Visitors at the new SFMOMA museum in San Francisco
The newly expanded and refurbished SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) reopened recently, and we had an opportunity to spend a day there during the week before the public opening. The new building is a success in our minds — full of interesting and sometimes surprising interior spaces, with new portals connecting it visually to the surrounding city, and beautiful galleries to display the work. (There are a few oddities — the space on the ground floor seems sort of sprawling and disorganized, but I digress…)
I always like photographing in museums, especially those with more modern architecture. The light and the angles of walls and entry ways are often fascinating, and people behave in ways that are much different from what I might see in other venues. I usually photograph quickly in these places, partly because I don’t want to intrude on the experience of other visitors and partly because scenes and juxtapositions often assemble themselves and then disappear so quickly.
The Flag Makers building behind a couple sitting on a bench at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Today (Saturday, May 14, 2016, as I write this) marks the re-opening of the newly renovated and expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SFMOMA. As members we got an early look about a week ago, and we spent the better part of a day exploring the place. We like it! A lot. There are quite a few things I could write about — the architecture, the expanded space inside, the collections, the photographs — but all I’ll write for now is that I agree with one architecture critic who pointed out that where the old museum felt walled off from San Francisco the new version connects directly with the surrounding neighborhood, with many windows and open balconies providing plenty of opportunities to see and interact the urban San Francisco landscape. You could have a bit of fun thinking carefully about all of the lines and angles in this scene and what might explain them…
These photographs of SFMOMA are also some of the first I’ve made using a new camera from Fujifilm, the X-Pro2, about which I’ll likely have a lot more to say in the future. It is a rangefinder-style interchangeable lens mirrorless body with a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder system that mostly succeeds in providing a sort of best of both worlds design. I like it for this kind of photography because the camera not only produced excellent image quality (with its 24MP sensor and fine Fujifilm lenses), but it is also small and fairly unobtrusive.
Fujifilm just released their newest camera, the X-Pro2. Since I have been relying on an earlier Fujifilm camera (the original X-E1) for over three years — and liking the results a whole lot — it seemed like time to move up to the newer, more refined body. My new X-Pro2 arrived a few days ago, and so far I’m quite impressed. (My time with the camera has been limited thus far, and I’ll share a much more detailed report once I have had a chance to use it extensively.)
The Fujifilm “x-trans” sensor cameras are appealing for a number of reasons:
Small, light mirrorless designs offer an alternative to larger DSLR systems.
The x-trans sensor produces excellent image quality and uses a photo site layout that is designed to minimize aliasing without using anti-aliasing filters.
The Fujifilm lenses are truly top-notch, from primes to zooms, and there is a complete and diverse selection of available lenses.
Until now all of these cameras have use 16 megapixel (MP) 1.5x cropped sensor designs. 16MP is plenty for almost all photographers, and I make beautiful 18″ x 24″ prints from the files. One of the main updates on the X-Pro2 is the addition of an optimized 24MP sensor. If anything, this sensor improves the low light performance and dynamic range of the 16MP versions, and it provides a bit more resolution.
The X-Pro2 also improves on many of the ideas behind the original (and now a bit long in the tooth, though quite inexpensive) X-Pro1. Both cameras use a hybrid viewfinder that incorporates both an optical viewfinder (OVF) and an electronic viewfinder (EVF), both of which have advantages in various situations. The OVF works beautifully with many primes, eliminates shutter blackout, and allows the photographer to see what is going on just outside the borders of the image. The design overlays an electronic display on top of the optical image. These features are very useful to those doing street photography and similar things.
The EVF works well with all lenses, from ultra wide to telephoto and especially with zoom lenses. It can be advantageous in very low light, such as night street photography. It also shows the precise frame edge lines and can display even more image data than the OVF.
The camera feels light but also solid and well-constructed, and it recalls classic rangefinder cameras.
I got mine with the new XF 35mm f/2 WR lens, one of five newer lenses that are optimized to autofocus more quickly on the X-Pro2 (and, presumably, future X-series cameras). It is also weather resistant. I can report that it focuses quickly and accurately in a wide range of situations. Since I also have my older XF 35mm f/1.4 lens, I haven’t yet decided whether I will end up valuing the extra stop of the f/1.4 lens enough to give up the faster AF and smaller size of the new f/2 lens.
That’s all I’ll say for now, but expect more in the not-too-distant future as I gain more experience with the camera. For now, I don’t see any reason to not recommend it.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 digital camera body — $1699 at B&H or Adorama
Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 WR lens — $399 / $299* with X-Pro2 at B&H or Adorama (*limited time offer)
(If you find this website and posts like this useful and you are going to get one of these products, consider making your purchase through links on this site. Your price will be the same, but the purchases help support the operation of the site. Thanks!)
First growth of the season brings green to Sierra Nevada foothills in late winter
During late winter many parts of California undergo stunning conversion. During the previous summer the landscape dried out under summer heat. As summer turns to fall the heat does not immediately abate, and the landscape may reach its driest point. Then, in a normal year, the winter rains finally arrive. At first the changes — mud, mostly — don’t speak of spring, but at some point in the middle of winter plants again gain a foothold and begin to sprout everywhere. Short and very greens grasses spring up. Wildflowers begin to appear on the hillsides.
This photograph is of an area that seemed to be starting the late winter transformation. Though some trees are still leafless, the hills are otherwise covered with the first, short grasses. A few flowers have begun to appear on some of the chaparral plants. And beautiful light is everywhere. This begins a short but intense period of wild land growth here. The short grasses turn to lush, thick grasses. Wildflowers take over, and the leafless trees begin to show new colors.
Fujifilm announced the new X-Pro2 digital mirrorless camera today., The announcement provides very interesting opportunities for photographers — one being the new camera itself and the other being an extraordinary low price on its predecessor, the X-Pro1. (TheX-Pro2 is now available for pre-order at B&H.)
The New X-Pro2
The X-Pro2 is the updated successor to XPro1. The newer camera will feature:
A compact rangefinder style mirrorless design
24 MP 1.5x cropped format sensor
Improved autofocus capabilities
A hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder
Manual controls for shutter speed, aperture, ISO, more
TheX-Pro2 is now available for pre-order at B&H. I’m almost certain to upgrade to the X-Pro2 from the X-E1 that has been my primary street and travel photography camera for the past three years. (The current updated equivalent of my camera is the X-E2.) Since I’m sold on the Fujifilm system — bodies and lenses — the X-Pro2 will bring features that I’ve wanted for some time.
While the X-Pro2 most certainly brings useful advances, the X-Pro1 is also a fine camera, and at this very low $499 price (it was originally $1299) it is a tremendous bargain right now. If you poke around a bit at the B&H website, you can find it with a lens for $699.
Other New Fujifilm Gear
Fujifilm also announced several other new products including…
This website has an affiliate relationship with B&H Photo. Your purchases through website links return a percentage of the sale price to this website — but your cost remains the same.
One More Thing
Regarding Fujifilm cameras, a quotation from Fuji X-series senior product manager Takashi Ueno in the British Journal of Photography says a lot:
“We are in a very good position to make a medium format camera, as we make camera bodies, sensors and lenses. We already make the lenses for Hasselblad, so we have that expertise.”
Fujifilm, a company with a history of producing some excellent medium format film cameras, is becoming more open about their interest in medium format digital. (Note that they have not actually announced a product. Yet.)
If you have wondered why those of us using the Fujifilm system are so enthusiastic about the beautiful Fujifilm lenses, re-read the quote if you missed it the first time and note whose lenses they currently make.
If you are a Canon-using photographer you are almost certainly aware that Canon has released two new DSLR cameras in the 5D series, the 5DS and the 5DS R models. Both provide approximately 50 megapixels (MP) of sensor resolution along with some other improvements. The cameras seem to be an excellent next evolutionary step for Canon photographers who can use the additional resolution.
I have the 5DS R model and I’ve had the chance to photograph with it twice as of this date. I have been asked to share my thoughts on the camera, but it is still a bit too early for me to write a full report — I want to make more photographs with it and I want to make some very large prints from the files first. Meanwhile I can share a few things: Continue reading Canon EOS 5DsR Quick Update→
The 5DS (including the 5DS R variant) is Canon’s new 50.6MP full frame DSLR. The camera provides the highest resolution sensor of any current full frame cameras, along with several other improved features.
(The 5DS R model cancels the anti-aliasing filter that has long been a standard feature of digital cameras. The “R” model is back-ordered, so those who want that version and don’t want to wait should consider putting in an order.)
(You may use the links in this paragraph to order/reserve either the 5DS or the 5DS R from site-sponsor B&H photo. I have reserved mine — I’m going with the “R” model.)