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Travel photography gear, part 2

I made a brief trip to Washington DC last week to give a talk, but it also gave me a chance to beta-test some of my camera gear plans for my upcoming trip to Europe (see here for previous musings on this topic). Some thoughts about the following stuff I had in tow along with observations about workflow (Fuji X100, Nikon WC-E68 adaptor, iPad): 

  • I spent some time playing with zone focusing on the X100. This seems like it will work pretty well for unobtrusive and candid street photography.
  • Click to enlarge; Fuji X100 In my previous sessions with the X100 I almost exclusively used the optical viewfinder, which I like very much. But since I had time to visit the US Botanic Garden, I figured it would be a good opportunity to test the macro mode and electronic viewfinder. I've been torn about whether I should bring the big/heavy 105mm macro lens for my Nikon to Europe, for taking pictures of flowers and other details, but maybe I can get by with the X100's macro mode instead. It's not bad.
  • Given that at f/2 the X100 maxes out at a 1/1000 second shutter speed, the built in neutral density filter is a lifesaver. Thanks to a recent firmware update, the RAW button can be reprogrammed, and I've set mine to toggle the ND filter.
  • A few days before the trip I received a Nikon WC-E68 wide angle adapter that screws on the X100 lens with a 49mm-46mm step down ring and the Fuji hood adapter/ring. The Fuji WCL-X100 adapter was just announced (although won't be available for a couple of months) and it's relatively pricey although I'd be tempted to get one if it was wider (relative to a fullframe sensor, the X100 has a field of view similar to a 35mm lens; with the WCL-X100 it would be similar to 28mm, and with the WC-E68 it's akin to the field of view from a 24mm lens). From the samples I've seen online, the Nikon adapter lens works pretty well if the X100 is stopped down to f/8 or smaller. Based on the handful of shots I took between f/8 and f/16, it seems fine for my purposes (and the $40 price on ebay); although I'm not a pixel peeper, I did notice that it flared a bit shooting into the. If it had better performance wide open, I'd be tempted to leave my Tokina 11-16mm home, but for low light the Tokina + Nikon D90 that I'm planning on bringing will probably serve me better even though it will be heavy.
  • If I had an unlimited budget my travel kit would be the X100 and a Fujil X-Pro1 with the three lenses that are currently available (18mm f/2, 35mm f1.4, 60mm f/2.4 macro). The 18mm lens isn't quite wide enough for my liking, but if Fuji comes out with the 14mm lens that is listed in their X-series lens roadmap it would be ideal, assuming it performs well. I'll start saving now...
Click to enlarge; Fuji X100, converted with Nik Silver Effex Pro.
  • What about keeping it simple and traveling with just the X100? It's tempting. Creatively, I think it would be great and not too limiting. I'd love to be able to shoot wider, especially in Europe, but the Nikon WC-E68 will get me into that range, assuming I can stop down to f/11 or so. And the sensor and image quality are good enough that I could crop in for details when necessary. My main worry is the reliability of the X100. I haven't had any problems with it, but the camera-geeks on the interwebs keep talking about "sticky aperture blade syndrome" where the lens gets stuck wide open so you can only shoot at f/2. I'm not sure how widespread the problem is, or if this is some form of internet hysteria, but I'd hate to be on vacation for a few weeks and have the lens on my X100 fail without a backup camera. Another reason the X100 + X-Pro1 combo would be ideal! But for now, I think I'll lug the D90 along so that I can choose between the full Nikon system and the X100, depending on that day's planned adventures.
  • Using the camera connection kit, I uploaded pictures to my iPad. Any (or all) originals (as RAW files) as well as edited images (in Snapseed, iPhoto, PhotoForge...I still don't have a preferred editor yet) can be uploaded to Dropbox via WiFi (or cellular connection, but I won't have that in Europe). My Dropbox doesn't have enough storage to copy every single image over (I have about 30GB free, so this would be okay for a shorter trip), but I'll backup the very best on the cloud, and then keep the originals on the memory cards. And I am planning on clearing as much room on my iPad as I can for storing photos (i.e., sorry...the movies will have to go!).
  • As an aside (but related to video on the iPad), streaming Netfilx over the cellular connection worked pretty well, as long as the connection was strong. When I was on the train it dropped a few times, but overall it was very functional.
  • Black and white conversion with Snapseed is pretty good, although it doesn't offer all the same options as Silver Effex Pro (even they are both Nik products). I need to play with the other programs I have (i.e., iPhoto etc) to see which have the best control when converting one's images (filters, contrast, structure).

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