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Stanley Park Long Exposures with the Fujifilm X-T1

Stanley Park is a beautiful destination in the heart of Vancouver that is frequented by visitors and locals alike. During our time in Vancouver, we explored the park in our car, on foot, and by bike. The fact that the park is mostly surround by water made it an ideal place for me to shoot long exposures. Having the luxury of time also meant I could scout the locations I wanted to shoot and return later with my tripod and other long exposure gear. Here are three of my favorite long exposures from Stanley Park shot with the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 14mm lens.

 Siwash Rock - 125 seconds at f/16

Siwash Rock - 125 seconds at f/16

 Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver - 90 seconds at f/11

Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver - 90 seconds at f/11

 Stanley Park Seawall - 85 seconds at f/11

Stanley Park Seawall - 85 seconds at f/11

Morning Long Exposures in San Francisco

We stayed along the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge during our trip to San Francisco. This gave me a chance to shoot some early morning long exposures of the San Francisco Bay. I photographed the Bay Bridge at sunset the last time we visited San Francisco so it was nice to catch a couple sunrises this time around. Here are three of my favorite images shot on two consecutive mornings with the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 14mm and 60mm lenses.

 28 seconds at f/11

28 seconds at f/11

 90 seconds at f/11

90 seconds at f/11

 45 seconds at f/16

45 seconds at f/16

Long Exposures with the Lee Seven5 System

I added the Lee Seven5 filter system to my long exposure photograph kit in October of 2013. Previously, I used round Neutral Density (ND) filters that screwed on to the front of my lenses. While these filters worked well for extending exposure times, I found myself struggling to get them off my lenses whenever I needed to refocus or recompose my shots. This problem was even more apparent when I was using a round 10 stop ND filter because I had to take it off to recompose nearly every shot. 

Having used the Lee Seven5 system extensively, I wanted to share my thoughts on using it with my Fuji X series cameras. For those unfamiliar with the Lee Seven5 system, it consists of a filter holder that can hold two filters at a time, various resin and glass filters, and adapter rings with thread sizes between 37mm and 72mm. There is also a circular polarizer and lens hood available. The items I purchased included the filter holder, the 10 stop Big Stopper, the 3 stop (0.9) soft edge grad ND, and the 58mm and 49mm adapter rings. I use the 58mm adapter ring with my XF 14mm lens and XF 35mm lens (requires a 52 to 58mm step up ring) and the the 49mm adapter ring with my X100S. While there is an adapter ring designed for the X100 and X100S, I opted for the regular 49mm adapter ring because it works with the adapter ring I use for attaching a UV filter and the Fujinon Wide Conversion Lens I rent periodically. 

Here are a few images of the Lee Seven5 system mounted on the X-Pro1 and XF 14mm lens.

As you can see, the system is relatively compact. This is because Lee designed the Seven5 system to be used with compact system cameras like the X-Pro1 and X100S. By reducing the filter width to 75mm, they were able to reduce the size of the filter holder and the other accessories as well. 

To give you an idea of how the filters can change the look of your images, here are three images I shot at the Newport Beach Pier using the system. 

 X-Pro1 with XF 14mm - 1/8 seconds at f/8 (no filters)

X-Pro1 with XF 14mm - 1/8 seconds at f/8 (no filters)

 X-Pro1 with XF 14mm - 1/8 seconds at f/8 (3 stop grad ND filter)

X-Pro1 with XF 14mm - 1/8 seconds at f/8 (3 stop grad ND filter)

 X-Pro1 with XF 14mm - 180 seconds at f/8 (3 stop grad ND filter and 10 stop ND filter)

X-Pro1 with XF 14mm - 180 seconds at f/8 (3 stop grad ND filter and 10 stop ND filter)

The three images were shot one after another and only minor adjustments were made in Lightroom. From the last image, you can see that the 10 stop Big Stopper shifts the white balance and causes some vignetting with the XF 14mm lens. Having used a round 10 stop ND filter in the past, I can tell you that these issues are not specific to the Lee Big Stopper. For this reason, I almost always shoot in RAW when using ND filters because it lets me fix these issues easily in Lightroom.

Another potential issue to be aware of is caused by the white letters on the front of the Fujinon lenses. When using the Lee Seven5 system with the XF 14mm lens, I have seen reflections of the white letters show up in my images. This, in my opinion, is more problematic because it is much harder to fix after the fact. To deal with this problem, I have used black gaffer tape to cover the white letters on the front of all my lenses, including the X100S. 

Overall, I am really impressed with the Lee Seven5 system. Everything I have purchased is well designed and well constructed. While using the system does require me to carry a few more items, I think the benefits make it worthwhile. The ability to easily slide the filters in and out means fewer dropped filters and the ability to use graduated ND filters means less blown out skies. Since there are alternatives which require less of an investment, I can't recommend the Lee Seven5 system to everyone. But for those that want to move past traditional round ND filters, I think the Lee system is a good option to consider.

First Light in La Jolla

La Jolla has become one of my favorite places to shoot over the last couple of years. From the Scripps Pier to Seal Rock, there are plenty of interesting photographic opportunities to be found along this stretch of the California coast. During my most recent outing, I headed to Coast Boulevard Park to catch the sunrise and to photograph the rocky shoreline in the day's first light. I don't get to watch the sunrise as often as I like, so it's always a treat to watch the sky change colors as the sun begins to make its way over the horizon. Here are a set of long exposure images from my morning in La Jolla shot with the X-T1 and XF 18-55mm.

First Long Exposures with the Fujifilm X-T1

Since the Fujifilm X-T1 was announced in January, I've been on the fence about purchasing one to replace my X-Pro1. As much as I like the X-Pro1, the fall it took in September last year seems to be slowly taking its toll. After considering my options, I went ahead and ordered the X-T1 kit which includes the XF 18-55mm lens.

My X-T1 arrived Friday and this past weekend, during a break in the rain, I took it along with the XF 18-55mm to Huntington Beach to shoot a few long exposures. After one morning of shooting, here are my first impressions on using the X-T1 for long exposure photography.

The Good

The Images - no surprise here since the X-T1 uses an updated version of the X-Pro1 sensor which is also in the X100S. I haven't processed any RAW files yet since they aren't supported in Lightroom, but the JPEGs are typical Fuji.

The Viewfinder - I'll be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the new electronic viewfinder at first. Perhaps, my expectations were too high because of all the glowing reviews I had read. Once I put it to use at Huntington Beach however, I started to see and understand what all the fuss was about. In good light, the viewfinder along with all its new technology is really something to behold. Since I often focus manually when shooting long exposures, the new dual screen display made checking focus much easier. Especially now that I can set the focus peaking color to red, what a difference!

The Tilting LCD - this is definitely a nice addition. Not something I needed, but it really does help when shooting on a tripod. I found the display a little dim when I was composing in bright sunlight, perhaps I should've adjusted the brightness setting. In any case, I ended up using the EVF when this was the case so having both options was a big plus.

The ISO Dial - on the X-Pro1 and X100S, I leave Auto ISO on unless I'm shooting long exposures. To make things faster and easier, I program one of the custom settings on both cameras to set my ISO to 200. With the X-T1, this wasn't necessary since it can now be done with the turn of a dial. The locking ISO dial works for me because I don't need to change my ISO very often or very quickly. For those that need to change ISO frequently, the lock button on the ISO dial may slow things down a bit.

The Bad

The Buttons - by far, my biggest complaint about the X-T1 are the buttons, especially those on the 4-way directional pad. They are too recessed and don't provide enough feedback to know when they've been pressed. I understand that changes were probably necessary to accommodate weather sealing, but these are the buttons many people use the most. I now find the task of changing my AF point to be a more difficult and slower process. While this isn't a deal breaker for me because my subjects tend to be stationary, it may be for those that need to change their focus point quickly.

The Threaded Shutter Button - or lack there of, most likely another trade off to accommodate weather sealing. This won't matter to some, but for anyone that wants exposure times exceeding 30 seconds, a $50 remote from Fuji is now required (at least until something cheaper comes along).

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the good for me outweighs the bad. While the X-T1 isn't perfect, it does offer several improvements for long exposure photography over the X-Pro1. The biggest ones being the new EVF and tilting LCD. Are these must have improvements, not by any means. But since I was in the market for a new camera, they are certainly welcomed.

My recommendation to anyone considering the X-T1 as an upgrade from the X-Pro1 or X-E1/2 is to try it out in the store first. While the new EVF really is great, it may not be enough to warrant an upgrade. Especially if you are using an X-E2 which already has the updated X-Trans sensor found in the X-T1.

With that, I'll leave you with my first long exposure images from Huntington Beach shot with the X-T1 and XF 18-55mm.

 3.2 seconds at f/11

3.2 seconds at f/11

 9 seconds at f/16

9 seconds at f/16

 12 seconds at f/22

12 seconds at f/22

 17 seconds at f/22

17 seconds at f/22

 9 seconds at f/22

9 seconds at f/22