Sapphire & Diamond Ring – FujiFilm X30 (+ Topaz Labs Creative Detail I)

DIAMOND & SAPPHIRE RING - FUJIFILM X30 + B&W POLARISER

OK, in these two shots I’ve experimented some more with the ring. I really liked the last shot (post below) but the stones were rendered (too) dull by a tad much light diffusion and some post processing effect. The result was pleasing if you wanted a fairly dour finish to the image. This time I’m trying to bring out the true reflections of the stones and make them pop a bit more. The first one was done with straight Photoshop CS4 processing. I have to say, I admire jewellery photographers because these shots are not easy to get right in the first place and the post processing is a nightmare x 2. Note that the 10x Diopter Filter was not used in either of these shots but a B&W Polariser was. This is the exact same image with Topaz Labs Creative Detail I filter added as the last part of the processing.

DIAMOND & SAPPHIRE RING - FUJIFILM X30 + TOPAZ LABS CREATIVE DETAIL I

The difference is subtle but it’s there and the ring just pops a tad more with the introduction of the Topaz filter. The grey parallel lines in the background are the clamp which held the ring where I wanted it in relation to the light. I quite liked the effect so I left it in the image but used PS “Lens Blur” to create the kind of DOF I was looking for. ISO 100, Shutter Speed 1/15, f/9, Focal Length = 7.1mm.

Mum’s Diamond & Sapphire Ring – FujiFilm X30 & B&W X10 Diopter Filter

DIAMOND & SAPPHIRE RING

Not too long ago I lost my Mum. I kept those things that I remember her wearing and this is one of those things. She was an elegant woman, admired by many men and this ring, as I recall, was given to her by my Father when he worked in Saudi Arabia. I’ve not really dabbled in jewellery photography before but thought I’d try my hand. This was really a multi-experiment of macro with the FujiFilm X30, testing the B&W 10x Diopter Filter and processing a jewellery shot in Photoshop CS4. All in all, I’m fairly happy with the result. I could have probably squeezed a tad more detail using my ex-D300S and 60mm Micro setup but at this size image it’s tough to be disappointed with the IQ. Shot at ISO 100, fully manual mode and F10. As usual, click on the image for a full size 1024 pixel version.

The setup was very rudimentary. An iPad in my conservatory provided the reflective back-drop. 3 lights from left, right and above provided the lighting and a U shaped piece of perspex diffused the light.

HY. MOSER Braille Watch

Preparing For Travel – De-Beautifying A Domke F-5XB Small Shoulder Bag

DOMKE F-5XB

If you’re about to head off on your travels, you’re going to want to take photo equipment with you to record your journey. Likewise, if you’re considering street photography in the downcast areas of any city in the world, you’re going to want to be a tad “street-wise”. Walking down the street with a photo rucksack is going to attract a lot of attention and most of it will be un-wanted. But what if you need a decent protective bag in which to keep your newly acquired (FujiFilm X30 or similar) safe and sound at the same time as not really wishing to be mugged multiple times, 5 minutes after you step off the bus? The answer? De-beautify a Domke bag. Domke bags were created by a photojournalist who wanted a bag that didn’t look like it contained expensive camera equipment. I bought a Domke F-5XB Rugged Wear bag to accommodate my now sold X100 plus a few necessities and reviewed it here. It was actually the perfect bag for the X100 so why not for the X30? The only thing I wasn’t too happy about was it looked a tad “posh”. The “rugged-wear” finish was nice but it still looked like a bag that housed something worth more than the average East European car. The big “Domke” label was the first thing to get binned; if I’m going to provide a company with advertising all round the world I’m not going to pay them to do it! I also prefer “black” bags to “fawn” coloured bags so maybe it was time to fiddle with the aesthetics? Tesco supermarkets in the UK sell a black dye that can be thrown in any washing machine together with the object in need of a dye and lo and behold, two hours and £8 later the deed is done. That’s exactly what I did with the F-5XB and strap and was very pleased with the outcome. Due to the finish of the rugged-wear material (impregnated) the dye doesn’t sit perfectly but that’s really the point.. It now looks “beat-up” and old and not the kind of bag you’d put something expensive in, whilst still protecting your camera like a Domke does so well. So whilst my camera bag now looks like my Chihuahua peed on it, curious eyes don’t give it a second look. That makes it travel-ready in my book!

Derelict

Really Right Stuff B2-40-LR Lever-Release Clamp

Gitzo G1098 Basalt Tripod + Really Right Stuff BH-30 Ball Head + B2-LLR-II + FujiFilm X30

GITZO G1098 BASALT & REALLY RIGHT STUFF BH-30 + RRS B2-LLR-II

Finding a good tripod and ball-head for a compact camera is not the easiest thing to do. There are simply so many choices on the market today and without handling the things it’s difficult to get a real feel for their size and weight. If you travel with your camera you may well want to have a tripod with you but you sure as heck won’t want a heavy one. Small cameras also don’t handle well on large tripod and ball-head setups so it’s always worth matching your equipment carefully. The G1098 weighs in at 810 grams and is 36cm long with a max height of 130cm. It’s rated for 2KG though it feels sturdy enough to support more. The RRS BH-30 is actually not the smallest ball-head the company make but it’s the smallest that features a panning lock, which is something I always want on a ball-head. It’s 75mm high, 40mm across the base, weighs 218 grams and is rated to 6.8 KG. One thing I like about the RRS ball-heads is they suffer from ZERO slippage. I’ve had much larger ball-heads that always slipped a bit but the BH-30 is solid as a rock when locked. You’ll need a quick release clamp to quickly attach and release the camera. I use an RRS B2 LLR II but only because I already had one. You would normally use a much smaller one and there’s no reason not to purchase one of the cheaper versions sold from China. The combo, then, gives you a very sturdy tripod setup with a total weight of around 1KG and a size small enough to pop in your day-pack. Indoors for studio type work it’s steady enough for a compact camera like the FujiFilm X30 but be sure to use a cable release or wireless release. I have both the JJC ES628F3 and the JJC MA-R. The last thing you’ll want to look at is a base plate or L plate. I prefer an L plate, personally. This is the one I use and how I modified it to better work with the FujiFilm X30. Here’s a better shot of the RRS BH-30 ball-head.

RRS BH-30

FujiFilm X30 – MACRO MODE!

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Over the next few days I’m going to experiment with this combo of 40-52mm step up ring and 10x B&W Macro filter with the FujiFilm X30. It’ll be interesting to see what this can produce!

Shot 1 – (POUND COIN – FujiFilm X30 With B&W 10+ Diopter Filter – 28mm – Auto-Focus)

Shot 2 – (POUND COIN – FujiFilm X30 – No Filter – Same Settings & PP)

Shot 3 – (POUND COIN – Data)

FujiFilm X100 – A Seriously Beautiful Camera..

FujiFilm X100

I’m just preparing to sell my beloved X100, having decided to exchange it for an X30. I took a set of 3 images of the camera and I have to say, I just marvelled at the sheer beauty of it.

FujiFilm X100

There aren’t many digital cameras that make me swoon at their stunning aesthetics but the X100 (and to a slightly lesser degree) the X30 are two of them!

FujiFilm X100

Zippo Case Strap Pouch For NP95 Size Batteries & Smaller + Card

FujiFilm X30 L Bracket Battery/Card Access Modification

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Having recently found a suitable L Bracket for the X30, I was please I now had a good, stable tripod set-up. Whilst shooting with it, however, the lack of access to the battery/card compartment became a real chore. Unfortunately, the position of the adjuster holes did not allow the bracket to be adjusted in such a way (from either side) as to allow access to that compartment whilst keeping the Gariz half case in situ, which was seriously frustrating. The half case is great looking but it also serves well to protect the underside of the camera, which is the part most likely to take wear and tear from daily normal use. Not wishing to give up on the bracket or the case, I set about working out how I could modify the combo to work.

bracket

If you look at the bracket carefully in the picture above, you’ll see at the top what looks like a slot to attach a strap or similar. Beneath that are three holes. If one of those holes could have been utilised as a locking hole then no mod would have been required. Unfortunately, they will not accommodate the locking screw and so are useless for this purpose. The slot next to those holes, shown below, allows the compartment door to open 2/3s of the way but not enough to access or remove either the battery or the card.. The solution is to take a dremel and remove the upper bar that forms that camera strap slot. Once done, the battery/card door can open to 95%, which is plenty to allow full access to the compartment.

L-WINDOW-1-774

When the L Bracket sits in this position the upright is positioned around 18mm from the camera. This might not look as pleasing as when it’s tight up against the side but in practice it works really well as it provides a very useful grip whilst framing the shot on the tripod. When using the camera in portrait mode this gap causes zero problems with vibration of the likes as the X30 is simply too light for it to make a difference as long as you’re using a shutter release.

Gariz XA-SB4 Soft Release Button & LensMate Thumb Grip For FujiFilm X30/X20/X10 Pictorial Review

Schneider Optik FujiFilm X30 Lens Cover Solution

SCHNEIDER OPTIK FUJIFILM X30 LENS COVER SOLUTION

If, like me, you’re a tad anal about your cameras (especially the lens!), you’ll undoubtedly have been looking for a decent lens cap solution for your X30. The first thing you’ll probably have done is purchase the LHF-X20 hood and filter kit. As well as shading the lens, both the filter and the hood provide adequate protection for the lens when out and about but I also worry about loose bits and pieces in my bag scraping against the filter and rendering it useless. I’d also prefer the filter to not be covered with dust and particles every time I go to shoot with it so a lens cover would seem like a sensible solution. Unfortunately, FujiFilm don’t provide a cap for their hood so once again you’re left to your own devices to find one.

SCHNEIDER OPTIK FUJIFILM X30 LENS COVER SOLUTION

If you’re into photography you’re probably a fairly ‘visual’ person and like me, you’ll prefer your camera to look ‘right’, so just chucking any old 60mm cap on the front isn’t going to suffice. When I ordered the Gariz half case I also ordered the leather Capfix. My idea was to find an old cap and cover the front with it. I dredged eBay and finally found a nice looking lens cap in near mint condition, made by Schneider Optik. When it arrived I placed the Capfix over the front but it didn’t look at all right. The leather circle simply didn’t cover enough of the cap’s face and trying to line up the logo inside the little Capfix window was nigh on impossible. My solution was to use the Capfix inside the cap.. I pierced a hole in the side of the cap at 2 O’ Clock using a large heated needle. I then threaded the save cord through the hole and attached it to the split ring of the shoulder strap. The Capfix was then permanently attached to the inside of the cap and lo and behold I had my push on hood cap solution! Looks good, works well, job done!

As a quick update on this one: I found that when using the camera with the lens cap in place it sometimes slightly slipped on the one side. To solve this, glue two tiny strips of rubber (inner tube type) to the inside of the cap edge at 3 and 9 O’ Clock. They should be about 4x4mm and no more than 0.5mm thick. That does the trick nicely and the cap stays exactly where you seat it with no movement at all.

FujiFilm X30 & The Zippo Case Strap Pouch!

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There are few things I find more enjoyable than pimping a new camera! BUT.. I do like to up-cycle when possible and I do like to be original when the mood takes. My previous X100 sported a stunning LeicaTime half case which came with a small bespoke battery and card case that very handily sat proudly on the strap. I desperately wanted a similar pouch for my X30 setup but didn’t want to spend $100 nor wait a month to get it. After much head scratching it suddenly occurred to me that I’d bought an old vintage Zippo case a few years ago for about $5 on eBay UK. Made from black bridle leather it’s a lovely little case so I immediately fetched it and tried it for size. It was the perfect fit for an NP95 battery and an SD card!!! Bullseye! Not only that, it had the perfect horizontal slit on the back side to allow it to slide neatly on to my Footprint strap and it was tight enough to hold it firmly in place whilst I walked. I was totally stunned. I hadn’t dared believe it would work quite that well! So if you want the perfect strap pouch for an X series FujiFilm that uses NP95 batteries, go find an old Zippo case on the ‘Bay!

L-Bracket For FujiFilm X30 – No ‘Really Right Stuff’? Really No Problem!

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FujiFilm X100 series users wanting a solid L-Bracket and grip have, since it’s inception, had the luxury of Really Right Stuff’s (rather expensive) BX100 system. So when I recently purchased an X30 I fully expected RRS to have produced a similar bracket, even if it did cost more than the camera.. Like many X30 owners before me I was dismayed to find that none was available. The lack of grip was fairly inconsequential, given that the X30 already has decent grip built into the body but I really did want a good L-bracket.

X30-L-PLATE-1-774

After a great deal of searching and ploughing through various Chinese sites, none of which I understood a word of, I quite by accident stumbled upon the MPU105 L Bracket Quick Release Plate, a Chinese made universal. It looked like it should do the job and for $8 shipped I took a punt.

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I have to say, it’s absolutely superb. Apart from the lack of grip, as mentioned above, this is a quality L-Bracket of the exact same ilk as the $190 X100 RRS bracket. The upright can be detached, providing you with just a very stable base plate. If you’re using a Gariz half case, as I am, the height of the upright is spot on, allowing the upright to sit tight up against the case side, the tip of the upright just meeting the strap grommets. Without the case you’d simply adjust it a little further out from the camera side and the upright tip should sit fairly flush with the top of the X30. For $8 shipped I can’t recommend this bracket more. So much so, that if RRS ever produced a bracket/grip for the X30, I would have absolutely no need for it.