Monday, January 28, 2019

My Personal Ten Year Challenge (Gadget Edition)

So, there’s this craze…

Anyway, since I feel like jumping on the bandwagon…

Here is my phone in the US in 2009. It was a Nokia E63. It had a physical QWERTY keyboard, a color display, a headphone jack, WiFi, bluetooth. It had a 2MP camera and EDGE cellular data! It had a removable battery and its storage capacity can be expanded via a micro SD card. It can record videos at a whopping 0.08p!!!!!!!! You have the internet in your pocket, but you really don’t want to use it. (Back then, I used an iPod Touch also.)

I loved it.

Fast forward 10 years…

I now use an iPhone Xs Max (ten S max). There’s no physical QWERTY keyboard but it will appear if you need it. It has a colored all-glass OLED display and the latest WiFi and Bluetooth. Sadly, or not, it has no headphone jack. The battery is not removable and you cannot expand its storage capacity. When you buy it, you’re stuck to the phone’s inner storage for the rest of its useful life. Unless you use a third party storage device. It can record videos at 4K, 1080p and super slow-mo! You unlock the phone with your face. You have the internet in your pocket and you actually want to use it. As a matter of fact, majority of internet users use their mobile devices more now - we can’t get enough of our smartphones!

I love it.

I think this just goes to show, in my personal experience, that we can learn to love whatever is available at the moment. It didn’t matter then that my Nokia E63 could not shoot super slow-mo videos - we didn’t even know back then that that was possible in such a tiny device! (Ok, not so tiny.) So, yeah, just enjoy what you have now, make the most out of it, push it to its limits. And, when the next wave of new technology comes in, then, we will enjoy that too! 

So, what is your gadget-related ten year challenge?

Sound off on my Twitter or Facebook page!

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR

If you want a moderate length prime lens that can accommodate most of your needs, then you should consider the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR.

The 35mm is equivalent to roughly 53mm on a full-frame sensor. This means that the pictures taken with this lens is equivalent to what the human eye can see. This is the reason why the 50mm lens is a favorite of a lot of photographers! It is very akin to the human perception.

And that is exactly what you can get with the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR.

The Lens' Features and Build Quality:

The lens feels solid in the hand.

It looks like a toy because of its size (a friend even thought that, with the Fujifilm X-T20, I was using a toy camera from afar), but its appearance will deceive you. As I’ve said, it is solidly built and it feels really dense. The manual focus ring is wide and it offers a firm resistance when you turn it. There is an aperture ring outside so you won’t have to guess at what aperture opening you are shooting with. It has its own lens hood but I only keep it on so that, if ever I bump into things, it’ll be the hood that will take the brunt of the force and not the lens itself. I don’t know how effective the lens hood is at preventing stray light for it is not that deep. Lastly, the lens uses a 43mm size filter, which is the smallest filter size I have used so far.

Image Quality and Performance

Paired with the Fujifilm X-T20, I took the lens to Singapore. The lens performed admirably, to say the least. With this lens, I was able to shoot landscapes - the lens is still wide enough to accommodate outdoor shots. And the photos produced are crisp and sharp. Note though that this does not have image stabilization. So, your shutter speed should not be longer than 1/35 of a second. Else, you will get blurry shots. Especially if you have been over-caffeinated...

And when it comes to portraits, since the focal length mimics that of the human eyes, portraits appear really pleasant.

This was NOT shot in Singapore. This was taken in Metro Manila.
Just don’t try to take selfies with it: putting yourself in the shot is really, really difficult because of the relatively long focal length.

The f/2 maximum aperture of this lens produces really creamy bokeh. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: today’s smartphones can mimic the bokeh produced by large aperture lenses, but they can never beat the real thing.

Paired with similarly weather-resistant camera body, the WR in the name of the lens, the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR can withstand some beating. It is resistant to rain, dust and sand. Just don’t immerse your camera in water: it does not have the same rating as iPhone Xs. You should also not change lenses in wet, windy or sandy situations.

Finally, a point of caution: the 35mm is still good for street photography and landscapes, but it might be too narrow indoors. So, if you do most of your shoots in close quarters, then you might need to consider a wider glass. Or get a zoom lens, like the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS which I reviewed here. Or bring another wider prime...

Final Verdict

The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR can serve as a moderately-wide street lens, a relatively short portrait lens, but a generally really good all-around lens. It is often said that, for full-frame shooter, if you can only have one lens, then that lens will be the 50mm prime. For an APS-C standard, such as the Fujifilm X-T20, the equivalent lens is the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR.

This was NOT shot in Singapore. This was taken in Metro Manila.

The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR is Highly Recommended.

Some photos edited using the iOS app Hipstamatic

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