Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fuji X100S Larmor by GGS LCD screen protector - review

I get a GGS LCD protector for almost all my cameras and in fact, it has saved one of my cameras from damage.  So I ordered a GGS protector for the X100S.  This one appears to have been designed specifically for the X100S based on the label (see the top right corner) and indeed the protector is almost the exact same size as the X100S' LCD screen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Best Lens Hood for the Fuji X100, X100S, and X100T

Check out this lens hood for the Fuji X100, the JJC LN-RC49.  It's a clone of Pentax's lens hood for its DA 40 f/2.8 pancake lens (MH-RC 49mm).  It is sold as a complete set, with adapter ring and hood for around $30.  However, I got it for much less than that by buying a clone hood for the X100 (around $8) and using the adapter included with the hood (which is similar to the Fuji AR-X100), then I found the hood by itself on eBay for around $12.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Update on the Fuji X100S

I ordered the Fuji X100S from Abe's of Maine on their Black Friday sale.  I did have to go through the attempt to upsell, but in the end, after a couple of calls, they did put the order through.  I was still in suspense because I didn't know if they would try something else, but I did get a tracking number, and finally I got the package today.  And here it is:

There was no seal on the box, so I thought maybe it was a returned unit.  However, the shutter count showed 0 shots.

The serial number had a letter "M" in the third digit, which appears to confirm that it is from Asia or Australia (US units have "A" or "B" in the third digit).  There was also no warranty card in the box.  So, just as Abe's had said, it appears to be a gray market import.

The serial number began with 43, which I read means it was manufactured in 2014, 3rd quarter.  The firmware version was 1.20.  This firmware appears to have been installed at the factory because the package included a copy of the pamphlet explaining the features of the new firmware.

I checked for the sticky aperture blade issue, and so far I can take shots at any aperture with no problems.

I will be posting a quick review after trying it out.  I will be evaluating from the perspective of taking candid photos.  As best as I can, I will also compare it to the Sony RX1.  I sold mine a long time ago (as part of cutting down on photography gear) but I'll post my impressions for what they're worth.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

DEAL ALERT: Olympus VF-4 selling for $99 on B&H

I have no affiliation with any other website, but this is too good a deal to pass. The VF-4 is Olympus's flagship EVF, and is the same as the one in the E-M1 which is the best EVF available today along with the one in the X-T1. It normally sells for $279, but for some reason B&H are selling them for $99.

I just bought one for my E-PL5.

Reminder To Calibrate Your Monitors

When I first learned about screen calibration from Zack Arias, he mentioned that it should be done at least once a month since screen colors change over time. I didn't really believe it would be something noticeable. I thought calibrating the screen only one time would be good for at least a year.

A long time ago, when I first bought a new 23" Samsung LED monitor (upgrading from a perfectly fine 19" LCD), and discovered that all the colors in my pictures looked wrong. It was devastating, and no matter what calibration guides I followed, I wasn't able to get correct looking colors. So I bought an X-Rite ColorMunki Display and finally had a calibrated monitor, with correct looking colors.

Back to the present, I now have a better monitor that was last calibrated 6 months earlier. A couple of days ago, I decided to re-calibrate the screen and see if anything has changed (the software shows you before & after). To my shock, I discovered that my screen colors has gotten very warm compared to after it was calibrated, it looks like something close to 600 Kelvins of warmth! That is a significant difference, and it will make go back and edit several of my recently edited photos that I intended to give a warm look, but now looks cooler/bluer after calibration.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Favorite Black Friday Deal: Fuji X100S for $699

Out of the dozens of cameras and lenses I've owned, the camera I probably miss the most is the Sony RX1 because of the image quality, and the intimacy of the 35mm.  So I have been looking for a 35mm equivalent lens and had been contemplating the Zeiss 24 1.8 for my a6000, one of the sharpest lenses available for the Sony E-mount.  However, the 24 1.8 is quite expensive, even when bought used.  Moreover, the 24 1.8 is huge and I wasn't sure I wanted to stick it so close to my subjects, as I sometimes did when shooting with the RX1.  Meanwhile, just randomly the other day, I picked up my old Fuji S5, which had been one of my favorite cameras, and took a few shots.  I got reminded of the quirky interface, the slow speed, and the outdated high ISO performance, but the unique Fuji colors still appealed to me.

So, I thought that for the price of a used 24 1.8, I could try to look for a Fuji X100 or X100S instead and have an extra body.  The X100 is available for less than $500 on eBay but I really preferred the X100S, which has several improvements over the X100.  However, a used X100S still commands a relatively high price even with the release of the X100T.

Wouldn't you know it, I found a Black Friday deal for the X100S through Abe's of Maine, for $699 with free shipping!  That was less than any used X100S I've seen on eBay.  So I took the leap!  UPDATE: see below re possible 'bait and switch'.

EDIT; the page says that this is a "Brand New Factory Fresh Import Model" which sounds like it is a gray market camera and therefore Fuji USA will not provide complimentary service or warranty.

P.S. At the time of this writing, there's an additional 2% discount if you pay by check, wire transfer or money order.  The code is "save2".  Not sure how that works though.  I strongly recommend using a credit card instead of a check, wire transfer or money order.  If something goes wrong with the order (e.g. bait and switch -- see comment below, or they send you a demo instead of brand new, etc.) then you can dispute the charge through the credit card company.

NOTE: I'm not affiliated with Abe's of Maine, and receive no commissions from them. Please note Abe's of Maine charges 15% restocking fee for returns.

UPDATE 12/3/14: As of this morning, the order still hasn't been shipped.  So I called them.  The representative I spoke to said that "Roy" was handling my order and he is trying to handle several orders at the same time.  I asked if she could just send out the order and be done with it.  She said that Roy needed to "verify" my order.  I asked what was there to verify?  She said billing address, that kind of thing.  She said Roy would call me this afternoon.  I'll update this again if and when I hear back from Roy.

2nd UPDATE 12/3/14: So I got a call from Roy.  First he told me that only the black one was available (I had ordered silver).  I prefer the silver but I told him the black was fine.  Next he told me it was an import model (which I already know about).  He added that the US version has a 'better' battery, faster charger, and has a 1-yr warranty whereas the import version has a charger that takes overnight to charge, and has no warranty.  He asked me if I would like to know the price on the US version.  I said ok.  He initially offered it at $879.  I said I would still prefer the import.  He lowered the price to $799.  I still would prefer the import.  He asked if I wanted to know whether a lower price for the US version was available.  I said no thanks.  Finally he said, the import version is not in stock, and they would have to order it from Malaysia which would take 1.5 to 2 weeks.  I asked if they would bill me now or only when shipped.  He said they would bill only when shipped.  I said ok fine.  I will update if ever I get the camera.  Note: 7 years ago, I purchased a camera and flash from Abe's with no such attempt at upselling, so this is new to me for this store.

3rd UPDATE 12/4/14: This morning I checked the website again and it still showed the silver as being available.  So I called Roy to ask, why does it show available?  Why is he limiting me to black, and why make me wait a week or two?  Moreover, if he's going to order it anyway, then why does it matter whether it's black or silver (presumably you could order either color from overseas)?  To his credit, he didn't become confrontational.  He forwarded me to customer service and I spoke with Sally.  So I asked Sally the same questions.  Sally said their website information is not up to date and indeed they only have black.  But she said they do have the black import model in stock (2 units left supposedly) and they would ship it today.  She said I would get the tracking number today or tomorrow.  We'll see.

4th UPDATE 12/4/14: I got a shipment notification with tracking number.  Delivery is scheduled for December 10 via UPS.  I will update on the condition of the item (is it really brand new, etc.).

5th UPDATE 12/10/14: I got the camera.  Pretty much as described by Abe's.  Except that the battery and charger seem the same as a normal X100S.  Further info posted here.

Found another deal: Fuji X100s (Black).  $711 with free shipping (the listing says the shipping is not free but on checkout, it will show up as free).  This one comes from Hong Kong (therefore is definitely gray market).  I've never tried this seller.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Look Before You Leap: the Sony a6000 and a5100 lens guide

The Sony a6000 is an awesome camera -- it was awarded Gold by DPReview and recently came out on top of the mid-range mirrorless camera roundup.  On top of that, the a6000 is available at a $100 discount for Black Friday.  The Sony a5100 is likewise a great camera, and is one of DPReview's best cameras for beginners, with the same great sensor and quick autofocus ability as the a6000.

However, when choosing your first interchangeable lens camera, I find it helpful to consider not just the camera specifications but the system as a whole -- especially the lenses and to some extent its accessories (e.g. flash).  So if you're considering the a6000 or a5100, you may want to check out its lens selection to see if it has the lenses that you'll need.  The italicized ones are the lenses I have.

Note: to the extent DXO has tested the lenses below with the a6000, you can expect identical results for the a5100 due to the identical sensor.