Canon 700D my new camera.

Well not new exactly, it is six years old according to the onboard date. With only 2337 on the shutter this is essentially a brand new camera. It came with the 18-55 STM kit lens which is very quiet in operation and appears to be a reasonable performer for video work, although this will need more investigation as to how good it will be for video work.

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At $499.00 NZD it was a little higher than I was wanting to pay considering my Canon 650D which I bought a little over two years ago cost $365.00 NZD. However the newer STM lens goes some way to offsetting the higher ticket price. I picked up a new 16 gig Sandisk Extreme SD card and will no doubt purchase a larger capacity card sometime in the future.

You can see my buying process here for The Canon 650 . In keeping with the Frugal Photographer ethos I wasn’t wanting to spend over $500.00 NZD maximum, as I will need to purchase either a 18 -135 or 55 – 250 telephoto lens. Having had one of the 55-250 lenses I know that they are a good quality lens, better in fact than the 18-55 kit lens. Further to this is the suggestion that the 18 -135 is as good has me interested in this lens as a more general purpose walkabout lens. Time and budget will no doubt be the main factors in my search for lenses.

So what do images from this camera look like. Pretty much as you would expect from any modern DSLR, pretty average. Thats not a bad thing it just meant the camera needed a bit of tuning and the lens needed a good clean. On the way back to Hamilton ( We picked the camera up from Botany Downs in Auckland ) we stopped at Mercer, as I had spotted some old steam locomotives sitting in a large rail-yard area. It turns out these steam locomotives belong to the Mainline Steam Heritage Trust and are awaiting a restoration program.

The locomotives are all from South Africa and you can read more about them in the Stuff news article from 2018.

The images were all shot Raw + Jpeg and I have edited the Jpegs images only at this time. The RAW files have been discarded. As I have mentioned previously my intention for the future and at least in the short term is to primarily shoot Jpeg. Most modern Jpegs from late model DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras are generally very good. As with most cameras there is some fine tuning to get things right and Fuji cameras probably do this best.

Fortunately however the 700D comes with the ability to custom tune any of the shooting mode presets as well as being able to customise 3 blank presets. The aim is to have the standard Jpeg mode as well as the inbuilt modes to choose from and have the three additional modes geared towards the type of output I would select for film simulation profiles in Fuji cameras. These options are found in the settings and are labelled as ” Picture Style”

All the following images were processed using Photoscape 3.7. Various filters have been applied as part of the processing of these images. In general this is simply for a little artistic flair to enhance what would in essence have been a fairly bland lot of images. The overcast sky and late time of day, around 4.30 PM meant the available light was very flat and dull, hence a little fine tuning using various film sims and filters found in Photoscape.

There appears to have been a problem with loading the images . If you are not able to see the images on this page , click here to see the album.

A modern era diesel locomotive cruises on by while I was taking the above photos.

Ritchie Blackmore – Then & Now

November 1975 I had the privilege of being at one of only two Deep Purple concerts. I say privilege because it was decades before we were likely to see them live again, apart from a rough 1984 concert. The same applies to Led Zeppelin when they were at Western Springs the previous year, the first and only time they were here.

One of the main stays of the early Deep Purple line up was legendary rock guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Any one familiar with some of the early anthems like “Smoke on the Water” – “Lazy” or “Highway Star” just to name a few tracks will recognise Ritchie’s guitar playing. Slightly younger folks will know him from his very successful band, Rainbow.

What I didnt know was what he had been doing since his “Rainbow” days until just recently. Purely by chance the good old YouTube algorithms threw up a reference to “Blackmores Night” featuring Ritchie Blackmore. Obviously knowing the name I investigated further and much to my surprise I found music magic. Classed as Traditional Folk Rock, the band leans towards Renaissance era style and musical instrumentation along with modern instruments. With Candice Night providing lead vocal and much of the song lyrics as well as being the wife of Ritchie Blackmore, this ensemble was never going to fail.

While the music is light-years from the likes of Nightwish, Deep Purple or Rainbow it is no less totally enjoyable and the blend of old and new is nothing if not genius, and at 75 years of age Ritchie doesn’t seem to be likely to hang up that guitar anytime soon.

As with all music there are some songs that I dont necessarily like all that much ( they are few in number ) but then there are the gems that Candice brings to life in a way that gives you head to toe goosebumps. Her voice is at times mesmerising and the guitar work by Ritchie is in a class of its own, a master at his craft still.

Below is the full concert of Blackmores Night performing – “A Knight In York”

I’m still standing …. just

Sounds like a line from a song, actually it is. However in my case it has a somewhat different meaning.

Its almost halfway through 2020 and I’ve had little time to devote to this blog even with being in lock down for 7 weeks because of the Corona Virus, as well as  work injuries and ongoing health issues.

Since the start of the year I have been experiencing health problems of one form or another. As we age parts wear out or exhibit problems, just part of life I guess. As I write this I’m experiencing yet another medical issue. All of which has prevented me from doing what I enjoy, and thats taking photos, sharing my results with you and talking about the processes I use and sharing the work and insights of other like minded individuals.

This image is taken with my Samsung J#Pro smartphone. Looking at the detail shows a good deal of mush. The Mountain hiding behind the cloud is where I live.

Like most folks these days I carry a smartphone with me always and I do get the odd random snap, but the phone really isn’t that good as a camera, its merely a mid level work-phone.

Currently I am limited to my Fuji HS20 and a couple of Pentax 35mm cameras for anything more serious in photography and again because of the lock-down and restrictions I haven’t had access to the local film lab which is the down side to 35mm film photography if you dont develop your own films and scan them.

On the music side of things I have been watching a good deal of online content plus revisiting a lot of my own music collection. This has been restricted a little by health issues as well, think ear infections and possible ear drum damage, and so it goes. Thankfully that seems to be mostly in the past and I have had a bit more time of late to listen to some of my favourite bands.

I will endeavour to post something from time to time when I see or hear something I think you folks might like, most likely this will be on the music front as we are well into winter now so photographic opportunities are going to become a little less likely.

Until then .. stay frosty!!

The X-T200 has arrived in store.

Photowarehouse now shows stocks of the X-T200 in store. Price wise its exactly where I thought it would be at $1329.00 NZD. Its being sold with the  XC 15-45 lens. Personally I think it would be better with the XC 16-50 mm lens, but its design

x-t200_system-slide-03-300x267is for a hybrid stills/video camera  therefore it gets the power zoom lens.

For me personally I would much prefer the XC 16-50 mm lens. Having had one in the past I was always impressed with its capability and as an astrophotography lens it was very good as a starter lens.

In terms of usability the X-T200 is a step up from the X-T 100. In the AF performance, number of focus points, updated sensor, outstanding LCD and greatly improved video capability, theres not a lot to dislike about the X-T200 other than the lens, which in its defence does get a generally good review by early adopters of the XC 15-45 mm lens. Personally on an ILC camera I’m not a fan of having power-zoom lenses. It should be noted that this lens can operate in a semi manual way and may be how some folks will want to use it. I just prefer a fully manual zoom for those occasions when I need to very rapidly switch focal lengths.

The dislike I have for power-zooms comes from having had cameras in the past equipped with this type of lens and I can only say that the number of missed opportunities for getting a shot was very high when compared to a standard lens. This holds true for all the smartphones I’ve used to date as well and includes our Samsung Note 9 which for a $1800 dollar smartphone should be a little quicker in focusing than my ageing power-zoom Fuji s5700. Often its not. I intend to tryout the X-T200 in-store to begin with and will report back as to how it performs, but at least for now I remain unconvinced as to the XC 15-45’s abilities. I’d also like to try it with the new XC 35 mm lens as I think that and the XC 50-230 telephoto lens could be a very handy kit if you wanted something a little different. More to come on this, until then,

Happy Snappin.

The state of modern music today P1.

From humble beginnings….

I’ve been listening to modern music for the better part of 50 years, assuming modern music started in the 1950’s with the advent of the mass produced electric guitars and the rise of the multi track audio recording/mixing studios circa 1960’s ( or perhaps a little earlier).

During the latter half of the 1960’s through to the late 1980’s there was a massive up-welling of musical talent, and genres of “modern music” were  arriving in the radio stations playlists, at time this seemed like a daily occurrence1200px-Europe-blocs-49-89x4.svg

A lot of the music of this era was a political outcry, with the likes of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights movement in the US, Khmer Rouge in South West Asia and the Soviet Bloc , being some of the inspiration behind the music. On the home front it was a message to the younger generation telling them that there was other ways of living ones life that didnt require absolute devotion to Church & State. In other words anti establishment. This movement affirmed that you didnt need to conform to old outdated views and that fresh ideas could lead to better life. Sounds a little too altruistic? Perhaps, but forty years of social and political change starting in the 1950’s were brought about  by a younger generation who had directly or indirectly seen what the ravages of two world wars could do to a family, country and society.

In a more modernistic theme it could be called Rage Against The Machine, and yes there is a band with that name too.  Currently they are planning a reunion tour in 2020, thirty years older and probably wiser than when they formed in 1991.

By the end of the 1980’s I pretty much stopped listening to what was “popular” and radio seemed to be going a very formulaic route, girl and boy bands were on the rise, Oasis seemed a breath of fresh air until the wheels fell off and they basically disappeared into obscurity. Yep the nineteen ninety’s were anything other than memorable. The big bands that had good followings, Metallica, Guns & Roses, Van Halen, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and a smattering of others are largely what drove the music industry. The rest was radio play fluff and not very good. It was evident early on when the lack of musical talent was easy to spot that there were problems within the music industry.MOBY_RUST_2009

Previous generations of musicians had talent and more importantly they had a musical background, came from music schools, had studied art and music as part of the interest in music as a subject and a career or calling. There are of course those who are blessed at birth with an innate music talent and can play anything, sing everything and  perform with little or no background in the subject. The Street Magazine has an interesting little article that lists  what they feel were   the ten biggest bands of the 1990’s. I think they missed a few but each to their own.

We are now in the third decade of the 21st century.  Wow where did the time go?  Main stream fluff and formulaic music dreamt up by music labels seems to still be the order of the day.  They seem to have zero interest in artists that appear a little out side the norm, ensuring they dont get a look in, until fan pressure forces the issue.

Our own homegrown Lorde is a classic example of this, had she not had the smarts to produce a EP that was free to play or download its likely the big recording labels wouldn’t have even let her in the door. If you have been wondering lately why country music seems to be making a comeback of sorts ( although it never really went away), its because in this genre individuality and song writing skill is a blessing not a curse and the width of this style of music is growing, people are enjoying the story telling aspect of the music, something sadly lacking in a lot of the current crop when every second song is about love and little else.

Which leads nicely into one of this weeks feature bands, Nightwish.  Just click on the link below.

NightWish

Finally the perfect entry level camera from Fuji?

Enter the FujiFilm X-T200

Click on this image to see DPreviews first hands on review.

 

So far all the preliminary views and hands on previews would suggest that Fuji may just have the best entry level mirrorless camera on the market. Sound like a big call? Perhaps but to date everything I have seen about this camera screams buy me.

x-t200_system-slide-03-300x267

While it doesn’t sit inside the $1000.00 NZD budget camera zone I think that its pricing is pretty good. To date I’ve seen it advertised here at $1329.00 NZD with the 15-45 kit lens. I’m expecting the new XC f2 35mm lens to be around $300 NZD. DPreview suggest that the new lens should be a real winner for those wanting a prime lens to add to their budget kit.

The arrival of the new XA7, which has pretty much identical specs minus the EVF was a good indicator as to what the X-T100 replacement was likely to look like , but I have to confess I’m astonished at the amount of camera they have produced.

The closest Fuji model to the X-T200 is the X-T20/30. The cheapest X-T20/30 I have found as of the time of this article is $2000.00 NZD making the X-T200 a very good starting point in the Fuji system.

While camera snobs will no doubt belittle the construction & build quality of the new 35mm lens as well as the XC 16-50 & XC 15-45 as well as the XC 50-230, I have no doubt that plastic construction or not, the lack of dedicated aperture ring, these lenses acquit themselves extremely well.   And all of them have image stabilization apart from the 35 mm f2, something that a good many of the more costly lenses dont have. For me thats a no-brainer, I wouldn’t ever consider an XF lens that wasn’t stabilized. Why? After a workplace fall I now suffer from varying degrees of vertigo and as a consequence my hands can be a little shaky, this is true for a lot of us for a huge variety of reasons, not to mention I’m now almost 65 so my stability isn’t as good as it used to be. However a light weight XC f2 35 mm, I would be prepared to use in the right setting. Astrophotography anyone?

By way of example see the image below.

Is it the perfect lens? .. no there are obviously better lenses but at a substantially greater prices. For everyday photography the XC lenses perform far above their price bracket, another example this time from the XC 50-230 mm telephoto lens.

Taken with the XA2 and the XC 50-230 telephoto lens.

In every way I can think of the X-T200 is the camera I would have liked to have purchased when the XA2 was first announced. To date I haven’t been overly certain about the XC 15-45 lens as I’m not a fan of power zooms but having seen the X-T200 with this lens in operation I may well have to re think that.

Having never really wanted or desired any of the higher level enthusiast/pro level Fuji cameras the new XA20, XA7 and the X-T200 have all grabbed my interest. The XA20 is only listed on the China Fujifilm website but its predecessor has been for sale here in new Zealand ( The XA10 ) for a couple of years now, and for those not interested in processing RAW files or going deeper into photography this is a very useful camera.

It doesn’t have the newer sensor found in the XA5 and up as its the older 16 Mp sensor found in previous versions such as my XA2. Not that its a bad sensor, in fact its very good as the images above show, but the newer sensor does provide better resolution and the ability to crop images deeper while maintaining good quality.

Come its release date here in New Zealand with the bigger camera stores, we  should see the pricing a little more stable. Like always I will wait a few months before grabbing one, hopefully the pricing will have dropped a little by then. I’ve come to the conclusion that like it or not a single lens setup for now at least is not readily an option in the mirrorless world. I would love to see Fuji produce a 16-200/230 focal length lens as a general purpose walk around unit, but that may just be wishful thinking, at least for now.

Dont forget to comment on this. Is it for you? Or is Fuji going down the wrong path with its current level designs?

Welcome to our new “Music” section

As previously mentioned we have a new music section here at the “Kiwi” as it holds a special interest for many of us. Its long been known that both music and photography have had very close links over the past 100 years or so and will into the foreseeable future. This has now broadened out somewhat with the advent of cheap (relatively) video cameras and outstanding smartphones.

Taken with my HS10 at Hamilton N.Z. ZZ Top concert.

My interest in music started at a very early age and hasn’t dimmed over time, in point of fact with the rise of the digital era and streaming services its become even more of a pastime and source of enjoyment.

Click on the MUSIC tab in the menus to access content as we add articles, photos and links.