’t much noise in the JPEGs produced.

And, with the right lens, this camera can be an all-around camera. With the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens that came with the camera, the T20 is perfect for friends and family gathering, for travel, and even for indoor sports. It’s even perfect for my product photography.

However, as with all relationships, not all is wrinkle-free when it comes to the T20. First, the battery doesn’t last long. I know this is true for all (or most) mirrorless cameras but a rating of 200 shots per charge is ridiculous. Even if I only use the electronic viewfinder, the battery is still doesn’t last long. I already bought an extra battery but, if you are going to do a whole day event, say a wedding, then you would need at least four batteries. It’s a good thing that the camera can be charged via USB so, when the wife and I went to Japan, I charged the camera using a battery pack while we were in transit.

Second, the location of the SD card is not very ideal. It sits beside the battery and taking the SD card, or even putting it back on, is really difficult. Wish the SD card is housed separately from the battery compartment...

I have not shot video with the T20 extensively but in the few occasions that I did, the camera gets really warm. I conferred with another T20 user and he said that that was normal.

Unfortunately, you cannot shoot selfies with this camera. Or, you can’t “easily” shoot selfies with the T20. This is because the screen doesn’t flip all the way back, so you won’t be able to see yourself when you shoot selfies.

However, all of these are not enough to turn me off the Fujifilm XT-20. It is a really wonderful camera and I don’t mind bringing it with me wherever I go. It is the perfect all-around camera.

The Fujifilm X T20 is Highly Recommended!

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