I wasn’t in the market for a new camera. Honest. The Canon DSLR I had was mostly unused but picking up the drone had relit the passion. Coincidently I was doing some work with the photography team at work and got to see a Fuji X-T1 in action. Shak then borrowed one for a couple of days and the images out of the camera were superb. Deal done – I wanted one which is quite bizarre. I’ve looked at mirrorless camera’s for a while as I liked the size and flexibility and the results they produced, especially the new Sony camera’s but they were so expensive. I’d ruled out the Fuji as it wasn’t a brand I really knew and the X-T1 was launched in April 2014 so felt that a new one was probably due.
However I decided quickly on the black X-T1 leaving the tricky decision of what lens (or lenses) to buy. I wanted a wide lens for landscapes but also wanted a zoom lens to cover a variety of situations. Looking at the various reviews of Fuji lenses quality is almost guaranteed so it was a difficult decision. A last minute push from Shak (who also picked up an X-T1 but in silver) led me to picking up the XF16mmF1.4 R WR and the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.
The camera and lenses arrived and I was immediately impressed with the packaging and the fit and finish of the Fuji products. They all felt really high end. Lenses felt solid and the image quality from a few test images was top notch. Instead of doing a full review of the camera, here’s some points of interest from my first 4 weeks with the X-T1.
The controls are quite different from a Canon/Nikon DSLRs so take a little getting use to.
With built in wifi it’s easy to fire up an iOS app to take remote photos.
I’ve settled on taking RAW+JPG images. The out of the camera JPG’s are pretty amazing and save a lot on editing time.
The two lenses and the fact I went for the X-T1 means it’s a fully weather resistant system – great for Scottish winters (and summers).
Battery life is a bit short so you will need extra batteries if you are out for the day.
I love the speed and sharpness of the 16mm lens…the flexibility of it and the images it produces are fantastic.
The electronic viewfinder is a revelation.
High ISO image quality is surprisingly good
Firmware updates have added considerably to camera functionality since launch
Video is average – I think the iPhone may be better!
Lot’s of buttons – almost too many at first
So what about some sample images?
If you can’t tell already, I love the X-T1. I picked up a Thinktank Retrospective 5 which is a great little camera bag which holds everything I need without being a rucksack and it doesn’t get in the way. I’d love a lighter tripod but my current one will do for now and I’m already thinking about another lens but the two I’ve got just now are fantastic and more than meet my needs.
Could I have done all this with the Canon 550d and a better lens? Probably. But the size and quality of the Fuji equipment has lit a fire again which was in danger of going out with the Canon. I just love using the X-T1.
So here’s the thing – As much as the last article praises Apple for sweating the details, they just can’t get the mouse right. I’m not a fan of the mighty ,ouse but to have the lightning port underneath the mouse, meaning it’s unusable even if it is just for minute is just wrong. Thank goodness for Logitech.
The Elephant in the Room – Macdrama! This was a pretty ugly week for the Mac community. Samantha Bielefeld has been a recent addition within the Mac blogging community and has written some great posts over the last few weeks. This post was in response to Overcast 2 from Marco Arment and was pointing out the unique position that Arment has built for himself. However the post went to far trying to calculate his income. Cue a vicious response from Marco supporters including hate mail, rape and death threats and general abuse towards Bielefeld. Horrible sexist abuse which unfortunately Arment did little to defuse. For more follow up read Samantha and The Great Big Lie and Big Money is Coming which is a follow up from Bielefeld herself. So sad.
Why I Unfollowed You on Instagram – I’d love an Activity app that first thing in the morning and mid-evening I could open and it would give me the best from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram plus e-mails, videos, reads all in one place without the duplication and noise that each separate network delivers now. Surely it’s coming?
I’m into the first month of Apple Music as a paid product and it’s starting to annoy me. Mostly it works fine and I can stream any music at any time as advertised. However there are definite issues with new releases and their catalogue isn’t as great as I thought.
Clubbed to Death was launched on Friday and looked to be a fairly good compilation album but like most from the 90’s and 00’s I probably had most of the tracks already. I fired up Apple Music and it was there but I could only stream around half the tracks. Disappointing especially as many of the unplayable tracks I had in my library. I’ve since checked and they aren’t special editions, so it looks like Apple doesn’t have the licence to stream the tracks…but couldn’t it see I owned some of them already and made them playable? I don’t think thats much of an ask.
Not For You?
What’s more disappointing is the For You recommendation section in Apple Music. I listen to a fairly wide range of music, probably more Electronic than anything else but some of the recommendations I get from Apple are a bit, well, weird. They are predominantly rock and they have an obsession with The Rolling Stones.
Every couple of days I’ll get a new Rolling Stones recommendation in For You and thats despite saying “I Don’t Like This Suggestion”. The same suggestions get made and they just seem to roll around again after a few weeks. I kept hoping it was teething trouble during the trial but it still persists today.
Equally annoying is the ‘Intro to…’ recommendations. The three above are available in my For You section and are for Radiohead, Chemical Brothers and Chvrches. Not only are they three of my favourite artists but I have bought all their albums so why do I get a recommendation introducing them to me? Surely those playlists should introduce me to artists that I’d potentially like that aren’t in my library based on my listening habits?
If this doesn’t improve over the coming weeks then I’ll probably cancel Apple Music as it’s not helping much with discovery right now after initial good impressions.
Great autumn nights last week in Glasgow so armed with the new camera I tried a timelapse from the Clyde Arc.
That was the second attempt as the first 400 photo’s didn’t come out quite as expected. Thankfully the night wasn’t wasted and I managed to get something out of it. The video above is composed of just over 300 images and some tweaking in Lightroom and then a long wait exporting it to video but all straightforward and the result was pretty good.
Apple released iOS 9, watchOS 2 and OS X El Capitan over the last couple of weeks. What’s remarkable about the updates, and it looks to be the same for the upcoming version of Android, is the lack of much new in iOS or Mac OS X. There’s much under the hood but for end users there’s little to get excited about.
A couple of the biggest changes are really for laptop users – split view and mission control. Split view lets you focus on two apps easily at the same time. Nothing you couldn’t do before but maximises focus on the job in hand. Mission control makes it easier to work with multiple screens and desktops and the changes are much welcomed – it’s far improved over Yosemite.
Spotlight improvements are OK but won’t replace Alfred for me. Notes is much improved and really is quite the credible competitor to Evernote which is something I need to look at going forward and Photo’s finally add’s some much needed editing features plus support for extension. For me the best new features are a couple of the smallest.
Apple have stolen pinned tabs from Chrome and also the ability to see which tab is currently ‘speaking’ and allowing you to quickly mute Safari. However the pinned tabs are so drab looking – why Apple? Also it’s criminal that Safari updates, and many of the App updates, are now tied to a yearly OS update from Apple, especially when the App updates are so small. I doubt Apple will change that strategy as it’s the same across all their platforms. It’s also criminal that Safari really feels like the new IE.
Anyway, it’s free and it’s been stable for me so far so it gets a grudging thumbs up.
I didn’t take part in any of the open beta’s or put on a developer build this year so iOS 9 is relatively new for me but again there is very little to get excited about. It says it all when much of the talk was of a new system font, San Fransisco, which is nice but isn’t really ‘a feature’.
Notes see’s a good upgrade and there is also now a News app but only in the USA right now, seemingly 9.1 will bring that to the UK. Passcode is now Wallet which makes more sense although there still isn’t much support for it.
The iPad updates are probably the most interesting. Slide Over allows a second app to be running at the same time as a main app is visible. It works well but I have a couple of issues with it. You can’t search for an app so you need to scroll through a list of apps that support Slide Over which is only going to grow. I also tend to launch Slide Over when I’m reading on the iPad accidentally. I’m sure it’s just muscle memory but it niggles.
Split View is an extension of Slide Over and allows two apps to run concurrently. For app’s that support it this is excellent but I’m surprised at how many Apple app’s don’t currently work in this mode. The final iPad nicety is picture in picture meaning iPlayer can run in a small window while you work on a document. Works well but again not all apps support it.
Siri has seen a few new features but I still struggle to get into the habit of using it, mostly due to it not working reliably. When it does it can be quite magical but when it doesn’t I just feel frustrated.
The best new feature for me so far has been app linking and slightly behind deep linking. App linking shows when you jump to Safari from an app, say Facebook. In Safari you get a link to jump back to Facebook so rather than double tapping home you just click the link and back to the app you go. Makes for far quicker navigating through iOS. Deep linking is for certain app developers only like Twitter. A tweet link will now open in the main Twitter app rather than in Safari. Better experience although I’d have preferred there to be an option to pick third party apps like Tweetbot instead of the main Twitter app.
So lots to like in iOS 9 but quite an incremental update. If it allows Apple to focus on stability and improving iCloud then all the better.
This was probably the most anticipated Apple release – could watchOS 2 unlock third party apps and make the watch more usable? Kind off.
Watch faces have a few new options. There are now time lapses which do look great but don’t support any complications. Equally you can now pick a photo or photo album to be used as a watchface background. These can look great but again lack complications. The photo option has also spawned Apple Faces which has a great set of custom photos that can look really good on the watch. I really like the see through watch.
The other tweak to watchfaces is to add some colour. Utility now shows activity rings with colour and I love that change. However it’s caused much angst among some Apple fan’s due to the lack of control they now have in setting the colour in the Utility watchface. I’m surprised Apple didn’t add a multicolour option so that everyone would be happy – maybe watchOS 3. Speaking of complications we’ve now got third party complications which means I can now have Dark Sky instead of the default weather app and I’m sure there will be more from other dev’s going forward.
I’m really liking Nightstand – turn your watch onto it’s side and it turns into an alarm clock. The watch will display the time and alarm then switch off the screen. Touch/move the watch through the night and the screen lights up for a few seconds. Simple but effective.
Other features like Time Travel and improved Siri are welcome but the most anticipated, app’s running natively, has proven to be a bit of a false dawn. Certainly Dark Skies and PCalc now run a lot faster. PCalc in particular is a handy app to have on the watch now that it runs so quickly. Many others though are still relatively slow and I’m not sure if this is as good as this hardware will allow or wether we’ll see further improvements.
So some nice updates but I’m left wanting more. I’d love to see custom watch faces, I’d love to have fuller control over a watch face as well. I want better performance. But the watch for me has been really useful as a notification device and for that alone I wouldn’t want to lose it. watchOS 2 is a definite step up and hopefully we’ll see some more from dev’s over the coming months.