A few days with the Fuji X-Pro1

About a week ago, I decided to rent the brand-new Fuji X-Pro 1 for a few days. It was on a whim; I had not played with a Fuji X100 before, and so I didn’t know really what to expect. My professional cameras to this point have been the Canon 5d and 5d mark 2, plus a stint with a 20d several years ago.

Photographers have talked about the retro feel of the body, and there’s no denying it. It has a definite Leica sensibility. Large, metal dials on top of a tank-grade metal body. APS-C sized sensor. About 18 megapixels. Having not spent a lot of time with either Leicas or retro-ish cameras (before they were considered retro), the feel of the X-Pro 1 was new to me. But I quickly got used to it as the benefit of a smaller-than-a-5d-body mentality kicked in.

One of the biggest benefits of the X-Pro 1 (other than its new, interchangeable lens mount), is its hybrid viewfinder. When you are looking through it, you can either see a LCD version of your scene (the EVF, or electronic viewfinder), or an optical version with some informational overlays (the OVF, or, wait for it, optical viewfinder). They both have good and bad points. The EVF mode definitely shows more information, but it seemed more difficult to focus for me. In low light, however, it excels. The OVF is interesting because you are not seeing directly what the lens sees – you are looking through a viewfinder that’s a little bit off axis. So, you have to learn to adjust for that (but it wasn’t that difficult).

Both viewfinder modes suffer from some sort of polarization issue. Meaning, when I use the camera with my polarized sunglasses on, I can’t see either the EVF or the information overlays in the OVF. I’m sure there’s a fancy name for this issue. It goes away when you rotate your camera vertically, but I thought it was weird to have this issue in a camera that has a rubber protection piece specifically for eyeglasses. All you ‘togs that sport those self-shading glasses may want to take note.

And let’s talk about that focus. Zack Arias originally thought this camera would be his DSLR killer. It’s not, at least not completely. Overall, the image quality is awesome and I could see using it as an additional camera for a lot of jobs. Just not any involving motion, because the focus is too slow. One way around this I found is to pre-focus on an area and wait for the moving subject to pass through. With enough light and a tight-enough aperture, I was able to get some good results. In fact, the X-Pro 1 beats my 5d2 in fps by at least a full frame. But there were several times I thought I had achieved focus, only to discover later that I was way off:

What tha? I have 5 other images exactly like this, just from this spot.

Over the few days that I had the camera, I got better and learned to give the camera the time it needs. I even brought it along on a portrait session:

Manual focus is near impossible in a motion shoot, as it’s a focus-by-wire system. Turning the focus wheel doesn’t actually rotate the lens elements. The super-smart Fuji computer does that, just slowly. This might be something fixed in a future firmware update.

When the 7-year-old tells you to work it, you work it.

The built-in picture style modes are cool – I found myself shooting black and white and film simulation images in-camera a lot. You can also have the camera record multiple simulations at the same time (say, a RAW and a black and white.) Those are fun. Speaking of RAW, I couldn’t test that as there was no RAW support for the files in PS or Lightroom, and you can’t download the Fuji software from their site (update: a recent Adobe update has appeared to fix this.)

So, after 4 days with it, I was sad to see it go. It does have a personality to it that you immediately feel when you hold it. It’s hard to describe. You find yourself wanting to make the camera work despite all of its idiosyncrasies. It has charm. Or it’s dope. Or tight. Or whatever you kids want to call it. It’s the camera I would take on a trip when I want great quality without the size of my 5d. Quiet and not intimidating.

Here are some samples, processed with VSCO via LR 4 (thanks a lot, Ben).

 

Pin the Tail on the TOS

I’ve been watching the Pinterest saga for a few weeks now. Although I have an account, I haven’t used it yet (although I find it interesting that people have somehow found me there). As is the case with many social networks, the issue here are the terms of service that you agree to when you use Pinterest. Depending on your position (and your area of photographic expertise), you are either unbothered by these terms or you find them ridiculous. First, here are the terms as posted here (emphasis mine):

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.

Right off the bat, it’s obvious this is generic CYA legal speak: when in doubt, claim everything and you’re covered. And looking at the terms, it looks like they’ve claimed just about anything they can (except for ownership, which is relegated to near-junk-bond status after the pilfering of rights listed above). As listed, they can do pretty much whatever they want with the content you have. At first glance – who cares? If I’m posting a product link to B&H, I don’t care about this part. Where I do care, however, is with my content. My images are mine, and I don’t like such grandiose rights claims about them, especially on a site that won’t work without users submitting their content. Even more ridiculous is the second paragraph above, where they assert that you must either have the ownership to the content you post, or have secured the rights to post it. Who has such rights to all of the content on the internet? Of course, no one. Your interests are varied, and you want to share them. You’re not a ‘collector of rights.’

In this way, Pinterest’s TOS are at odds with its own reason for being: if you can’t share what you don’t own, you can’t pin, and if you can’t pin, Pinterest has no content. It’s like signing up for a 5k race and then being told by the organizers that you need to get the proper permits from the city to have a race. No one would show up.

Some photographers (Trey Ratcliff, notably) argue that you should stop complaining and embrace the wave of the future. This being the wave of giving away your work for free, hoping that exposure to the world (consisting mostly of, surprise, other photographers) leads to being hired by ‘other’ people (the ones that actually hire photographers)). Trey is an awesome, successful photographer, but he’s also an edge case. You cannot start a photo business today by self-funding shoots, giving those away for free, hoping for someone to hire or license them. It’s not a business plan.

Indeed, some photographers have begun to question their use of Pinterest, even removing their images entirely. Others (some wedding photographers, for example) have openly embraced Pinterest because it is good at driving traffic and getting your work in front of the public. This is why I said that it depends on the type of photographer you are. Family/couple-related imagery usually has no lasting commercial value, because (at least on the wedding side) most photographers license those images to the clients to do with as they please. There’s nothing to stop someone (nor should there be) from pinning their favorite image from their wedding.

What’s been missing so far in this is a response from larger commercial companies. Should the legal team of a large company be concerned that Pinterest claims an open-ended license of their assets? Maybe, maybe not. On the one hand, what would Pinterest do with them? I thought of this for a while. What if they put together a harmless television ad, showing a collage of content submitted by users? Do you think the Pinterest legal team might make some effort to license, say, this pinned image before featuring it in an ad? You bet they would.

Pinterest eventually will have to clarify their TOS (last updated March, 2011). We saw the same thing with iBooks Author when it was released. Pinterest can be a very powerful platform, with a lot of *trusted* engagement, if they do.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my account there open, with nothing pinned. Well, except for this article.

The irony of pinning this post, with accompanying Pinterest logo, is not lost on me. According to their TOS, I must own their logo.

 

By |February 28th, 2012|Photography|3 Comments

TWiP Interview

It’s been about a month since the last post. In some many ways, the holiday season is my busiest time. In addition to my commercial/editorial work, I pick up a fair bit of Christmas card work as well. I’m looking forward to wrapping things up over this week so I can get to some Christmas shopping and baked-goods gluttony.

In the meantime, I had the great fortune to do an interview with Frederick Van Johnson of This Week In Photo. It’s my hands-down favorite podcast and, to borrow a phrase from co-host Alex Lindsay, ‘you should definitely check it out’.

You can find the entire interview here. We talk about my work prior to photography (including a stint at the Pentagon, web design, and a little film music scoring too).

I hope your holidays are off to a great start!

By |December 12th, 2011|Photography|0 Comments

Google Plus and a New Venture

Yes, it’s been a little barren here on the Dogblog. I would chalk it up to the intense Texas heat which has forced all of us to retreat to the coolest parts of our homes for the last few months. Only now are we starting to emerge and go outside.

First off, if you haven’t yet signed up for Google Plus, I highly suggest you do so. It has been exploding since its introduction a few months ago, especially in the area of photography. The work being posted up there daily is incredible! You can find my profile directly at www.EricGPlus.com.

Google Plus has this unique feature called a ‘hangout’. It’s a group video chat, and it also has become quite popular. You’ll find hangouts covering all sorts of topics. It’s a great way to meet new friends.

Using hangouts, myself and photographer Dustin Meyer have launched a new venture: Photog.TV. The idea is really simple: we host and record hangouts weekly covering photography. We talk about photo news, have interviews, show tips that we’ve come across, etc. I think of it as a social podcast. The format and schedule are set, but the guests are random (it’s whoever joins the hangout) and the discussion can go anywhere.

So far, we’ve had 4 episodes. We’ve talked about the current state of photography, the legacy of Steve Jobs, working with clients, and tips/tricks for getting maximum engagement on your blog (Dustin hosted that last one, as I’m in no condition to pontificate on blog engagement lately).

We’ve also had some great guests join in: RC Concepcion and Pete Collins from NAPP, Trey Ratcliff, and even super-famous (about to be famous-er) G+ singer Daria Musk.

When you get a moment, head on over to Photog.TV, watch some of the episodes, and let us know what you think. If you want to be part of an episode, head over to Google Plus and circle myself and Dustin. We record it live on Google Plus every Thursday at 12PM CST. We’ve have some cool ideas of where this could go.

 

There Is No Work-Life Balance

Really, there isn’t. Because usually you hear it like this:

Achieve work-life balance.”

As a creative trying to build a business while taking care of my family and other relationships, I’m in a constant struggle to keep progress going on all fronts. And the word ‘achieve’ suggests that you can somehow get there if you only use the right time management techniques, or the latest to-do app, etc.

“Balance” as I see it is like your lane on the highway. You have a steering wheel, and you’re constantly making little adjustments to stay where you are. If you don’t pay attention you can drift to one side or the other, neglecting your other responsibilities. Also, there’s no point where you’re perfectly in your lane and can let up on the wheel. If you do, into the guardrail you go.

So don’t get caught up reading every book/post about how to achieve this balance. Focus on making little adjustments to stay in the middle.

The road ahead never ends. The fun is how you drive down it.

By |September 17th, 2011|Photography|0 Comments

New Website Intro Video!

I’m excited to show you my new website intro video! It gives a little insight into how I approach shoots and what I enjoy the most about my work: